Category: Diversity

Comet Me Bro

The stars were aligned for astronomer Genmady Borisov when he went stargazing and discovered something miraculous. As he glanced into his telescope, he found an interstellar comet. This comet was named after its founder and thus C/2019 Q4 Borisov was born.  

The term interstellar refers to the space between stars.  C/2019 Q4 Borisov is the second interstellar comet in existence that astronomers are aware of, the first being ‘Omuamua which was found in 2017. Although both comets are interstellar, they are different in nature, a fact that leaves both scientists and astronomers fascinated.

These comets are considered interstellar due to the nature of their orbit. Interstellar comets are influenced by our sun’s gravity but unlike regular comets they are not bound to it. Interstellar comets can enter into our solar system’s gravity and then swing back out into interstellar space.  

In Chattanooga, stars, comets, and all the things that make up our galaxy are observed by the Bernard Astronomical Society of Chattanooga. The society was founded in 1923 after University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Professor Edward Emerson Barnard decided that people should study the galaxy.  The Society now consists of members that observe the stars through a planetarium, teach astronomy, and hold star parties where the community can all meet to observe the stars.

The society meets every second Thursday of the month at the Clarence T. Jones Observatory in Brainerd.  The society’s President Patrick Sick believes that, “We are in the golden age of astronomy.” In continuing to study the stars, we become aware of who we are in relation to the galaxy.  In this golden age of astronomy, keeping the study alive is a passion of Patrick’s.

The society is celebrating 90 years, and each new discovery keeps the study alive and exciting. C/2019 Q4 Borisov, is just a step into the vast discoveries yet to come for astronomers like Borisov and Sick. With interstellar comets being discovered who knows what will be next and what we’ll discover in space.

— Podcast by Connor Brown

Meet the Storytellers

Connor Brown

Connor Brown is an audio producer, content writer and photographer pursuing a degree in Communication at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Much of his work draws inspiration from his passion for film as well as the odd moments of everyday life. He can be found at



Marielle Echavez

Marielle Echavez is a senior studying Communication and Psychology. She is both a staff writer and photographer for the University Echo but is most passionate about videography. She plans to pursue video production post-graduation. Some of her work is displayed on @mariellejaimedia on Instagram and can be contacted at


Jillian Stewart

Jillian Stewart is a Junior at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga studying Communications with a minor in Religion. She is passionate about telling others stories using visual media. She enjoys a good cup of coffee on a rainy day and true crime podcasts. Contact her at



Sloane Logan

Sloane Logan is a Senior studying Marketing with a dual minor in Communication and Design Foundations at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is passionate about exploring new territories and learning. She enjoys listening to the rain on the windows of a coffee shop and the sound of a camera click in her hands. You can contact her at 



Fit4Mom – Strength in Motherhood

Balancing Fitness and Motherhood

Fit4Mom is a national fitness program with over 2,600 locations, 1,500 instructors and 310 franchise owners. Fit4Mom was brought to Chattanooga by Rachel McClellan, mother of three children. She experienced Fit4Mom through a Stroller Strides class and fell immediately in love with the community and program. She then became an instructor, and soon later, she decided to start a franchise of her own. Growing up in the South yet living in Chicago for 9 years, she deeply loved and missed her home and found her way back to Chattanooga. Because of McClellan’s heart for starting this program, she has brought so many Chattanooga moms together, forming a motherhood community of fitness and friends.

Claudia Wamack, mother of two children, found Fit4Mom here in Chattanooga, and it has completely changed her life. At one point in her life, it was hard to balance motherhood and fitness due to problems such as simply finding a babysitter so that she could work out. When she found Fit4Mom, she was able to bring her children to her workouts and gain strength both physically and mentally as a mother through the program. Having taught barre classes in the past, she then started instructing Stroller Barre classes and also became the Marketing Coordinator of Fit4Mom in Chattanooga. With all the classes that this fitness program has to offer, both McClellan and Wamack encourage every mother, no matter what stage of motherhood – prenatal, postpartum, or beyond, to give a Fit4Mom class a try, and join the village of mothers who stand for strength in motherhood.

