BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. — TNAchieves announced the launch of its new "Find Your Why" campaign.
It is designed to ignite students’ motivations for attending college.
"Find Your Why" seeks to ensure students from the Class of 2021 feel both heard and supported during this unprecedented year. With Tennessee’s community colleges experiencing a 19 percent decrease in fall enrollment, TNAchieves created "Find Your Why" to empower and inspire its students while also highlighting the importance of earning a college credential.
Damian Duff is a freshman at Northeast State Community College. He is studying to become a nurse.
"Ever since I was little I felt like I was always by myself because I was bouncing back and forth. So I felt like I had to grow up very fast," says Duff.
Duff is part of TNAchieves. He is also a Tennessee High graduate and a first-generation college student. Duff says he moved around a lot during his childhood and was always independent. But when he was offered two free years at Northeast State, he couldn't pass up the opportunity to make his family proud.
"I didn't want them [Duff's Parents] to look at me and think that they failed because they were so young. So that's another driving factor to finish college for sure," says Duff.
However, that was not the case for many of his high school friends.
"Especially now that COVID has hit. I know, a couple of friends who decided they wanted to drop out and, you know, they do whatever they want to do," says Duff. "The future is something that hasn't happened yet and the past is something that already has happened. So you can't spend too much time stressing about it. You need to live in the present moment. So that's all I'm here for."
Some students took a gap year or took courses online at home. Haley Rice is a COMPLETE Coach for the nonprofit, "TNAchieves". Rice is pushing for more students like Duff to consider a college education with the "Find Your Why" campaign.
"Everything that's gone on in the past year with the pandemic, I think sometimes it's easy to lose sight of your vision and your drive," says Rice. "We want to remind students that, you know, you have a reason for starting this journey, and that you can do it. Even when things get tough."
To inform "Find Your Why", TNAchieves asked its Class of 2020 college freshmen their why and received over 4,000 replies. Responses ranged from proving you can find success in college to having a better life or more profitable career. "Find Your Why" shares stories of students who are breaking family cycles, overcoming barriers and exceeding expectations.
The program asks students to identify their motivations to attend college and foster this why to a college degree. Mentors, like Rice, will also play a critical role in encouraging the Class of 2021 to remain steadfast in their college pursuit.
To learn more about the Find Your Why campaign, visit the TNAchieves website.