The 'benefit' of education

Tenille Dellinger
Wednesday, December 14, 2022

As an issue arises or a crisis unfolds, few people think of what occurs during or afterward. Among the few is Tenille Dellinger, assistant director of campus and community communications. Often regarded as the unicorns behind the scenes, Dellinger and her teammates quietly do the herculean lifts to ensure the campus community receives timely information about everything from winter weather to pandemic procedures and campus updates.

The month of December is significant for Dellinger. December 1 was the original start date when she began her UNC Charlotte affiliation in 2017. It is worth noting this date also fondly started her journey as a proud auntie when her nephew, Paxton, was born a few hours before she reported to work. Now, five years later, on Friday, Dec. 16, she will be among the more than 1,200 graduates receiving their master’s degrees. 

In the fall of 2018, Dellinger became a permanent hire, and her role of providing support to the Facilities Management Department expanded, making her a Business Affairs divisional resource. With a broader scope of work, she welcomed the transition as an opportunity to delve into other forms of communications - atop the list, crisis communications. It became a natural fit for her to navigate toward working closely with the Emergency Management team.

As the University’s need for consistently elevated communication strategies evolved, so did her eagerness to learn, grow and commit to more extraordinary contributions. With various reasons fueling the decision, Dellinger began talking with University HR and Graduate School representatives to explore options for seeking a graduate degree. Thanks to the employee Tuition Waiver Program offered by the University, Dellinger says she was able to obtain a master’s degree with minimal out-of-pocket expenses.

“There were multiple pieces that fit into my decision,” says Dellinger. “It was a great time for me personally to take on this 3.5-year endeavor as a young professional. I doubt I would have pursued this degree if it weren't for this program.”

In 2019 she enrolled as a part-time student in the graduate program in Communication Studies. With various organizational changes while her graduate studies were underway, Dellinger also attributes the support of supervisors and colleagues as a part of the balance of her educational pursuit. “Without their encouragement and many discussions, I wouldn’t have completed a directed project I’m passionate about that also fits into my professional career — nor would I have been able to work around class schedules or had the work-school-life balance they encouraged me to have.”  

Dellinger is excited about what this additional degree will afford her in the future and credits UNC Charlotte for valuing employee growth through this program. “Looking back, I realize how lucky I am to have completed this experience in this way, and I am looking forward to implementing what I’ve learned into my professional career,” said Dellinger. “All employees should look into professional development benefits such as the employee Tuition Waiver Program.”