Meet the Storytellers

Marielle Echavez

Marielle Echavez is a senior studying Communication and Psychology. She is both a staff writer and photographer for the University Echo but is most passionate about videography. She plans to pursue video production post-graduation. Some of her work is displayed on @mariellejaimedia on Instagram and can be contacted at

Spooky Sketches

Chatt Comix Co-op

Superhumans, powers, the odd and the horrifying can be found in the pages of the Chatt Comix Co-op anthologies and zines. The Chattanooga Comix Co-op meets bi-monthly in what co-founder Meagan Frey describes as a “comics support group.” It acts as a safe haven for comic book readers, collectors, and creators to explore and expand upon their creative endeavors. 

The group originated online, and when Meagan Frey and her partner John Porter heard about it, they offered to host it at their comics store, Infinity Flux. Since then, Chatt Comix Co-Op has grown to as many as 292 members on Facebook, with about 20 to 30 people that attend their bi-monthly meetings. 

Dana Ortega has attended Chatt Comix Co-op from it’s conception in April of 2016. She’s been drawing for five years, and was introduced to the group by her professor at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She always considered herself an artist and enjoyed drawing, but it wasn’t until her professor suggested going to the Co-op that she thought about drawing comics. “With the co-op, I have the chance to practice writing comics and try different things,” Ortega said. 

Each year, the co-op does a series of Halloween anthologies. This year they had 18 submissions, the most for any anthology they’ve ever done. Both Frey and Ortega credit the high number of submissions with the group’s love for Halloween. For this issue, their comic had to be based somewhere in the Chattanooga area. Ortega focused her Halloween anthology on the Lost Mound.

 The Lost Mound is a historical part of Chattanooga, marking where one of the largest Native American mounds in the country was destroyed in 1914. It was located where the Boathouse restaurant currently stands. However, instead of focusing on the more predictable route of the righteous anger of could-be ghosts, she chose to focus instead on the tragedy of it all. “It’s actually horrible and terribly sad,” she said, which made her want to make this her topic. By centering it on the tragedy of the destruction of Native American culture, Ortega illustrates a sense of social justice that permeates many comics today. 

While Ortega notes the group’s welcoming and very personable environment, she also acknowledges the importance of constructive criticism from her fellow group members. “The feedback is immensely valuable from the group. It is super important to receive feedback from other artists because other than that, you are basically in an echo chamber and you won’t be aware of what other areas of your work needs improving,” Ortega said. 

Ortega also illustrates for other members of the group who like to write comics but don’t feel comfortable with drawing them. 

Two people who feel comfortable with writing and drawing are father and son Salem Roberts and Zion Limpert. They collaborate on projects together, and it gives both of them a creative outlet. Limpert says the Co-op inspires his art. “If we never came here, then I don’t think we would have ever done it or I would have ever kept going.”  

You can find their comics, as well as Ortega’s, at Infinity Flux for $10. It includes other group members’ comics as well. 


Dana Ortega’s “Lost Mound” comic shows the destruction of what is now known as the lost mound. It was one of the largest Native American mounds in the region before it was lost to urbanization. Chattanooga has a rich, tragic history with Native Americans, including the Trail of Tears.  



















In the following second comic, Ortega blends the fictional with a realistic setting. In it, mermaids had lived in the river before TVA built the Chickamauga dam. The mermaids were allowed to stay in their home in exchange for working for the TVA. It worked out well for both parties. Ortega’s comics often take something mundane, and put a fantastical spin on it.



