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Cathy Hammon

Adult Education

Cassandra earned an MS with the Adult Education program in 2017. She is originally from Atlanta, GA and currently lives in Knoxville, TN. We asked her to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where she’s at now. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

Accounting Specialist III
Office of the Bursar
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN

I currently work for the Bursar, Susan Forman, at UT Knoxville.

Accomplishments since Graduating

Greatest professional accomplishment since graduation has been the opportunity to work one-on-one with the Bursar to assist with daily duties of the position. I am beyond blessed to have a boss that completely supported me while I obtained my master’s. After finishing the program, I requested to learn more of the daily operations of the Bursar, and my boss has spent a great amount of time teaching me new programs, especially those in Banner. She continuously provides me opportunities to further my knowledge and enhance my career.

Personal Interests

My husband and I enjoy traveling and when we have the opportunity on the weekends we like to engage in short excursions and enjoy local culture. My parents are very close to my husband, I have to admit that he is their favorite child, and quite often they come with us on our trips. This gives us all the opportunity to spend quality time together, including going to church together on Sundays.

Accomplishments Earned as a Student

While conducting research for my final comps, I centered my topic on the transformative learning experiences of veteran students involved in combat. I have the upmost respect for the men and women who serve our country. My husband, father, uncle and great uncle are all Veterans. One of my greatest accomplishments was being able to interview a University of Tennessee veteran student that was an Army combat medic. To hear their experiences, how it related to their learning and helping others learn was one of the most rewarding experiences during my program.

What would you tell an incoming/current student?

Going into the program, my first thought was that I would come to know more about how adults learn so that it would help me create a successful learning environment in my position at the University of Tennessee. Teaching in the Atlanta Metropolitan School District gave me the experience to learn how culture and backgrounds influence learning, but only on a small scale. This program has introduced to me a worldly, holistic view of learning. Teaching at a public school system was just barely scraping the surface of what adult education would entail. After two years in the program, I have learned how the principles of adult education originated, how adult learning models and theories can facilitate learning, and how as individuals we can take all of our experiences and meanings and contribute to a successful learning environment both in and outside of the classroom.

The one thing that has remained constant is I have always viewed educators as individuals who love learning. This still remains true in higher adult education, but I have a new respect for adult educators. It is those in this field who love learning on a level that they have invested a great deal of time and research to help adult education learners. I realize that this program was never about changing the way we think because of curriculum, it was allowing us as individuals to be presented with new ideas, concepts, and experiences to help us facilitate our own learning. Everyone has a story, a journey, that has brought them to this program. We all have vast backgrounds, experiences, ideas, concepts, and thoughts that can contribute to learning. The key of this program was allowing us to come to our own understanding of what all of it meant for us individually.

How did your experiences as a student help you in your professional/personal life after graduation?

One learning experience that was particularly important to me was studying the movements in adult education in Cathy Hammon’s, clinical assistant professor, course “Survey of Adult Education”. It was interesting to see how adult education developed over time from the works of Socrates and Plato, to the modernist view of adult education. During my undergrad, I researched the Renaissance period due to its rich history of literature and art that resonated during that time. It was in Hammon’s course that I would learn the influence of that particular era on modern andragogy in practice. In humanistic adult education, what really stood out to me was one of the thought leaders; Martin Luther. As a Christian, my religion came from the Protestant Reformation initiated by Martin Luther. During my adolescent years, I learned about the Protestant Reformation but did not connect it to humanistic adult education. This was a very personal moment for me in the adult learning environment; to connect my religion to adult education. All of a sudden, I was able to connect something that is a very deep, personal belief for me to its importance in adult education.

Did you end up where you thought you would?

Currently at my position at the University of Tennessee, I have been putting into place the ideas and concepts that I have learned in this program. During Qi Sun’s, associate professor, course, “Facilitating Change in the Educational Environment”, we learned that we can take a look outside the box if we have a barrier in the educational environment to understand the reasons why an individual views change as positive or negative. By understanding how the individual views their experiences and how they have resonated with their critical reflection of their experience, we can facilitate a successful learning or workplace environment. On a daily basis, we come across individuals that seem to create a barrier in the workplace or learning environment. At first, it may seem easy to be discouraged. However, putting in place the concepts and ideas I have learned in this program helps me understand why others view certain aspects as positive or negative from their experiences.

