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Nickie Fanning

Nickie Fanning was a stay-at-home mom for 20 years. As her sons were nearing the time to graduate high school, she experienced what she calls a mid-life realization - not a crisis, a reality. What was she going to do? After much thought and soul searching, Fanning decided she needed a college education and enrolled at Motlow.

Nickie Fanning

She began in 2009 and starting setting her goals, each one bigger than the last. Nickie wanted to be a member of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international honor society of two-year colleges. The first semester she was eligible she narrowly missed the GPA mark. Needing a 3.5, she made a 3.463. The next semester, she achieved her goal. Nickie eventually became PTK vice president of the Fayetteville Center and now serves as the president of all Motlow locations.

Nickie became active with Motlow's international education and applied for the Study Abroad Program. She was accepted and last summer traveled to London with coordinator Jeannie Brown and other students from Motlow. The experience is one she will never forget. She said, "I would have never imagined I could be part of such a grand opportunity while attending a two-year college."

In addition to her PTK duties, she also serves as a Student Government Association (SGA) senator for the Fayetteville Center. When not in class, Fanning is a student worker and tutors English.

Fanning's goal after college is to become a literature teacher. She wants to teach the love of reading to either middle or high school students. Her plans are to graduate from Motlow in the spring of 2012 with an associate's degree and pursue her bachelor's degree from Athens State University in Athens, Ala.

Debra Smith, assistant director of student services at the Fayetteville Center, said, "Nickie is one of those remarkable students who works hard, maintains a positive attitude, and is a great example of how to be successful."

Nickie said, "Going to Motlow was the best decision I've ever made. I love the small community setting at Motlow and I encourage anyone who is even slightly considering going to college to go!" She continued, "I'm proud of what I've accomplished and how happy and proud my family is for me."

She recently learned of other academic honors she is nominated for and will receive. Gregg Garrison, PTK's lead advisor, nominated her for USA TODAY's All-USA Community College Academic Team. The program is administered by PTK. In February she will attend a luncheon in Nashville where all 28 nominees from Tennessee, two from each community college, will be honored as the All-Tennessee Academic Team. The national award winners will be announced later in the spring.

Nickie has been married for 22 years to husband Kelly and they live in Elora, near the Franklin County line. She is the daughter of Jerry and Deborah Whitehead of Cowan. Nickie said, "My mom is so proud; I will be her first child to graduate from college. I'm taking her with me to the academic luncheon on Valentine's Day. Then she will have witnessed her child go from being a high school dropout to receiving state academic honors and having nearly a 4.0 GPA."