Y-12ers earn degrees through Friday Academy

Posted: July 2, 2014 - 1:21pm

During the past year, seven Y‑12 employees have received bachelor's degrees from Tennessee Tech University by participating in the Friday Academy. Because certain classes are conveniently scheduled for Fridays at the Roane State Community College's Oak Ridge campus, the program is especially attractive to Y‑12 employees.

Those recent graduates include Debra Avery, Mark Burdette, Michael Fierley, Jessica Griffin, Gary Lewis, Jeffrey Smith, and Kristine Stalnaker. All received a B.S. in interdisciplinary studies, which focuses on business management, leadership, and team building. All point to the program's convenient classes and fit with their long-term career goals.

"I had topped out in my job category and couldn't move forward without a degree," said Debra Avery of Production. "The Friday Academy allowed me to earn the degree and advance my career."
Even with the difficulties-staying focused, giving up leisure time, and balancing study with work and family commitments — these participants would do it again.

"I wanted to complete my degree for almost 25 years but had not worked returning to school into my life," said Mark Burdette of Environment, Safety, and Health. "The Friday Academy is a great opportunity. I am very glad I took the plunge and finished my degree."

Mike Fierley, who works in Production, said, "The time goes by very fast, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to earn a degree and become a better individual and team player."

Ben Stephens of Program Management, who serves as liaison for the program, got personally involved. "I had the pleasure, as adjunct professor, of instructing the students in courses on human resources and leadership," he said. What impressed him most was the depth and breadth of professional knowledge the students brought to the classroom. "Very few topics were addressed in class where we could not pull from the collective experiences of our Y‑12 students. They were outstanding," he said.