My experience at C-N is the foundation for every principle I now practice in my classroom.Melissa Shelton DeBord, 2016 / Special Education Preschool Teacher / Grainger County Schools
Alumni Spotlight: Major General Michael Roache
Carson-Newman alumnus Major General Michael Roache was appointed chief of staff for the U.S. Army Reserve Command, headquartered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in October 2021. He graduated from C-N with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management before earning his Master’s of Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College.
His career traces back to his senior year in high school where he made the decision to not only attend Carson-Newman, but also join the Army ROTC on campus. He said the Eagle Battalion has a great reputation and meeting a few cadets during his campus visit confirmed his belief.
“During my visit, walking around campus meeting other students and faculty caused a very clear and distinct “pull” – C-N was where I wanted to go and in retrospect there is no doubt it was God’s plan,” he said.
During his first year, Roache quickly realized that to be successful, he needed to put in hard work. Navigating academic challenges seemed difficult at first, but many faculty members offered him great guidance and support.
“Fellow students provided study tips and tutoring and along the way I discovered the library! The library became my favorite place to study,” he said.
Roache was also faced with an extremely challenging personal problem at the time, but C-N’s nurturing environment enabled him to work through it.
“So many people provided insight, guidance, patience and simply love. To this day, I am convinced of God’s sovereignty and see it reflecting on that period at C-N and its impact on me even now,” he said.
With time, Roache developed skills such as discipline, time management and how to work with others that were different from him.
“More personally, it seemed that everything I thought I knew received a loving challenge, which required me to develop better critical thinking skills. In the end, C-N provided me with perseverance, strengthened integrity and not just knowledge, but life lessons,” he said.
While all faculty members he met had an impact on him, his biology professor was an undeniable influence. “Dr. Naylor garnered immediate respect given his service record from WWII, but it was his patience and genuine care for students that made an immediate impression on me,” he said.
Some of his fondest memories from C-N involve his brothers from the Xi Sigma Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega who he says were true to self and each other and firm in loyalty. He makes a point to visit the campus and attend every homecoming.
“My favorite activities during homecoming events are to visit the ROTC Eagle Battalion, which usually involves a cookout, the homecoming parade, and of course seeing friends,” he said. On what inspires him, he states that the fear of failure drove him and, in some instances, still does.
“Time has allowed my perspective to change causing my inspiration to change. The richness of God’s grace and mercy never ceases to amaze me. The manner in which He works is truly amazing. Knowing that all things work according to His will and sovereign plan inspires me daily,” he said.
He encouraged Carson-Newman students to take risks and not fear failing, to know themselves and work through their blind spots and bias.
“Seek mentors. Be a mentor. Do not be anxious about anything, but trust God with everything. Give freely with no expectations for anything in return. Maintain an open mind, but represent truth,” he said.