Pellissippi State, Board of Regents recognize Clayton family for support

Row of 5 people, 2 holding awards
Pellissippi State Community College and Tennessee Board of Regents presented the Clayton Family Foundation and Clayton Homes with the Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy at a legislative breakfast Friday, Feb. 9. Pictured, from left, are TBR Chancellor John Morgan, Clayton Homes vice president of corporate services David Jordan, Jim Clayton of Clayton Family Foundation and Clayton Bank and Trust, TBR board member Danni Varlan and Pellissippi State president L. Anthony Wise Jr.

Pellissippi State Community College and the Tennessee Board of Regents recognized the Clayton Family Foundation and Clayton Homes for their support of higher education at a state legislative breakfast in Knoxville Friday, Feb. 6.

Danni Varlan, a TBR board member, presented the Regents Award for Excellence in Philanthropy to James L. Clayton of the Clayton Family Foundation and Kevin Clayton of Clayton Homes. TBR is the governing body for Pellissippi State and all of the state’s other community colleges.

“Clayton Homes and the Clayton Family Foundation truly epitomize the spirit of the Regents Award,” Varlan said. “Their contributions to numerous institutions in East Tennessee have enriched the fabric of our community. The Clayton foundations together have awarded over $40 million to hundreds of charitable organizations, giving back to the generations to come.”

A $1 million donation to the Pellissippi State Foundation from the Clayton Family Foundation and Clayton Homes supported two major projects: the Performing Arts Center and the Blount County Campus. The gift to the Performing Arts Center in 2008 resulted in the 500-seat facility’s renaming to the Clayton Performing Arts Center. The donation to the Blount County Campus, which opened in 2010, went for the purchase of equipment and furniture.

“Support from the Clayton family has been so much more than bricks and mortar,” Varlan said. The Claytons’ philanthropy and generosity have benefited various programs, campaigns, and funds, including Music scholarships, The Arts at Pellissippi State, art and cultural program funds, the Student Emergency Loan fund, and the Greatest Need fund for students, among others.

To find out more about the Pellissippi State Foundation, including opportunities to give, visit or call (865) 694-6528.

Pellissippi State announces opening of support center at Magnolia Avenue Campus

group of people in a lab on computers

Today, Pellissippi State Community College celebrated the grand opening of the Center for Student and Community Engagement at the Magnolia Avenue Campus.

The center provides a one-stop resource for student support services, including financial aid, advising, counseling, tutoring, service-learning, and safety and security.

“Life sometimes gets in the way of academic success,” said Rosalyn Tillman, dean of the Magnolia Avenue Campus. “The goal of the center is to provide every service we can to help our students overcome those distractions and roadblocks to success. Everything we do, we do so they can focus on school.”

Tillman was joined for the grand opening by L. Anthony Wise Jr., Pellissippi State president, as well as representatives from the Tennessee Board of Regents, Knox County and the city of Knoxville.

The center is designed to encourage student engagement within the school and in the community. Support programs and other resources will promote overall student health and wellness, prepare students for careers, and connect them with essential social support.

For more information about the Magnolia Avenue Campus and the Center for Student and Community Engagement, visit or call (865) 329-3100.

Pellissippi State students named to Who’s Who list

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Thirteen Pellissippi State Community College students have been recognized by the prestigious Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges program.

“Who’s Who recognizes the fact that college is about more than just academic excellence—it’s also about giving back to the community and making a difference,” said Ted Lewis, vice president of Academic Affairs. “Students are honored for their leadership, scholastic achievement and community service.”

“We are very proud of these students, all of whom are devoted to their school and to the community.”

Pellissippi State’s Who’s Who inductees and their place of residence:

  • Mobin J. Araghi, Knoxville
  • Barbara Bearden, Knoxville
  • Patrick Bledsoe, Alcoa
  • Kevin Brooks, Greenback
  • Landon Burke, Knoxville
  • Amber N. Coffey, Oakdale
  • Brandi M. Crass, Knoxville
  • Rebecca Fields, Knoxville
  • Laura King, Oak Ridge
  • Susan M. Minehan, Oak Ridge
  • Nichole Proctor, Knoxville
  • Yvette M. Satchel, Oak Ridge
  • Bonnie Walker, Oak Ridge

Since 1934, Who’s Who has recognized students for academic excellence, college and community service, and potential for future achievement. Selection of students for inclusion is made each fall by a campus nominating committee composed of faculty, administration and other students. Honorees receive an award certificate.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State student meets President Obama, spreads message of hope

4 people standing in an office, smiling.
Ashley Albritton and her son, Mason, accept tickets to the Jan. 9 Presidential address on Friday, Jan. 9, from Pellissippi State Community College President L. Anthony Wise Jr., right, and Vice President of Student Affairs Rebecca Ashford, left.

Ashley Albritton sits down at her kitchen table each night to study with her 13-year-old son, Mason.

As an added incentive to succeed, they also compete with one another to get the highest grades—Ashley at Pellissippi State Community College and Mason at Farragut Middle School.

At the end of the semester, their report cards hang side by side on the refrigerator.

Ashley Albritton is busy knocking out the prerequisites to apply for nursing school. She enrolled at Pellissippi State in 2013, with strong encouragement from her sister.

“It was just Mason and I, and I had been working in hospice and home health, just getting by,” she said. “My younger sister told me that I needed to get back into the world.”

Her sister also helped her apply to Pellissippi State.

“When I first got here, I felt like it was a joke for me to be in college,” said Albritton, “like I wasn’t worthy to be here. But now I feel like this is all a dream. My son tells me that college has given me back the light in my smile, the light in my eyes.”

Female holding up a box.
Ashley Albritton, on stage for President Barack Obama’s address at Pellissippi State Community College on Friday, Jan. 9, holds up a small hope chest mentioned in Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr.’s opening remarks.

Albritton was seated on the stage when President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden visited Pellissippi State on Friday, Jan. 9. She shook President Obama’s hand from her place in the front row.

She had hoped to give the nation’s president a memento: a hope chest her father had given her when she was a child. Into this box, throughout her life, she has placed scraps of paper that represent all of her hopes and dreams.

“I want to give that box to someone else. The truth is, I can never say thank you enough to all the people who have helped me. I just hope to pass on my story so that it can help some other young woman follow her dreams.

“I don’t need my dream box anymore, because all of my dreams are coming true.”

Friday afternoon, Albritton gave the hope chest, instead, to Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., who had featured her in his introductory speech earlier that day.

“Ashley is truly an inspiration, both to other students and to me,” Wise said. “She has a sincere heart, and through her strength and compassion, she proves, each day, that everyone can follow their dreams.”

Albritton hopes to become a medical missionary. She believes that her purpose is to give back and to serve. When she graduates from Pellissippi State, she hopes to go on to earn her bachelor’s degree and then a master’s to be an advanced nurse practitioner.

For more information about Pellissippi State’s academic offerings or its 40th anniversary celebration, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

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