By Angel Ulmer, University Relations Intern

After Melissa Mitchell graduated with good grades from Marion County High School in 1997, she knew she had the potential for a four-year academic degree but admits to a lack of motivation. A meeting with Cathy Brown of the Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) changed her mind.

Melissa Mitchell

Melissa Mitchell

The EOC, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, is part of the Center for Community Career Education at UTC. It offers free counseling and information to adults who want to apply for college. Brown explained Mitchell could receive EOC assistance in application for scholarships and grants. The EOC also offered to help her choose a college and a field of study.

Mitchell recalls when she was informed of all the services, she realized she could access a support system geared toward her success. She quickly responded.
The EOC staff became very well acquainted with Mitchell. She remembers what it felt like to have no more funding for school, and then the EOC staff told her about a scholarship that would allow her to continue her studies with no interruptions. She was encouraged to compete for the scholarship, funded by Executive Women’s International—to her delight, she was selected as the recipient of the Jean Bradford Award in 2012.

“EOC was open, inviting and informative, and they encouraged me to excel as a thirty–one year old single mother of a four-year-old son. UTC was the obvious choice for me to further my education,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell explains she has learned valuable skills on the way toward achieving her goal of becoming a Community Social Worker. As she earned her degree, she has operated a free store for children on Saturdays in the East Lake community. Her new BSW degree will play a critical role in her future as she continues to assist children.

The Center for Community Career Education at UTC consists of TRiO programs such as Educational Talent Search, Educational Opportunity Center, GEAR-UP, Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math Science. The primary initiative of these programs is college preparation.

For 32 years, the Center for Community Career Education has helped UTC fulfill its mission as an engaged metropolitan university. With services that include counseling, advising, tutoring, admissions, financial aid assistance and mentoring, the Center is one of the oldest collegiate success providers in the region. Since its inception, the Center has provided guidance and assistance necessary to ensure more than 50,000 individuals reached their goals of enhanced education and better careers.

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