The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Notable former students call TCC home

Wendy Davis

Wendy Davis is a lawyer and Democratic politician who once took classes on NE Campus. Her original goal was to become a paralegal, but she soon discovered during her time at TCC that she wanted to be a lawyer and not the assistant.

Davis’ road to success wasn’t an easy one. She was raised by a single mom who only had a sixth-grade education. Davis got married right out of high school and was a single parent by the time she was 19 after her divorce.

Wendy Davis
Wendy Davis

Seeing herself in the same position as her mom, Davis didn’t think of college as a possibility. But she then began to take classes at morning and at night at TCC to help her achieve her dream of becoming a lawyer.

Despite her struggle through school while balancing two jobs, Davis was offered a scholarship at Texas Christian University. She graduated and later graduated from Harvard Law School.

She served nine years on the Fort Worth City Council before she was elected to the Texas Senate in 2008. In June 2013, she gained national attention when she led a filibuster on a bill that tightened regulations on abortion.

Davis repaid a visit to NE in 2014 when she gave a speech during her campaign for governor. She mentioned that being back on NE was a “true homecoming.” Although she lost the election, she didn’t allow it to slow her down. Davis has also won several awards for work in education and women’s health and is listed on the NE Wall of Fame in the campus library.

In a message regarding her support for Generation Texas, she had a few words of encouragement for anybody struggling to achieve their educational goals.

“Do not for a moment let what you believe might have been a mistake in your life, or a failure in your life, define who you are and what you’re capable of doing,” she said.

Norah Jones

Norah Jones is a singer-songwriter, pianist and actress who took preparatory piano classes on NE. She has been nominated for multiple awards and won nine Grammys for her musical talent.

She has released numerous albums such as Come Away with Me (2002), Feels Like Home (2004), Not Too Late (2007), The Fall (2009), Little Broken Hearts (2012) and her most recent one from 2013, Foreverly, featuring Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day.

NE preparatory piano coordinator Renetta Frisque taught piano lessons to Jones when she was a child. Frisque said Jones took classes throughout second to sixth grades.

“Norah was a very good piano student,” Frisque said. “She was quick to learn, quick to memorize and played very musically. She participated in the recitals, festivals, theory testing and Guild auditions.”

Frisque said Jones took required group lessons in the piano lab and used the very first keyboards the college purchased.

Norah Jones
Norah Jones

“For her first few concerts, she used a keyboard exactly like we had when she was a student,” she said. “She liked the sound for certain songs.”

Frisque described Jones as a gifted student who was “thoughtful but quiet.”

“My job was to prepare her with a solid foundation so she could go any direction she wanted,” she said.

Frisque remembered being invited to Jones’ first Dallas concert by her mother, who told her what Jones had done since she left TCC.

“I enjoyed the concert,” Frisque said. “Norah’s mother told me she wasn’t going to tell Norah I was coming to see if she recognized me. Norah took one look at me and said, ‘Ms. Frisque!’ I have since been to all but the last Dallas concert.”

Frisque said she remembers speaking with Jones’ mom back in 2001, and her mom thanked her for her teachings that helped changing from traditional piano to jazz go a lot smoother for her.

“Sue called to say Norah wanted to study jazz when they returned Norah’s eighth grade year,” she said. “I recommended an eighth grade teacher, and from there, she went to the magnet arts high school in Dallas. Then it was two years at UNT, and then she moved to NYC. The rest is history.”

Frisque said that overall she is proud of Jones’ musical accomplishments.

“I’m happy to have been a small part of Norah’s musical education,” she said. “I’m very happy for Norah and the success that she has earned. I’m particularly happy it’s the music that inspires her, not the success.”

Leon Bridges

Local gospel and soul singer Leon Bridges from Fort Worth is a TCC graduate who took classes on South Campus. Bridges has a recent record deal with Columbia Records, and listeners often say his sound is similar to Sam Cooke and Otis Redding.

Bridges was working as a busboy at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle in downtown Fort Worth just a year ago.

Associate professor Brandy Niccolai taught Bridges on South Campus for one semester — in dance, not music. She said she had no doubt Bridges would be successful because of his focus and energy.

“He was a passionate, driving individual,” she said. “He really worked to be the best he could be. If he wanted something, he’d get it done.”

Leon Bridges
Leon Bridges

While she was his teacher, Niccolai said she only saw his passion for dancing, not his singing.

“You could tell that he was a performer at heart,” she said. “I didn’t know that he could sing, though. He was a shy student but not when he was dancing!”

Niccolai said she’s proud of his accomplishments.

“It’s amazing, exciting and inspiring,” she said. “I’m proud and wish him all the best. I know that he’ll continue to thrive.”

Bridges’ next album, Coming Home, is set for release this summer.

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