Aspire to Inspire Students Beyond the Classroom

By Chandra Harris-McCray

BayLee Long learned one of her most valuable lessons outside the classroom.

The new UTC graduate learned how to squeeze what pennies she does have into savings because of the UT Alumni Association Women’s Council Aspire series. “Saving for my future starts now, even though I am still a student,” says Long (Chattanooga ’13), who is attending graduate school at Ole Miss in the fall.

Steeped in offering life lessons on everything from finances to personal branding and dinner etiquette, the Aspire series, often a one- to two-hour evening seminar, trains and equips UT students on all its campuses with skills they can carry with them beyond graduation.

“It is our way of giving back, particularly to young women, who covet being mentored and advised as they move into the workforce,” explains former Women’s Council Chair Tara Moore (Knoxville ’87, HSC ’92), who continues to be engaged in the Aspire program as a speaker and volunteer.

What began in 2010 with a handful of students on the Knoxville campus in a financial-savvy workshop quickly expanded into a curriculum of topics, including the launch of “The Brand Called You” last year. The personal branding seminar, in conjunction with UT Martin’s first-year studies program, attracted 1,200 students.

“Our reach, our presence and our purpose,” says Moore, “is cultivating the volunteers and leaders of tomorrow.”

Long says, “The Aspire series is quite a learning experience that will stick with me for the long haul.”

Learn more about UTAA Women’s Council and the Aspire series at