For Trevis Gardner, Pellissippi State Community College’s 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award winner, success is all about building relationships.
The 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. The 1991 graduate was presented the award at a recent Alumni Association luncheon at the college.
Gardner is vice president of operations for the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority. He oversees nearly every tangible aspect of the airport experience — from parking to buying a ticket to getting on a plane and leaving and coming back to Knoxville — not only at McGhee Tyson Airport but also at Downtown Island Airport.
The MKAA is responsible for creating the business environment that allows the hundreds of airport vendors to engage with customers. Every layer of service between the MKAA and the passengers falls under Gardner’s purview.
But the technical responsibilities aren’t what Gardner talks about — it’s the relationships.
“I manage people from entry-level positions to folks who are much smarter than I am,” he said. “I get to have a lot of different relationships with people. I feel like I’m in the Tower of London making sure the crown jewels are safe. The organization trusts me to make sure I take care of these people.”
Gardner earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Civil Engineering Technology from what was then Pellissippi State Technical Community College and later earned a surveying certificate. He served in the U.S. Air Force and Tennessee Air National Guard from 1987 to 2011, and he has worked for the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority since 1991.
According to Gardner, his grades weren’t exactly those of a model student when he initially enrolled at Pellissippi State.
“I should not have gone to community college, should not have gone to university, should not have graduated, by all statistical measures,” Gardner said.
But after he came to Pellissippi State on the GI Bill, his mindset changed.
“I loved learning at Pellissippi State,” he said. “I felt like I was home. My time at Pellissippi State was some of the most fun I ever had.”
Besides working for the airport authority, Gardner is also very active in the community, particularly in his native Blount County. He has served on the Blount County Board of Education and the board of the Adult Education Foundation of Blount County. He has worked as a tutor for the GED Preparation Program at the Blount County Justice Center, as well as with many other organizations and causes.
“This year, there were three candidates for this award,” said Peggy Wilson, vice president of College Advancement and executive director of the Pellissippi State Foundation. “A committee of Foundation board members reviewed the nominations and felt Trevis was the best candidate. We congratulate him!”
To learn about the benefits of being part of the Pellissippi State Alumni Association, visit www.pstcc.edu/alumni or call (865) 539-7275.