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Amanda Ray and Cynthia Wallace
Cynthia Wallace and Amanda Ray

Educational Opportunity Center success story

Amanda Ray was twenty years old when she graduated in December 2005 with a B.S. in criminal justice, and she was recently accepted to Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at University of Memphis. This single working mother is grateful for the support provided by the Center for Community Career Education and the Jean Bradford Memorial Scholarship.

Ray was fourteen years old when she discovered she was pregnant with her son Desmond Calloway, who is now six years old. A lifelong resident of Chattanooga, Ray attended East Ridge High School, Hixson High School, and she graduated from Middle College. In her first semester at UTC, she visited Cynthia Wallace, Director of the Educational Opportunity Center.
The Educational Opportunity Center offers counseling and information to adults who do not already have a four-year degree and who want to enter or continue a program of postsecondary education. The EOC provides free assistance with:

  • Enrolling in a GED program.
  • College admissions application process to any accredited college in the U.S.
  • Filling out the FAFSA (Free Application For Student Aid) to start the financial aid process.
  • Learning about the Tennessee and Georgia Hope Scholarships.
  • Finding and applying for other scholarships.
  • Choosing a college.
  • Choosing a major of study.

Wallace helped Ray with her successful applications for the Tennessee Lottery scholarship, her decision to attend UTC, and later with the Executive Women International (ASIST)/Jean Bradford Memorial Scholarship. Established in 1996 by the Chattanooga Chapter of Executive Women International (ASIST) in memory of former member Jean (Mrs. James) Bradford, this award assists women, particularly displaced homemakers and single mothers, returning to school in order to enhance their career opportunities.

“We try to award this scholarship to a deserving single mother each semester,” Wallace said.

Ray proved to be just that—while supporting herself and her child with a full time job and two part time jobs, Ray managed to earn a degree by the time she was 20 years old.

Her initial application to law school was denied, but Ray learned later that it was only incomplete; a letter of recommendation had never arrived. After a year of preparation to take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) a second time, she improved her scores and applied again, and her application was accepted.

“The Educational Opportunity Center has been in the business of helping people to reach their goals,” said Sandy Cole, Director of the Center for Community Career Education. “We are delighted we could encourage Amanda to reach her goals.”

As Ray makes plans to live, work and attend school in Memphis, she expressed her enthusiasm for the encouragement she received at UTC.

“Ms. Wallace is ‘it.’ She was always here to help. She is my number one fan,” Ray said.

May 14, 2007