Category Archives: Alumni

Pellissippi State hosts April 20 Dough Dash 5K Run/Fun Walk for Scholarships

Whether you’re interested in running against the clock or simply enjoying a spring morning walk, by participating in the April 20 Dough Dash 5K Run/Fun Walk for Scholarships at Pellissippi State Community College, you’ll also be raising money to support students.

The Alumni Association-hosted 5K run/fun walk serves as a fundraiser for the Pellissippi State Foundation’s General Scholarship Fund. The event is part of the Run and See Tennessee Grand Prix, which encourages runners to compete in races throughout Tennessee and bordering states.

Dough Dash provides the opportunity for participants to run a 5K course or walk up to one mile. Medallions will be awarded in the categories of Male/Female Top Three Overall, Male/Female Top Master and Grandmaster, and Three Deep Male/Female in various age groups.

The event begins at Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus. The 5K and fun walk courses consist of an on-campus asphalt trail, and the 5K continues on scenic off-campus back roads. The run and walk end on the campus, located at 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Pkwy. in Friendsville.

Early registration is $20 per participant and continues through April 6. Those who register after April 6, including on event day, pay $25. Dough Dash begins at 8 a.m., and onsite registration is 7-7:30 a.m. No refunds will be given.

Participants may register online or by mail. To register online, go to To register by mail, print out the entry form at and mail it with your payment to Pellissippi State Alumni Association, P.O. Box 22990, 10915 Hardin Valley Rd., Knoxville 37933-0990.

Those who plan to take part in the 5K run and want tips on how to train are invited to join the free Couch to 5K Program, offered by Pellissippi State’s Student Recreation Center. Participants will receive training tools each week leading up to the event via email, Twitter and Facebook.

For additional information on the Dough Dash or Couch to 5K Program, contact the Alumni Relations office at (865) 539-7275 or

To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or Requests should be made at least two weeks in advance.

Pellissippi State welcomes alumni back to campus with free Bunny Brunch


If you are a graduate of Pellissippi State Community College and are looking for a spring celebration, the second annual Alumni Bunny Brunch Spring Homecoming is just the event for you. Scheduled for Saturday, March 23, the brunch is free to graduates and their families.

Hosted by Pellissippi State’s Alumni Association on the Hardin Valley Campus, the two-hour homecoming features an egg hunt, crafts booths, face painting and storytelling. The Easter Bunny will be available for photo sessions, and music will be provided by Hardin Valley Thunder, Pellissippi State’s bluegrass band. Attendees can decorate their own pancakes in the Cafeteria of the Goins Building.

“The Alumni Association strives to provide alums the opportunity to reconnect with former classmates, as well as with the college, while enjoying fun activities for the entire family,” said Brooke Pannell, coordinator of Alumni Relations.

Event hours are 10-noon­. Those planning to attend are asked to R.S.V.P. to the Alumni Office at (865) 539-7275 or by Monday, March 18.

To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or Requests should be made at least two weeks in advance.

Pellissippi State graduates, families invited to ‘Green Screen and Goodies’

Already starting to worry about what holiday gift to get friends and family? If you’re a Pellissippi State Community College graduate, we have the perfect gift at the perfect price.

We invite you, with your family, to have a holiday portrait made at the Hardin Valley Campus the evening of Friday, Nov. 30. At “Green Screen and Goodies,” talented students from our Photography concentration will be on hand 5-8 p.m. to capture your essence in the TV studio of the Bagwell Center for Media and Art.

Attendees are encouraged to wear their favorite holiday outfit—as long as it’s not green: photos will be taken in front of a professional “green screen,” which allows for the addition of our computer-generated backdrop.

Participants will be able to select their favorite portrait and have it immediately sent to their personal email account.

The cost to have an individual or family photo taken is $10. All proceeds go to the Pellissippi State Foundation on behalf of the Alumni Scholarship and Photography funds.

To reserve your spot, simply email Alumni Relations at or call (865) 539-7275 no later than Wednesday, Nov. 28.

Pellissippi State, Painting with a Twist host art party for scholarships

Pellissippi State Community College’s Alumni Association and the West Knoxville business Painting with a Twist are again joining forces to host “Painting with a Purpose,” an art party to raise funds for the college’s Alumni Scholarship.

Scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m., the event offers participants the chance to create a work of art while at the same time supporting scholarship recipients. Created in fall 2010 by the Pellissippi State Foundation, the Alumni Scholarship is awarded annually to a child or spouse of a Pellissippi State graduate.

The cost to participate in the art party is $35. Canvas, brushes and paint are supplied, and an instructor offers guidance in creating a custom painting. No knowledge of painting is required. Snacks and soft drinks also are provided, but guests are welcome to bring their own beverage. The business is located at 10932 Murdock Dr., Suite 103-A.

