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Monks is Woman’s Club guest speaker

By ZOË HAGGARD - zhaggard@t-g.com
Posted 6/11/22

The Shelbyville Woman’s Club hosted Laura Monks, president of Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Shelbyville, at their monthly luncheon.

Monks spoke about the different programs …

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Monks is Woman’s Club guest speaker


The Shelbyville Woman’s Club hosted Laura Monks, president of Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Shelbyville, at their monthly luncheon.

Monks spoke about the different programs offered at TCAT-S, the new campus, and about encouraging Bedford students to attend higher education.

Monks said she was raised by a single mother who encouraged her to be independent and be able to support herself.

“Because, unfortunately, in rural areas, like Appalachia, there are still several females that are told you are not good enough to go to school...they don’t have the support of their family,” Monks said.

Monks holds a doctorate in leadership and policy studies from the University of Memphis. She has served in education for 28 years and has been president since 2017. She is also the first female president of TCAT-S.

Since then, the college has “outgrown” the space, according to Monks. “We are very pleased with our campus, but we are land-locked,” she said.

The Shelbyville campus opened in 1964 and was the first to open in the state, according to Monks.

With this new campus, “My goal is for little ones, when they’re driving down the highway, and they look over there at our campus, they say, ‘That’s where I want to go to college,’” said Monks.

The new campus will have more opportunities in the second and third phases through partnerships with Motlow, East Tennessee State University, and Middle Tennessee State University.

“We have the opportunity to work with students who have the unique skill and talent—that I don’t possess—and that is connecting their hands to their brain,” said Monks.

Some of those hands-on training programs include computer-aided design (CAD), commercial trucking, information technology, industrial maintenance and automation, as well as the newly added farming operations and aviation maintenance programs (which will be implemented in the upcoming year).

Monks also added that the new campus will be a great community space for events to be hosted at.

Startling statistics

Students across Tennessee are not going to college at the same rate students were a couple years ago, according to Monks.

In 2021, a survey showed that 68 percent of students said they aspired to go to college. But the percentage of students that actually went was 52 percent.

Monks said the pandemic could have had an impact as well as higher wages offered at low-skill jobs that employers are implementing to combat the labor-shortage.

For Bedford County specifically, the college-going rate was 44 percent in 2021.

But Monks said 25 percent of their enrollees at TCAT-S are from Bedford. Of those, 76 percent are males, while 24 percent are females who attend TCAT-S. Most females go into studying office administration or nursing, Monks explained.

However, the rate of attending college is down across the board for females since last year. For black females, it’s down 4.6 percent. For white females, it's down 5.3 percent, while for Hispanic females, it’s down 7.2 percent.

A lot of that has to do with women staying home with their children as schools went remote, Monks explained.

But “we need students going to college...We want people who have skills go to work,” Monks said. “That means someone for our community who is going to be a taxpayer, a good citizen, and someone who will be involved in the community.”

Monks added that TCAT-S had a completion rate last year of 75 percent. Of that, 89 percent were placed in a position that related to their field of study.

For their nursing and truck driving program, they have a 100 percent licensure completion rate.

“We are here to support the community and industry in any way we can,” said Monks.

Scholarship recipients

The Shelbyville Woman’s Cub presented three scholarships $1000 to three graduating Bedford seniors:

- Caroline Stone, from Cascade High School. She plans to attend Lee University and major in nursing.

- Allison Davis, from Shelbyville Central High School. She plans to attend Kansas State University and major in agriculture communication.

- Breanna Whitaker, from Community High School. She plans to attend MTSU, major in nursing, and then get a master’s degree in anesthesiology.

All three recipients took dual enrollment classes, had a combined total of 30 advanced placement classes, scored a 26 or higher on the ACT, were top 10 in their class, had numerous hours of community service all while holding part-time jobs, according to Lynn Shelton.

Shelton said they had a difficult time deciding who should receive the scholarship as they had a large pool of exceptional applicants to choose from. This was encouraging, however, as Monks complimented the woman’s club on providing these scholarships for these young women.


The Woman Club’s theme word is grace, which is showing people favor and good will. “But we don’t have to be a ballerina to show grace,” said club president Miriam Pietkiewicz.

Devotion was done by Lila Beasley, who read from John 6:12 – 13.

“When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” (NIV)

“I’ve always read these verses and gleaned over the message of Jesus’ miracle. But is there another message?” said Beasley.

Beasley asked when we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts, what do we do with the spillover. She emphasized that it says, “let nothing be wasted.”

Before she went to prayer, Beasley encouraged members to share their talents, to reach out to a sick friend, and to remember loved ones’ memories. In this way, nothing that Christ has given us will be wasted.