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From Campus to City Hall: Mayor Promotes Former SGA Student

By Mason Edwards, Features Editor for the University Echo


A month after graduating from UTC, Andrew Crockett's career took an unexpected turn into city government.


Eight months later, in Aug. 2023, Chattanooga's mayor promoted him to Operations Coordinator.


As Crockett advanced towards his originally planned career path in airport marketing, he developed a variety of soft, transferable skills suitable for both the airline industry and local government. So, when UTC’s Chancellor’s Chief of Staff, David Steele, heard about a new position within Mayor Tim Kelly’s office, Crockett’s application rose to the top of the list.


“I had no thoughts about politics or government at all,” Crockett explained. “Truthfully, I was expecting–trying–to get a job with one of the major airlines.” 


While studying for his B.S. in Marketing, Crockett actively worked with an airline, spending 11 months as a customer service agent at Wilson Air Center. During this time, he crossed paths with Terry Hart, then President and CEO of the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority. Crockett asked Hart about internship opportunities, so Hart invited him to learn their operations over the summer.


At the airport, Crockett focused on each piece of airport logistics, from baggage operations to regulatory compliance. There, he accidentally learned how to understand multiple, interlocking levels of logistics– a skill the mayor took note of. 


 “I really spent my whole summer just bouncing around the whole airport, learning how it fully operates— every corner of it,” Crockett said. “So the mayor seemed to be interested in my time at the airport authority and that internship.”


Crockett didn’t intend to pursue a political career, but his service as a senator complimented his time at the airport authority. 


“I think [SGA] helped me have a bigger picture… it’s like the decisions that we’re making in the Senate potentially have a larger effect on campus as a whole,” Crockett reflected.


Even though Crockett’s airline career never took off, he’s happy serving Chattanooga’s constituents. As he explained, his position has all the perks he’s ever wanted.


“Getting this job, where every day I’m going to different events with the mayor and meeting different people… and that it actually affects the 180,000 people that call Chattanooga home— it’s a gift, truly,” Crockett said.


Crockett remembered his first day as a staff assistant when Kelly led him to a spacious conference room, adorned with Chattanooga-related memorabilia. Kelly pointed to a sizable map of the city painted on the wall, spanning its entire surface. There, Kelly conveyed the importance of every corner of Chattanooga—not just the ones commonly associated with the city, like downtown.


“We have to remember that the people up on the very tip end of Hixson, all the way down to the state line of Georgia, are our constituents, too, and we have to care and fight for them just as much as we fight for downtown,” Crockett explained. “And I think that was a great perspective change.”


Furthermore, through his work with Kelly's One Chattanooga Plan, Crockett gained a broader grasp of public policy. Previously viewing societal issues, such as crime, as separate problems, he now understands them as interconnected challenges. Taking education as an example, Crockett explained that prioritizing support for elementary schools can yield improved quality of life two decades down the line.


“Then, the poverty level goes down, and when the poverty level goes down, statistically, crime goes down, homelessness goes down, mental health goes up,” he explained. “Everyone of these big issues, they’re all connected. When they’re all working [positively] in unison, you hope to see a long term really big goal of a big change.”


For current and future-job seekers, Crockett offered advice. His intentional networking put him on the radar of notable people, like Hart, Kelley and Steele, but his self-confidence and experience led him to success.


“Connections are a really important piece of finding a job,” he said. “Then also, trust your own skills and strengths and have confidence as you go looking for something.” 

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