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Turning Challenges into an Opportunity

Despite a tornado, the pandemic, and a job loss, this teacher earned her degree with the help of a scholarship.

Feb 7, 2021

2020 brought a slew of challenges to Wilson County middle school teacher Heidi Deater.

The COVID-19 restrictions and a devastating tornado in the area resulted in Deater’s losing her teaching position at Hermitage United Methodist Church; but instead of falling victim to circumstance, Deater took this opportunity to pursue her Master’s in Education in Learning and Technology with WGU. 

As a military spouse, Deater originally chose WGU Tennessee for the flexibility and affordability of the degree programs when looking to earn her bachelor’s degree. Her positive experience of the degree program and her relationship with her student mentor propelled her to get her master’s degree. 

Deater applied for the Tenn-K Scholarship on a whim, hoping that the scholarship would assist her in pursuing a master’s degree. On April 2 (Deater’s birthday), WGU Tennessee Chancellor Dr. Kim Estep awarded Deater the Tenn-K Scholarship. The scholarship will cover up to 70% of her degree program, allowing Deater to focus on finding her dream job after earning her degree, instead of choosing a position based on salary alone.  

“This is a time of extreme uncertainty for many Tennesseans, particularly in regard to careers and income,” Estep said. “With cost being one of biggest barriers for potential students, our scholarship offerings help minimize that risk so students can pursue higher education, for whatever reason they choose.”  

Despite having a degree and job skills, Deater says that her family motivates her to continue her education with the extra work and studying for a master’s degree. She is currently working on her capstone project and will complete her degree program at the beginning of April. 

“I want to show my girls that just because things change a lot doesn’t mean we can’t move forward,” she said. “This is something I can do. I want to help people. When I told my student mentor I wanted to be like her, I meant it.”

Those interested in the Tenn-K Scholarship have until April 30, 2021, to submit their application. Eligible applicants must be current residents of Tennessee entering any of the degree programs offered by WGU Tennessee. Each scholarship is valued at up to $10,000. 

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