Success Stories

CreatingSuccess-TCCC

The mission of TCCC is to engage students in learning, help students succeed, and enrich the communities we serve.

Jason Cutsahw former Tri-County Community CollegeJason Cutshaw – Learning from each story he writes.

Jason Cutshaw first attended TCCC immediately after graduating from Hiwassee Dam High School in 1990. It was then that he met one of his early influences in life, Dr. Steve Wood.

“He was more than a great instructor. Every lesson was an enjoyable and engaging experience,” said Jason. “His class changed my perceptions about English and literature. I found myself enjoying writing.”

Jason is currently the Journalist/Public Affairs Specialist with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.

“It has been several years since I attended Tri-County Community College, but the things that
I learned there are still relevant to me today,” he said. “Dr. Wood challenged me to not only
look at a situation with my own perspective, but to try to view it from the perspective of
others. As simple as it may seem, this concept has helped me immensely in my current job as
I attempt to honor our soldiers and tell their stories.”

Jason Cutshaw has been able to interview and cover stories on Medal of Honor recipients Col.
Leo Thorsness and Jared C. Monti; Vice Presidents Richard Cheney and Joe Biden; Secretary of
Defense Robert Gates; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen; three Army
chiefs of staff; the first female four star general, General Ann Dunwoody; the first astronaut
to send a tweet from space, Col. Timothy (TJ) Creamer; as well as businessman Ross Perot;
actor Ron Livingston; and musicians Keith Sweat, Trace Adkins, Lonestar, and others.

“Each and every experience in my career has been memorable, and I have tried to learn
something from each story that I have written,” said Jason. “I am continually inspired by the
individuals I have had the pleasure of interviewing.”


Lisa Penland former TCCC StudentLisa Penland – Living my dream. 

Lisa Penland had been working as a Certified Nurse Aide for 13 years when she heard that Tri-County Community College was offering courses in Medical Office Administration.

“I wanted to do something else with my life, and I realized that now was the perfect opportunity to go back to school,” said Lisa. “It was a little intimidating though.

I had just turned 40, and I was registering for classes with people half my age.”

“Without a doubt, the faculty of TCCC played the most important part in my current success,” said Lisa. “Their motivation and encouragement helped me realize my potential. This support wasn’t just from one instructor; every instructor I had during my time at Tri-County Community College encouraged me and challenged me to do my best.”

Lisa’s educational success was quickly noticed by employers. Before she even graduated from TCCC, she was being called for interviews and is now working as a Client Coordinator for Access Care in Morrisville, NC.

“I plan to never stop learning and to keep challenging myself,” said Lisa. “I would like to encourage others to realize that you are never too old to dream and never too old to achieve those dreams. I can finally say that thanks to Tri-County Community College’s wonderful instructors and the support of my family, I am finally living my dream!”


Avery Gibson former TCCC StudentAvery GibsonEverything fell into place at TCCC.

Avery Gibson graduated from the Tri-County Early College High School and Tri-County Community College in May 2010.

“I felt a real sense of accomplishment during graduation,” she said. “Not only did I graduate and receive my high school diploma, I had also finished enough courses to receive an Associate of Arts degree in College Transfer.”

After graduation, Avery went to Young Harris College to study Biology and graduated with a B.S. in 2012.

In the Fall of 2012, Avery returned to TCCC to take a class in Effective Teacher Training and became a substitute teacher for Cherokee County Schools. After substituting for almost a year, Avery found her calling in education.

“The faculty and staff of TCCC had made a huge impact on me,” said Avery. “Each of my instructors placed heavy emphasis on the success of their students. Their passion made learning engaging and motivating. I knew that if I were to pursue a career in Education that I wanted to embody those characteristics in my lessons.”

In May of 2013, Avery pursued an open position in the Adult Basic Skills/College and Career Readiness Department at TCCC. After meeting with Dr. Steve Wood and Susie West, Avery returned to Tri-County Community College.

“That is when everything fell into place for me,” said Avery. “I started my journey here at TCCC, but this time as a College and Career Readiness Instructor and not a student.”