Category Archives: Commencement

Gov. Bill Haslam to speak at Pellissippi State Commencement

Portrait of male in suitGov. Bill Haslam is the keynote speaker at Pellissippi State Community College’s Spring Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 10.

Spring Commencement begins at 7 p.m. at the University of Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena. More than 500 students will walk across the stage.

“It’s a great honor to have Gov. Haslam attend and speak at our Commencement ceremony,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise.

“Gov. Haslam has made higher education opportunities in Tennessee a priority and has special interest in the unique and much-needed opportunities available at community colleges like Pellissippi State. We look forward to his message to our students, many of whom are looking toward achieving their next measure of success as they enter the workforce.”

“I look forward to having an opportunity to personally congratulate the graduates on their significant achievement and to encourage them to be part of a bigger story that is happening in our state,” Haslam said.

“We’ve set a goal to be the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high-quality jobs, and these graduates are key to making that goal a reality. We need their brainpower, their energy and their commitment to make Tennessee a healthy, thriving state.”

Haslam was elected governor in 2010, after serving two terms as mayor of Knoxville. He has championed and promoted higher education in Tennessee through his “Drive to 55” campaign. The campaign strives to bring the percentage of Tennesseans with college degrees or certifications to 55 percent by the year 2025.

A signature piece of Drive to 55 is the Tennessee Promise scholarship. The scholarship aims to give all high school graduates in the state the opportunity to attend a community college or Tennessee College of Applied Technology free of tuition and fees. As part of the Tennessee Promise, students agree to being provided with a mentor to guide them and help ensure their success.

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

Pellissippi State to honor Distinguished Alumni at May 10 Commencement

Portrait of Caucasian female in a white collared shirt with a black jacketAt its May 10 Commencement ceremony, Pellissippi State Community College will recognize more than a thousand new graduates—and one 1995 graduate.

Tracie Livesay, who completed an associate’s degree 18 years ago, will be honored with the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award. The award, which premiered at the 2012 Commencement, is in recognition of significant professional achievement, service to the community and support of Pellissippi State.

Livesay, who earned the Associate of Applied Science in Legal Assistant Technology (now Paralegal Studies), has gone on from Pellissippi State to a successful career in the legal field, working as a paralegal for more than 18 years. She continually updates her professional knowledge with special certifications and is now pursuing a master’s degree in business management.

Her many volunteer efforts include service in the Smoky Mountain Paralegal Association, where she has worked on projects in support of local organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley, Knox Area Rescue Ministries, and the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee’s Mobile Meals program.

During her 2006-07 tenure as SMPA president, the group grew to be the largest paralegal organization in the Southeast. In addition to SMPA, Livesay is also a member of the American Association for Justice, National Association of Legal Assistants and National Federation of Paralegal Associations.

Livesay has also given freely of her time and talents to Pellissippi State. Since 2007, she has volunteered as a member of Pellissippi State’s Advisory Committee for Paralegal Studies. She also assists the Pellissippi State Paralegal Association with event planning, serves as an adjunct faculty member for various classes in the Paralegal Studies program and volunteers for fundraisers hosted by the Pellissippi State Foundation.

At this year’s ceremony, the college will again confer a record number of associate’s degrees. A total of 1,393 students will receive degrees. In 2012, another graduation record was broken when 1,166 students were awarded degrees.

Pellissippi State’s Commencement begins at 7 p.m. It takes place at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum, 500 Howard Baker Jr. Ave.

For additional information regarding Commencement or Pellissippi State, call (865) 694-6400 or visit

Pellissippi State to confer record number of degrees at May 10 Commencement

Pellissippi State Community College will once again confer a record number of associate’s degrees when this year’s Commencement program takes place May 10 at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum.

The two-year institution will confer 1,393 associate’s degrees during the ceremony. Approximately 938 students also completed certificates during the academic year. In 2012, another graduation record was broken when 1,166 students were awarded associate’s degrees.

Pellissippi State’s Commencement begins at 7 p.m. The Knoxville Civic Coliseum is located at 500 Howard Baker Jr. Ave.

For additional information regarding the ceremony or Pellissippi State, call (865) 694-6400 or visit

Pellissippi State: Opera legend Mary Costa to serve as Commencement speaker

Mary Costa
Mary Costa

Virtually every student who walks across the stage at the May 4 Pellissippi State Community College Commencement ceremony will know who Sleeping Beauty is, and many will have seen the timeless animated Disney movie.

What most of the participants won’t know is that the voice of Princess Aurora was done by Mary Costa, a legendary diva of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City who now makes her home in East Tennessee.

Costa, a native Knoxvillian, will “sing” the praises of graduates’ accomplishments as speaker at this year’s Commencement address.

During her operatic career, the world-renowned soprano performed in 44 roles on the American and European stage. She played the title role in Jules Massenet’s “Manon” at the Met. She also sang the lead of Violetta Valéry in Guiseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata” at the Royal Opera House in London.

A recipient of the Disney Legends Award, Costa has been bestowed some of the highest honors of opera, among them, the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award and acknowledgement by the Metropolitan Opera Guild for Distinguished Verdi Performances of the 20th Century.

The Knoxville Opera Hall of Fame inductee also has served on the National Council on the Arts. Council members, who advise the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts on agency policies and programs, are appointed by the president and approved by the Senate.

Costa now spends much of her time volunteering with schools and colleges across the country to inspire youth, especially those studying music. Last October, she was honored by Pellissippi State with a special tribute presentation of the Faculty Recital Showcase, part of the school’s annual concert series. The concert, which highlighted Costa’s volunteerism in education, was a natural fit, says Bill Brewer, the college’s Music program coordinator:

“Mary puts so much of her energy into supporting young people and encouraging them in music. Her support of our students and the Music program here at Pellissippi State has made a world of difference in the way we see ourselves. The students are ‘awestruck’ by her beauty and grace, as well as by the fact that she takes notice of their talents and achievements.”

This year, Pellissippi State will confer a record number of 1,166 associate’s degrees. Approximately 2,801 students also completed certificates during the academic year. In 2011, 992 students were awarded associate’s degrees and another 509 completed certificates.

Pellissippi State’s Commencement ceremony is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the University of Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena.

For additional information regarding the ceremony, the college or the Music program, call (865) 694-6400 or visit