Kevin Fillers thought he would spend his career aiming a paintball gun at opponents, but with the help of Pellissippi State Community College, he’s aiming instead for a career in business.
Fillers, who earned an Associate of Science degree from Pellissippi State in 2011, was the top graduate from the University of Tennessee’s college of business administration in December 2013.
“I had an unusual path into college,” Fillers said. “When I graduated high school, I wanted to become a professional paintball player, and I eventually was offered a contract and played professional paintball from 2005 to 2008. But I could see that it wasn’t going to remain a long-term career option, so in 2006, I started taking occasional classes at Pellissippi State.”
Fillers, who graduated from UT with a 4.0 grade point average, attributes his success to those early classes at Pellissippi State.
“If I’d had to deal with traditional class formats,” he said, “I probably never would have started going to school.
“Because of how much I worked and how much I traveled, the only class options open to me were the online, one-night-a-week or two-night-a-week classes. That nontraditional path gave me an entirely new perspective on my future, and allowed me a new start.”
Fillers began taking full-time classes at Pellissippi State in 2010, while also working full time at the Gamma Beta Phi Society’s national headquarters in Oak Ridge.
He worked his way up from a minor position in Gamma Beta Phi, a national honors and service organization for college students, to the finance director and, ultimately, the assistant director position. He is the youngest-ever assistant director of the society. He also owns his own paintball company and school, The Bizniss.
Fillers began his classes at Pellissippi State with the intention of earning a mechanical engineering degree, but he switched to business classes when he realized he wanted to work more closely with other people.
His next academic goal is to attend UT starting fall 2015 in pursuit of an M.B.A. or J.D.
“Kevin was a nontraditional student who was not quite ready to attend college right out of high school,” said Jonathan Lamb, associate professor of Mathematics, “but he entered Pellissippi State when he was ready, and he has thrived ever since.
“I am thrilled for him, and I think he is an excellent example of how well Pellissippi State prepares students for transfer to four-year colleges.”
Fillers says he credits his early academic success specifically to Pellissippi State’s offerings that are geared toward working adults.
“I’m so grateful to Pellissippi State, because I got the start on my new career path here. I have worked really hard for the past seven years, working full time and attending school, and I’m proud of how much I’ve accomplished.”
He also recognizes his work ethic as an inheritance from his father, Fred Fillers. The elder Fillers earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree while serving as a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard, working for the U.S. Department of Energy, and raising a family.
“Now, I understand how hard my father worked to make the best life for himself and to give us every opportunity that he could,” the younger Fillers said.
For more information about how Pellissippi State can help you succeed, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.