Roane State’s Welcome Back Week kicks off fall semester

By Bob Fowler

Roane State staff writer

With pandemic safety precautions in effect, Roane State students, faculty and staff ushered in the fall semester with the traditional “Welcome Back Week” observances at each of the community college’s campuses.

Roane State President Chris Whaley praised the patience and diligence of both employees and students as fall semester kicks off, saying everyone has “worked hard to be safe while having remarkably good attitudes.”

Keeping everyone safe is a “balancing act,” Whaley said, noting that many Roane State students have opted for online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite that, turnout for Welcome Back Week activities “really has been better than expected,” said Jennifer Fugate, the college’s student engagement coordinator. “Even online students have turned out to get their goody bags.”

Bumper stickers, pens, a t-shirt and other Roane State memorabilia were included in those red bags emblazoned with the college’s emblem.

“We’re just happy to be here,” said Clinton resident Katie Wood as she and fellow student Alice Tran of LaFollette clutched their hauls of swag.

They’re both in the college’s dental hygiene program, “and there’s no way to learn that online,” Katie said. Both students said program director Melinda Gill and clinic coordinator Michelle Jones “did everything they could do” to make the program as safe as possible.

“We truly feel appreciated and honored,” Alice said.

Also stopping for a goody bag was Knoxville resident Shayla Williamson. She’s in the school’s radiology program. “I wanted to come back” on campus, she said.

Welcome Back Week festivities, a tradition for more than 20 years, were held August 24 through August 27 on each of the college’s nine campuses and included free lunches.

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 27, Chandler 22, and Naomi 13. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 11 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

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