Three-time Pellissippi State student finds promise in new degrees

Brenda Hale

Brenda Hale has probably experienced a heavier dose of work-world reality than most of Pellissippi State Community College’s 10,000-plus students.

The 54-year-old single mother is attending the college for the third time in nearly four decades, with a firsthand understanding of the fickleness of the economy and of employers’ needs for well-rounded, well-educated employees.

“I’ve been downsized and I’ve been laid off, but I know I can come back to Pellissippi State and update my education if I need to,” Hale said. “Pellissippi State reflects real life.”

Hale first graduated from Pellissippi State in 1980, only four years after the institution opened as State Technical Institute at Knoxville. She graduated with a degree in Construction Engineering Technology and was immediately hired by TVA. She went to work on construction at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant near Spring City, but when that phase of work was completed, TVA laid off the construction team.

So Hale returned to Pellissippi State. She earned a second degree, this time in Computer Integrated Drafting and Design, in 1990. She worked for businesses around East Tennessee using that degree for nearly 20 years — until her position was downsized during the recession in 2008.

“I took some time off then to spend with my son, who was young,” Hale said, “and I went back to work part time. But now my son is older, and I’m looking for full-time work again. Since the recession, the CAD [computer-aided drafting] workers that businesses needed before now need to know new programs, like SolidWorks.”

So Hale once again enrolled at Pellissippi State.

“Pellissippi State is familiar and it’s convenient, and I know that the education I receive here is going to be what employers are looking for. They need people who know how to use SolidWorks, so that’s what Pellissippi State is offering now.”

Hale is now in the Engineering Technology/Mechanical Engineering degree program. She’s also studying additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, while she’s here.

“I love what I do — I love drafting,” Hale said. “I’ve always been interested in houses and building things, and I’ve never been tired of this job. It’s wonderful to see what was manufactured from my drawings. Things like 3D printing are the new iterations of what I do.”

“Technology is pulling everything forward,” said Pat Riddle, program coordinator of Engineering Technology/Mechanical Engineering at Pellissippi State. “Continuing education or training on the job is going to be necessary in many fields in the future, as employees find they have to keep up with changing programs and knowledge.”

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

Regional, national Math Bowl wins garnered by Pellissippi State

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Pellissippi State Community College’s students have earned the college top spots in the 2015 regional and national Student Mathematics League competition.

In the Southeast region’s final standings, Pellissippi State finished third out of 25 schools. Nationally, the college was 43rd of 188. Of Pellissippi State’s student competitors, Shreyas Muralidharan took third place in the Southeast, with Joseph Allston 12th and Harrison Smith 18th.

“This was our second highest finish ever,” said Bobby Jackson, an associate professor of Mathematics. “This is a very challenging math contest, and we are proud of our students’ accomplishments.”

Pellissippi State had 138 students take part in the contest. In the first round of competition, the Southeast regional in October, the top five Pellissippi State students in the contest were Muralidharan, Allston, Chase Toth, John Simmins and Liana Hu. In the second round, the national in February, the top five from the college were Muralidharan, John Jones, Smith, Son Quang and Kevin Konopka.

Each year the contest consists of two rounds, one during the fall semester and one during the spring semester. Students are tested in many areas of mathematics, including geometry, trigonometry, algebra, probability and logic. Each round includes an exam of 20 multiple-choice questions. Students can use a calculator but no notebook or textbook.

Pellissippi State — thanks to a grant from Oak Ridge Associated Universities — awards its top finishers in each subject with additional cash prizes.

Pellissippi State has taken part in the Student Mathematics League Contest for at least 14 years. The contest is sponsored by the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges.

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

Early Childhood Education program at Pellissippi State earns accreditation

Pellissippi State Community College’s Early Childhood Education program is now accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

The college’s successful completion of the exhaustive accreditation process means that its two-year degree program has joined the ranks of the 170 programs in 32 states that are NAEYC Early Childhood Associate Degree accredited.

“For our students, accreditation means that our program is at a higher standard,” said Terenia Moody, Early Childhood Education program coordinator. “When they graduate, our students can know that they completed a degree program that is strenuous in its adherence to very high standards of excellence.”

The process of accreditation was three or four years in the making and included self-study and peer-review processes as the college expanded its program to adhere to the NAEYC’s 12 accreditation criteria.

Students can register now to begin the Associate of Applied Science degree program this fall. Registration continues until Aug. 12, and classes start Aug. 24.

“We have a very diverse student population, and to meet their needs we offer all types of classes: traditional day classes, night classes, hybrid courses that combine online and in-class, and accelerated cohorts for working adults,” Moody said. Cohorts allow a group of students to progress through a program together.

This fall starts the second year that Early Childhood Education has offered the accelerated cohort courses at the Magnolia Avenue Campus and the first year the college has offered an Early Childhood Education certificate at the Blount County Campus. The certificate includes four of the courses required for the Child Development Associate, serving as an interim step between CDA certification and Pellissippi State’s A.A.S. degree.

For more information about Pellissippi State’s Early Childhood Education program, visit www.pstcc.edu/eced or call (865) 694-6400.

Culinary Arts at Pellissippi State earns accreditation

Pellissippi State Community College Culinary Arts student Alexis Meneese prepares signature desserts for a recent community event.
Pellissippi State Community College Culinary Arts student Alexis Meneese prepares signature desserts for a recent community event.

Bring out the hors d’oeuvres and fine wine!

Culinary Arts at Pellissippi State Community College recently gained accreditation through the American Culinary Federation Accrediting Commission. Enrollment for fall semester is now open.

Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts Institute prepares students to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business with a concentration in Culinary Arts. The college’s culinary degree program is the only one accredited in Knoxville.

“When we first started Culinary Arts, we worked with an advisory committee to create a curriculum that was useful to local employers,” said Tom Gaddis, program coordinator. The Pellissippi State Culinary Arts Institute graduated its first class in 2012.

“Local employers want graduates who not only could cook fabulous foods but do it profitably. That’s why our program is a business program: we want them to learn to cook, but also to have that foundation in accounting, management and even marketing.”

Culinary Arts students are provided a unique education at Pellissippi State. They are trained in business and management practices, and they are taught practices of sufficiency and sustainability. Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts students take classes at the college’s Division Street Campus and use the kitchen facilities of the University of Tennessee’s Culinary Institute.

Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts/Business program had a 100 percent career placement rate, based on the latest figures, in 2013. Graduates have taken jobs in the hospitality industry, in restaurants and grocery stores, in bistros, at resorts, and in casual dining.

Graduates of the Pellissippi State Culinary Arts Institute can certify as cooking professionals through the ACF, progressing from certified culinarian to certified sous chef, all the way to certified master chef.

Enrollment for the fall semester is open until Aug. 12. Classes start Aug. 24.

For more information about the Pellissippi State Culinary Arts Institute and the degree program, visit www.pstcc.edu/culinary or call (865) 971-5246.

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