Meet The Partners | TJ McAvene

Posted by Rachel O'Connor on May 20, 2020

TJ McAvene is an Ashland University junior from Ashland, Ohio. Although he started taking classes at Ashland while he was still in high school, it wasn’t his first choice. 

“I was actually pretty close to shipping off to go to a Christian college down in Florida, but the more that I thought about it and the more I prayed on it, the more I felt God leading me towards Ashland.” 

A part of the appeal for Ashland was that it was close to home and gave him an opportunity to save for college while working at a place that allowed him to pick up hours and schedule around his classes. 

“I knew Ashland was fairly expensive compared to some of the other places I was looking but I was thinking if I could get the financial aid and work a lot I could afford it, and it just seemed like God opened the doors for me to be here.” 

“So far I have no student loans and going into the second half of my junior year now. I think I made the right decision. I love the community, I love the family aspect. I like being home to be honest, so yeah, it just seemed like the right place to be for me.”

One of the ways TJ manages the costs of college is through the Corporate Partners Program. It’s a tuition discount program offered to partner employees. His mom, a full-time, employee at Huntington Bank’s corporate office, qualifies for these benefits which extend to her spouse, and dependents.  

“My mom was the one who told me about it initially. She’s been a big help to me throughout all this. Especially even going back into high school she was always reminding me to apply for scholarships, do what you can... So she told me about it and said if there was anything else she needed to do to let her know, but at the end of the day she said, you need to figure this out because it’s going to save you money.”

At Ashland, TJ is studying Integrated Social Studies Education, with hopes of being a history teacher and football coach after graduating. The allure of a job that can positively impact people’s lives while also telling stories all day excites him about a future in the classroom. And the chance to be a role model for kids who may not have that in their lives is also a reason why he feels called to teach. 

“I think that the typical family unit is really what strengthens your values as you grow into a productive member of society and I just think if I can be that role model, or that sense of family structure in some kids life that he may not be getting at home, that I think I can do my part in helping to better society and to put us on a better track for our future.”

“To me, it comes down to the way I view society today and the place that I grew up. I see so many kids that are growing up today without a positive male role model in their lives and for me, that was something that was really important for who I am today and for my character.”

If you’re worried COVID-19 and online classes are going to stop this future educator, think again! While the adjustment to online classes was a bit harder than he anticipated, he still plans on taking classes again come Fall, even if that means continuing online education. 

“I’m just eager to get out into the field and eager to start my own life. So I think I’m going to tough it out regardless of the circumstances.”

TJ is one of over two hundred students that take advantage of tuition discounts through the Corporate Partners Program at Ashland University. The Corporate Partners program is an employee benefit opportunity for external companies. It was created to provide access to training and educational opportunities that help shape both personal and professional development. To learn more information about this program or to see if you qualify, you can call 419.207.6759 or email