Cary Haggard did not always plan to attend school at the UT Martin Parsons Center. Parsons was Haggard’s hometown and she grow up only a few miles from the center, but after being involved in a car accident shortly before she was supposed to begin her freshman year at UT Martin, she was unable to live away from home. She quickly found refuge at the UT Martin Parsons Center and has never looked back.
Haggard feels that the UT Martin Parsons Center is her second home. She is a distance-learning (DL) tech for the center, a student ambassador and a full-time student studying to be a pre-kindergarten through eighth grade teacher. When she isn’t at school, she can be found working with Extended School, an afterschool program at Parsons Elementary.
Haggard says that she has always been a motivated student. “Ever since I was little, I never had a problem with school. I was the one in first grade begging for homework,” she quipped.
Her experiences in her education led to her dream of becoming a teacher. She said, “I’ve had several teachers throughout that have really made an impact on me, and I guess, I like knowing that I can make an impact on other students.”
Coming from a long line of family members from UT Martin, Haggard always thought it would be the place for her to go to college. However, rather unexpectedly, she became the first in her family to attend the UT Martin Parsons Center.
Haggard said, “I was actually going to come here [UT Martin main campus]. I had a dorm and everything. I had a really bad wreck about two or three months before I was supposed to move in and I guess that changed me. I really had to depend on my family.”
Luckily, Haggard was able to easily arrange to attend the UT Martin Parsons Center without losing a single scholarship or class. She said, “I was worried, financially, about my scholarships. Being able to stay home and focus on my school was a really big deal.”
Now Haggard is fully recovered and committed to completing her degree. The Parsons Center has become a large part of her life. As a student ambassador, Haggard has encountered many opportunities that she may not have been able to experience on a larger campus.
Of her experience as a student ambassador, Haggard said, “I’ve gotten a lot of leadership experience and we meet a lot important people. The Governor came for our groundbreaking [for the new UT Martin Parsons Center West Tennessee Healthcare Nursing Wing] last year. We meet with the mayor, who helps with a lot of activities. We’re meeting very critical people for job opportunities.”
Even more than the experience she is gaining, Haggard feels not only close to home but feels like she has a home away from home. Specifically, she appreciates the faculty and staff’s dedication to knowing their students. She said, “They know you by name when you walk in the door. During finals week, the professors know you well enough that they can tell if you’re struggling and they can help you.”
Haggard is a sophomore education major at the UT Martin Parsons Center who not only hopes to be a good educator to her students, but who also aspires to be a good role model for them.