Maggie Pierce grew up in a household that valued education and encouraged her to earn good grades. But when she and her sisters earned college degrees, they were progressing down a path their parents had not trod.
That changes on May 5, when Maggie’s mother, Ruth Crippen, will cross the stage and earn her Business degree from Pellissippi State Community College.
“Neither of my parents had completed college,” Pierce said. “But they always expected our best when it came to education. We were encouraged to make straight A’s and study hard.”
That childhood emphasis seemed to have worked: Pierce and her two sisters have seven degrees among them. Pierce earned a Nursing degree from Pellissippi State in 2014, after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee in a career field she decided wasn’t for her after all. Today, she works at Parkwest Medical Center.
Two years ago, her mother, Crippen, went through a divorce and then a lay-off. After a time of unsuccessful job searching, she decided it was time to earn a degree herself.
“This started out as a way for me to get a decent job to provide for my family,” Crippen said. “But now it’s a way for me to say, ‘I did this.’ I tell people it’s my 39-year-path to a degree. I get emotional talking about it.”
Crippen enrolled in an accelerated cohort program at Pellissippi State — which condenses classes into five-week terms, allowing a part-time student to still complete an associate degree in two years.
“I have had to work so hard and take this one semester at a time. I never would have been able to get this done without my daughters’ help,” Crippen said.
“We all respect my mother and her decision to go back to school, so much,” Pierce said. “But she’ll tell you that she’s just doing what she expected us to do. Seeing her succeed is priceless to us.”
Pierce and her siblings will be in the audience, cheering, as Crippen crosses the stage at Pellissippi State’s Commencement ceremony, 7 p.m., May 5, in Thompson-Boling Arena.
“I had the opportunity to go to college as a young person,” Crippen said. “But I announced I was getting married at the ripe old age of 19. At that time, I didn’t realize it was a mistake. But my whole life, I’ve tried to instill in my kids that they did not want to be like their dad and me. The priority was for them to make good grades.
“I never applied myself when I was young. This has a been a long, hard road, but I’m so proud. I’m so proud that I’ve kept a full-time job and done this cohort, and that I will graduate with a 3.4 GPA.”
For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at Commencement, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pellissippi State Community College will host a workshop at its Blount County Campus for high school students with disabilities interested in pursuing a college degree.
Students and their parents can attend the free workshop, 6-7 p.m., May 9, to learn information about making a seamless transition from high school to college. The workshop will be held in the West Chevrolet Auditorium, 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway. The workshop will provide additional information about the requirements to receive accommodations in college for a disability and how to obtain required testing and paperwork.
The workshop is sponsored by the Universal Pathways to Employment Project, or UPEP, which is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy. UPEP’s goal is to expand Pellissippi State’s capacity to deliver integrated education and career training to students with disabilities.
For more information about UPEP at Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu/upep or call 865-694-6596. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or email@example.com.
When Tara Walker and Makayla Edwards cross the stage at Pellissippi State Community College’s commencement ceremony on May 5, they will have a special grant, funded by NASA, to thank.
Walker and Edwards are two of 14 female Engineering Technology students at Pellissippi State to have earned scholarships funded through the Tennessee Community College Space Grant Consortium, which is part of the NSPIRES (NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System) program. The grant funds are earmarked for women and other underserved populations in STEM programs.
“I have absolutely loved the time I have spent at Pellissippi,” Walker said. “The teachers I’ve had make me want to come to class every day because they are so enthusiastic about their jobs. I do not believe, as a whole, any school has better teachers than Pellissippi. They are truly here because they want to see us learn and help us in any way they can.”
“I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without Pellissippi State and my professors,” Edwards said. “Pellissippi introduced me to 3D printing, and that helped me start my own business.”
Edwards started AMTec Fishing (an abbreviation of Additive Manufacturing Technologies Fishing) at the end of 2016. She designs and 3D prints fishing lures, then has them mass manufactured. Edwards intends to transfer to Austin Peay State University this fall, where she will study mechanical engineering.
Walker will transfer to Tennessee Technological University, where she will study chemical engineering.
“I like the engineering field because I feel like it gives me the opportunity to apply the knowledge I have gained in math and science while in college in a practical way. Chemical engineering is a fairly broad field, and there are a lot of different directions I could go with it. I would really like to work on the environmental side of chemical engineering in waste water treatment,” she said.
Walker, who graduated from Hardin Valley Academy in 2013, was not always interested in STEM fields.
“When I was in high school, I wasn’t always a very good student. But in my senior year, something clicked and I realized I needed to do well to be successful. That success mindset has continued here at Pellissippi State,” she said. “I first enrolled in an education program, but I realized it takes a very special person to be an educator and that wasn’t me.”
Walker first came to Pellissippi State as part of the tnAchieves scholarship, the precursor to Tennessee Promise — as did Edwards.
“The tnAchieves scholarship was one of my biggest reasons for originally attending Pellissippi,” Walker said. “I wasn’t sure if I would do well in college because of my not-so-stellar academic performance in high school, so I didn’t want to go to a huge university.”
“The NASA grant brought a lot of the female engineering technology students together,” Edwards said. “It’s nice to know you’re not alone when you’re studying in a traditionally male-dominated field. It also introduced me to the community; I was able to go to local middle schools and speak to students about STEM.”
The NASA grant funds more than just scholarships for the students who earn it. Pellissippi State students have traveled to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama and to the Society of Women Engineers conference.
“At the SWE conference, I was able to speak to companies who wanted to hire female engineers,” Walker said. “Those contacts and the SWE organization may help me find companies hiring engineers when I graduate. Plus, it was amazing to see all of the accomplishments women in engineering are making.”
For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.
Pellissippi State Community College opened a nine-hole disc golf course at its Hardin Valley Campus yesterday, April 10 — and the course is open to the community.
The course is open from sunrise to sunset and is free to use. The course is located at 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The college’s campus also features a walking trail that connects to the Pellissippi Greenway.
“Our new disc golf course is an expansion of our recreational facilities at Pellissippi State and a wonderful addition to our campus,” said Philip Ems, manager of Pellissippi State’s Student Recreation Center. “We are proud to have such a wonderful course for our students and community, and we are excited to join the disc golf community of East Tennessee.”
“The course is challenging and exciting, presenting a number of formidable shots, from navigating tight tee shots to subtle but difficult elevation changes. And of course, the three-hole tour around our pond is one of the most exciting three-hole stretches in disc golf,” he added.
Community members should bring their own discs. Pellissippi State students may check out discs at the Student Recreation Center.
The course was designed by Daniel Boutte of boutteDESIGN and installed by Outdoor Designs Knoxville. Pellissippi State’s disc golf course is listed with the Professional Disc Golf Association.
For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.