Jim Ayers Shares Insight with UT Business Students
Jim Ayers’ commitment to higher education is evident in the programs he has established to encourage high school students to continue their education after high school graduation. It also is evident in the time he devoted to speaking to UT College of Business Administration students about the value of education, the value of hard work, and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship defines Ayers. A native of Parsons, Tennessee, Ayers is the sole owner of FirstBank; he also has holdings in a variety of businesses, including financial services and real estate. Education is his passion. In 1999, he started the Ayers Foundation, which supports a wide range of programs and institutions, with an emphasis on education, in Decatur and Henderson Counties (TN) and across the state of Tennessee.
The foundation offers lucrative scholarships to high school students in Decatur and Henderson Counties, and the scholarships are available to any high school student who pursues an education beyond a high-school level (e.g.: two-year school, four-year program, vocational school, etc.). Since the program’s inception 10 years ago, the percentage of students in these two counties pursuing higher education has grown from 30 percent to over 90 percent.
Ayers spoke to about 50 students (mostly students focusing on entrepreneurship and innovation collaterals and enterprise management majors) in a presentation moderated by Jason Rushing, director of UT Martin’s Parson campus and a former Ayers Scholar. The program was held during a lunch sponsored by FirstBank.