Barry Jonathan King would have graduated the normal way in May 2019, had he lived. He died in January 2018 with three classes left to go after 14 years of working toward his degree. He had brittle diabetes and suffered from kidney disease. He had finally made it to the kidney transplant list, but we found out after he died that he had to be removed from it due to, ironically, a health issue. When he was hospitalized with the flu in early January 2018, it was more than his battered heart could stand. One morning when the nurses checked on him at 5 a.m., he was sitting up and talking to them, but when they came with his medicine at 5:20 a.m., he was gone.
The college graciously determined that, given his GPA, he would likely have finished and celebrated graduation as planned, so they granted him a posthumous A.A.S. degree in computer science, for which I am extremely grateful. An empty chair that day allowed us to honor his accomplishment, present in spirit if not in body.
Barry fought through life’s challenges to get his degree, as do most students. Those who also deal with a disability have an even tougher road to victory. Students struggle with transportation and finances, and so did he. It took him so long to reach his goal because he would get part way through a semester, wind up in the hospital for a couple of weeks, get too far behind to catch up, and withdraw for the semester to try again later. Some semesters, he couldn’t go at all because he didn’t have a car or enough money for tuition.
Like many students, he had the support of those who loved him. My wife and I helped when we could, and his sister and brother did also. His grandparents encouraged him and supported him through some of his toughest times. And always, always, he had friends. Some students attend Pellissippi State without the help of family, perhaps even with opposition from family. In any case, students run into obstacles including tuition, but also things like textbook costs, medical bills, and childcare.
Barry had help facing those challenges, but never quite enough. Sometimes a small bit of additional funding would have enabled him to turn a lost semester around. It is our hope that this scholarship in his memory will help others similarly challenged to achieve the goal he worked so long and hard for. ~ Donnell King (Barry’s father)
The Barry King Scholarship was established due largely to the efforts of Barry’s co-workers in New Student Orientation who began discussing the possibility of establishing a scholarship in his memory very soon after he passed away. They were always impressed with Barry’s diligence in coming to work despite some of his heath challenges and always communicating with them if he had an issue that would cause him to be late or absent from work. In April of 2019, the Barry King Scholarship was officially established that provides a $500 scholarship each year for a Pellissippi State student with a disability.
For a Pellissippi State student to be considered for the Barry King Scholarship, they must be enrolled in a least six hours, have at least a 2.0 GPA, and have verifiable financial need and disability status.