Justin Napier is exactly the kind of community college graduate Tennessee was hoping for.
In high school, Napier didn’t have his eye on college. In fact, he had a job lined up working on race cars after graduation. But in the spring of 2014, a year before Napier graduated, Gov. Bill Haslam announced a plan to make community college free for graduating high school seniors, part of a broader plan to dramatically increase the number of adults in Tennessee with college credentials. It was called, grandly, the Tennessee Promise.
“We are committed to making a clear statement to families that education beyond high school is a priority,” Haslam said in his State of the State address that year.