Thanks to the generosity of Patty Walden, owner of the Knoxville Painting with a Twist franchise, $25 of the event fee goes directly to the Alumni Scholarship fund. Walden hosts Painting with a Purpose with various nonprofit organizations every month. The college and Walden’s business hosted a successful art party last October.

Seating for the art party is limited, so participants are asked to sign on by Friday, Oct. 19, at or (865) 539-7275. For more information about Painting with a Twist, visit To learn more about the Pellissippi State Alumni Association, go to

Pellissippi State scheduled Aug. 18 Alumni Family Movie Day

The Pellissippi State Alumni Association invites all Pellissippi State graduates and their families to attend Alumni Family Movie Day on Saturday, Aug. 18. The event takes place on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

Alumni Family Movie Day begins at noon with lunch, compliments of Buddy’s Bar-B-Q, in the Goins Building Cafeteria. While there is no charge for the meal, the Pellissippi State Foundation will accept donations for the Alumni Scholarship Fund.

A showing of the popular animated film “Madagascar” follows at 1 p.m. in the Goins Auditorium. The movie and popcorn are also free.

Those planning to attend are asked contact the Alumni Office at (865) 539-7242 or by Wednesday, Aug. 15.

To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or

To learn more about Pellissippi State, visit

Professional bluegrass musician gains focus, friendships as Pellissippi State student

Samuel Damewood, former Pellissippi State Music student, performs with Drake White and the Big Fire. The band opened for Eric Church this spring.

Samuel Damewood is right at home in Nashville’s limelight. Damewood helped open for country music star Eric Church this spring and describes performing for a large audience as “exhilarating.”

But Damewood says he’ll never forget the friends he made when he took a hiatus from the stage and enrolled in the Music program at Pellissippi State Community College.

In 2009, the Knoxville native had already toured the country as a professional musician for four years, playing his fiddle for thousands of people. As a member of the bluegrass band Pine Mountain Railroad, he was living the life—touring 300 days a year, playing in glitzy places, recording and hanging out with bluegrass greats Ricky Skaggs and Alison Krauss.

But it was at Pellissippi State that he says he finally “found himself.”

“I had hit a rough patch in my life,” said Damewood. “I decided to make a change, quit playing professionally for a while and go back to school.

“I had played with Larry Vincent [a Pellissippi State Music assistant professor] before, and he knew about my bluegrass background and wanted me to help with the college’s bluegrass ensemble, Hardin Valley Thunder. It was something I could really give to.”

For the next two years, Pellissippi State’s Music faculty became family for the now 29-year-old. As a college student, Damewood rediscovered his love for bluegrass and also found a couple of new passions: jazz and classical music.

“Two big things that Pellissippi reinvigorated: my love for life and my love for music,” he said. “I also learned who I was and what I wanted in the future.”

Damewood used his time at the college to grow both personally and technically.

“Bill Brewer became a great friend and ally and huge inspiration.” Brewer is an associate professor and program coordinator of Music. “Larry Vincent told me not to lose myself and who I am. It took me a while to figure out what he meant, but now I understand. I have this energy and this drive and almost a childlike view of music.

“Robin James was my violin teacher at Pellissippi State,” Damewood said. “Her drive for me to practice classically and work on my technique has been a super foundation for what I do in Nashville, because Nashville really isn’t the ‘country music capital of the world.’ It’s the ‘music capital of the world.’ There are so many more things going on than country.”

Damewood says the people in the Music program became his family during a hard time in his life.

“All of the teachers were such a great help. They were all very nurturing, and they listened a lot. I talked to them a lot about the classes and how they pertained to what I wanted to do in the future.”

The summer before he transferred to Belmont University in Nashville last year, he put together Heyday Revival, a progressive bluegrass band composed entirely of former and current Pellissippi State students.

“We still play gigs in Knoxville, when I’m not on the road,” he said. “We’ve got a few performances lined up for this summer.”

Damewood is now a commercial violin major with an emphasis in music technology at Belmont.

“This degree teaches you how to be a music supervisor for film and TV,” he said.  “I plan on getting my degree and then have a lot of big plans for the future. I want to eventually start my own entertainment company and use that to help people to achieve their dreams in the music industry.

“Someday down the road from that I’d like to start my own record label to help people with their dreams—just like Pellissippi State helps people.”

Meanwhile, Damewood is playing with a new group, Drake White and the Big Fire. The band signed with Universal last year and opened for country musician Eric Church’s Blood, Sweat and Beers Tour this spring. The musicians also have opened for Willie Nelson and will open for the Allman Brothers in August.

