Donna Pickering | Chattanooga State Community College

Donna Pickering

Digital Media Design & Production/Media Technologies Major

I used to think I would never have the opportunity to go back to school and earn a degree. My father passed away when I was 15 and my mother, being Japanese and reserved about her English in social circumstances, was not very involved with our education as far as consulting with teachers or other activities. My younger sisters had an easier time, but being the eldest, I always had to fight for everything. I really didn’t have any mentors to help guide me along a career path while I was growing up, and I had to learn everything the hard way.

I was extremely shy back then, but I did know that after Star Wars came out, I wanted to be a special effects makeup artist, and no matter how much people thought I could never do anything like that, I was determined to prove them wrong.

I saved my money, moved to Los Angeles, worked several jobs to support myself, and had many exciting adventures. I had the opportunity to talk with Frank Westmore (who came from a family line of Hollywood’s most famous makeup artists), and he referred me to an apprenticeship program. It was a year-long waiting list, however, and since life continued to happen, I ended up on a different path and sacrificed my dream.

Now, forty-two years later, and thanks to the Reconnect Program, I’m back in school and having the time of my life learning all about television production, radio broadcasting, and more, as I’m finally working towards an A.A.S. degree in Digital Media Design and Production.

I’m not sure what kind of opportunities are out there for someone my age, but I do have a dream of getting a camper/RV and traveling around the country filming my own documentaries.

The Reconnect Program has been a great blessing and for those involved, I can’t thank you enough for giving me a purpose and goal in life once again. I no longer feel useless, trying to find something to do with myself. Every morning, I look forward to getting up and going to my classes, and unlike high school, I have a 4.0 grade point average (so far), which I hope to maintain and am just thrilled about!

Thanks again, to all those involved with the Reconnect Program, for giving me this great opportunity!