National Science Foundation supports scholarships at Pellissippi State

The National Science Foundation has awarded Pellissippi State Community College grant funding to support a scholarship program for students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The $649,737 NSF grant will fund scholarships and support programs for students studying STEM fields at Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus. The program, Supporting College and Career Education for Student Scholarships in STEM, will provide scholarships of up to $8,500 per year to at least 24 non-traditional students with financial need. Eligible students can study transfer or career programs at Pellissippi State — the Geosciences, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics transfer programs or the Automated Industrial Systems concentration within the Engineering Technology career program.

“There will be support for students in the form of mentoring and tutoring,” said Chris Milne, professor in Natural and Behavioral Sciences and grant lead. “The students these scholarships will help will be those who aren’t already eligible for other financial aid like Tennessee Promise or HOPE.”

The SuCCESS in STEM program involves a unique “reciprocating scholarship” system in which a student who applies for the program must pay for the first semester of school with their own funds. However, students who meet the GPA requirements for the program in that first semester will not only earn the scholarship for their remaining semesters, they will be reimbursed for their initial semester of school.

“Reciprocating scholarships offer students an incentive to succeed and to start on the right track,” Milne said.

The scholarship will pay more than the average cost of tuition at Pellissippi State, which will allow students who earn it to cover the costs of books, fees and transportation costs.

The scholarship program could be in place by fall 2017; students could begin applying to participate as early as spring 2017.

The grant also will fund support services for students enrolled in the program to encourage them to graduate and, if applicable, transfer to a four-year university. The SuCCESS in STEM program will offer students the ability to learn real-world skills through internships, mentoring and job shadowing with community partners.

Funding for this grant goes through the Pellissippi State Foundation. The Foundation works to provide student scholarships and emergency loans, as well as to improve facilities and secure new equipment.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. For more information about the Foundation, visit www.pstcc.edu/foundation or call 865-694-6528.

Pellissippi State accepting donations for Sevier County

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This Saturday, Pellissippi State Community College will accept donations for the hundreds of people who have been impacted by the Sevier County wildfires.

Members of the community are invited to bring their donations to the college’s annual Breakfast with Santa, 9 a.m.-noon, Saturday, Dec. 3, in the Goins Administration Building on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

All donations will be forwarded to the Knoxville Expo Center, which is collecting a multitude of items. The items most desperately needed are

  • children’s toys
  • toiletries
  • blankets
  • baby formula and diapers
  • clothing for children and infants

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

Pellissippi State student earns CyberCorps scholarship for service

Joshua Wilson
Joshua Wilson

Joshua Wilson, a Pellissippi State Community College student, has earned a CyberCorps Scholarship for Service award to attend Tennessee Technological University.

 “I returned to college as a non-traditional student,” Wilson said. “After eight years as a Marine and traveling to 28 countries, I took advantage of the GI Bill and wanted to pursue something I enjoyed. I’ve always loved computers and technology, so that’s what I chose.”

Wilson has been in school full-time since 2014, and will graduate this May with two degrees: an associate degree in Computer Science and an associate of applied science degree in Computer Information Technology with a concentration in Networking. He then plans to transfer to Tennessee Tech.

“I’ve really enjoyed it here at Pellissippi State. I like all my professors — you can tell that they care about what they’re doing and want to help you. With the small classes, you get to know your professors and can learn at a manageable pace,” Wilson said. “And for me, the Veterans Club has helped me find a place to fit in. We’re really close.”

The CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program is administered through the federal Office of Personnel Management. Its intent is to increase and strengthen the cadre of federal information assurance professionals that protect the government’s critical information infrastructure. CyberCorps provides scholarships and stipends that typically cover the full cost of tuition and fees. The scholarships are funded through grants awarded by the National Science Foundation.

The scholarship not only will pay for Wilson’s final year at Pellissippi State and his bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, but also will pay him a stipend to allow him to focus solely on school. For three years after graduation, he will work for the federal government in a cybersecurity post.

“Cybersecurity is becoming a more and more important issue, and there simply aren’t enough people in the field,” Wilson said.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

Christie Cunningham to speak as Pellissippi State Commencement speaker

Christie Cunningham
Christie Cunningham

Award-winning faculty member Christie Cunningham will join hundreds of Pellissippi State Community College graduates as the speaker at the college’s Commencement ceremony Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Cunningham, an assistant professor in Natural and Behavioral Sciences, is this year’s Excellence in Teaching Award winner at Pellissippi State, as well as a 2016 winner of a national John and Suanne Roueche Excellence award.

“I’m planning to speak to students about what to do when life throws something unexpected your way,” Cunningham said. In spring, her husband was diagnosed with cancer and is currently undergoing treatment.

“When life knocks you down, when people tell you no, when doors close in your face, you have to continue. You have to put one foot in front of the other and keep working toward your goal. It’s during these times that your character is built,” Cunningham said. “It’s been a difficult road, but I try to take one day at a time, put aside my problems and provide the best learning experience possible for my students.”

Cunningham has been recognized this year for her innovative teaching techniques and the positive impact they’ve had on her students. She has integrated technology, hands-on activities, group projects and other learning methods to increase student engagement in her psychology courses.

“Learning should be engaging and active, and if you can make it fun, that’s even better,” Cunningham said.

One of the ways she encourages her students to proactively study throughout the semester is to play “Jeopardy” using questions and answers that the students compile over the course of the semester.

“Something like ‘Jeopardy’ is a way to comprehensively study for a final exam, but it’s competitive and fun and doesn’t feel as worrisome as studying for a cumulative test,” Cunningham said. “And I see through test scores that techniques like this help with long-term retention.”

Other techniques she uses are role-playing — for instance, role-playing what it might be like to have a mental or physical disability — and hands-on activities like using household items to discuss the physical functionality of the human eyeball or the brain’s neural pathways.

To request accommodations for a disability at Commencement, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or accommodations@pstcc.edu. For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

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