Ellen Money – Student Success


Marriage, a child and a dead-end job plus a lifelong interest in bridges propelled Ellen Money to enter the 2+2 Program through Chattanooga State’s Engineering Technology division with a degree in civil engineering as her goal despite lower test scores due to testing anxiety.

“Dean McGhee thoroughly explained how difficult it is for a student who tests so low in math to make it all the way through an engineering degree, but luckily I am stubborn and when someone tells me that I can’t do something or that it will be hard, it makes me want to prove I can,” recalls Ms. Money.

Following her meeting with McGhee, she was enrolled one month later and never looked back. Ellen graduated in the top 15 percent of her class. “Balancing home, school and work was difficult. I began each day at 8 a.m. and left at 5 p.m. or later. I enrolled in 12 to 15 hours each semester, including summers. Each week I blocked out 20 hours to study/do homework and about 20-25 hours to work at my retail job,” shares Ellen.

Ellen is quick to praise Dean McGhee and Engineering Technology Department Head Beth Ruta. “They were rooting for me through my entire student career and I know that without their help and support I may not have had the determination to make it all the way through,” says Money. “Chattanooga State had teachers dedicated to my success. They have smaller classes and provided one-on-one attention along with an open door policy that I really took advantage of,” she added.

Regarding women in the engineering field, Ellen Money says, “ Don’t let the gender gap get in the way of your goals or be intimidated by a field dominated by men – stand strong and be tough. Don’t be afraid to show how smart you are. When you finish your degree, do something to help other women and girls in their path to a STEM career. Give them the encouragement to do what they love.”

Finishing up her Chattanooga State academic career and following graduation with a degree in Civil Engineering from UTC in 2013, Ellen is now fully employed as a Design Civil Engineer in Dam Safety Engineering at TVA.

Jeffrey Zellner


Jeffrey Zellner

Jeffrey Zellner knows how to build almost anything. His knowledge wasn’t learned overnight, but his aptitude provided him with the skills needed to land a good job. Following his December 2014 graduation from the Engineering Technology program with a concentration in Construction, Jeffrey found himself in Chicago with a job offer from ThyssenKrupp, the number one provider and installer of elevators, beginning January 2015.

“This is my first engineering job outside of Chattanooga State,” shares Jeffrey. He was accepted into a six-month superintendent training program at ThyssenKrupp. Skills he will be honing include employee safety, work quality, timeliness and cost containment. He will eventually be leading safety trainings and audits, providing technical input to sales staff on the scope of work and materials for the job and learning safety standards of the company.

Jeffrey cites Engineering Technology faculty and staff for his success; “The program provided me with the resources and knowledge I needed to perform well and beyond my job description.” His lead professor, Caitlin Moffitt, also served as his advisor and was always available to answer questions. Dean Tim McGhee and Charles Weathers helped him better visualize what he wanted out of the program.

“If you enjoy working with people, being outside, working with your hands and feeling like you contributed to something while feeling a real sense of accomplishment when you see a finished project, then I highly recommend a career in construction,” states Jeffrey. “While in the program I also encourage students to acquire a construction job to take what you are learning in the classroom and apply that newly found knowledge into the field. Take in as much information as you can and don’t be afraid to try new things … it will pay off in the end.”

Amanda Flynn – Student Success



Dental Assisting Technical Certificate

Amanda Flynn, a 2014 graduate of the Chattanooga State Dental Assisting program, recently was presented with the prestigious Hu-Friedy Award. She will receive a Merit Scholar Award from Hu-Friedy, a one full year paid ADAA membership, have her name published in the ADAA Journal, other media and posted on the Hu-Friedy website.

Flynn, age 21, resides in East Ridge and currently works as a registered dental assistant in Ft. Oglethorpe, GA. “I am excited to start my dental assisting career at Calloway Family Dentistry,” says Amanda.

Amanda volunteered to take X-rays and assist dentists during several mobile health clinics and provided oral health education to pre-school and elementary children.

“As an excellent student and clinician, her commitment to community service and dental health mission activities contributed, in part, to her being nominated for this award,” shares Karen Castleberry, Program Director & Associate Professor of Dental Assisting at Chattanooga State. Award recipients also embody qualities including loyalty, courtesy and professionalism.

Brandon Havis


Brandon Havis-FI

AAS, Information Systems Technology, Web Programming

“Chattanooga State teachers helped me reach my goal by pushing me and helping me learn everything they had to offer,” states Brandon Havis, but even the most focused young man sometimes hits a snag. His ability to overcome obstacles says a lot about character. “I bombed out one semester, but I knew I wanted to finish school and I was willing to do anything needed to get back on track,” shares Brandon. “Lots of people were pulling for me such as Stephanie Hollis in Career Services and former department head Janet Pickard. I had to refocus and take summer classes but I did it!” he adds. As a 2013 graduate of Information Systems Technology with a concentration in Web Programming, Brandon says, “I love learning something new and technology always changes.”

