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Student Success Stories
We are changing lives, and we want you to get to know the students at MMC on a personal level. Therefore, we are going to periodically introduce you to MMC students and tell his or her story.
Facing New Horizons
Rachel Sutton has always housed a driving passion for biology— the study of life and living organisms has always piqued her interest in tremendous ways. She knew that she wanted to pursue a major in biology once she graduated from McKenzie High School in McKenzie, Tenn., but picking the perfect college was a bit of a tough call. Bethel University seemed to be the obvious choice because of her mother’s faculty position there; however, Rachel did not want to have her mother as a professor—she wanted to spread her wings and face new horizons as an independent college student. She soon learned in her search for the right college that she could attend Martin Methodist College with a tuition-exchange because of her mother’s faculty position at Bethel, so she made the leap to attend Martin Methodist, finding that her life has been drastically changed for the better ever since.
It didn’t take Rachel long once she started at Martin Methodist to dive into her biology studies. At the end of her sophomore year, she approached Assistant Biology Professor Dr. Mark Chee about involvement with undergraduate research, and he proposed that she help him with a project that would run through the spring semester of her senior year. She eagerly agreed, and in Fall 2016, she began her research of the characterization of a novel species of Enterococcus bacteria found in a sick colony of flies at Duke University. She spent countless hours outside of class doing additional lab work and studying Enterococcus sp. and fruit flies, and these extended hours prompted her newfound love for scientific research.
With her new passion for research, Rachel began applying to summer research programs throughout the nation in order to expand her experience. After pushing out multiple applications, she was accepted to both the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and Auburn University. She chose to expand her research at UAB, one of the top tier schools in the nation. She spent the summer of 2017 engrossed in microbial research, and she attended various seminars to better her future in scientific research.
While knee-deep in biology, Rachel has also been leading the student body as SGA President for her junior and senior years. Once a shy girl, she opted to step outside of her comfort zone and join SGA while she challenged herself in her studies, and as a current senior looking forward to graduation just a short time away, she’s got an impressive college career at her back, with academic awards to show for it. She’s recently received an Outstanding Research Biologist award for her devotion toward her undergraduate research over the novel species of Enterococcus bacteria and the Alpha Chi award, which represents the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society for juniors in the top 5% of their class and seniors in the top 10% of their class.
“Thinking back on it, I don’t think I would have been able to embark on this journey without the help of the faculty and staff at Martin Methodist,” said Rachel. “The faculty and staff here are one of a kind; they offer constant encouragement and challenge students to work hard and strive for greatness. Had I not been pushed by my mentors to step outside of my comfort zone, I would not have had the courage to apply for nationally competitive summer research programs. Because of Martin Methodist, I know I’m prepared for what lies ahead after graduation.”
Rachel graduated Summa cum Laude from MMC on Saturday, May 12, 2018.
Martin Methodist Offers Student a Chance of a Lifetime
It’s common to see high school students choosing colleges to attend after graduation, especially seniors. There’s always an extensive amount of time put toward touring campuses, reading through admission letters, and attending college fairs to pick the right place to call home for the next four years. But, what if the college picked the student? For Martin Methodist College junior Julia Williams, that was the case.
During the summer of her senior year at Hickman County High School, Julia worked at Cedar Crest Camp as a junior counselor. Many of her fellow counselors were Martin Methodist students, and it did not take long until she and the other workers formed a personal bond—one that lead to an evening discussion about future plans. All of the counselors shared what they wished to do, but when it became Julia’s turn to describe her dreams, her nerves toward the future surfaced.
Julia had always dreamed of earning the privilege to receive a higher education, but in high school, she had been led to believe she was not college material. However, when she explained her situation that night at camp, she was encouraged by her fellow counselors to give Martin Methodist a shot.
While hesitant, Julia followed the advice she was given that night and reached out to Martin Methodist, and from there, she was welcomed with open arms into a close-knit community where she was given the opportunity to prove herself. Staff member Robby Shelton worked one-on-one with her throughout the application process and personally guided her through financial aid requirements until she was settled to attend. With everything set in motion, she entered what she saw, and still sees, as a blessed, diverse, and accepting community lead by faculty and staff who genuinely care about their students and provide them with the tools and guidance needed to succeed.
At the start of her junior year, Julia wanted to give back to the school that helped turn her life around, so she decided to run for junior class president to be a voice for her class. Since winning, she’s found the Student Government Association (SGA) to be a team of fellow classmates who strive to build one another up while serving Martin Methodist and the students, and while still currently a member of SGA, Julia’s living through an active college experience—one that she was never projected to have.
“I believe that Martin Methodist called me here,” said Julia. “When no one else believed in me, the kind staff and faculty at Martin Methodist did, and that speaks volumes. This college has a calling to provide opportunities to students who just need someone to have a little faith in them, and because of Martin Methodist, I’m now able to live out my dream of a higher education.”
After graduation, Julia plans to continue her studies in youth ministry for two years before going on to work toward her Master of Divinity at Asbury Theological Seminary, where she plans to start her candidacy for deaconess.