“This program has a been a road; there were some smooth stretches, bumpy rides, some curves, some twists, some obstacles, but it was all leading to somewhere. A destination unlike any other, not a specific destination, but one that encompassed knowledge all along the path. It was not about where I was going, a specific mark; it was about the journey, about what I learned. This program was never about finding answers, it was about losing the questions and finding your own learning. One important aspect that I have learned in this program is that learning is life-long, it is a continuous journey. It does not stop because we reach a certain age or we graduate. All the lessons in life that are accumulated from the time of birth, are on-going and every experience contributes to our overall learning.”

Alumni Spotlight: Stracee Robinson
Applied Educational Psychology

Stracee earned an MS in educational psychology with the Applied Educational Psychology program in 2015. She is originally from, and currently lives in, Chattanooga, TN. We asked her to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where she’s at now. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

Academic Completion Specialist
Chattanooga State Community College
Social and Behavioral Sciences Division
Chattanooga, TN

In my role, I help to ensure students persist to complete their degree or certificate.

Accomplishments since Graduating

I have a sincere interest in serving students at the collegiate level, and my current position at Chattanooga State is my first step on that journey. I would say that this is my greatest professional accomplishment.

Personal Interests

I enjoy all of the arts and trying new foods, but by far I love sending time with my family. They are just super cool people!

Stracee Robinson and family

What sold you on this program?

The synchronous online format sold me on the program. I was grateful for the opportunity to learn via online, but even more so once I knew I would be able to interact with my instructors and classmates.

What was the most memorable experience?

My most memorable experience was in clinical assistant professor Cathy Hammon’s class. In addition to visiting the Highlander Center, she introduced me to the work of Asa Hilliard. Throughout my education, not one teacher had ever explored a black psychologist in any psychology course I had taken. I want her to know how much that touched my soul and opened my mind to a beautiful perspective.

How did your experiences as a student help you in your professional/personal life after graduation??

My experience as an EdPsych Online student has heightened my awareness of creating environments conducive to reciprocal learning. It has helped me to be concise when communicating, and to be more in tune to issues and concerns that effect how students learn. All things that I use both professionally and personally.

“Love and light to all that have been and will be a part of the EdPsych Online program at UT!”

Adult Education

Linda earned an MS in educational psychology with a concentration in the Adult Education program in 2015. Originally from Cleveland, TN, she now lives in Chattanooga, TN. We asked her to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where she’s at now. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

Assistant to the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Chattanooga, TN

I support the efforts of the staff, faculty, and students of the College of Arts and Sciences in a variety of roles.

Awards and Accomplishments Earned as a Student

While in the program, I was honored to receive nominations for membership to Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society and Gamma Beta Phi National Honor Society.

Accomplishments since Graduating

This semester finds me in a new role – college professor – as I am teaching as an adjunct at both UTC and Chattanooga State. My course at UTC is a First Year Experience class, which is aimed at helping first year students acquire the tools needed to successfully transition to college life. My course at Chattanooga State is an online section of Educational Psychology, and I am thrilled to be able to have an impact on students who aspire to be teachers. I have always wanted to teach and, now, thanks to my time in the program at UT Knoxville, I have the credentials, knowledge, and experience to revel in the accomplishment of this long-held goal.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy reading, expanding my culinary skills, and putting my Netflix subscription to good use watching movies and catching up on those TV series I missed while in school. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends and getting some exercise walking Daga, my German Shepherd.

What sold you on this program/department/university?

After going back to school and finishing up my undergraduate degree in psychology when my youngest child went off to college, I felt that there were other educational endeavors to be explored and conquered, so I started examining possibilities. The EdPsych Online MS degree program at UT met all of my requirements. It combined both my field of work and my undergraduate field of study; it was online, so it was easily accessible; with my fee waivers as a UTC employee, the expense did not create a stumbling block; and the curriculum looked diverse and challenging. It was a great decision.

What was the most memorable experience during your time here?