Produced by Rising Rock Media


Meet the Storytellers

Amanda Morgan Fann

Amanda Morgan Fann is a photographer, graphic designer and writer, pursuing a degree in both Communication and English at The University of Tennessee Chattanooga. She is the Assistant photo editor and a staff writer for the University Echo. Her passion lies in storytelling and her community as she constantly works at being the voice for people who may not feel they have one. Amanda has a love for performing and currently dances on UTC’s hip hop majorette team, The Ladies of G.O.L.D. If you have a story you wish to share or any questions about me and what I do, email me at

Christopher Wilson

Christopher Wilson is an off-beat senior with a double major in both theatre and communications. He is pursuing a career in film and storytelling. In the meantime, he is a published feature writer for the Echo, a professional gaffer, and has worked as an audio designer or stagehand for far too many theatre
productions. Christopher enjoys curling up with some hot tea and spending time with his two cats in his free time. Contact him with a story to tell at

Alex Ogle

Alex Ogle is a photojournalist with a passion for storytelling and capturing moments. She’s a graduating senior, pursuing a degree in Communications with a minor in Psychology at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She works as a photographer and a contributing writer for The University Echo. You can usually find her with a pair of earbuds, listening to music throughout all times of the day. Contact Alex Ogle at


McKenzie Carver

McKenzie Carver is an insightful writer who has been fortunate enough to have many life experiences that cover much of the emotional spectrum. Carver is a sophomore at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and pursuing a degree in Communications and Spanish. McKenzie is passionate about traveling and the people she meets along her travels. For inquiries or more information, contact me at: 

EL – Everyone Deserves to be Fed

“Everyone deserves to be fed.” – El

— Written by Allissa Rae

Each week for the past year, Elise Taylor has made it her mission to hand-deliver sandwiches to the homeless in the downtown area. 

Elise Taylor, also known as El, says that her mission started when she began living downtown and became aware of the number of people approaching her and sitting on the streets. 

El’s process usually begins late at night by preparing the sandwiches with items that she bought herself. She spends a little over an hour using peanut butter, jelly, and honey to make around a hundred sandwiches. Once she fills her cooler, she heads downtown for around three to four hours at a time. 

When asked how she got started, “I have a passion for feeding people… because being able to feed people feeds me,” said El, “Nothing makes me happier than giving food to other people.”

During her normal deliveries, El typically walks the street alone at night. She most often encounters people who are already asleep, but on the occasion that the person is awake, she takes her time to talk to them as she offers them a sandwich.

El explains her reason for delivering late at night is because she does not want to bring attention to herself or make people feel like they can’t accept help.

“I feel like we have completely dehumanized the homeless, that is my whole purpose in this is to make people feel like someone cares about them.”

In explaining why she feels the need to feed others, she says that a lot of her motivation comes from her family. There were times growing up that food wasn’t always plentiful. This experience became her inspiration in making sure no one else is hungry. 

By using her own hands, El continues to make a difference in downtown Chattanooga by bringing food to those in need.

When asked why she takes her time to feed others, El states, “No one should be hungry.”

— Podcast by Connor Brown

Community Kitchen

— Written by staff writer El Taylor

Sometimes when it comes to asking for help, there are strings attached. The Community Kitchen in Downtown Chattanooga is a place where extensive help can be found, free of strings. Founded in 1982, the Community Kitchen began with serving one meal a day has developed to three free meals, family care, partnered health care, basic life skill classes, foot care and a thrift store/donation center. This multi-op program relies almost solely on donations from the area. 

“Even though we have so much down here [in food stock room], we feed 500-600 meals a day- so it goes by pretty quickly” David Costello, Community Event Director. He says the Community Kitchen is much more than just a kitchen, but the food is probably one of the biggest impacts that they have. 

The biggest goal of the kitchen is to get people up and back on their feet. They see and understand the need for more than a one time assistance. The Community Kitchen provides shelter during the winter months, averaging 100 people a night inside. Though it’s nothing more than a mat, pillow and blanket, it brings people inside and out of the cold. 

 Describing the thrift store connected to the kitchen, Costello said “Our donation center gives away about eighty-five percent of everything in it. The thrift store is open to the public, but really there’s only a two percent profit coming from it. We provide up to an outfit a week, for interviews or work.” 

In a large storage basement downstairs, they stock furniture for whenever they successfully move people into homes, or for low income families that need replacements. 

The Community Kitchen also offers employment programs through the operation itself, often time bringing people back on their feet, with employment through recycling positions, desk work, kitchen jobs, cleaning positions. They teach people skills that they need when having a job too, like time management, being organized and showing up looking professional. 