The first gig with Church was in Portland, Maine, before a 9,000-member audience—the largest Damewood had ever played for. He says he felt a surge of nervous energy and, despite his previous experience, took a sneak peek through the curtain before he went on stage.

“I’d never played on such a big stage before,” he said. “I just kind of stayed in one place for the first song and then realized the other four band members were moving around. I thought, ‘Oh, I can move.’

“After it was over the guys in the band said they were proud of me for owning the stage and not being afraid. It’s very intoxicating in a way that just by moving around and doing things, you can have 9,000 people watch you. It’s crazy.”

These days, Damewood is back and riding high. “My life is full steam ahead forward. I couldn’t be any happier. A lot of that stems from my time at Pellissippi State.”

To learn more about Music and other offerings at Pellissippi State, visit

Graduating next month? You’re invited to breakfast with the president

All Pellissippi State students who will graduate next month are invited to attend a Graduates’ Breakfast With the President.

Celebrate your accomplishment by joining other graduates and Pellissippi State President Anthony Wise. Breakfasts are 8-9:30 a.m., and you can choose from the following dates and campus locations:

  • Wednesday, April 11, Magnolia Avenue Campus
  • Wednesday, April 18, Division Street Campus
  • Thursday, April 19, Hardin Valley Campus, Goins Building
    College Center
  • Wednesday, April 25, Blount County Campus

Graduates’ Breakfast With the President is sponsored by the Pellissippi State Alumni Association.

R.S.V.P. to Brooke Pannell, Alumni Relations coordinator, at (865) 539-7275, or email

Pellissippi State hosts March 31 Alumni Bunny Brunch Homecoming

Did you graduate from Pellissippi State Community College? If so, you and your family are invited to the first-ever Alumni Bunny Brunch Spring Homecoming, Saturday, March 31, 10-noon. The event takes place on the Pellissippi Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

At the homecoming, you’ll have the chance to decorate your own pancake in the cafeteria of the Goins Building. We’ll also have an egg hunt, crafts booths, face painting, storytelling, picture taking with the Easter Bunny and music by Hardin Valley Thunder, Pellissippi State’s bluegrass band.

The free event is presented by Pellissippi State’s Alumni Association.

“The Alumni Association strives to provide alums the opportunity to reconnect with former classmates, as well as with the college, while enjoying fun activities for the entire family,” said Brooke Pannell, coordinator of Alumni Relations.

Those planning to attend are asked to R.S.V.P. to the Alumni Office at (865) 539-7275 or by Monday, March 26.

To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or

‘Biggest Loser’ contestant Sherry Johnston speaks at Pellissippi State

But what if you can?
It’s a question that has become a motivating force in the life of Sherry Johnston, a contestant in Season 9 of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” It is also a message she will bring to Pellissippi State Community College on March 27.

Johnston, a Knoxville native, and her daughter, Ashley, competed in 2010 on the popular program, which promotes weight loss and a healthier lifestyle. Her mantra, she says, emerged from a statement her daughter made during training.

At one point, Ashley voiced concerns that she wouldn’t be able to do what the trainers asked: “I can’t do it.”

“I looked at her,” said Johnston, “and it was definitely a God moment, and I said, ‘But what if you can?’” Those words of support got them through the struggle, and Johnston now uses the same message to encourage others.

At Pellissippi State, Johnston will share her experiences on the program and discuss how she dropped nearly 100 pounds in her three-month stay on the Biggest Loser ranch. Since the season ended, she has continued to maintain her weight and now devotes much of her time to promoting a healthy and fit lifestyle.

The free presentation takes place 12:45-1:45 p.m. at Pellissippi State’s Clayton Performing Arts Center. The center is located on the Pellissippi Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The event is presented by Pellissippi State’s Alumni Association and sponsored by Covenant Health.

For more information, contact Alumni Relations, (865) 539-7275 or To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or

Student art sought for juried Annual Student Art Show

Current and past students who have taken studio art classes at Pellissippi State are invited to submit artwork for the upcoming Annual Student Art Show.

Any student who has completed a Pellissippi State studio art class during the past two years may submit up to two pieces of two- or three-dimensional art for consideration. Categories include drawing, painting, watercolor, 2-D design, intermediate color/design, 3-D design, sculpture, figure sculpture, ceramics and blacksmithing. All work submitted must be ready for exhibit.

Entry forms are required. They may be picked up in Room 106 of the Bagwell Center on the Pellissippi Campus or requested by contacting Jennifer Brickey at

The submission date is March 22, 12-4 p.m.

An informational session concerning various options for matting and framing takes place at 10 a.m. Feb. 24 in Bagwell 102.

Exhibit dates for the Annual Student Art Show are March 26-April 12. Prizes will be awarded, including the Pellissippi State Community College Purchase Award.