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Stay Strong Success Center helps Rouland get back on track to graduation

Keegan Rouland in cap and gown

Pellissippi State graduate Keegan Rouland rounded out his academic experience at the college by getting a job in the Stay Strong Success Center and playing in weekly pickup basketball games at the Student Rec Center.

Keegan Rouland comes from a long line of college graduates, so it was important for him to live up to that legacy. His first step toward that goal was to enroll at Pellissippi State. Fortunately, he already had family on his side. His stepfather is a Pellissippi State graduate and his grandmother is an instructor in the Nursing department, so the choice was obvious.  

Keegan had a bit of a rough time when he started, though. “I thought it would be a lot easier than it actually was. And I was sort of falling behind,” he remembers. “I started failing my classes. I didn’t show up to a few of them.” He had a long talk with his mother, who shared that she had similar struggles in college. She encouraged him not to give up, to just keep at it. He took that encouragement to heart and decided to push himself.  

With that push, Keegan dedicated himself to his Pellissippi State education. And it worked. He showed up, studied hard and started passing exams and classes. It wasn’t just academics, though. He involved himself in other aspects of campus life. He got a job at the Stay Strong Success Center and played in weekly pickup basketball games at the Student Rec Center. “I got to meet so many kinds of new people,” he says. “I met some new friends. It was really great.”  

With support from his team of family, new friends and the folks in the Stay Strong Success Center, Keegan now has an Associate of Science degree in Media Technologies: Design for Web and Print. But he’s not done. He plans to transfer to the University of Tennessee to major in graphic design and minor in advertising in hopes of one day turning his passion for animation into a career at Disney or Pixar.  

“Pellissippi State has been an eye opener for me,” Keegan says. “It’s an experience I wouldn’t want to trade in for anything, no matter how hard it was just to get to this moment. It’s amazing.” 

— Interview and photo by Jessie Tipton, visual media coordinator for Pellissippi State; story by Sam Comer, writer for Pellissippi State