Project GRAD executive director to speak at Pellissippi State’s Commencement

posted in: Academics, Commencement, Students, TBR | 0

Vrondelia-ChandlerProject GRAD Knoxville’s executive director, Vrondelia “Ronni” Chandler, is the keynote speaker at Pellissippi State Community College’s Spring Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 9.

Commencement begins at 4 p.m. and takes place at the University of Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena. More than 500 students will walk across the stage.

Chandler is both a former employee and an alumna of Pellissippi State. She began working at the college in 1978, just four years after the institution opened its doors at the Division Street Campus. She earned a General Technology/Interdisciplinary degree from Pellissippi State in 1994, then went on to earn a bachelor’s from Tusculum College.

Chandler has worked at Project GRAD Knoxville since 2001, serving first as a program director and now as executive director. Project GRAD Knoxville provides support for students and families, many of them from low-income areas, in 14 Heart of Knoxville schools and 80 higher education institutions. The group’s mission is to positively impact generational change through education.

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

Pellissippi State: TnCIS grant to build on statewide model of study abroad success

posted in: Grants | 0

The Tennessee Consortium for International Studies, whose headquarters are at Pellissippi State Community College, has received a $20,000 grant from the Tennessee Board of Regents to promote and encourage study abroad opportunities for students through faculty and administrators.

The Student Engagement, Retention and Success Initiative grant will fund a training program for study abroad best practices at TnCIS’ annual conference in November. TBR is the governing body for the state’s 13 community colleges, including Pellissippi State, as well as for six universities and the 27 colleges of applied technology.

“The idea of this grant is to provide faculty and administrators from each of the TBR institutions with the latest training in studying abroad,” said Tracey Bradley, executive director of TnCIS. “This will allow those leaders to share with others and their institutions the best-practices approaches to encouraging students to consider study abroad as a part of their academic experience in college.”

The training will bring in experts from the Forum on Education Abroad to present on several standards of international education, including student recruitment and preparedness for studying abroad, student selection, and academic advising for study abroad. According to Bradley, The Forum’s study abroad training is considered the national standard.

“We want to make sure our own efforts not only meet but exceed that of the Forum,” Bradley said.

The training is meant to provide baseline knowledge of study abroad experiences to the people who most often encourage students to consider studying abroad.

“Having well-trained faculty and administrators has been part of the success we’ve had in Tennessee with study abroad,” said Bradley. “This training will help us continue and build on that success.

“Study abroad is one of the most empowering experiences in a student’s educational career, one that almost all students describe as ‘life changing,’” Bradley said. “Data nationwide has shown that students who participate in a study abroad experience are more likely to graduate from college, and recent studies have shown that students at two-year institutions who are academically low-achieving are the most impacted. Their likelihood of success and graduation improve vastly.”

TnCIS organizes study abroad opportunities as part of its mission of boosting international experience and culture in higher education across the state. More than 400 students and 60 faculty from across Tennessee participated in 19 study abroad trips organized by TnCIS in 2014.

For more information about TnCIS, visit www.tncis.org or call (865) 539-7280.

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

Spring Choral Concert honors the late Bill Brewer, Pellissippi State’s longtime choral director

Pellissippi State Community College’s Spring Choral Concert on Thursday, April 30, honors the late Bill Brewer. Brewer, for many years the college’s Music program coordinator and choral director, passed away in March after a battle with cancer.

The concert is at 7 p.m. in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The event is free and the community is invited.

Donations will be accepted at the door for the Pellissippi State Foundation on behalf of the Music Scholarship Fund and the new Bill and Sharon Brewer Music Scholarship.

The event features the student vocal ensembles Concert Chorale and Variations, led by guest conductor David Stutzenberger. Several students will perform solos.

A slideshow of choir performances, including highlights from the annual Variations study abroad trips, will be shown, accompanied by recordings of choir presentations under Brewer’s direction.

In honor of Brewer, all of the college’s choirs will join together for performances at the end of the concert. For the final piece, “Climb Every Mountain,” anyone in the audience who has been a part of a Pellissippi State choir is invited to join the combined choirs on stage.

Following the concert, the public is invited to a reception that will include performances by alumni who were members of Pellissippi State choirs and who wanted to memorialize Brewer in song.

The Spring Choral Concert is the last of Pellissippi State’s 2014-2015 Music Concert Series. The series is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, which brings to the community cultural activities ranging from music and theatre to international celebrations, lectures, and the fine arts. All piano performances and accompaniments are performed on Steinways, in keeping with Pellissippi State’s status as an All-Steinway School.

To sign up for notices about the 2015-2016 Arts at Pellissippi State, go to www.pstcc.edu/arts and click on the link at the bottom of the page.

To request event accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.

Single mother returns to school at Pellissippi State to study horticulture

April-Ellis

On days with good weather, April Ellis rides her bicycle to school.

Ellis, a Pellissippi State Community College student, doesn’t consider her transportation options to be a limitation, though. She simply rides her bicycle or takes the bus to the Magnolia Avenue Campus, where she’s pursuing an associate’s degree with the plan of going on for a bachelor’s in public horticulture.

A single mother who didn’t complete high school, Ellis enrolled full time at Pellissippi State last spring. Like many nontraditional students, the 29-year-old has to balance returning to school with a multitude of other responsibilities: working a full-time job, fulfilling a work-study commitment and raising a child.

“It’s been so crazy, but you make it work,” she said.

Ellis is taking courses to earn a general studies degree, and once she graduates, she plans to transfer to the University of Tennessee.

“Public horticulture has a wide variety of job opportunities, anything that integrates gardens and people,” she said. “Specifically, I’m interested in horticulture therapy.

“People go into gardens and feel better, and horticulture therapy brings that recreational therapy aspect into gardening. You can take a person who needs to work on an injury and say, ‘Let’s work with your weak hand grip by pruning these roses.’”

Ellis was a stay-at-home mother and housewife during her son’s growing-up years. When she began going through a divorce, she realized she needed and wanted a fulfilling job that could provide for her family.

“At that time, I didn’t even have a GED or any kind of formal education,” she said, “and I wanted to be someone that my son could look up to.”

She first attended classes at the Knox County Career Center, where she earned her GED, and two months later, in spring 2014, she began classes at Pellissippi State.

“Here, I’m not the odd person out,” Ellis said. “A lot of students here are nontraditional, so I’m not alone in those struggles about being in college and having a job and a family.

“And professors understand that, too, that you have homework and a family. Having that kind of nurturing, supportive environment has been crucial. People here have gone above and beyond to make sure I get more than just good grades.”

Pellissippi State supports its population of nontraditional students with a host of services, among them, alternative scheduling; cohort programs, in which students start and finish their coursework as a group; tutoring; workforce development; and career placement. The college even offers nontraditional students credit for previous military and work experience through what’s called “prior learning assessment.”

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

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