Reconnect Now at Pellissippi State allows spouses a path to better selves

Melody and Thomas Smith
Melody and Thomas Smith

In Blount County, Thomas and Melody Smith raised two children and emphasized the importance of a college education to them — although they did not have a college degree themselves.

After their children graduated, the opportunity for Thomas or Melody to enroll in college seemed like a pipe dream. They both had jobs, children and then grandchildren, and they had already worked hard to afford college for their children. It seemed that financial and time constraints would always keep them from a college degree.

Then, earlier this year, they began to see billboards for Reconnect Now at Pellissippi State Community College. Thomas and Melody jumped at the chance.

“When we heard about Reconnect Now, I researched it and told my husband that we would be crazy to pass this up,” Melody said. “It’s our chance to better ourselves as people and at our jobs.”

“We could not have afforded college for ourselves without Reconnect Now,” Thomas said.

Reconnect Now is Pellissippi State’s last-dollar scholarship that covers the cost of tuition and mandatory fees for qualified adults for the 2017-18 academic year. Participating, qualified students will roll into Tennessee Reconnect when it launches in fall 2018.

Melody, who is a receptionist at Helen Ross McNabb Center Outpatient Services, is studying Administrative Professional Technology with a Medical Office concentration. Thomas, who works for DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, is studying Engineering Technology with a concentration in Automated Industrial Systems.

“I work at DENSO in manufacturing, and a lot of the stuff they’re doing now I am still training on. There are people on my line who do engineering work, and that’s what I’d like to do. I can learn at Pellissippi the technology skills needed to use these new machines,” Thomas said. “I’ve gone as far as I can without a degree, and I’d like to do something different.

“I wish I had come back to college sooner, though I have had a learning curve when it comes to computers and all of that. The last time I was in school, we had spiral notebooks and pencils. The teachers have been wonderful to answer questions and offer tutoring. It’s been really good,” he added.

“It has been tough sometimes to be back in school after 35 years, but it feels good; it feels like an accomplishment,” Melody said. “I think the first few weeks we were both wondering what we had gotten ourselves into! Now we’re into a routine. We know we can do it.”

Both have learned new computer skills as they progressed through their classes, and have found help through resources like tutoring and mentoring in the Educational Resources Center at Pellissippi State. They have also found support from their son and daughter — and even their grandchildren. The couple, married for 31 years, returned to school at the same time their granddaughters, both six years old, entered kindergarten and first grade.

“They were so nervous to start school, so we were able to tell them that we were starting school, too. The only difference is that we don’t take a big yellow school bus to school,” Melody said. “When they have quizzes the same week I do, they will call to ask me how I did on my test. They ask me how many answers I missed and tell me what they missed. I tell them that we can both study and work harder and do better next time.

“Our children, family and friends are so encouraging. They call to check on us, support us and ask if we need help with homework. They are very proud of us and recognize what a huge step this is for us.”

For Melody and Thomas, Reconnect Now has opened the door to a life they did not think was possible for them, though they spent years ensuring it was available for their children. They do not take the opportunity lightly.

“It feels good to take a chance. We can do this. We’re not going to give up,” Melody said.

For more information about Reconnect Now at Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu/reconnect or call 865-694-6400.

Pellissippi State students receive ‘Leaders of Promise’ scholarship

posted in: Awards, Financial Aid, Students, TBR | 0

Pellissippi State Community College students Kathryn Kali and Virginia M. Clark have been named two of 207 recipients of the 2017 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholars across the United States.

The Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholars are selected from among Phi Theta Kappa members. PTK is the international honor society of two-year colleges. Each student receives a $1,000 scholarship to help defray educational expenses while enrolled in associate degree programs. Scholars are selected based on scholastic achievement, community service and leadership potential from a pool of nearly 1,000 students.

“We are extremely pleased that our honor society students are successful in competing for scholarships at the national level through Phi Theta Kappa,” said Judith Sichler, Phi Theta Kappa faculty co-advisor at Pellissippi State.

“The Leaders of Promise Scholarships recognize students for what they have achieved already and assure that financial need isn’t an obstacle to achieving their academic goals,” said Monica Marlowe, executive director of the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation.

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation provides $200,000 in funding for the scholarships, with $25,000 set aside for members who are veterans or active members of the U.S. military. The remaining amount is supported by donations to the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation and provides Leaders of Promise Global Scholarships, earmarked for international students.

“The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has a long history of providing financial assistance to outstanding students at community colleges,” said J. Mark Davis, president of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. “We are proud to partner with Phi Theta Kappa, make it possible for more deserving students to achieve their educational goals and support tomorrow’s leaders of the global community.”

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

Pellissippi State student earns CyberCorps scholarship for service

Joshua Wilson
Joshua Wilson

Joshua Wilson, a Pellissippi State Community College student, has earned a CyberCorps Scholarship for Service award to attend Tennessee Technological University.

 “I returned to college as a non-traditional student,” Wilson said. “After eight years as a Marine and traveling to 28 countries, I took advantage of the GI Bill and wanted to pursue something I enjoyed. I’ve always loved computers and technology, so that’s what I chose.”

Wilson has been in school full-time since 2014, and will graduate this May with two degrees: an associate degree in Computer Science and an associate of applied science degree in Computer Information Technology with a concentration in Networking. He then plans to transfer to Tennessee Tech.

“I’ve really enjoyed it here at Pellissippi State. I like all my professors — you can tell that they care about what they’re doing and want to help you. With the small classes, you get to know your professors and can learn at a manageable pace,” Wilson said. “And for me, the Veterans Club has helped me find a place to fit in. We’re really close.”

The CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program is administered through the federal Office of Personnel Management. Its intent is to increase and strengthen the cadre of federal information assurance professionals that protect the government’s critical information infrastructure. CyberCorps provides scholarships and stipends that typically cover the full cost of tuition and fees. The scholarships are funded through grants awarded by the National Science Foundation.

The scholarship not only will pay for Wilson’s final year at Pellissippi State and his bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, but also will pay him a stipend to allow him to focus solely on school. For three years after graduation, he will work for the federal government in a cybersecurity post.

“Cybersecurity is becoming a more and more important issue, and there simply aren’t enough people in the field,” Wilson said.

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

Pellissippi State Announcements: Prospective students invited to Open House

posted in: Events, Financial Aid, Open House | 0

 

Pellissippi State Community College will host a free open house for anyone interested in attending college from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 18. The open house will be held in the Goins Administration Building at the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. Attendees will have the opportunity to speak to faculty, staff and students from all of Pellissippi State’s academic programs and listen to presentations on financial aid and career versus transfer pathways. High school seniors who attend will be placed in a drawing for two $250 scholarships awarded by the Pellissippi State Foundation. Although the event is free, attendees are encouraged to RSVP at www.pstcc.edu/prsvp. 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.

 

Download this press release: Briefs Open House

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