Though the start of one’s college journey is exciting, it is also often accompanied by anxiety and fear of the unknown. What students do with this fear is part of their individual journeys and can impact their future success; recent Chattanooga State graduate Lauren Watkins has transformed her own challenges and uncertainties into a unique pathway for achievement.
Ms. Watkins was accepted to the Digication Scholars program, working with the college’s ePortfolio platform to offer workshops on tools and best practices, as well as competing against other Scholars in portfolio showcases. Additionally, she has been named a Super Mentor in the campus ePortfolio lab, taking on responsibilities of hiring, training, and scheduling student mentors.
Ms. Watkins was not always so confident or sure of her path, however, “Upon coming to ChattState, I was worried if I would like it, and if I would do well," she said. "I didn’t know anybody here and barely knew what major I wanted.”
She also notes that she initially struggled with using the Digication platform in her College Success class, “not understanding how to use it, its purpose, or its potential.” Over time, and with a chance to work in the lab, Ms. Watkins developed new appreciation for the exciting visual possibilities of the tool, considering it “a revolutionary step forward from the traditional paper resume in an increasingly digital-based world.”
Working as a lab mentor has offered Ms. Watkins growth opportunities beyond learning technical skills. “For most of my life, I struggled to talk to people, and dreaded the thought of speaking in front of a crowd,” she says. “As a mentor, I now go to College Success courses and teach entire classrooms full of rising first-year students how to create their own portfolios.” Though taking chances on herself and expanding her comfort zone has not been easy, these risks forge important skills that will serve Ms. Watkins well in pursuing her Bachelor’s in Entrepreneurship at UTC and then her MBA.
From her own experiences, Ms. Watkins has simple advice for other college students: talk to people. “One would never believe how much they have in common with a student who has a different major, age, or belief than them. Finding people to talk to around campus made me feel comfortable, opened the door to many opportunities, and helped me stay focused on achieving my degree.” She cites the helpfulness of staff and faculty as a major contributor to her Chattanooga State experience, describing herself as “overwhelmed with the kindness I found here. Throughout my time at ChattState, I always felt like there were people who would help me with anything I needed.”
Excitingly, now Ms. Watkins gets to be such a helper for other students who may doubt themselves, needing confidence and skills for their own academic and professional journeys. With courage and leadership developed while at Chattanooga State, she is ready for new challenges.