I saw him sitting on a bench across the river from the Titans stadium in Nashville. That bench was also his bed for the night. The young man with high hopes told me that he last lived in Chattanooga before he was released from a hospital in Hamilton County, Tennessee. “I’m 18, but will soon turn 19,” he told me.
His clothes were dirty, as if he had not changed in a week or longer. His fingernails appeared as if he had dug a hole in the dirt, his hair wiry and wind blown. His beard untrimmed.
On a folded up sheet of notebook paper he keeps a list of college degrees that he would like to pursue one day. “I heard there was something new in Tennessee that allows people to go to college for free,” he told me. He then handed me the well-used sheet of paper while stating, “Whenever I come across something that interest me, I write it down.”
I started to read the list of about 30 potential college degrees aloud so he could hear them. I got to the word “Navigation” and paused. “What’s this one,” I asked? He then got wide eyed and smiled. “Navigation – land, sea or air – so I can travel the world,” he told me. I said, “You know, MTSU in Murfreesboro has one of the most well-known programs in the country that focuses on Aerospace technology and flight.” “M-T-S-U,” he said in a puzzling way as if his wheels were turning on figuring out what he needed to do to apply.
“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” - Robert Frost