Level Up: Southwest TCC offering one year programs for those with limited finances

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Thinking about the best gift for Christmas, Hanukkah or anytime of the year?

The folks at Southwest Tennessee Community College recommend getting a career in one year, and through a new education program, it could be free of charge.

Tennessee Reconnect is a statewide program that offers a chance to Level Up for you and your family.

Johari Hamilton walked away from a career where she could have earned 6 figures.

“The ability to bloom,” Hamilton said.

20 years in the health care field traded to become part of the Tennessee Reconnect Program at Southwest Tennessee Community College.

“If my position was defining me versus who I knew I really was or who I really am, then it's time for a change,” Hamilton said.

FOX13 asked if this was a difficult decision for her.

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“Absolutely,” she said. “After 20 years, it was all I knew.”

MPD Officer Peyton White also attended Southwest TCC through Tennessee Promise, an older education program for students just graduating from high school but not ready for a four-year college program

“I didn't come from big money or anything,” White said. “Along with the Hope Scholarship, and we were able to take care of nearly all my cost for college here.

Two Southwest students at very different stages in life, but seeking nearly identical goals, a way to level up.

“Many of the jobs that will funnel right here in the Memphis region require two-year degrees or certificates,” said Jacqueline Faulkner, Vice President of Student Affairs. “We are actually focusing on career in a year.”

Southwest offers over 25, one-year certificates that prepare students for jobs open right now that include healthcare, electronics, machining technology, computer science and business.

Jobs that allow students to go from classwork to directly into the workforce after one year.

“When you earn that degree and are able to provide family sustaining wages, you change your family’s path, you become an example for future generations,” Faulkner said.

Hamilton dedicates part of her day to an internship in her dream field, public relations, then there is the classwork and study time.

“Now I’m on a different grind,” she said. “I’m on a grind for me.”

Mom, wife, student, intern and no six-figures, but no looking back either.

“I feel like an eagle,” she said. “I feel like I’m soaring above what used to be a place of gravity for me.”

If you are already working and want to switch career gears or just want to get your degree after years of working, now is the time to start looking into TN Connect and find out whether you qualify for financial assistance. Visit Southwest’s website for more information on the TN Reconnect and TN Promise programs.