Demarquis Perkins | Chattanooga State Community College

Demarquis Perkins

Engineering Technology Major, age 35

I am a Tennessee Reconnect recipient and it has helped change my life. My girlfriend and I moved to Tennessee about seven years ago because she received an amazing job offer (we got married when we moved here) and we did not know anyone here, or have any family in or near Tennessee. She recovers organs for transplant. Moving here, I did not know what I was going to do for work, especially without an education. I began by working at Mc Donald’s and picked up a second job to make ends meet. Working both jobs still did not come near what we needed to help raise a family. We already had a 12-year-old and were soon to have another child. Things were moving fine though; due to the fact my wife had a great job.

I received an amazing opportunity to work at a manufacturing company though a friend. He helped me get my foot in the door and I began work as a forklift driver. It was more pay than what I was making previously, but still less than what we needed; however, I was excited to help my family out more than I could before.

A few years later I was blessed with another opportunity to work in the office and create programs for CNC machines. I had a very minimal amount of experience, so it was a true blessing that my manager saw something in me and gave me a chance. Soon, my family was thrown a curve ball as life does from time to time. My wife fractured her hip, needed a total hip replacement and would be out of work indefinitely. Her job was our main source of income and we had just purchased a home, among other things. We got to a point that we thought we were going to lose our home, cars and possibly have to file for bankruptcy. I picked up a second job but that was still insufficient, as I’m sure you understand.

We went through nearly two years of great financial struggle. Through God, family, and each other we made it through that difficult time. I vowed that my lack of education would never hinder me from being able to successfully provide for my family again. To see their hurt and pain was the motivation I needed to pursue my degree in Engineering Technology.

I did some research and found Tennessee Reconnect. It seemed like it was streamlined just for me. The hardest part was taking the first step. Now, I maintain a 3.6 GPA while working full-time and taking care of my family. So, it can be done! Upon completion, I will have what I need to provide for my family so that my wife can work if she wants to, and not because there is not another way to pay our bills. Because of my education I will be able to help my oldest daughter pursue her own dreams of going to college, and will make sure she doesn’t wait as long as I did to go.