Charlene Hall brings a world of experience to Roane State's Cumberland County campus. A licensed professional counselor, the new campus director has worked in the airline industry, in sales, and most recently with Cumberland County Schools.

Now it all comes together at the campus on Cook Road. "I feel blessed," Hall said. "This job encompasses everything I've been training to do all my life."

Hall said she heard her own calling early on. "I knew by age 10 that I wanted to be a psychologist." Now she looks to "fit students to their passion."

Working with Families and Schools Together (FAST), Hall tackled some of the Cumberland County School System's toughest issues. She worked with elementary-age students to solve problems that stood in the way of their staying in school.

Named the county's 2001 Advocate of the Year for Children, Hall has also taught GED classes and worked with the Cumberland Housing Authority.

All those endeavors turned on helping people access what they need to live better lives — just as Hall is now doing at Roane State. "Every 18-year-old — unless they have a definite goal set — counseling is what they need," Hall said. "That's my job — to counsel, to put them in touch with resources, to help them every step of the way.

"If I can help my students get to a mental, physical and spiritual balance, I will have worked a miracle."

At Roane State, Hall aims to expand the campus — literally and figuratively — as she builds on the legacy of Muffin Liskovec, her predecessor. "She did a phenomenal job," Hall said. "And I plan to put my stamp on this college, just as she did.

"My goal is to provide even more opportunities to our students and our community."

Among the specific goals Hall has for the Cumberland County campus:

•Foster more student participation in center activities. As Roane State's third-largest campus, the Cumberland location offers more than just credit classes.

•Inform current and potential students about "hot jobs" — where growth is coming in the work world. Within that realm, Hall also plans to "hit hard" on health occupations.

•Explore opportunities to secure federal and state grants. Hall has experience and knowledge of grant-proposal writing, and looks to put those skills to use at Roane State.

•Strive for a more diverse student body. For example, Hall wants to reach out to the growing Hispanic population in the region.

•Offer more classes. While recruiting students is essential, keeping them in school — and "educating them on the benefits of staying in college" — is also part of the equation.

When she first interviewed for the Roane State directorship, Hall said she wasn't sure she had a solid chance at the job, since her experience wasn't all literally in the "education" field. But Roane State saw a chance to latch on to someone with expertise beyond a strict definition of "schooling."

"All my experiences brought me to this place," Hall said. "It's a dream come true."