Brandon is continuing his education through Western Governor’s University for a degree in Computer Programming, Systems Software. In the meantime, he works two part-time jobs. As a Revenue Auditor Supervisor at UPS, the company helps pay for his schooling. Brandon is an intern at TVA in the health and safety division, but also has worked in the Nuclear Operations Group and Nuclear Engineers Group. He was challenged almost immediately upon hire to offer training to other personnel on SharePoint with little prior knowledge of the software. Rising to the occasion, he did the research and presented a successful training, thanks in part, to the education he received at Chattanooga State.

John Morris


John Morris (left) with Chattanooga State’s Tim McGee (right).

After earning his associate degree in electrical engineering from Chattanooga State and a bachelor’s in information systems, John Morris spent years in preparation for his true calling: entrepreneurship. Gaining experience as well as learning how to, and not, to manage a business, John worked at TVA and Oak Ridge National Laboratory before making the decision to forge out on his own in a 3-person start up company called Consultec Scientific. He insists that family values and support are crucial when taking the big leap from corporate job security into the unknown. He says having a superior product, listening to customers and weighing each major decision carefully is the key to entrepreneurship. His most recent decision to step down as president and CEO of Oak Ridge-based Technology 2020 will steer him back to his first passion: pursuing other entrepreneurial interests.


Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year: Innovation Valley Technology Business Association Navigator Award: October 2007
Federal Laboratory Consortium: Excellence in Technology Transfer – 2006
R&D 100 Award: Hybrid Solar Lighting – 2006

News Articles

Robert “Bobby” Duff, Jr.

duff-wpAt age 22 I didn’t think I would be able to go to college and complete my education; but Chattanooga State gave me an opportunity to get started on my journey to success. With my Associate of Applied Science in Electrical & Electronic Engineering Technologies: Automated Controls alone; I am already employed as an applications engineer in my field of study at Tennessee Rand. I was beyond prepared for my career with the many tools and opportunities provided to me at this institution. I have many mentors that have taken a personal interest in my success as an individual. The time I invested at Chattanooga State has been the most rewarding experience I could have asked for; from the valuable knowledge I gained to the connections I built with members of the staff and community. As I currently continue my education at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering I am confident the foundation built in my first degree is a sturdy stepping-stone on my path to success.

Brad Reagan – Former Visual Art Student

Chattanooga State 1997-2000 / AA-Art Austin Peay State University 2000-2002 BFA-Art University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2006-2008 MFA-Art

Chattanooga State 1997-2000 / AA-Art
Austin Peay State University 2000-2002 BFA-Art
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2006-2008 MFA-Art

“The quality of art faculty at Chattanooga State was tremendous and diverse. Beyond solid foundation classes, the faculty provided me with the opportunity to visit art museums and galleries in Atlanta, Washington DC, and New York City. My studies at Chattanooga State formed how I understand and process my sensibilities in art making. These formative years continued to help me stand out in graduate school in Chapel Hill North Carolina and in the city of Nashville where I live and practice Art. ”

“Since earning my MFA, I have returned to Middle Tennessee where I teach foundation courses in drawing and design at Austin Peay State University. As a developing artist, I find it important to find time outside of the university setting. I have worked with established sculptors, Olen Bryant on woodcarving, and Gregg Schlanger on numerous installations. I have produced murals in the last year of 2013 for local establishments. Over the past two years of 2012-2013, I have worked as a visual coordinator for a local music venue and local music festivals. I also continue to develop my own interest in Art through a practice in sculpture and painting. I am currently developing my studio practice and look forward to finding gallery representation both locally and beyond. All of these endeavors contribute to my understanding of Art and the world we live in”

ChattState 2014 All-Tennessee Academic Team Honored


Chattanooga, TN — Two Chattanooga State students were recognized among 26 of the state’s highest achieving community college students at the 18th Annual Celebration of the All-Tennessee Academic Team sponsored by USA Today and Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) International Honor Society. During the ceremony on February 4 in Nashville, State Senator Bo Watson and Chattanooga State President James L. Catanzaro awarded medallions to Chattanooga State students Derek Dameron and Robert Barber.

The All-Tennessee Academic Team consists of students nominated by their colleges who will be considered for the All-USA Academic Team sponsored by USA Today and Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) International Honor Society. Each two-year college in Tennessee may nominate two outstanding students per campus. Students are selected in recognition of their academic achievement, leadership, and service to the community.

