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William McGovern is a US Marine veteran who recently completed two years of study at Pellissippi State Community College and is now set to begin classes in mechanical engineering as a transfer student at UT.

This fall, UT is welcoming 1,430 transfer students—up more than 150 over last year.

William McGovern“We’ve always welcomed transfer students, but we know this will be an increasingly important focus as Tennessee students choose to take advantage of the Tennessee Promise scholarship program,” said Kari Alldredge, interim associate vice provost for enrollment management. “We’re excited about working with community colleges and growing our transfer numbers because this will advance our goal, and our state’s goal, of creating a larger population of college-educated citizens.”

Starting this fall, the Tennessee Promise offers last-dollar scholarships for students to attend any of the state’s thirteen community colleges, twenty-seven colleges of applied technology, or other eligible institutions.

Knowing that transfer numbers are likely to rise in coming years, UT has been building a framework to help recruit transfer students and ensure they make a good transition.

During the past year, full-time admissions counselors focusing on transfer students have been placed in Memphis to serve west Tennessee and in Nashville to serve middle Tennessee. There are two transfer counselors in Knoxville.

UT has worked on plans that help all Tennessee community college students ensure their credits will transfer to UT and help them transfer into most majors. Starting this fall, uTrack—a system that helps students stay on track to a timely graduation—will be used for all new transfer students.

For McGovern, 33, completing his community college studies and transferring to UT to continue his education is fulfilling a dream.

“Two years ago I was working as a successful sales consultant for a large construction company,” said McGovern, of Knoxville. One day his supervisor got aggravated at others on the team and started lecturing them about their productivity and job choice.

“He said the time for day dreaming about a different future had passed–that no one there could be a doctor or lawyer or engineer.

“I had been away from school for almost a decade, but I still felt deep inside that I could be doctor or lawyer or engineer or anything else that I put my mind to.”

The next day, McGovern turned in his resignation and embarked on his journey to become an engineer.

McGovern said a conversation with Larry Long, an assistant director in Undergraduate Admissions, convinced him that UT was where he should complete his studies. Long talked to him about UT’s nationally ranked engineering program and strong Center for Career Development program that would support his eventual job search.

“This made UT feel less like just another institution of learning and more like a partner committed to our mutual success far into the future,” McGovern said.

McGovern said he thinks his community college experience and his life experience have prepared him for life at UT.

“Being an adult student comes with its own set of unique challenges and difficulties. The trick for me has been in learning to turn what I once considered barriers into sources of motivation and never taking my eyes off of the finish line,” he said. “Dreams are real things, with weight and substance. That mass can either be used as a driving force to push you high into the sky or pull you down like an anchor around your neck beneath a sea of regret. I choose the former.”


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,