To celebrate the College’s 50th anniversary, Northeast State welcomes retired faculty members back to campus during the month of February. We also spotlight current faculty members making a difference in the lives of students.
History professor Sherman L. Patrick has been a full-time faculty member at Northeast State since 2004. Patrick attended Elon College – now Elon University in North Carolina – on a football and track scholarship. He received his bachelor’s degree there and went on to earn his master’s degree in History at East Tennessee State University.
How did you come to teach at Northeast State?
I had met (former President) Dr. (William) Locke while I was getting my master’s degree in History. He suggested I apply to Northeast State which I did and was later hired as an adjunct faculty member in 2003. One year later I was hired full-time and have been here ever since.
Why is Northeast State an asset to our region?
I believe we provide an invaluable service here. Because we teach a smaller class enrollment, the students get a better sense of understanding in the subject matter. We also are the first stop for many first-generation college students who are the first in their family to attend college.
Do smaller classes translate into a better learning environment for students?
Yes, you get to know the students personally. In first-year classes at large universities you find yourself in a class of 200 people. You look around and say, “I’ll never get to know all these people.” Here, you can get to know people as individuals. The close nature of the faculty and our ability to interact with students helps keep them on track. I’ve had several students come back to see me and say, “I wish I could’ve gotten a four-year degree here at Northeast State.”
Why is Northeast State special to you as a faculty member?
It is that whole family atmosphere. We cover for each other’s classes when needed. We know each other’s children and even have them in classes. Faculty members also serve as advisors for many students. That gives us a chance to get to know our advisees, follow their progress, and keep them on track as well. The guest speakers we host through our cultural activities on campus bring a great perspective to students who may not otherwise get to hear those voices or experiences. The Pop Culture in History is a history class, but it is a fun history class. I enjoy doing those fun history things with students. My classes have always done service learning. That puts them into the community to read to children or work in a nursing home to interact with others. They can also tell future employers that they have done volunteer work and are comfortable in that setting. It gives them practical life experience while they are getting that two-year degree under their belt.
Why should an individual enroll at Northeast State?
With Tennessee Promise, it is an investment they are making. The state and the school are providing, in some cases, a free education for them. That provides an opportunity to attend college for many people who may not be able to do so otherwise. Plus, they get the confidence in themselves that they can learn on a college level. Once you have been successful you want to continue to be successful.