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Tymia Palmer is beginning life as a UT sophomore, having successfully completed her first year of study at Pellissippi State Community College as a Volunteer Bridge student.

Student Tymia Palmer

Volunteer Bridge, which began in 2010, is an invitation-only program for selected prospective UT students. Volunteer Bridge students live on the UT campus while taking their first-year classes at Pellissippi State Community College. Upon successful completion of the program, Volunteer Bridge students—like Palmer—transfer into UT as sophomores.

Palmer was one of 208 students who began the Volunteer Bridge program last year and one of 117 who have now transferred into UT as sophomores for the fall semester.

Another 206 students are beginning the Volunteer Bridge program as freshmen this fall.

Palmer, of Chattanooga, said she never expected to be part of the dual-enrollment program. She had applied to 13 colleges, including UT, and had been accepted to most of them. Although she had applied to UT, she had doubts that it would be the right fit for her.

“When I received my Volunteer Bridge invitation last year, I wasn’t 100 percent sure what the program actually was. I had never heard of a program like this before,” she said.

Despite her skepticism, she decided to go for it.

A communications studies major who also has an interest in social work, Palmer lived in the Bridge Living and Learning Community in Clement Hall on the UT campus while attending her first-year classes at PSCC.

The LLC allowed her to get to know fellow Bridge students and get acquainted with UT’s campus.

“I’m glad I went forward with the Volunteer Bridge program, and I’m thankful for all the people I’ve met and the opportunities it has brought me,” she said.

This year, Palmer will again live in the Volunteer Bridge LLC in Clement Hall, and she’ll serve as one of the program’s peer mentors. She hopes to be a sounding board for the new Bridge students and help them build a sense of community.

“I feel like it’s like being a mini-RA, but just for Bridge students,” she said. “Being chosen as an LLC mentor is giving me the opportunity to support and uplift new students, and that is very important to me. “My roommate is actually an incoming Volunteer Bridge student, which will give me the chance to support her as a roommate and mentor.”

Palmer’s advice to the incoming Volunteer Bridge students is applicable to all new students: “Everything is mind over matter. You will run into those moments where it’s hard and you want to give up; you might even feel like none of this is worth it. But you always have to remember the bad days and moments don’t last forever.

“Use every resource your program and the campus provide, and try to make a good friend along the way. Things are always better when you have someone who understands and is going through the process with you.”


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,​