Hale is a first generation college student

Cookeville – As Tennessee Tech University junior Chance Hale prepares for the start of his penultimate year on campus, he knows this one will be different from the last. The return of fall classes will also mark the start of Hale’s first full semester as Student Government Association (SGA) president.

Hale, a finance major from McMinnville, Tennessee who was elected president in April, has ambitious goals for his tenure atop the SGA executive council – but he also acknowledges that his path could have gone another way.

“I got into a college in Florida and had even submitted my enrollment deposit,” said Hale.

With the start of his freshman year fast approaching, a moment of clarity led Hale to decide to attend Tech instead – a move that he now calls “one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Hale highlighted Tech’s caring faculty like Nikki Panter, senior biology lecturer, as integral to his student experience.

“Dr. Panter has been an incredibly supportive and inspiring person in my life,” said Hale. “From the moment I took her general biology class my freshman year, I knew she cared deeply about her students. We have worked together for the past two summers on the Creative Inquiry Summer Experience (CISE) grant, and I have enjoyed learning everything I can from her.”

Hale also reflected on Tech’s friendly campus environment, noting that “from the moment you step foot on campus, you feel very welcomed by students and faculty alike.”

“Our university has so many different opportunities for students to get engaged and involved,” said Hale. “I encourage everyone to find a student organization to get involved in, whether it’s a Greek life organization, a special interest group or even the SGA. The best way to learn and grow is to get out of your comfort zone and try new things.”

Hale has taken his own advice. The first-generation college student previously served as a resident assistant and is an active member of Tech’s Association for Computing Machinery. He additionally serves as Chief Justice of the Tennessee Intercollegiate Supreme Court.

Still, Hale’s greatest inspiration in his bid for SGA president came from an off-campus source: his sister Anslee, who lives with autism and cerebral palsy.

“Growing up with my sister, I had to be her voice. When she was frustrated and upset, I had to explain to people what she was trying to tell them,” said Hale. “She has inspired me greatly and in honor of her, I have always fought for a seat at the table for everyone.”

One of the ways Hale seeks to accomplish that goal is through the creation of a Student Organization Advisory Council or “SOAC,” which he says will “allow every student organization on campus to have a direct line of communication” with the SGA.

“By providing a structured channel for student organizations to engage with the SGA, we aim to create a culture of inclusivity, transparency and active participation,” Hale explained.

As President, Hale has created a secretary of diversity, equity and inclusion in his cabinet. He also seeks to make the SGA more transparent. His goals include providing a streaming option for SGA meetings and sending regular updates to the student body about SGA’s work.

Hale’s bold plans for the SGA are matched only by his future plans for himself – plans that are also informed by his sister’s example.

“After I graduate from Tech, I want to attend law school and focus on ways to serve my community and people around me, especially people like Anslee,” said Hale.

Learn more about Tech’s SGA at www.tntech.edu/sga.

Photo courtesy of Tennessee Tech University.

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