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.
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