Stories @ TCAT

TCAT Dickson First Generation College Student Graduates Debt Free

By: Janine Wine

Communications and Marketing Coordinator

TCAT Dickson


Dickson, TN: Graduating from college debt free is a personal goal of most students who choose to enroll at a post-secondary institution. Like many before him, Tennessee College of Applied Technology Dickson (TCAT Dickson) student Joseph Myers had that same goal in mind when he enrolled in the Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration program at TCAT Dickson’s main campus in May 2023.

Fast forward to April 2024 and Myers is graduating with his diploma in hand and ready to enter the workforce with skills that will allow him to make a living while keeping his future clients comfortable in their homes.

A graduate of Creek Wood High School and resident of White Bluff, Myers took a few years after high school before making the decision to further his education. He researched his options and found going to a larger traditional four-year university did not make sense for him. “I realized I would have to take generic classes that I was not interested in,” Myers stated.

Myers labels himself as “mechanically minded.” Myers is a first-generation college graduate, meaning he is the first in his family to graduate from college. Something he and his family are immensely proud of. Myers enjoys working with electrical things and said he has a similar mindset to his father who works as a technical engineer. The Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration program at TCAT Dickson offered him the opportunity to follow his passion.

Myers is not only following his passion, but he is doing it well. Myers earned himself a spot on TCAT Dickson’s President’s List for academic achievement by maintaining a 4.0 academic average. Myers said, “The book work is very easy to me. I can do that on my own time, and I can always reread it if I want to.”

Myers found a correlation between his hobby and his studies. In his free time, he likes to listen to music and play piano. “There is science behind listening to music. It improves your memory and your focus,” Myers explained.

Myers is also quick to credit his instructor, David Collins, with his academic success at TCAT Dickson. “David is a great instructor. He will always answer questions. I feel like I can always go to him and ask him questions and know he is always willing to help. He is always there, always available, and very open-minded. Having him as an instructor has made me feel confident in myself and my work.”

Myers pointed out, “Former graduates of the program pop in for a visit and to ask questions sometimes. David has remained a great reference for them even though they have graduated.”

A customer service heavy career seemed like a natural fit for Myers who is excited for a future in the Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration industry. Having always been surrounded by family and people, he describes himself as, “Having people skills and being a true people person at heart.”

Collins would agree, “Most of the current students have received help from Joe at some point or another. He has proven that he cares not only about his future, but also the success of his peers. He has been very engaged in coursework and live work. He is a model student for our program.”

After graduation, Myers has his sights set on working for Lee Company. He said he was, “Excited to see Governor (Bill) Lee when he visited campus,” in 2023. But he never made his dream of working for the company known to Governor Lee during his visit.

One of the biggest advantages Myers has as a TCAT Dickson graduate is he will enter the workforce without a college debt. “I would definitely recommend TCAT Dickson for affordability and financial aid, and TN Promise for those just graduating high school. The financial aid really helped. I was not looking forward to debt and graduating debt free is huge. It’s a comfortable environment and everyone is always smiling and always eager to help.”

“I’m proud of him and I wish him great success with his future,” Collins added.


TCAT Dickson is a Tennessee Board of Regents institution, is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education, and complies with non-discrimination laws: Title VI, Title IX, Section 504, and ADA. Located on Highway 46 in Dickson, the technical training college also has extension campuses in Clarksville, and Franklin. Additional information about the school is located at


TCAT Dickson student Joseph Myers, far right, practices on a residential heat pump trainer in the Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration class laboratory with his instructor, David Collins, at his side. Seventy percent of homes in middle Tennessee have a heat pump as the primary source of heating and cooling.

TCAT Dickson Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration student, Joseph Myers, participated in commencement on April 9. He is a first-generation college graduate who will enter the workforce debt free. Joseph is surrounded by his family including (from left to right): sister Elizabeth Myers, grandmother Pat Lamb, mother Angela Myers, father Steve Myers, and brother Jacob Myers.