KNOXVILLE and JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Transfer students must love Middle Tennessee State University.
Fifty-three percent of MTSU’s student population (21,721 this fall) are transfers who make the move and find a home where they can complete their undergraduate degree at the Murfreesboro university.
MTSU officials have discovered one of the reasons why it has a robust transfer population: Walters State Community College biology professor Lisa Eccles.
Eccles joined more than 60 high school counselors and community college staff during MTSU’s True Blue Tour luncheon at The Foundry at the Fair Site Wednesday (Oct. 2) in Knoxville — a noontime event where the university thanks them for helping guide students to MTSU, then hosts students and their parents for a nighttime reception.
Knoxville and Johnson City on Oct. 1 were the fourth and fifth stops, respectively, as MTSU travels across the state and to Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky in search of outstanding prospective students. The events are free. To register for an upcoming tour event, visit www.mtsu.edu/rsvp.
Including her own daughter, Rachel Eccles, Lisa Eccles has sent about 20 transfer students to MTSU in recent years. She is the Phi Beta Kappa honors adviser for Walters State, thus finding another avenue to steer students to MTSU.
“I send a lot of students your way through the Honors College transfer scholarship,” Eccles said. “… As far as transfers, it’s easier for science and honors students to transfer to MTSU. They get more scholarships.”
The Honors College awards 30 transfer scholarships. MTSU also offers a guaranteed scholarship for transfers who have achieved the 60-hour requirement and apply by Feb. 15.
“We truly appreciate and love our community college partners (Walters State, Pellissippi, Roane State and Northeast),” said McPhee, who tells his audiences MTSU is the No. 1 destination in Tennessee for transfer students.
An MTSU senior, Rachel Eccles is now earning a 3+1 pharmacy degree at the University of Tennessee-Memphis. In 2018, she earned both her high school degree from Jefferson County High School and associate degree from Walters State at the same time. She took pre-pharmacy program classes in fall 2018 and this spring and summer, and defended her Honors thesis.
McPhee shared about outstanding programs, caring faculty and staff, and guaranteed True Blue, Presidential and Trustee scholarships available to qualifying students who apply by Dec. 1.
• Seymour High School senior Ella Lawrence, 17, was among many prospects wanting to pursue videography and film. Having never visited campus except for band competitions, she discovered MTSU online “and I really like it.” Her 25 ACT and 4.0 GPA qualify her for a guaranteed Presidential Scholarship ($18,000 for four years/$4,500 per year). She attended with her mother, Kim Lawrence.
• Christian Academy of Knoxville senior Pate Eldridge, 17, has a strong interest in marketing in the Jones College of Business. The CAK football and track and field athlete plans to visit during the weekend of the Blue Raiders football game against Rice (the Salute to Armed Services game Nov. 16). Robert Eldridge brought son Pate to the tour event.
• With a large and enthusiastic student reception crowd on hand, McPhee was in quite a giving mood. He awarded $27,000 in scholarships and book scholarships to 13 high school and community college students. Earlier in the day, he presented 10 counselors and community college staff with scholarships totaling $18,000 to award to their students who plan to attend MTSU.
• A “Meet MTSU” billboard got Jennifer Lawson’s attention while driving to work in 2018. She, husband Mike Pak and son Ben Johnson attended both years. Johnson, who wants to study music business and sound engineering, received his acceptance letter from MTSU on Sept. 30. “Everybody (at MTSU) is interested in you being successful,” she told the audience after McPhee was so touched by her comments he invited her to the stage. Later, she said MTSU’s recruiting efforts are “such a neat thing. It makes people feel wanted. It’s a completely different approach and I’m obviously impressed.”
Johnson City highlights
• Elias Orchard, 15, a sophomore at Daniel Boone High School in Gray, wants to follow older brother Aiden Orchard to MTSU. “This is where he wants to go,” Karin Orchard, their mother, said of Elias’s college wish. A $1,500 scholarship he was awarded will be held for him until he graduates from Boone in 2022.
• Wife, mother of three and Northeast State Community College student Brittany Rowell, 30, of Bristol is “looking online at anthropology” as she considers her transfer options after obtaining her associate degree.
• Mary Evelyn Longmire, 17, a University School senior, visited MTSU this past spring. She wants to study physics and astronomy. “I was very impressed,” she said of the visit. “I like how physics majors have their own building (Davis Science).” Rebekka Longmire, her mother, joined her at the True Blue Tour event.
• The Wilson family — parents Melissa and Shane and son Micah, 17 — drove across the mountain on I-26 from Weaverville, North Carolina, to visit, with “MTSU being one of his top three choices,” Melissa Wilson said.
Up next for the MTSU True Blue Tour members and administrators are visits next week to Franklin Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs, 700 Cool Springs Blvd., and Thursday, Oct. 10, in Clarksville at the TownePlace Suites, 120 Fair Brook Place. Student receptions and counselor luncheons are free. To register, visit www.mtsu.edu/rsvp. Walk-ups are welcome.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)