Kiarra Ervin of Chattanooga was honored as the “Student of the Block” for Block Eight at Tusculum College for her academic achievements and contributions to the campus community.
Ervin, who graduated in May with a bachelor of arts degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting and a minor in business administration management, was described as an individual with perseverance, motivation and ambition in the award presentation on May 3.
The Student of the Block Award is presented each block by the Office of Student Affairs to recognize students for academic achievement, leadership on campus and contributions to the college community. A plaque honoring Ervin’s accomplishments will be displayed in the Niswonger Commons and other campus buildings.
Ervin chose to attend Tusculum because of its block schedule and the desire to attend a small school that was away from home, but not too far. Wanting to experience the college community, Kiarra became involved on campus. She was a peer tutor for the Tusculum College Tutoring Center, helping her fellow students with accounting, business, economics, algebra and sociology courses. She was also a mentor and member of the Student Support Services, and the president of HerStory, a student organization she founded.
She excelled academically, maintaining a 3.77 grade point average and was consistently named to the college’s academic honor lists. “I am proud of becoming a member of Alpha Chi National Honor Society because it shows that my hard work in the classroom paid off,” she said. “I have worked hard to keep my grades high and to know that I am a part of a nationally recognized organization is rewarding.”
She credits Tusculum with teaching her the skill of time management with the challenging block schedule, learning about different cultures through the diverse student body and having faculty and staff members who care about students as individuals and encourage them in their ability to accomplish their goals.
Dr. Michelle Freeman, associate professor of business and faculty moderator, Bonnie Weston, senior student life coordinator, and the staff of Student Support Services are noted by Ervin as influential people in her time at Tusculum.
Recognizing her intellectual ability, Dr. Freeman encouraged Ervin to major in accounting. “Dr. Freeman is a very intelligent and caring woman who has given me advice and many kind words I greatly appreciate,” Ervin said. “This past year, I lost a family member and she was very understanding of the situation and how it affected me. I really appreciate her for what she has done for me.”
Ervin met Bonnie Weston on her very first day of campus. “She has really been an encouraging person in my life, both personally and professionally,” Ervin said of Weston. “She has given me advice on issues that have come up in my life. She has encouraged me to break out of my shell and become a leader. She knew that I had potential and she brought it out of me by encouraging me to create an organization, HerStory. She is helping me with my goals and plans for my life after Tusculum College. I think she will be an important person in my life after I graduate.”
The staff members of Student Support Services helped Ervin learn to be a mentor and a role model, she said, by giving her the opportunity to show her leadership and problem solving skills by being a mentor to about 10 students for the entire academic year. “It was such a rewarding experience because I could help an underclassman become more comfortable in the transition from high school to college,” she said.
The daughter of Darlene Mitchell and sister of fellow Tusculum student, Karnika, who also graduated in May, Ervin credits her mother as a strong influence on her life as a single parent who worked hard but still had time for her children’s extracurricular activities. Ervin’s grandparents, Bobby and Ramona Goines, have also been an important part of her life.
Ervin’s mentor, “Coach” Lurone Jennings, Sr., “has been in my life since I was a little girl,” she said. “I grew up attending a summer literacy program that he directed, and he has been at every milestone in my life. He allowed me to work in the same program I attended, giving me the opportunity to give those students the same inspiration and motivation that he gave me growing up.”
A high school teacher, Anquia Bowden, has also been a major influence in Ervin’s life and a continuing source of encouragement.
Ervin’s future plans include continuing her education to obtain a master’s degree in accounting. Her goal is to become a certified public accountant and open her own practice.