Three students from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga have been chosen to take part in the Spring 2020 semester of the Styles L. Hutchins Fellowship, a citywide program to give black college graduates more reasons to stay in Chattanooga.
Senior Eric Barton and juniors Tyrese Hobbs and Ervin Fisher IV will help analyze current data and research to create professional and social programs and opportunities to convince graduates that Chattanooga has everything they need to thrive.
Khadesha Gordon, a member of first group of four UTC students involved with the fellowship in Fall 2019 semester, will stay with the project as a coach.
Out of 33 black students who graduated from UTC between August 2017 and December 2018, 19—or 58 percent—said they landed a job in Chattanooga. In comparison, during those same months, 277 of 425 white graduates and 15 of 23 Hispanic graduates reported working in Chattanooga. Both of those percentages are 65 percent.
Launched by the Office of Mayor Andy Berke, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga, the Styles L. Hutchins Fellowship to address that situation.
A large part of the new UTC students’ work will examine the talent management strategies used by local and regional employers to build a talented and diverse workforce. Among those strategies are paid internship opportunities, innovative recruitment strategies, using employee resource groups and getting employees engaged in community activities.
The new group of UTC students are:
Eric Barton, a senior from Memphis, Tenn., is double majoring in engineering management and psychology. He is an academic advisor in the Upward Bound: Math Science program, helping teach inner-city students college readiness and confidence-building skills. He also is involved with organizations including Brother2Brother and Black Student Alliance and serves as president and treasurer for the Eta Phi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
“I am thrilled to participate in this fellowship because it will provide me with the resources and knowledge to lead by example and help more people like me,” he said. “I want people with similar backgrounds to feel like they have the ability to dream big and see more of themselves in this city, like becoming a CEO, a mayor, an entrepreneur or anything they set their minds to.”
Tyrese Hobbs, a junior from Nashville, Tenn., is studying entrepreneurship and interior design. He is a resident assistant in campus housing and a member of the Freshman Senate, Brother2Brother, the Lambda Iota Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society.
“I strive every day to be a voice for more people,” he said. “This fellowship will provide me with additional networks and new learning experiences to influence ideas and policies that will have a positive impact on Chattanoogans.”
Ervin Fisher IV is a junior majoring in marketing and entrepreneurship. From Nashville, he works full-time in the downtown area hospitality industry and, after graduation, hopes to land a job in a marketing department in Chattanooga.
“I feel very fortunate to be one of those selected to participate in this fellowship as I truly believe that it is my time to give back to this community. Helping to make Chattanooga a more desirable place for diverse UTC students coming after me, like my sister who is just a freshman, who will need access to resources and opportunities to be successful here,” he said.
Khadesha Gordon is political science and public service major with a minor in Africana studies. She works part-time and has served on the NAACP executive board and as a Student Government Association senator as well as working with ThinkAchieve: Beyond the Classroom and as a member of the Political Science Club.
“I’m thrilled to be back for a second semester as a Hutchins Fellow,” she said. “Our inaugural cohort laid the foundation for tangible ideas and policies that will help make Chattanooga a place where young, black talent can stay and thrive and I’m honored to continue that work.”