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David McKenzie: Advocate for Education

February 11, 2022

David McKenzie, Motlow GraduateIn Latin, the term “Amor Fati” describes the love of fate. My path to and from Motlow State Community College is one I certainly love and can only describe as predestined and fateful. Upon graduating from high school in 1998, I had no plans to continue my education, but instead to enter the workforce. Although I had previous academic success, my mindset was closed to the economic feasibility of attending college. I watched as others were preparing to embark on an educational experience, and I resigned myself to a different life.

Motlow had alternative plans. Two outstanding faculty members, Mike Russell and Dr. Michael Bradley personify the school’s mission to make quality post-secondary education available to all who desire. Over the course of a routine day, these two men changed my life entirely.

A few weeks after graduating from high school, I accompanied a friend to the Moore County campus with instructions from his mother to retrieve a course catalog for the upcoming semester. I was set on spending the day playing basketball and swimming at the lake and saw this detour as a hindrance to my otherwise leisurely plans. As it was summer in Tennessee and unbearably hot, I decided to seek the air-conditioned refuge of the administration building while my friend was searching for his mother’s request. Upon entering, I noticed a red Toyota truck outfitted with kayaks and sporting equipment, and for some reason, I made a mental note. I quickly deduced that Mike Russell must be an outdoorsman’s vehicle owner. He and I began speaking about his truck and the secret locations of the local fishing spots, among other topics. Then he asked, “So, what are you doing this fall?”

Like a good investigator and fisherman, he politely asked about my grades and ACT scores and started to reel me in. Within ten minutes I was sitting at his desk. Within another ten minutes he had summoned Dr. Bradley to his office. Dr. Bradley was in the process of finalizing the plans for what would become the inaugural class of the Motlow’s Honors Program, and these two thought I would be a good fit. The scholarship and stipend with the program removed all doubt that Motlow was where I belonged. During my time at Motlow, I enjoyed serving as the student ambassador for the Tennessee Board of Regents, the student representative for the Academic Appeals Board, and the Vice President of the Student Government Association. I received my associate degree and a bachelor’s and law degree two years later.     

I have now been practicing law in middle Tennessee for the past fifteen years with offices in Marshall and Lincoln County. I specialize in criminal defense, personal injury, and medical malpractice cases. I am fortunate to be successful in these areas by recovering millions of dollars from insurance companies for injured plaintiffs and helping thousands of accused defendants return home to their families. I continue to learn the complex array of topics I encounter, ranging from the intricacies of invasive spinal surgery to Federal and State sentencing guidelines. My time at Motlow began my desire for education, and it remains with me to this day.

I have always remained an outspoken advocate for education, notably Motlow State, which continues to serve our community by advancing all who seek knowledge and skill. I am particularly grateful that Motlow is not passive but is proactive in seeking out students like myself and inspiring them to lifelong educational pursuits. Motlow was undoubtedly part of my destiny, and for that, I am thankful. 

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