I thought high school would never end, but as the end of my senior year got closer I began to get nervous. I had to go to college; there was no doubt about that. It was the transition from high school to college that was intimidating. Just the idea of all the paperwork made my head hurt. I met Rebecca Smith at my high school during a scholarship session. She was so helpful. She made the entire process a whole lot easier. Not only did she help me with the FASFA, she also told me about the Together We Can Scholarship. From day one, she has been a great encourager, and she is always willing to listen and lend a helping hand. Being awarded the Together We Can Scholarship allowed me the opportunity to attend college and I will be the first grandchild to graduate from a four year university. The Scholarship Program at the Community Foundation has been a true blessing to me.
I currently attend The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga . I will be graduating August 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. I plan to attend graduate school to receive my M.ED in Counseling. My goal is to become a middle and high school guidance counselor.
Chris Ramsey's story illustrates the mission and visions of the Community Foundation's Together We Can Scholarship Program. Scholarship Committee Chair, Dr. Jane Harbaugh, agrees that Chris Ramsey was part of the inspiration for the Together We Can fund — the successful partnership with the City of Chattanooga and the hundreds of individuals who contribute to the fund each year.
In the 1980s, Dr. Harbaugh and Foundation President Pete Cooper began to identify a need in Chattanooga for a scholarship program that could give hope to those students who were the least likely to attend college.
Hearing the story of his early years could lead some to "write off" Chris and determine that he had too many obstacles in his way to ever make it to college, much less be a success. Dr. Harbaugh and Pete Cooper saw his potential and the potential of other low-income youth and with the help of many other community leaders the Together We Can program was born.
Today Chris Ramsey is Senior Manager at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Past President of the Board of Directors of the Boys' Club, and a member of the Community Foundation Board of Directors where he serves on the Scholarship Committee. But that is now...
Chris was born in Chattanooga and raised along with his four siblings by a single mom living in the Harriett Tubman Public Housing Development. His mother worked two jobs to support her family but the hope of college for her children was doubtful due to financial concerns. But not for Chris. In junior high Chris decided that he wanted to wear a suit to work every day and work in an office when he grew up. When Chris graduated from Brainerd High in 1984 his mother was very proud. Not only was Chris a star athlete, honor student and class President but that evening of graduation Chris received the Coca Cola Scholarship and was on his way to college. After receiving his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Austin Peay State University in 1988, Chris returned to Chattanooga and went right to work on a MBA at UTC. Chris was a recipient of a minority fellowship that paid his tuition and living expenses.
After graduation in 1990, Chris began his career but he also began giving back to his community. "Service is the price we pay for the space we occupy," said Ramsey. Chris went back to the Boys' Club were he had spent much of his youth and, after years of service, he became the first African American President of that organization. Also, he is the first former Boy's Club member to serve as Board President.
Now settled permanently in Chattanooga, Chris is living up to the potential that Harbaugh and Cooper saw almost twenty years ago. "Together We Can began on a simple theory that there was a great amount of potential in our low income youth," said Cooper. "This scholarship program seeks to capture that potential for the good of our community rather than letting that potential go untapped."