On the morning of May 6, Fred Williams rushed from his commencement ceremony at Austin Peay State University to another at Pellissippi State Community College — but his path to a degree hasn’t been quite so fast.
Williams first stepped through the doors of Pellissippi State in 1988.
He continued with school, off and on, while working full time until 2000, when he earned an associate’s degree in Electrical Engineering Technology. But Williams didn’t stop there. He stayed enrolled at Pellissippi State until 2006, when he and his wife adopted their son. He decided to take time off from school to help raise him.
“When he started going to kindergarten, I started back to school too,” Williams said. “I wanted my son to see me graduate. That’s a memory I always wanted him to have.”
Williams came back to Pellissippi State in 2010, and in 2013 entered the Austin Peay 2+2 program, which allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Technology at Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus.
He completed the 2+2 program this spring, earning a general associate’s degree from Pellissippi State and a Manufacturing Engineering Technology degree from Austin Peay. On May 6, Williams walked the stage at both Pellissippi State and Austin Peay’s commencements. He rushed from Clarksville to Knoxville in order to take part in both ceremonies.
“As I walked across the stage to shake Dr. Wise’s hand, I leaned in to say, ‘You know I walked the stage at Austin Peay this morning, don’t you?’” Williams said. “He got a chuckle out of that, and after the ceremony came to track me down.”
“I thought it was an accomplishment to graduate twice in one day, so I knew I wanted to be in both ceremonies,” said Williams, who is a senior electrical designer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source.
This fall, Williams plans to return to college. He lacks only six courses to earn a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology, another 2+2 program offered by Pellissippi State and Austin Peay. He hopes the additional degrees will allow him to continue to improve and grow his career at ORNL.
“I like Pellissippi State. It’s helped me out a lot over the years.”
For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.
Download this press release: Profile Fred Williams
Pellissippi State Community College has recognized Vrondelia “Ronni” Chandler as its Distinguished Alumni Award winner for 2016.
Chandler is the executive director and CEO of Project GRAD, which focuses on increasing academic achievement, high school graduation rates and college-going and success rates for students from 14 of Knoxville’s urban schools.
Pellissippi State’s Distinguished Alumni Award is given to an individual in recognition of significant professional achievement, service to the community and support of the College and the Pellissippi State Foundation.
Chandler is both a graduate and former employee of Pellissippi State.
She began working at Pellissippi State in 1978, just four years after the College opened its doors at Division Street as State Technical Institute at Knoxville.
“I served in a number of different positions while at Pellissippi State. I was administrative assistant to the president, then admissions coordinator, then minority student affairs coordinator and finally the director of community outreach and engagement at the Magnolia Avenue Campus,” Chandler said.
She went back to school at Pellissippi State in the early 1990s.
“My degree was unfinished business,” Chandler said. “I went to UT the year after I graduated from high school, but my mom got sick and I withdrew. I always wanted to complete my college education.”
Chandler graduated from Pellissippi State in 1994, earning a general associate’s degree before transferring to Tusculum College, where she earned her bachelor’s in business and organizational management.
“The time I had the opportunity to be at Pellissippi State laid a great foundation for me and has had a great influence on me as a leader,” Chandler said. “I’ll forever be part of the Pellissippi State family.”
She has worked at Project GRAD Knoxville since its inception in 2001, first as a program director and now as executive director. Pellissippi State partners with Project GRAD each summer to host a Summer Institute for students from Austin-East and Fulton high schools; more than 2,000 students have gone through the program.
“I’ve always had a love of leadership and coaching others, helping them to grow. I get that opportunity at Project GRAD. Who we are is in our name: Graduation Really Achieves Dreams,” Chandler said.
Since Project GRAD was founded in 2001, the graduation rate at Fulton and Austin-East high schools increased from about 50 percent to more than 80 percent. Approximately 57 percent of those students now go on to postsecondary education, and the completion rate for those students in higher education is 46 percent — far higher than the national average of 10 percent for students from low-income circumstances.
Chandler will speak at Pellissippi State’s December Commencement ceremony as the college’s Distinguished Alumni Award winner.
For more information about Pellissippi State Alumni, visit www.pstcc.edu/alumni or call 865-539-7275.
Download this press release: Distinguished Alum Ronni Chandler
All degree-seeking students who have been accepted to attend Pellissippi State Community College for the fall 2016 semester should make plans now to attend a New Student Orientation session.
The sessions are required of all new degree-seeking students, both freshmen and transfer. New Student Orientations are free, but students and their guests who wish to attend need to RSVP at www.pstcc.edu/orientation/. RSVP early, because space at each session is limited.
Students are encouraged to attend orientation at the campus they’ll be attending for class. Dozens of orientation sessions will be offered throughout the summer, with unique sessions for Tennessee Promise students, veteran students, international students and transfer students. Sessions begin in June and continue through mid-August.
All orientation dates, times and locations are available online at www.pstcc.edu/orientation/schedule.
Pellissippi State encourages parents, spouses and other adult guests supportive of the student to attend New Student Orientation, too. They’ll receive special information in separate sessions. The application deadline for fall semester is Aug. 12. Classes begin Aug. 22.
Orientation gives new students the opportunity to meet with Pellissippi State students, faculty, and staff; learn about what they can expect in college and what the college expects of them; learn strategies for college success; explore degree, major, and transfer options; and discover campus services and resources such as financial aid, tutoring, and computer resources.
For more information about New Student Orientation sessions, visit www.pstcc.edu/orientation or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download this press release here: NSO Fall 2016
Pellissippi State Community College recently hosted its annual employee recognition ceremony, honoring faculty and staff for outstanding service.
At this year’s ceremony, the Excellence in Teaching Award went to Christie Cunningham, assistant professor in Natural and Behavioral Sciences. The award recognizes innovative teaching techniques and the positive impact they have had on students. Cunningham has integrated technology, hands-on activities, group projects and other learning methods to increase student engagement in her psychology courses.
The Innovations Award was bestowed upon Richard Smelser, Jacob Moore and Nadia Keyes from the Financial Aid office for the creation of a Default Aversion Unit that helps Pellissippi State graduates repay school loans. The DAU group offers budgeting and financial literacy events and an online live chat to help students identify their best repayment option. Since the DAU was implemented in 2013, the College’s student loan default rate has dropped from 22.7 percent to 16 percent. The award is given in recognition of a project that demonstrates success of creative and original instructional and learning-support activities.
The Gene Joyce Visionary Award was given to Gitti Negahban, associate professor in Business and Computer Technology, in recognition of her work on an outreach project that has made a positive impact on the community. Negahban has arranged for real-world jobs — serving local businesses and nonprofits — to be built into capstone projects for her Computer Science and Information Technology students. Students gain real-life experience that helps a local organization, while employers have the opportunity to meet students who might become their employees.
The Excellence in Teaching, Innovations and Gene Joyce Visionary awards carry monetary recognition ranging from $1,000 to $1,500. Recipients of the awards also received a plaque and medallion.
Additional award recipients — each of whom received $100, a plaque and a medallion — include:
- Outstanding Adjunct Faculty, Robyn James, Liberal Arts
- Outstanding Administrator, Melanie Paradise, Records
- Outstanding Contract Worker, Janet Cope, Blount County Programs
- Outstanding Full-Time Faculty, Jennifer Brickey, Liberal Arts
- Outstanding Support Professional, Donna Pasternak, Budget and Payroll
- Outstanding Technical/Service/Maintenance Worker, J.J. Patterson, Network and Technical Services
Funding for all awards is provided by 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.
Download this press release: Employee Awards 2016