Phi Theta Kappa recognizes and encourages scholarship among two-year college students. To achieve this purpose, PTK provides opportunities for the development of leadership and service, creates an intellectual climate allowing exchange of ideas and ideals, promotes lively fellowship for scholars, and fosters stimulation of interest in continuing academic excellence. Barber holds the position as vice president of leadership in the Alpha Beta Mu chapter of PTK while Dameron serves as current Student Government Association president.

Both men were recipients of scholarships from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and plan to complete their bachelor degrees at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). As a mass communication major, Derek is gaining valuable experience in his field by working with the staff in the Center for Distributed Education using various types of editing software. Robert is a computer science major with a background in Internet security and a minor in math who often tutors in the math lab.

“Robert and I were the first ones to be awarded and to me, it was symbolic reminder of how ChattState tries to lead our state and set the standard in everything we do. I hope every student that comes to our campus catches that same spirit and motivation that our school does its best to embody,” said Dameron.

Shares Robert, “During the ceremony, Dr. Catanzaro and Senator Watson bestowed upon Derek and me a Proclamation from the Tennessee State House of Representatives and awarded us with the Certificate for the All-State Academic Team. It was an honor to be recognized for our hard work.”

For more information about Phi Theta Kappa visit www.chattanoogastate.edu. Advisors to contact include Rachael Falu, 423.697.2412, rachael.falu@chattanoogastate.edu or Garrett Bouldin, 423.697.2512, garrett.bouldin@chattanoogastate.edu.

Former Art Students Create Artisan Chocolates


Wendy and Brandon Buckner started The Hot Chocolatier in 2008. As a locally-owned Chattanooga, TN based company, the couple wanted to bring their experiences – from the various cities in which they had lived – back to the their hometown. The concept of The Hot Chocolatier became a reality when Wendy and Brandon began introducing artisan chocolates, confections, one-of-a-kind sculptures, showpieces, customized favors, and corporate/wedding gifts upon opening the doors of their first location within the Business Development Center along the North Shore area of downtown Chattanooga.

After visiting a number of shops/production facilities in Paris, France and Belgium as part of a travel study through a MakeWork grant in 2011, Wendy and Brandon felt that Chattanooga needed a retail artisan chocolate/gourmet dessert boutique-style shop to call their own. In August, 2011, the couple moved The Hot Chocolatier to Chattanooga’s Southside and expanded the menu to include in-house gourmet pastries and desserts. The Hot Chocolatier celebrated its fifth year anniversary in October 2013.

About the owners:

Wendy Buckner – owner & head chocolatier – received an Associate’s degree in Studio Art from Chattanooga State in 2001 and went on to graduate from The French Pastry School in Chicago, IL in 2005. Wendy has worked in several prominent patisseries and chocolate kitchens before developing The Hot Chocolatier. She also brings her training as a visual artist to her culinary experience.

Brandon Buckner – co-owner, designer & assistant chocolatier – received an Associates/Transfer Degree in Studio Art from Chattanooga State in 1995, transferred to UTC for a BFA in Painting in 1998, and went on to receive a MFA in Painting from the University of Iowa, Iowa City in 2005. His training in design and studio art makes him an asset in custom chocolate creations. Brandon created The Hot Chocolatier logo and package designs for products and also works at Diversified Companies as a Graphics Specialist.

Student Success Day Welcomes Inky Johnson


Chattanooga, TN — ChattState welcomes motivational speaker, Inquoris “Inky” Johnson on Wednesday, January 29, for a series of presentations during Student Success Day.

Inky Johnson always dreamed of playing professional sports, but a football game on September 9, 2006, changed everything for him. A routine tackle turned into a life-threatening injury that paralyzed his right arm and left him with daily pain and constant physical challenges. Despite his impoverished up bringing and the devastating injury, Inky persisted to complete both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at The University of Tennessee. His story of relentless determination inspires audiences to embrace the challenges of life.

Arriving on campus the morning of January 29, Mr. Johnson will address students, faculty and staff beginning at 10:00 a.m. in OMN-124/126. Following the open presentation, the Student Success, “Just Talkin,” Series luncheon begins at 12:00 p.m. The ChattState Augusta R. Kolwyck Library Information Commons will host a book signing at 4:00 p.m. At 6:00 p.m. a public presentation event featuring Mr. Johnson will take place in the Humanities Theatre. For more information, contact Sandy Rutter at 423.697.4475 or sandy.rutter@chattanoogastate.edu, or visit www.chattanoogstate.edu.

Sponsors for this event include the Student Government Association, ChattState Athletics, and the Building Outstanding Service Scholars (BOSS).

Founded in 1965, Chattanooga State is a public community college serving more than 11,000 students from Chattanooga and Hamilton, Rhea, Sequatchie, Marion, Bledsoe and Grundy counties.