April L. Eads, Class of 2002, Outstanding Alumni Award Winner for 2007
As a former engineering assistant turned business development manager at Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES), April Eads knows how to make the right connections. Eads received the Outstanding Alumna Award for 2007 from Northeast State Community College recognizing her success in industry and the community.
“Northeast State is a hidden jewel,” said Eads. “With the smaller class size and the quality of instructors it is a great place to start your educational journey.”
A Bristol, Tennessee, native and graduate of Tennessee High School, Eads initially planned to major in education and become an elementary school teacher. Although accepted at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Eads found classes of 100-plus students to be a difficult learning environment. Rather than feeling lost in a mix of numbers, she opted to return to the Tri-Cities. She briefly enrolled at East Tennessee State University before joining BTES in 1996 first as a customer service representative.
A turning point in Eads’ professional career came a few years later when a position opened up in the utility’s Engineering Department. She applied and made a decision to pursue her associate degree in a discipline connected to her company’s core business by enrolling in Northeast State’s electrical technology program.
Eads graduated from Northeast State with an Associate of Applied Science degree in electrical technology in 2002. She noted the insight she received from program instructors who had spent significant time with successful corporations and private companies around the region.
“I loved Northeast State because I got those real-life experiences from people who were in those industries,” she said. “Northeast State allowed students to get more of a head start by having those instructors. They were able to connect their on-the-job training into their teaching experiences which put their students ahead of the game.”
Learning electrical technology served as a major asset for Eads as she advanced at BTES. The utility was undertaking an ambitious expansion beyond electricity that included telecommunications services. Eads said majoring in a technology-based science was “very important” to her advancement at BTES.
“I was already in my position as engineer trainee, so I needed to learn the technical skills quickly,” she said. “Having instructors who worked in this field prior to teaching was a huge plus. I was able to apply what I learned in class the very next day.”
Eads went on to earn her Bachelor of Applied Science degree and Master of Science degree in engineering technology from ETSU. She said the time at Northeast State prepared her for the jump to a university.
“Northeast State has developed some great partnerships with several four-year colleges,” she said. “You can go to Northeast State, get your classes, and make a seamless transition to a four-year institution.”
Today, BTES provides electricity, cable television, telephone, and Internet services. Eads continues to play a significant role in the utility’s success. After working as an engineering assistant, she was promoted to her current position where she assists local industry by facilitating resources that are available to new and existing industries to help create jobs and capital investment in the region. Some of those resources include low-interest loans, tax incentives, and job training grants for employers seeking to relocate and expand. Business development means a diversified workforce, a healthy regional economy, and better career opportunities for the region’s population.
Eads also takes an active role in her community serving on the Bristol Junior Achievement Board, the Northeast Tennessee Technology Council Board, the Bristol Morning Rotary Board, the Chamber of Commerce Lead Bristol Advisory Committee, the Northeast Tennessee Regional Industrial Association Advisory Committee, and has served several years on the United Way Campaign Cabinet.
She is married to Maj. Tim Eads of the Bristol Tennessee Police Department. They have two sons, Tyler and Kodee.
The Northeast State Outstanding Alumni Award honors alumni who are making significant contributions to the region through their careers and community service endeavors. Eads said high school graduates and adults debating on what educational path to take should explore their options at Northeast State.
“They should really check out the curriculum,” she said. “It’s a great place to start.”