To celebrate our class of fall 2022, we will be releasing a series of graduate spotlights to share the accomplishments of our amazing students. The first in this series features Mariana Milano-Benitez, a Venezuelan-born student who moved to the United States five years ago with her family so they could have more opportunities.
Coming to Pellissippi State was Mariana’s first choice, as it was affordable and gave her a chance to get acquainted with the culture and the language.
“Since the classes are smaller, I thought it would be less overwhelming, and I got to interact more with the professors and my classmates,” Mariana explains. “Pellissippi State has helped me grow in math and science, which are core requirements for my future career, and has made me more confident in my English and my people skills, too, because of my communication classes. I’ve met a lot of professors who have pushed me a lot and motivated me to keep going all the way.”
Mariana has had a whole team supporting her, including her aunt Marisol Benitez-Ramirez, Pellissippi State’s director of Institutional Research, who always had an office door open to make sure Mariana never felt alone as a new student; folks she tutored alongside in the Academic Support Center, including Jan Sharp and Beth Scott, who helped draw out Mariana’s natural-born skills as a teacher; and Mariana’s chemistry professor, Stephanie Morris, who wrote a letter of recommendation that secured Mariana’s internship at the Ames National Laboratory in Iowa this past summer, where Mariana got to work with quantum materials and ultra-pure chemicals in a laboratory setting.
Mariana’s next step will be attending the University of Tennessee in the spring, and she hopes to one day earn a Ph.D., work in energy and materials, and possibly teach at a university.
“My time at Pellissippi State has been very fun, very mind-opening, and I’ve learned a lot about myself and other people,” Mariana says. “It’s been a great opportunity to be here.”