Fifty years ago, Richard Nixon was taking office as the 37th president of the United States, well before Watergate happened. The Beatles conducted their last live performance standing on a London rooftop. The Woodstock festival occurred with three days of “peace and love.”
Also, 50 years ago, Marilyn Johns was hired as the first secretary of Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Morristown. She remembers it well.
“It seems like I just came here yesterday,” Johns, administrative assistant of nursing at TCAT-Morristown, said. “As a matter of fact, I remember all that first day.”
Johns celebrated 50 years of working at TCAT recently with a cake in the midst of her office. Teachers and students came in and out of the office to congratulate her and to thank her for what she has done for the students.
Johns said it is humbling to think over the years she has helped not hundreds, but thousands of students.
Johnathan Mills, a nursing student at the college, says the same thing.
“It’s hard to imagine the amount of lives, not just lives, but dreams, she’s been a part of over the years,” Mills said.
Resa Yount, director of nursing for the school, said Johns is her “right hand.” Yount is the first person students meet and she provides them with all the information needed to start their school career in technical education.
“She’s the strongest advocate for this school we’ve ever had,” Yount said. “For this school, and for this nursing program.”
Johns came to Morristown before the school even existed. She was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. She had dreams of being a stewardess, but found out to be a stewardess she had to be 21 years old.
So, she chose another path. She took the civil service exam, moved to Washington D.C. and served with the U.S. Department of Navy as a secretary before moving to Baltimore for another job.
She met someone, moved to Morristown and when the school opened applied.
She had more than enough experience.
Over the years, she has worked with almost every department on campus.
Students know her as funny and outgoing. She leaves an impression, even if the person just knows her for a few months.
“She’s always been real helpful,” said Rachel Stone, a nursing student. “Funny. You want a smile, you come to Marilyn’s office.”
Yount said there is no doubt she has impacted the lives of students and teachers who have been around her the last 50 years.
“I just can’t say enough good things about her,” she said.