Pellissippi State honors graduate hopes to inspire others

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Be kind. Be courageous. Follow your dreams.

Those are the messages Chisa Huffman wants to share with others as a new honors graduate of Pellissippi State Community College.

Huffman took home an associate’s degree in Nursing from the college’s Commencement ceremony on May 10. She also was inducted into the 2013-2014 Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges and received a Service Leadership Excellence Award, a Distinguished Service Award Medallion, and an Outstanding Graduate Award.

“I didn’t do this [going to nursing school] just for me,” she said. “I did this for everyone who has the odds against them, for the kids that don’t have a good life—to show them that they can do it.”

Huffman was one of those children who didn’t have a “good life,” but she chooses not to dwell on what in her past could easily have held her back. Instead, she focuses on what in her life helps her succeed, and she shares that message, mostly through her own example, with others.

“Chisa is one of the most inspiring students I have encountered in over 16 years of teaching,” said Susan Heyde, who teaches in the Administrative Professional Technology program. “Her vision is to give hope to those in need. Her leadership is demonstrated through her actions, and she has a heart to change lives.”

Huffman was 30 years old when she enrolled at Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus in 2013.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do after high school. I had no guidance. I had no one telling me that college was an option,” Huffman said. That didn’t stop her from earning an LPN (licensed practical nurse) from Blount Memorial Hospital.

At Pellissippi State, Huffman met with an academic advisor, who, she said, “looked at my grades and my experience and helped me find my path.” She applied to and was accepted into the college’s Bridge to Registered Nurse Pathway, which provides LPNs a fast-track opportunity to become RNs.

Once in school, Huffman got involved with the college’s Service-Learning program. In Service-Learning courses, students learn in the classroom and they also team with community partners in service opportunities. Community service, for Huffman, translated into mentoring and tutoring outreach.

“Service-Learning brings people back to people,” she said. “In one of my service projects, I worked to mentor a young girl whose parents were incarcerated. That was very meaningful to me, because I came from that type of background. So being able to help a child past that was amazing.”

Huffman says the most important personal quality she has nurtured in herself, and the most important quality she hopes to inspire in others, is courage.

“Most people wouldn’t see that as a skill,” she said, “but nursing and school aren’t just about being able to perform skills. You can be scared to think that you might not be able to help. Courage is having the strength to fight that fear within.”

Having earned an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing and passed the mandatory NCLEX exam, Huffman is now qualified to embark on a career as a registered nurse. But she still has more to achieve.

Come fall, she plans to be back at Pellissippi State. She’ll once again be taking classes at the Blount County Campus, this time pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing through Pellissippi State’s partnership RN to BSN program with King College.

And no doubt, as she pushes on to attain her own dreams, she’ll be helping others to reach theirs.

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

Pellissippi State students rank tops in Math League competition

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Pellissippi State Community College students, left to right, Matt Rumbolt, Khoa Nguyen, Scott Maxwell and Boone Cornell placed tops in the first and second rounds of the Student Mathematics League competition for the 2013-2014 school year.

Pellissippi State Community College students ranked among the top participants in the annual Student Mathematics League Math Competition. The contest is a two-round nationwide event sponsored by the American Mathematics Association of Two-Year Colleges.

“Pellissippi State has competed in this contest for at least 13 years in a row,” said Bobby Jackson, associate professor of Mathematics. “This year, we had a total of 154 students who took part in at least one of the two rounds. In the final rankings, Pellissippi State finished in eighth place in the Southeast Region and first in the state of Tennessee.”

In the first round of competition, which took place in November, Boone Cornell placed first and Ravenne Hall placed second among 94 Pellissippi State students. Simon Boka, Timothy Frantz and Phillip McKnight tied for third place. Cornell tied for 20th place among all Southeast Region students for the first round of competition.

In the second round of competition in March, Scott Maxwell placed first, Khoa Nguyen second and Matt Rumbolt third among 77 Pellissippi State students. Tied for fourth place were Dylan Junion, Jonathan McGuire and Dylan Sauls.

The AMATYC competition includes a fall and spring component involving more than 8,000 community college and junior college students from 165 institutions. Results from both components are tabulated and released in May.

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

Pellissippi State student awarded prestigious scholarship to study abroad

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Young female in portraitPellissippi State Community College student Ciara Sheets is the recipient of the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad this summer.

