Finding Fulfillment: Alumna Excited for Involvement in Society ‘63


For Shannon Bearfield, joining Society ’63 means an opportunity to give back to the college that helped her build a career and develop life-long relationships along the way.

“I’ve been looking for more ways to be involved with my community, and the opportunity to be more involved with Dalton State really excites me,” Bearfield said.

Society ’63 is a newly formed alumni association at Dalton State named for the year the college was chartered. The alumni association gives its members exclusive access to networking opportunities and professional development events. The association is open to all former students, including those who attended Dalton Junior College and those who did not complete their degrees. Alumni can join the association for a one-time gift of $19.63 to the college.

“Being a part of Society ’63 gives me a chance to remain a part of the college I love so much,” Bearfield said.


Student Life

Far from a traditional student, Bearfield came to Dalton State in 2006 after serving in the military.

“I knew I wanted to study biology, but when I came to Dalton State, they didn’t have a bachelor’s program in biology,” Bearfield said. “I registered for the associate program with the understanding that I would have to transfer.”

Fortunately for Bearfield, the college launched its four-year program in biology in 2008.

“I was like, ‘I can stay? Yes, please,’” she said.

Being a part of the first graduating class in biology came with its challenges.

“We lovingly knew we were the guinea pigs, and we were okay with that,” Bearfield said. “We all decided to remain flexible to make those classes better and make the program better overall. I’m very proud that I could help lay that foundation.”

Bearfield is adamant that Dalton State met all her educational needs and empowered her to grow as a person. The life skills and personal relationships Bearfield developed at Dalton State were equally as important as the education she received.

Bearfield finds her relationship with Dr. James Adams, professor of biology, one of the most impactful to this day.

“I had Dr. Adams for evolution, and I’ll be honest, I was intimidated at first. Anybody who was a biology major had heard about how challenging his classes could be,” Bearfield said. “But Evolution ended up being one of my favorite classes, and he ended up being one of my most inspirational professors.”

Bearfield went on to take several more classes with Adams.

“Shannon was a top-notch student,” Adams said. “She was outspoken, which I appreciate immensely. She was clearly prepared and always spot on with her answers.”

Bearfield also cited Dr. John Lugthart, professor of biology, as one of the most influential people in her time at Dalton State. Lughart served as Bearfield’s academic advisor throughout her education.

“He knew that I was not a traditional student, and he saw that I came in with a plan,” Bearfield said. “He loved that I was building my own path, but he also did a very good job of helping me navigate it. I cannot say enough good things about him as an advisor.”

Lugthart remembers Bearfield for her passion for learning and the leadership she showed on several occasions.

“She was very organized and disciplined, perhaps a reflection of her previous military service, and her work was always of high caliber,” he said. “While at Dalton State, she also took on several leadership responsibilities.”

Bearfield’s roles as a leader included tutoring in the Science Learning Center, organizing a service project at the Chattanooga Zoo, conducting a workshop for third graders at a local elementary school, and helping create a chapter of the TriBeta National Biological Honorary Society.


Life After Graduation

After graduating from Dalton State in 2010, Bearfield decided to take her education even further by attending graduate school and earning a doctorate in pharmacy.

“Dalton State was utterly unique in what it did for us as students, and going to graduate school only made me appreciate Dalton State more,” Bearfield said.

Today, Bearfield works for a lab headquartered in Nashville, where she applies her skills and education every day.

“We do various types of testing. One of the main things we do is drug screening for pain management patients, but we also just got funding to expand our lab for COVID-19 testing,” Bearfield said.

Bearfield finds the leadership skills and independence she developed at Dalton State have been two of the most important factors in her career so far.

“It’s not a regular 9-5 job where I have coworkers,” she said. “I travel to different clinics. I hear from my boss once every two or three months. Dalton State taught me to be independent, set my own schedule, and get things done.”

Now, 10 years after graduating, Bearfield is turning her attention toward giving back to the college that helped prepare her for where she is today.

Bearfield joined the Society ’63 Alumni Association as a way to keep up to date with Dalton State. However, she is less interested in what she will get out of the association and more interested in what she has to give.

“We all get something out of helping somebody,” Bearfield said. “We get fulfillment.”

That fulfillment comes from making a lasting impact on the college that helped shape her life.

“I want to be the type of alumna that reflects the type of student I was. I want to be involved,” Bearfield said. “It’s immensely important for current and future students to see the passion that the alumni have for Dalton State. It’s very telling how the alumni feel about their school.”

To current students at Dalton State, Bearfield offers some advice.

“Enjoy your time there,” she said. “I don’t need to know every student who has gone to Dalton State to say that I’m proud of each and every one of them. I know the school, and I know the professors there, so I can say that with confidence.”

By joining Society ’63, Bearfield ensures she will continue to make an impact on Dalton State and its students for years to come.

For more information on the Society ’63 Alumni Association, visit www.daltonstate.edu and click on the alumni link at the top of the page.