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Profile: Samantha Salkic

Tennessee Promise lets Motlow students like Samantha Salkic focus on school

Motlow College freshman Samantha Salkic always dreamed of moving away from Middle Tennessee and going to college at a large university. When the time came to make that decision though, life got in the way. She can still fulfill that dream, but with only half the debt, after she completes two years at Motlow under the Tennessee Promise program and earns her associate degree.

Salkic is one of thousands of Tennesseans who graduated from high school in 2015 and completed the requirements to be eligible for the Tennessee Promise program. As she moves toward the end of her first semester, she realizes more every day that the Promise was the right decision for her, and it will enable her to live out her college dream without the burden of excessive college loan debt.

"Growing up, I always dreamed of moving away and starting my college experience," said Salkic, a student at Motlow's McMinnville campus. "When my parents went through a divorce in the spring of my senior year, they asked me to stay nearby. I looked at my options, including the Tennessee Promise, and decided that Motlow was the best choice for me. I knew I could get a great start on my education while staying close to home, and that I could do it for very little money."

Salkic's experience with the Tennessee Promise demonstrates how applying for the scholarship, even if you aren't planning to attend a community college at the time is the right thing to do. You never know what circumstances life will throw at you, and the more options you leave open for yourself the better.

"Everyone who is a senior in high school should apply for the Tennessee Promise," she continued. "Some people object to the idea of attending community college, but it is a great experience. I have met a lot of new people and the teachers are great. Unlike a large university, Motlow makes you feel like the college actually cares about you. There are a lot of opportunities on campus and everyone seems to be there to help get students to graduation.

"If the Tennessee Promise was not available I would most likely be working my butt off to try and save money to pay off the debt I would be accumulating at a four-year university," she continued. "If I had to explain in one word what the Promise has meant for me, that word would be opportunity."

Even though she wasn't planning on using it at the time, Salkic took the necessary steps back in November 2014 to be eligible for the Promise. After circumstances worked out the way they did, she is thankful that she made that effort.

"The application process was not difficult at all," she added. "We applied for the Promise online at school. We were required to attend two meetings with our mentor and to complete eight hours of community service. My eight hours consisted of helping the mayor set up for an art show on July 4 weekend. I also helped clean up the National Heritage Museum."

She plans to continue her education after graduating from Motlow by earning a bachelor's degree at either Middle Tennessee State University or the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. After that, her goal is to earn a master's degree.

Current Tennessee Promise students who are college freshmen have until Dec. 1 to complete their second round of community service hours. High school seniors who have already applied for the Promise must submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), their Motlow application, and attend their first meeting with a mentor, by Feb. 15, 2016.

For more information about the Tennessee Promise and Motlow College, visit TNPromise.mscc.edu or contact Jonathan Graham, Motlow's Tennessee Promise coordinator, at jgraham@mscc.edu or 615-220-7839.