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Pellissippi State sophomore Jonathan “Jack” Horsley is a leader and mentor in the U.S. Dept. of Labor students with disabilities grant program

Jonathan “Jack” T. Horsley is a photographer with a small business. He is also studying photography at Pellissippi State Community College. Horsley is completing his second year at Pellissippi State and he plans to grow his family and wedding photography business when he graduates.

Jack has a disability, but he said that he has been part of the $5.3 million Universal Pathways to Employment Project (UPEP), U.S. Dept. of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy grant Pellissippi State won in 2013.

“I started in it when I came to college,” Jack explained. “There are so many benefits. I’m thankful for all the workshops that will help with my career, for the free tutoring from an academic coach, for the opportunity to shadow photographers, and for free transportation by ETHRA paid for by the grant, but the most exciting thing was that I was chosen to go on WBIR and talk about the UPEP program.”

“Joyce Brumbaugh, who is a career liaison specialist for UPEP, called me and asked if I would be interested in explaining the program on TV. I said I needed time to think about it. When I decided to do it, I called Joyce and asked her if she still was looking for someone because I wanted to do it,” Jack explained.

“When I was thinking about going on TV, my family encouraged me to go before the camera. They were excited for me,” he continued.

“Jack was selected to be a mentor by the entire UPEP staff,” said UPEP Director Indira Richardson. “He was in the charter class when we decided to start the mentoring program.”

“LaKietha Jackson, our community liaison specialist, asked Jack to participate due to his academic achievements and because he had completed a year in the UPEP program as a very active, positive participant,” Richardson said.

During the fall 2016 semester, Jack had two students to mentor, but during the current term he has four people he mentors.

“UPEP has two students majoring in photography who wanted a mentor who was a photographer, so I agreed to help them,” Horsley said. “As a mentor, I check to see how they are doing in their classes. I help them decide what is necessary for them to earn a UPEP scholarship and I try to answer any questions they have, but, most importantly, I try to be their friend.”

Two of Horsley’s favorite UPEP workshops have been “Teamwork” and “Self-Advocacy.”

“Teamwork showed me how to get things done together as a team. It taught me how to work together in the right way,” he said. “It has to do with sharing.”

Horsley said that the “Self-Advocacy” workshop taught him to be organized, to take responsibility, to take care of himself, and to be very focused on his goals.

This summer, Jack will become the first UPEP participant to travel overseas through the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies (TnCIS) program, which is headquartered at Pellissippi State. He will be taking a “Nature and Travel Photography” course, which will take him to Scotland for three weeks in May and June. The class will visit Oban, Glasgow, St. Andrews, and Edinburgh.

“It’s a big accomplishment. I’ve never been on an airplane before. I’m going to have a great time!” Jack said, excitedly. “I’m going to take some great pictures and find out who I am as a photographer.”