Tennessee Reconnect helps WSCC student overcome challenges to graduate

A family emergency forced Amanda Beth Cagle to leave Walters State in 2007, just a semester short of earning an associate of applied science degree in respiratory care.

Cagle came back in 2017 and will graduate Saturday as the top respiratory care student, becoming a living example of why one should never give up on dreams.

“I did not know if I would have the chance to come back. I didn’t just want to graduate from college. I loved respiratory care and wanted to work in the field,” Cagle said. She said she had no choice but to withdraw earlier due to a family emergency.

When she met with an adviser after deciding to return to college, she learned many of her general education classes were still valid. Being a health programs student, she did have to repeat a few science classes. She also learned that the respiratory care program had expanded from three semesters to four. Graduates may now sit for the higher-level registered respiratory care therapist licensure exam.

“I was 26 when I enrolled the first time. When I returned, some of my classmates were old enough to be my children. Honestly, it was a little intimidating,” Cagle said.

“The professors were always a big help. They are very open and accessible,” Cagle said. Soon, younger and older students were looking to Cagle for assistance.

“Beth is able to get along with anyone, including students of all ages. Students looked up to her,” said Donna Lilly, director of the respiratory care program.

“I always remembered Beth because she was a great student and was so close to graduation when she had to leave. When she came back 10 years later, I was a little surprised, but I was also ecstatic. I knew she would do well.”

Cagle paid for her education with a Pell Grant. If she had not qualified for a Pell Grant, she could have received a Tennessee Reconnect grant for the last year.

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