Chad Jaynes is now a dean at Chattanooga State Community College, but he admits he got off to a bit of a slow start as a Mississippi State University undergraduate.
"I was a pretty good high-school student, but when I got to college, was terrible," says the Columbus, Mississippi native. "I didn't understand time management, budgeting, balancing work and school ... any of it."
But everything changed, Jaynes recalls, when William Cross, then an associate dean in MSU's School of Business and Industry, became his mentor.
"I was whining about not being successful in class, and Dean Cross said, 'If you don't change anything, nothing will change.' So I became accountable for the day-to-day activities I needed to be successful: Be timely. Pay attention. Do the work. Now, I had a process I could follow.
"Dean Cross saved me and many others from having to go down a hard path," says Jaynes, who earned his MSU undergrad degree in 1989 and his MBA two years later. "I told myself that if I ever got the opportunity, I'd pay it forward."
Jaynes is getting that chance at Chattanooga State, where he served for more than a year as interim Business and Industry Division dean before getting the permanent job in June. He's been at the school for a total of six years.
He says a big part of his job is "trying to build and modify programs that meet the needs of our business and industry partners." That means sending workforce- ready graduates into the world -- keeping in mind that some of them, such as himself, may need a little extra time and help in getting traction.
"When students face struggles, we encourage them to 'just keep swimming,'" Jaynes says. "We have an amazing number of resources available, many of which students don't take advantage of -- a food pantry, tech needs, a math/writing center and even help with mental health challenges.
"We have so many resources. In most cases, if students will just communicate, share their struggles and be diligent, we'll get them through."