Pellissippi State Community College will host a free “Just Plane” networking for alumni and community members from 5:30-7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 18, at Knoxville’s Downtown Island Airport, 2701 Spence Place. Enjoy an evening of networking, food and wine and a presentation on social media and networking by Mary Beth West of Mary Beth West Communications LLC. The event is sponsored by Pellissippi State’s Alumni Association. Although the event is free, please RSVP to Angela Pugh, 865-539-7275 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. For more information about this event, visit www.pstcc.edu/alumni.
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.
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.
Pellissippi State Community College seeks nominations for its annual Distinguished Alumni Award at www.pstcc.edu/alumni/award. Anyone can nominate a Pellissippi State alumnus. The deadline to nominate a winner is March 1. 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. For more information, contact Angela Pugh at 865-539-7275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.