ETSU’s Noland visits Unaka to speak to students

Published 8:25 am Friday, April 6, 2018

Students at Unaka High School received a special visit on Thursday morning as East Tennessee State University President Dr. Brian Noland stopped by the school to speak to the students about preparing to continue their education.

Noland shared some of his own experiences from his time in college with the group of juniors and seniors and urged them not to make the same mistakes he did.

Like many students preparing to graduate high school, Noland said he had no idea what he wanted to be when he “grew up.” His parents encouraged him to pursue a career as a pharmacist because he enjoyed his science classes. They also encouraged him to attend a specific university, so he said he never looked beyond what they expected of him.

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“I didn’t want to disappoint my parents,” Noland said. “I made all wrong choices. I never explored the interests I had, and I made mistakes.”

Early in his studies, Noland said he realized a career as a pharmacist was not for him. It was then he began to focus on his interests and discovered a passion for teaching, especially American history.

He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science, a masters degree in public policy, and finally a Ph.D. in political science.

“I pursued my degree because I wanted to teach,” Noland said.

Noland encouraged the students to look at their own lives to discover what interests them and then find a way to turn those interests into a career.

“Find what you love. Find what you are passionate about,” Noland said. “When you find your passion, you will know the answer to the question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up.’”

In searching for a place to continue their education, Noland told the students to find the right school that fits their needs and goals — whether that is a state college, a community college, or a vocational school like the Tennessee College of Applied Technology.

“Go to the school that’s the right fit for you, because where you go to school is going to become part of who you are,” Noland said.

He also encouraged the students to begin planning early for the financial aspect of continuing their education.

“When I was in your shoes I didn’t know what it took to get into college and how to pay for it,” Noland said. “No one told me about financial aid, so I made a lot of stupid decisions.”

He told the students to file their paperwork for financial aid, work hard in their studies, and apply for every scholarship they can.

“All of this is in front of you,” Noland said. “You have access to resources I didn’t have. Take advantage of them.”