Christie Cunningham to speak as Pellissippi State Commencement speaker

Christie Cunningham
Christie Cunningham

Award-winning faculty member Christie Cunningham will join hundreds of Pellissippi State Community College graduates as the speaker at the college’s Commencement ceremony Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Cunningham, an assistant professor in Natural and Behavioral Sciences, is this year’s Excellence in Teaching Award winner at Pellissippi State, as well as a 2016 winner of a national John and Suanne Roueche Excellence award.

“I’m planning to speak to students about what to do when life throws something unexpected your way,” Cunningham said. In spring, her husband was diagnosed with cancer and is currently undergoing treatment.

“When life knocks you down, when people tell you no, when doors close in your face, you have to continue. You have to put one foot in front of the other and keep working toward your goal. It’s during these times that your character is built,” Cunningham said. “It’s been a difficult road, but I try to take one day at a time, put aside my problems and provide the best learning experience possible for my students.”

Cunningham has been recognized this year for her innovative teaching techniques and the positive impact they’ve had on her students. She has integrated technology, hands-on activities, group projects and other learning methods to increase student engagement in her psychology courses.

“Learning should be engaging and active, and if you can make it fun, that’s even better,” Cunningham said.

One of the ways she encourages her students to proactively study throughout the semester is to play “Jeopardy” using questions and answers that the students compile over the course of the semester.

“Something like ‘Jeopardy’ is a way to comprehensively study for a final exam, but it’s competitive and fun and doesn’t feel as worrisome as studying for a cumulative test,” Cunningham said. “And I see through test scores that techniques like this help with long-term retention.”

Other techniques she uses are role-playing — for instance, role-playing what it might be like to have a mental or physical disability — and hands-on activities like using household items to discuss the physical functionality of the human eyeball or the brain’s neural pathways.

To request accommodations for a disability at Commencement, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or accommodations@pstcc.edu. For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

Pellissippi State graduate earns double degree

Fred Williams Photograph
Fred Williams, a Pellissippi State Community College graduate, earned a degree from Pellissippi State and from Austin Peay State University on the same day.

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 announces Krissy DeAlejandro as Commencement speaker

posted in: Commencement, Events, TBR | 0
Krissy DeAlejandro
Krissy DeAlejandro

Krissy DeAlejandro has spent eight years helping open the doors of higher education to Tennessee students.

On May 6, DeAlejandro, the executive director of tnAchieves, will congratulate Pellissippi State Community College’s 2016 graduates as speaker at the college’s spring Commencement. The ceremony begins at 7 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena. More than 750 students will graduate this spring, and approximately 450 are expected to walk across the stage.

“As a first generation, low-income, rural college student, I will share a few lessons from my experience,” DeAlejandro said. “I want students from similar backgrounds to understand that what might seem like an adversity is really an opportunity. I truly believe that higher education changes life trajectories. It certainly changed my life.”

In her position with tnAchieves, DeAlejandro oversees the Tennessee Promise last-dollar scholarship in 54 counties. DeAlejandro has a long history with Pellissippi State — from once serving as an adjunct faculty member to helping launch knoxAchieves, a precursor to tnAchieves, in 2008.

“I’ve had a long and very supportive relationship with Pellissippi State throughout the tnAchieves journey,” DeAlejandro said. “tnAchieves has been sending students to Pellissippi State since 2009, so I’m excited that many of our students will be in the audience graduating this year.”

 “Krissy has been a great partner to Pellissippi State in rolling out the knoxAchieves, tnAchieves and Tennessee Promise access programs,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “I admire her passion for students across our state in encouraging them to take advantage of higher education opportunities.”

To request accommodations for a disability at this event, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or accommodations@pstcc.edu. For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

 

Download this press release: DeAlejandro PSCC Commencement Speaker

Project GRAD executive director to speak at Pellissippi State’s Commencement

posted in: Academics, Commencement, Students, TBR | 0

Vrondelia-ChandlerProject GRAD Knoxville’s executive director, Vrondelia “Ronni” Chandler, is the keynote speaker at Pellissippi State Community College’s Spring Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 9.

Commencement begins at 4 p.m. and takes place at the University of Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena. More than 500 students will walk across the stage.

Chandler is both a former employee and an alumna of Pellissippi State. She began working at the college in 1978, just four years after the institution opened its doors at the Division Street Campus. She earned a General Technology/Interdisciplinary degree from Pellissippi State in 1994, then went on to earn a bachelor’s from Tusculum College.

Chandler has worked at Project GRAD Knoxville since 2001, serving first as a program director and now as executive director. Project GRAD Knoxville provides support for students and families, many of them from low-income areas, in 14 Heart of Knoxville schools and 80 higher education institutions. The group’s mission is to positively impact generational change through education.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.

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