“The Board, Faculty, and Staff – everybody at Athens State is focused on how we can reach out and touch our students. It’s all about making the Athens experience personal.” Ms. Cathy Dickens (Class of 1993) says the personalized attention she received from faculty and staff is what got her through.

Cathy was working as a procurement technician at Redstone Arsenal when her boss pulled her aside. “You’ve peaked in your career,” he said. “You have to have a college degree to move up into management.”

Taking one or two classes at a time, Cathy received her degree from Athens State in Business Administration, graduating with a 4.0 GPA. She went on to earn a master’s degree at another institution and her career soared, first to the Senior Executive Service and then to the US Army Aviation and Missile Command as the first female deputy commander. In this job she traveled the globe. “When you see how much our soldiers sacrifice, you get totally focused on doing the right thing for them.”

Retired from the federal government, Cathy is now Vice President of Business Management at COLSA Corporation, a Huntsville-based defense contractor with offices across the United States and in Saudi Arabia. When the state first created our Board of Trustees in 2012, Cathy was asked to serve. She didn’t know how she’d make time, but she knew she had to. “It was too important,” she says. “All those students out there like me with jobs and families need encouragement and support. A college degree is a great accomplishment. But it’s not an individual one, because you can’t accomplish it without a great many people supporting you.”