While I had many wonderful experiences over the span of my two years in the program, some stand out more than others. Overall, the two courses I had spring semester of 2015 combined together to make the best learning experience of my life.

I had Survey of Adult Education with clinical assistant professor, Cathy Hammon, and we studied thought leaders, pros and cons, and key ideas of each of the seven philosophies of adult education. I came out of this course feeling a true scholar of adult education.

My other course that semester was Program Development and Operations with professor emerita, Mary Zeigler. The highlights of this course revolved around developing a new educational program from the ground up and learning about the amazing life of Myles Horton and the life-changing work done at the Highlander Folk School. And, yes, there was a field trip. Over half of our online class made time, on a Saturday, to travel to New Market, Tennessee for a day of work and conversations at the Highlander Research and Education Center.

What would you tell an incoming/current student in the program/department?

Some important thoughts I would like to offer:

  1. Discard all of your preconceived notions of online classes because these are designed to allow for the benefits of sitting in an actual classroom with your colleagues and professors while in any variety of settings.
  2. Learn your APA Manual forwards and backwards and make it your friend.
  3. Share your strengths with your classmates and allow their strengths to buffer your weaknesses, especially during group work (and there will be plenty of that).
  4. Be an active and engaged participant in the learning communities of your classes because you share in the responsibility for not only your learning, but your classmates’ learning as well.
  5. It’s OK that you don’t know what you don’t know—everything will fall into place along the way.
  6. Reflection is one of the strongest learning tools you have at your disposal, so do it often.
  7. Walk at graduation. You worked hard and deserve the pomp and circumstance.

“I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge all of the wonderful people who made my grad school experience such a life-changing experience. The administration and staff who serve as the backbone of program were friendly and always readily available. I never had to wait long for a call or returned email. The professors shared their wisdom and demanded high-quality effort in an encouraging and accepting environment. They provided me with a vision of what I want to be as a teacher. My classmates grew from comrades in arms to good friends. I look forward to following where their lives go in the future. Finally, I need to give a shout out to my good friend and colleague Susan Long. We applied to the program together and spent most class nights over two years sitting together in an office or study room in the library at UTC with our laptops and a stash of treats. We shared the ups and downs of graduate school and talked each other off the ledge more than once. I know the experience was richer and definitely more entertaining because of her.”

Applied Educational Psychology

Alyssa is currently seeking her MS in educational psychology with a concentration in the Applied Educational Psychology program. Originally from Knoxville, TN she received her BS in psychology from UT Knoxville and joined EPC in 2014. We asked her to reflect on some past and current experiences. Read her responses below.

  • Selected to join Gamma Beta Phi National Honor Society

I am one class away from completing my Master’s course work in Educational Psychology and achieving my own personal goal of attaining straight A’s throughout the program.

Current Occupation

Accounting Specialist
Treasurer’s Department
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

I currently work as an Accounting Specialist working with biweekly payroll for the Treasurer’s department at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Personal Interests

I love spending time with my husband and our very large family. Reading is my favorite pastime. I love to travel and explore new places, and I hope to be able to do more traveling once I am done with school. After graduation, I plan on devoting my time learning Spanish, my husband’s native language and dabbling in creative writing.

Future/Vocational Goals

I would love to continue working for the university as an academic advisor, specifically working with first year freshmen. I am also passionate about working with low-income adolescents. I would love to be an advocate for kids who have never had anyone tell them that they can succeed in college. If I have learned anything from this program, it is that self-efficacy and motivation are two pivotal factors that drive success, and I want to help kids and young adults learn how to learn and achieve their goals.

What sold you on this program?

I was sold on this online master’s program the second I reached out to Cathy Hammon (program coordinator) and we had our first conversation about the specifics of the program. I did not think it was possible to develop such personal relationships with others in an online setting, but I have made so many friends and connections by becoming part of this learning community.

What would you tell an incoming student who joins the program?

I would tell any incoming student joining the program or department that EPC’s faculty and staff members genuinely want you to succeed and are always available to answer any questions or concerns. I would also tell incoming students to not be afraid to put yourself out there and get involved. Not everyone may have the opportunity to be local in an online program, but for those who are local, I have found that attending orientations, dissertation defenses, or other events hosted by the department are a great way to meet people.