When Megan Barrott transitioned from Chattanooga State Community College to the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, she described the process as “seamless.”
“As I got closer to finishing my associate’s degree, I just knew I wasn’t done,” said Barrott, who received a degree from Chatt State in May 2022. She is now a UTC junior majoring in exercise science with a minor in nutrition.
“I knew I needed to keep going. I was already putting in the hard work and the time, so I just decided, ‘Let’s not take a break; the time’s passing anyway.’ Continuing to UTC was seamless.”
Barrott is a recent example of a student successfully bridging the six-mile gap to UTC after obtaining an associate degree from Chatt State.
On Tuesday, March 21, a dual admission agreement between the two institutions was formalized during a celebration of the partnership that occurred in the OMNI Building on the Chatt State campus. The Chatt State UTC Connect agreement reiterates a commitment to ensure a smooth transfer of Chattanooga State students to UTC to complete their bachelor’s degree programs.
“When we met last fall and started thinking about what we could do together to help students get seamless pathways to programs to serve the community and workforce development, this is the program that we really set our sights on,” UTC Chancellor Steven R. Angle said.
As part of the dual admission pathway, students—upon admission to Chattanooga State—also will be admitted to UTC. They will have access to more personalized advising from UTC throughout their time at Chatt State to ensure their transfer to UTC is quick and easy.
Dual-admission students also will have access to the many amenities and benefits available to UTC students, including the Aquatics and Recreation Center at UTC, athletic events, the UTC Library and Student Health Services—all for one nominal fee each semester.
Signing ceremony speakers included Chatt State President Rebecca Ashford, Chatt State Director of Recruiting and Orientation Kisha Thomas and UTC Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Yancy Freeman.
“Chattanooga State’s success is UTCs success,” Freeman said. “We are partners in developing and making sure that our students have opportunities to continue their degree program, and we are excited about this dual admission agreement program. We want as many students as we can take enrolling in and participating in the program.”
Following the signing ceremony, a Power C Tour event took place, similar to programs held for high school students in fall 2022 in Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and on the UTC campus. Representatives from UTC’s academic colleges, student services and the Executive Leadership Team—along with mascot Scrappy—were on hand to educate Chatt State students, faculty and staff on the pathway created for transfer students upon completing associate degrees.
Event highlights included awarding a $1,000 Power C scholarship to Devyn Johnson, a Chatt State student scheduled to receive an associate degree in May. She plans to continue her education at UTC this fall.
“I was not expecting this today,” said Johnson, a 2021 Chattanooga School for the Arts & Sciences graduate. When she arrives at UTC, she will major in business administration.
“I just came back from Washington, D.C., for a conference for community colleges and I was still on a bit of a high from that, so getting this scholarship—I was totally not expecting this. I’m very grateful for everybody involved.”
Johnson said a seamless transition from Chatt State to UTC “allows us to have all your ducks in a row. It makes it so less stressful and happier for the students.”
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Barrott is targeting a fall 2025 UTC graduation, calling herself a year-round part-time student.
At this time in 2022, she was getting ready for Chatt State commencement. In her mind, she never doubted continuing on her educational journey.
A 2009 Dalton (Georgia) High School graduate, Barrott, 32, was once on a traditional student path—having spent time at Dalton State College and Tennessee Tech.
Not long after getting married, she got pregnant, and her daughter was born with a disability.
“It was very obvious to me that I needed to take a break for a while,” she said. “Then we ended up having our two boys, so for 10 years I had that break.”
She now resides in Ooltewah, Tennessee, with her husband, Tyson, and children Hanna (12 years old), Tekker (10) and Enoch (7).
While relishing watching her children grow, her desire for a college education never left her.
“I’ve known since I was little that I wanted a full education. I wanted a college degree; an associate’s degree was the stepping stone,” she said.
When the Tennessee Reconnect Program was launched in 2018, it piqued her interest, “but you had to be participating full time and I couldn’t do that as a mom,” she said.
Around a year later, the program evolved to allow part-time students. She didn’t waste time making a decision.
“It was like, ‘This is my chance. I’m going to do it. I’ve been waiting for this forever,” she recalled.
After a 10-year hiatus from higher education, she returned to the classroom in January 2020—two months before the pandemic.
“My kids and I, we’re all sitting here at the table every day working together, doing homework together, and it occurred to me—they’re seeing me go through this with them,” she said. “We are doing the same thing together.
“That lit a fire underneath me, realizing the impact it was going to have and to keep pushing forward. We are starting to see a decline in the desire of having a formal education; a lot of people are starting to choose the path of not going to get your education. I like knowing that my kids are seeing me do this.”
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