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National competition winner finds passion for video production at Pellissippi State

Channing Mendez in cap and gown

An abrupt end to an apprenticeship during the pandemic became the beginning of a new career for Channing Mendez.

Channing Mendez was working as an electrician before attending Pellissippi State, but saw his apprenticeship abruptly end during the pandemic. “I started wondering what to do with my life because I had worked all kinds of jobs and I wasn’t particularly happy with any of them,” he admits.  

Channing apprehensively decided to give college a chance and was awarded two years’ worth of scholarships. He found the Video Production Technology program at Pellissippi State and decided to go all in to pursue his interest in videography and content creation. “I found a 30-second video of the VPT program on YouTube that showed off the equipment and studio and thought, ‘Yeah, that’s where I want to be,’” he explains.  

Channing got involved right away as a work study in the VPT program’s “gear cage,” where he managed, maintained and cleaned equipment and assisted in providing photography and videography gear to students and faculty. He also had several opportunities to assist the VPT and Audio Production Engineering programs on shoots in the College’s Clayton Performing Arts Center as well as in venues such as The Bijou and the Tennessee Theatre.

Between classes, work study and side gigs, Channing also had the opportunity to participate in the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, where he and teammate Ian Johnson earned a Gold medal at the state level and brought home Silver nationally for Digital Cinema Production, a recognition he cites as his favorite as a student. 

Now a college graduate, Channing believes the key to his success was the importance of networking.  “Coming into Pellissippi State, trying your hardest, meeting other students, faculty and people in the industry and showing them what you have to offer really makes a difference and will have such a benefit on your long-lasting success,” he explains. “The people that you meet will remember you, so make those long-lasting connections.” 

Channing is currently working at Knoxville company Streetcar Entertainment to produce original documentaries and reality shows for the streaming platform Tubi with a goal of eventually “branching out to movie sets in Atlanta or New York to work on an even bigger scale and chase the big leagues,” he says with a determined smile. 

Channing’s word to the graduating class of ’23? “Congratulations! I know it’s been long and it’s been tough, but we’re here, we’ve made it and now it’s time for the next step in our lives.”

— Story and photo by Jessie Tipton, visual media coordinator for Pellissippi State