For the past few months, Cortez Chase has walked the halls of the Memphis-Shelby County Schools human resources department.

It’s a new role in a new city and what Chase calls a dream come true.

“I always thought about leaving after I got my degree and I had to pick a city to come to. I chose Memphis and now I’m here,” said Chase.

For him, this role as compensation advisor is one he never dreamed of.

“I’m from a rural area called Earle, Arkansas. The population is about 3,200 so for me to be here is a blessing,” Chase said.

But this isn’t Chase’s first time leaving home. In 2019, he graduated from the University of Arkansas Little Rock. He was the first in his family to graduate college.

“Where I am raised not too many people go to college. It’s either a truck stop or some kind of manufacturing company,” said Chase.

He chose to further his education and make the most out of his full-ride scholarship, even meeting former First Lady Michelle Obama.

“She gave so much life to us. She’s one of the reasons I’m here today. She said that coming from a small town, someone needs to make a difference and I want to be… this person,” said Chase.

And Chase is becoming that person, starting with MSCS students.

“Like Nelson Mandela said ‘education is like a sword in which we can use to conquer the world’ and now I am conquering the world,” said Chase.

From Earle, Arkansas to Memphis, Tennessee, Chase’s education is helping him go places.