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University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Adult Education

Sue is currently seeking her MS in educational psychology with the Adult Education program. Originally from Chattanooga, TN, she received her BS in business administration with a concentration in accounting at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). She joined EPC in 2016, and still lives in Chattanooga. We asked her to reflect on some past and current experiences. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

Joseph F. Decosimo Success Center
UTC College of Business
Chattanooga, TN

Student success is my passion. Using my experience from my previous 25 years in banking has allowed me to develop a focus for students to become business world ready. In the Success Center in the College of Business at UTC, we offer our professional academic advisors to academic achievement and the Career Development Center to assist students in becoming competitive in the business world through professional development opportunities and internships.

Personal Interests

My family time together is very important and I truly enjoy hanging out with my with husband, Lee (retired engineer, UTC ’70, ’76), our two children and their spouses, our two grandchildren (Topher and Patricia), our dog, Riley and grand dogs (Rosie and Laney). Hiking is one of my personal pleasures in life, and we try to get to Colorado each summer to fill that space! Yoga is something that Lee and I enjoy frequently, as well as spending time walking Riley and consider mindful living as a ritual of our lifestyle. Additionally, travel is a great learning experience, and we love to travel to educate ourselves about other parts of the world.

Future/Vocational Goals

My only goal at this stage of my life is to be more effective at UTC. The increased understanding of the dynamics of the way adults learn, the techniques of program planning, and the fascinating theories of educational psychology and adult learning will allow me to broaden the scope of services and apply my knowledge to provide a more robust experience for our students.

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

Make a commitment to yourself be an active participant in the program. The program is so amazing and the sharing of experiences from our many backgrounds provides an inclusive learning platform. We enjoy others’ similarities, differences, and perspectives as we learn from one another. The faculty brings the theory to life through a variety of means, and the students confirm our learning through our experiences.

What do you think has been the most rewarding/challenging about this program?

I came from the business world with a successful 30-year career in the financial industry. Making the transition from the business environment and philosophy to education was in itself a personal challenge. This program is not easy. The challenge in producing and addressing the theoretical assignments in a scholarly way has made me a better writer and thinker. I look at the world differently now. It has opened up another world of information that is very exciting and applicable in many ways.

Student Spotlight: Amanda Johnson-Praino

Instructional Technology

Amanda is currently seeking her MS in education, with a concentration in the Instructional Technology (IT Online) program. Originally from Chattanooga, TN, she received her BS in secondary education: English at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She came to UT Knoxville, and joined EPC, in 2015. We asked her to reflect on some past and current experiences. Read her responses below.


Merit-based UTK IT Online Graduate Student Conference Attendance Award, 2016

  • Recipient of Merit-based UTK IT Online Graduate Student Conference Attendance Award
  • Attended 2016 Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Annual Convention to represent UT’s IT Online program along with faculty and peers
  • Accepted volunteer-based position on Board of Directors as Director of Social Media with Chattanooga chapter of Association for Talent Development (ATD)
  • Refer to Resume for additional details
Current Occupation

Project-based Instructional Designer
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, TN/Remote

Work as part of a collaborative team effort within the Learning Sciences and Instructional Innovations group to create instructor-led materials and resources to support the needs of various stakeholders within the nuclear and radiological security sector.

Personal Interests

I am a foodie at heart and love all things cooking. I enjoy spending time with my wife, Tami, and my dog, Ellie. We love taking Ellie on hikes in the woods, to get ice cream, and to the “puppy” store to get new toys and treats! I enjoy exercising and practicing yoga, as well as exploring new interests as I am always curious enough to learn about something new. My wife and I enjoy traveling when we get a chance, with our favorite vacation spot being New England. We have gone to Cape Cod several times during the summer months and it is just magical. Also, we enjoy spending time in Boston and surrounding cities.

Future/Vocational Goals

My most significant goals include becoming more immersed in the field of instructional design and technology, as it pertains to business and industry, and really sharpening my skill set. I want to continue gaining first-hand experience in the design of effective learning environments and instructional materials, while also focusing on the delivery of engaging instructor-led training (ILT) and virtual instructor-led training (VILT). Additionally, I have developed quite an interest in the visual design/creative aspects of being an instructional designer, and I want to continue enhancing these skills as they pertain to both instructional and graphic design roles.

What sold you on this program?

What really sold me on this program was the convenience of it being offered fully online through both synchronous and asynchronous technologies. As a full-time working professional and adult learner, it is very enticing to know there exists an in-state program based in instructional design and technology that can be completed entirely from within my home.

What do you think has been the most rewarding/challenging about this program?

For me, one of the most rewarding aspects of this program has centered on the relationships I have been in from the start. I have connected with professors from whom I have learned more than I could have imagined, as well as peers with whom I have progressed through the program from day one. I feel like I am a part of something through these relationships, and I am very grateful for the mentorships and friendships, respectively, I have created along the way.

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.”