Haslam officially signs free community college plan into law

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The words “free community college for all” echoed in several corners of Tennessee on Wednesday.

Governor Bill Haslam conducted ceremonial signings of the measure that was one of his key bills this past session.

While there was no shortage of political power at each of the governor’s stops with top legislative leaders in tow, the star of the Middle Tennessee event at Motlow State’s Smyrna branch was a young woman named Carie Huffman.

She plans to head back to school after a decades long break from her first try.

“Then life happened. Two kids and 20 years later here, I am going back to school.” she told News 2. “My kids are in school, so I am going to go to school.”

(Photo: WKRN)

Huffman may become the poster woman for the statewide free community college program pushed by the governor and signed into law at three stops Wednesday.

Called Tennessee Reconnect, the program included all Tennessee high school grads and this year was extended to young adults without degrees like Huffman.

Its new phase will officially start in the fall of 2018 and be paid for out of excess Tennessee Lottery funds.

“I have been a full-time mom for almost 10 years, so I am just getting back in the swing of things. I have a coming up first grader and a coming up fourth grader, so I was doing a lot in the school system anyway, so I thought I would be a really good teacher,” she added.

There could soon be thousands like her in all kinds of fields across Tennessee.

More information about this program affecting a lot of Tennesseans can be found at TNReconnect.gov.