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A Long and Winding Road

Posted on Friday, March 10, 2017 at 11:24 am

Palmer Town Historian

david patton

What a thrill it must be to become the first member of your family to graduate from college. For Michelle Campbell Travis of Palmer, it was truly a long and winding road. Decades after graduating from Grundy County High School, she received her degree December 10, 2016, from Tennessee Technological University at the age of 46.

At the time she went back to college, Travis had three sons in Grundy County schools and was driving a truck for Tyson delivering chicken feed to area poultry growers. Previous to that, she had a variety of jobs including working as a coast-to-coast big-rig driver hauling apples from Washington state and cantaloupes from the deserts of Arizona.

Graduating from Chattanooga State with plans to become a teacher, Travis enrolled at Tennessee Tech, but soon changer her major to the rapidly emerging field of environmental science. The lifelong animal and nature lover has her degree in wildlife and fisheries and is excited about working in something that has long fascinated her.

Choosing the right college can mean the difference between success and failure, and Travis has high praise for Tennessee Tech. “It was the best decision I could have made. The professors were down to earth, and it was a great atmosphere for learning. I am so glad I went there!”

Achieving any goal in life takes a lot of determination and plain old courage. To be successful you must stick with it, and Travis experienced that. “I was the oldest student in my classes most of the time, and I saw so many young people drop out. I was tempted to do that several times myself, but my advice for anyone would be to stick with it in the tough times, and don’t give up.”

Governor Bill Haslam has made higher education the hottest topic in Tennessee, and what a great time in history to get a college degree. The variety of financial aid makes for a much better situation than it was just a few short years ago, and our state is acclaimed across the nation in this regard.

By the way, Tennessee Tech is near the top of elite universities in the Volunteer State. A recent survey of elite universities ranked Vanderbilt number one and Tennessee Tech number two in the amount of career earnings graduates made after leaving school.

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Janelle Taylor in bringing you this story.