When 21-year-old Anna King graduates from UT this week, it will be an early Mother’s Day gift to herself.
Commencement ceremonies begin Wednesday and continue through Saturday. King will participate in the College of Business Administration commencement ceremonies on May 10. Her bachelor’s degree is in human resources.
As an eighteen-year-old freshman, King found out she was pregnant. She resolved to finish her degree while raising her child as a single mother.
Her son, Grant, who turns three in August, “has been a huge blessing to me and my family,” King said.
Yet, his unexpected arrival was a tough assignment for a young college student.
Grant was born a week before King began her sophomore year. Rather than withdraw from school, King dropped from a full course load to taking only two classes during the fall semester.
King returned to full-time status the next spring and has taken classes every summer term so she could graduate in four years. Beyond managing a full course load and raising a child, King accepted an internship with DeRoyal Industries during her junior year. Throughout her senior year she interned at Oak Ridge Associated Universities in addition to having a part-time job.
Though King is a single parent, she’s quick to acknowledge the support she’s received. Her parents care for Grant during the day, and Grant’s father, who also graduated from UT this spring, and his family remain involved in Grant’s life.
King is also the recipient of the Moll Anderson Endowed Scholarship for single parents pursuing business degrees. The endowment was established in 2010 by author, lifestyle consultant, and television host Moll Anderson, who is married to UT Trustee Charlie Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Anderson Media Corp.
“Mrs. Anderson’s generosity has eased my financial burden, allowing me to better focus on my son and my studies,” King said.
While King wants to impart valuable lessons to her son, his presence also has taught her a thing or two.
“My multitasking skills have grown tremendously,” she said. “I have to take advantage of every available moment to study.” Procrastination is no longer an option; she said she begins preparing for exams at least two weeks in advance.
King said Grant also has given her a new perspective on life.
“Being a mother changed my attitude about what’s important,” King said. “I’m working to earn the best grades I can so that I can get a great job and provide for my son.”
Since Grant’s birth, King has maintained an impressive 3.7 GPA.
“Although a 4.0 GPA from UT would have been terrific, I’m extremely proud of my accomplishments,” she said, “I would much rather be thought of as a phenomenal mother than being a straight-A student.”
Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, firstname.lastname@example.org)