Pellissippi State pilot retention program to focus on black male students

posted in: Grant, Magnolia Avenue, Students, TBR | 0

Pellissippi State Community College has received a $10,000 grant to improve the retention rates for black male students at the Magnolia Avenue Campus.

The Student Engagement, Retention and Success grant, awarded by the Tennessee Board of Regents, Pellissippi State’s governing body, begins this fall. The pilot retention program will serve up to 50 students.

“Nationally, African-American male students have the lowest college completion rate—32.8 percent—among both genders and among all racial and ethnic groups in higher education,” said Rosalyn Tillman, dean of the Magnolia Avenue Campus.

The program’s objective is to provide assistance and encouragement for black male students to persist through college and graduate.

“The project is designed to provide empathetic advising sessions, workshops and a mentoring component to help our African-American male students in their pursuit of higher education,” said Tillman.

Specifically, the pilot program combines New Student Orientation sessions, success workshops, monthly developmental seminars and learning sessions, advising and academic tutoring, and mentorship to provide social and emotional support.

“Research often shows that African-American men struggle with barriers to academic success,” said Tillman. “They’re juggling jobs, managing finances, trying to meet family commitments, and they often combat other barriers like the absence of role models, low self-esteem, social exclusion or even the fear of success.

“All students need one-on-one support, but that’s often true for minority students. And sometimes that’s just having someone to talk to.”

For more information about the programs and resources offered by Pellissippi State, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Single mother returns to school at Pellissippi State to study horticulture


On days with good weather, April Ellis rides her bicycle to school.

Ellis, a Pellissippi State Community College student, doesn’t consider her transportation options to be a limitation, though. She simply rides her bicycle or takes the bus to the Magnolia Avenue Campus, where she’s pursuing an associate’s degree with the plan of going on for a bachelor’s in public horticulture.

A single mother who didn’t complete high school, Ellis enrolled full time at Pellissippi State last spring. Like many nontraditional students, the 29-year-old has to balance returning to school with a multitude of other responsibilities: working a full-time job, fulfilling a work-study commitment and raising a child.

“It’s been so crazy, but you make it work,” she said.

Ellis is taking courses to earn a general studies degree, and once she graduates, she plans to transfer to the University of Tennessee.

“Public horticulture has a wide variety of job opportunities, anything that integrates gardens and people,” she said. “Specifically, I’m interested in horticulture therapy.

“People go into gardens and feel better, and horticulture therapy brings that recreational therapy aspect into gardening. You can take a person who needs to work on an injury and say, ‘Let’s work with your weak hand grip by pruning these roses.’”

Ellis was a stay-at-home mother and housewife during her son’s growing-up years. When she began going through a divorce, she realized she needed and wanted a fulfilling job that could provide for her family.

“At that time, I didn’t even have a GED or any kind of formal education,” she said, “and I wanted to be someone that my son could look up to.”

She first attended classes at the Knox County Career Center, where she earned her GED, and two months later, in spring 2014, she began classes at Pellissippi State.

“Here, I’m not the odd person out,” Ellis said. “A lot of students here are nontraditional, so I’m not alone in those struggles about being in college and having a job and a family.

“And professors understand that, too, that you have homework and a family. Having that kind of nurturing, supportive environment has been crucial. People here have gone above and beyond to make sure I get more than just good grades.”

Pellissippi State supports its population of nontraditional students with a host of services, among them, alternative scheduling; cohort programs, in which students start and finish their coursework as a group; tutoring; workforce development; and career placement. The college even offers nontraditional students credit for previous military and work experience through what’s called “prior learning assessment.”

For more information about Pellissippi State and its programs and resources, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State: Civil Rights film ‘Say It Loud’ to show at Magnolia Avenue Campus

posted in: Events, Magnolia Avenue, Students | 0

Rich-ProtestPellissippi State Community College’s Magnolia Avenue Campus hosts a showing of “Say It Loud: Knoxville During the Civil Rights Era,” a documentary chronicling local events that were part of the Civil Rights Movement, Thursday, April 16.

The film runs 2-3:20 p.m. in the Community Room, and the community is invited to the free event.

The event also features a brief presentation by Theotis Robinson Jr., a retired vice president for diversity and equity at the University of Tennessee and a columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel. Robinson was one of the first African-American students to desegregate the UT campus in 1961. His brief presentation and question-and-answer take place after the documentary.

 “Say It Loud” uses archival footage, recently rediscovered, to study the African-American community in Knoxville and Civil Rights up to the 1970s. It was produced by the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound, a unit of the Knox County Public Library.

“It’s an unusual documentary that lets these rare images tell the story themselves,” said Bradley Reeves, archivist at TAMIS.

The documentary is being screened as part of the Magnolia Avenue Campus’ American History II class. The campus is located at 1610 E. Magnolia Ave.

For more information, visit or call (865) 329-3100. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or

Pellissippi State honors Knox County, City of Knoxville

group of people standing in rows, holding award
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, recipients of the Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy, celebrated the grand opening of the Center for Student and Community Engagement at Pellissippi State Community College’s Magnolia Avenue Campus Friday, Feb. 6. Also pictured are Pellissippi State president L. Anthony Wise Jr., Magnolia Avenue Campus dean Rosalyn Tillman, TBR chancellor John Morgan, TBR vice chancellor of community colleges Warren R. Nichols, TBR board member Danni Varlan, and other elected officials.

On Friday, February 6, Pellissippi State Community College and the Tennessee Board of Regents honored the support of Knox County and the City of Knoxville during an awards ceremony at the College’s Magnolia Avenue Campus.

Knox County and City of Knoxville representatives, including mayors Tim Burchett and Madeline Rogero, were presented the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy in honor of their combined investment of more than $1 million to the College, particularly the Magnolia Avenue Campus.

“The support and partnership of our local governments has been critical to our success in reaching students and helping them succeed,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. in his nomination letter.

“Courses and programs offered at the Magnolia Avenue Campus help build our regional workforce. Local government investment in the College has helped to support the expansion of our regional tax base and keep unemployment low in East Tennessee.

“At Pellissippi State, our collaboration with local government is impacting workforce development and student success. Without question, our mission to serve our community has been enhanced through our partnerships with the governments of Knox County and the City of Knoxville,” he added.

For more information about Pellissippi State’s Magnolia Avenue Campus, visit or call (865) 329-3100.

1 2 3 4