The kids are fidgety and the couple, dressed in cap and gown, looks a bit nervous. Brandy Meness says she is both tired and proud. Chris Meness says this will be the first time he has ever walked the stage at a graduation. The Putnam County husband and wife graduated from Volunteer State Community College during the commencement ceremony in Gallatin on Saturday. Many adult students face challenges balancing family, work and school. The Meness family handled all of that on a much larger scale. The couple attended Vol State at Livingston at the same time, while raising an 18-month-old, twin four-year-olds, a six-year-old and also taking care of two teenagers. Chris worked two jobs and went to school full-time to make ends meet. Brandy says her husband hasn’t had a day off in six weeks.
“We worked really hard for this,” Brandy Meness said. “We sacrificed a lot for this. We are both the first in our family to do this. We want to give our kids the best life possible.”
“It’s a life-changer for me,” said Chris Meness. “It’s going to help me break the chain. My mother, father, brothers and sisters- no one has ever graduated from college. It feels phenomenal.”
Despite the massive workload, the two have taken well to college. “Even though he has been working so much, Chris has a 3.3 grade point average,” Brandy said. “Hopefully I’m going to have a 4.0.”
They have only had one class together. Brandy laughed and said she found out her husband has a different learning style than her.
“My husband is a back of the classroom person- quiet and reserved,” she said. “I’m usually in the front of the classroom asking questions.”
“When other students are talking about how they don’t have anything to do after class my wife and I are talking about going to work and picking up the kids,” Chris said.
The couple is already enrolled for Tennessee Tech University to continue their studies, Brandy in Human Resources and Chris in sociology with a criminal justice emphasis. Chris actually took some TTU classes while finishing up his Vol State degree this spring. While they’re both excited about the future, they do have one small wish.
“He’s exhausted. I’m exhausted,” Brandy said. “We just want some family time this summer.”