Despite the stigma against homeless people, the majority of the businesses in the surrounding area partner with and help the Community Kitchen. 

They receive food donations from places like Publix and Food City. The only thing that they struggle to keep in stock often times is breakfast items. A lot of canned foods and things for lunch are often donated, breakfast items are often overlooked.

What has started with a meal is now servicing an entire community in so many ways.

Meet the Storytellers


Elian Richter

Elian Richter works as a photojournalist and action photographer. He has experience covering events such as USA Boxing qualifiers and Presidential arrivals on Air Force One. Elian has had works published on Rising Rock Media and the UTC Echo. In his free time, Elian enjoys rock climbing and being outdoors. Contact Elian Richter at


Rianne Cox

Rianne Cox is a videographer and writer based in Chattanooga, striving to tell stories across different mediums. A graduating senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, she plans to pursue a career in video work.  With experience in video editing, set design, academic writing, and creative writing, she aims to produce the highest quality content possible. Contact her at

Allissa Rae 

Allissa Rae is a senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga working on her communication degree with a minor in creative writing. As an aspiring author, Allissa is working on finishing a novel while focusing on developing her photography skills. With a wide variety of interests, Allissa strives to tell journalistic stories. Contact Allissa to find out her other works in progress at

Connor Brown

Connor Brown is an audio producer, content writer and photographer pursuing a degree in Communication at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Much of his work draws inspiration from his passion for film as well as the odd moments of everyday life. He can be found at


El Taylor

El Taylor works as an event coordinator and specializes in wedding planning. El has a passion for videography and loves to incorporate that at weddings/events. She is organized and gets things done efficiently. She will graduate early from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in Communication and a minor in Anthropology. Contact her at



Produced by Rising Rock Media

Creative Vision

Johannah Hardy is one of the two owners of Creative Vision Hair Salon, along with her husband Jerry Hardy. This year will be Hardy’s 15th anniversary of the opening Chattanooga’s Creative Vision Salon.

Hardy graduated from Chattanooga Barber College in 1996 where she worked long hours completing an 18 month program in only 11 months. Hardy has a wide range of hair experience and has done work as both an educator and platform artist. Within her 23 years experience, Hardy has travelled across the region being apart of hair specialist companies with her work featured in several magazines.

Hardy takes a specific approach that focuses on the care and treatment of hair. Although she performs specialized styles such as for proms and weddings, her main focus is finding a way for each of her clients to maintain healthy hair.

Hardy’s clients range from “age 3 to 93,” she said. She has several young clients, but a majority are retired ladies who prefer short styles. Johannah said, “My passion is short cuts, because you can be creative with it. You can be versatile with it.”

The creativity that can come from hair styling is the initial factor that drew Hardy into the field. She informs young people that if they enjoy creativity and are looking for ways to help others, this is the field to go in.

The smiles Hardy puts on her clients’ faces are what keep her passion going. “Just being able to help someone be a better version of themselves is what motivates me,” Hardy said.

Meet the Storytellers

Princess Petrus

Princess Petrus is a junior at UT Chattanooga studying Communication and Spanish. She enjoys photojournalism and uses her skill to convey social problems through visual images. Petrus has a passion for learning other people’s stories and aims to connect with those around her. Contact her at rkt446@mocs.utc.

Kevin Bate Paints

Kevin Bate is Chattanooga’s humble, quirky, and paint-covered yes man.

Bate moved to Chattanooga in 2005 in search of an older home, full of character and potential. This led him to the Highland Park neighborhood on McCallie Avenue, which at the time, was ripe with crime and boarded up storefronts. The neighborhood lacked life, color, and was deemed the “bad part of town.” As depressing as the neighborhood seemed, Bate questioned how such a place made its residents feel. He saw this as an opportunity to breathe life back into a part of Chattanooga that had been forgotten and overlooked. Bate picked up his paintbrush and quite literally began to recolor his town. His initial goal was to give his neighborhood a sense of pride and to draw more public attention to an area that he quickly grew to love.