Sheets is one of only two community college students in the state to receive the award. She plans to study biology during a summer study abroad program to Ecuador with the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies.

“I am thrilled to have won the award. It’s such an honor,” Sheets said.

“I’ll be going to the Galapagos Islands and am taking my Biology II course there, getting to take hikes and visit caves and natural observation points. We’ll take a trip to the observatory where scientists like Charles Darwin and others have studied.”

The Gilman Scholarship offers grants for undergraduates—particularly those who are typically underrepresented in international studies, such as students of limited financial means, community college students and minority students—to pursue academic studies or career-oriented internships abroad. The program is intended to better prepare students to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world.

“Ciara is participating in our Ecuador program, a four-week course in the Galapagos Islands that focuses on the study of biology and genetics. It’s a unique program that offers field work with an outdoor laboratory,” said Tracey Bradley, executive director of TnCIS.

“Study abroad opportunities are traditionally thought of as arts or humanities related, but we’re very proud to offer one that is strongly science based.”

Sheets plans to graduate from Pellissippi State in May 2015 and then attend the University of Tennessee to pursue pre-veterinary coursework.

TnCIS, whose headquarters are at Pellissippi State, organizes study abroad opportunities as part of its mission of boosting international experience and culture in higher education throughout the state. More than 425 students and 65 faculty from across Tennessee participated in the summer 2013 study abroad programs organized by TnCIS. There are 18 study abroad programs planned for summer 2014.

For more information about TnCIS, visit www.tncis.org or call (865) 539-7280. For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State recognizes outstanding student achievements

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Pellissippi State Community College acknowledged students for their outstanding achievements at the 2014 Academic Awards ceremony. The event took place April 29 in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the Hardin Valley Campus.

Students Victoria Baker and Sydney Youngman were named to the All-USA Community College Academic Team. They received the honor in recognition of scholarly achievement as members of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

Inductees into the 2013-2014 Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges were Leina Beckner, Katherine Chambers, Betty Edwards, Andrew Frantz, Lisa Grunwald, Christian Harris, Tresse Hicks, Joyanna Hirst, Chisa Huffman, Christina Kampas, Morgan Lay, Belinda Lewis, Cassie Lopez, Lori Monroe, Michelle Morgan, Whitney Oslonian, Neel Patel, Sandra Pringle, Ethan Richardson, Chelsea Temple, Jordan Toney and Janice Vowell.

The Pellissippi State Altruist/Scholar is Daisy Falin. Service Leadership Excellence Award winners are Chisa Huffman and Andrea Pappas. Campus Leadership Award winners are Andrew Frantz (Hardin Valley), Sheila Hayden (Division Street), Angela McGee (Blount County), Kari Sanders (Magnolia Avenue) and Rachel Skyles (Strawberry Plains).

Colby Dorcely and Barbara Alfonzo-Tinoco were named winners of the Outstanding Achievement Award–International, presented to students with international backgrounds in recognition of diligence in the pursuit of excellence.

Awards of Merit were presented to students in several areas: Jerri Reed (Citizenship), Kalyn Smith (Communication Graphics Technology), Derrick Barrow (Engineering Technology/Civil Engineering), Whitney Wolff (Interior Design Technology), Rachel Collier (Engineering Technology/Mechanical Engineering), Heath Long (Nursing freshman) and Jason Childers (Nursing sophomore).

Outstanding Graduate Awards went to Krystalee Bailey, Alexander Bishop, Sophie Bogdanski, Laura Bourque-Kliethermes, Chris Caserta III, David Copcutt, April Coward, Eric Cutshaw, Emily Davidson, Emily Davis, Christopher Elliott, Daulton Ellis, Madeline Enderle, Robbeline Enyenihi, Matthew Gibbs, Lisa Grunwald, Brighton Hatfield, Jessica Haynes, Chisa Huffman, Wallace Hynds, Brandi Jones, Michelle Lehmann, Andrew Leming, Belinda Lewis, Victoria Long, Daniel Mace, Nicholas McCloskey, McKalie Merriman, Lori Monroe, Nikita Mounger, William Overby, Andrea Pappas, Joshua Patterson, Nadine Raines, Michael Smith, Laurie Spoon, Robert Tallent, Jefferson Thompson, Andrew Valesky, Tavish White and Sarah Zarczynski.

Jerry Sherrod was selected by students to receive the Faculty of the Year Award.

For additional information about Pellissippi State and its programs, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.

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