Bate started painting large murals on old, dilapidated buildings that lined the streets of McCallie Avenue. He was an instant success. Chattanooga natives, who previously sped through the neighborhood, were stopping and taking pictures in front of his murals. An area that was once avoided was now a destination. The City of Chattanooga and various business owners wanted more from Bate. He started doing commission murals, including “The Fallen Five,” that are now iconic Chattanooga staples.

Bate has an original artistic style that is easily recognizable all over the city. He uses implied lines and abstract shapes that force the viewer’s brain to see a face; they make people stop in the midst of their busy days and just look. Beautification was Bate’s goal. Now, after being an established Chattanoogan, Bate has poured his heart and talent back into the art community. He states, “I’d like to be the person to put more local artists to work.” Bate knows how it feels to be an aspiring artist, living off mac n’ cheese and criticism. Therefore, he wants to

inspire local artists to pursue their talents by collaborating with him on large projects to continue to paint this city.

“I don’t think people realize how powerful [public art] can be,” Bate states. However, as Chattanooga is on the brink of prosperity after being nationally named the “Best Town Ever,” that statement is quickly being rethought. His eclectic, artsy, and community-driven personality embodies Chattanooga’s new identity. The city’s newfound sense of pride and art-town label can easily be accredited to the talent and heart of Kevin Bate.


Chattanooga is becoming a city known for having a rich art culture. It is a growing city that includes its own Tivoli Theater, the Hunter Art Museum and a symphony and opera hall.

One of Chattanooga’s biggest contributors to the community art scene is the non-profit organization ArtsBuild. For the past 50 years, ArtsBuild has been striving to build a strong connection and bond throughout the city through public art. The organization continuously supports and promotes the local art and artist in the Chattanooga area.

In 2012, ArtsBuild established a grant called the Community Cultural Connections grant programmed designed to bring arts and cultural programming to underserved areas of Hamilton County. More than 70 projects have been funded through this grant and awarded to organizations such as the Orange Grove Center, H*Art Gallery, and Salvation Army.

ArtsBuild continues to promote and build Chattanooga’s art scene by providing free professional arts experiences to more than 11,400 Hamilton County students in K-4 each year. Programs include Chattanooga Theatre Centre’s Youth, the Creative Discovery Museum, and Chattanooga Symphony and Opera’s Young People’s Concert.

To learn more about Chattanooga’s ArtsBuild organization visit their website or email at

Meet the Storytellers

Allie Schrenker

Allie Schrenker is a committed athlete majoring in Communication and Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with plans to graduate in May 2019. She is an international rugby player and an editor for UTC’s literary journal. She is currently pursuing a career in photojournalism and can be reached at


Samantha Sargent

Samantha Sargent is a senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Originally from Memphis, TN, she came to Chattanooga to study Communication and Sociology. Sargent wishes to use this degree to pursue a career in digital media. Contact her at

Princess Petrus

Princess Petrus is a junior at UT Chattanooga studying Communication and Spanish. She enjoys photojournalism and uses her skill to convey social problems through visual images. Petrus has a passion for learning other people’s stories and aims to connect with those around her. Contact her at rkt446@mocs.utc.


Katie Raabe

Katie Raabe is a Communication major and International Studies minor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga planning to graduate in May 2019. With a focus in Creative Writing, Katie is passionate about people and telling their stories in expressive and visual forms. Contact her at

Jay’s Story

Jay Shin, 20, is from Cleveland, Tennessee. Even with Cerebral Palsy, he lives a normal
life with an amazing support system. He was raised by his mom, Soonja Shin, and two sisters, Yoori Shin and Meeri Shin. He attends Cleveland State Community College where he studies Mechatronics. He also attends Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church in Collegedale where he has a great community around him. Cerebral Palsy affects Jay physically and some mentally, but he doesn’t let his disability define him.


Meet the Storytellers

Marielle Echavez

Marielle Echavez is a junior pursuing a degree in Communication and a minor in Psychology. She manages her own branch of custom apparel on campus. She has a passion for videography and being creative. She plans to pursue video production post-graduation. Contact her at