Improve your health and social life in the New Year with ballroom dancing

Couple ballroom dancing
Ballroom dancing can help you keep your New Year’s resolutions to be more active and get your exercise in 2020.

If living a more active lifestyle is one of your New Year’s resolutions, ballroom dancing classes offered by Pellissippi State Community College Business and Community Services can help you meet your goals.

Ballroom dance is a social dance that focuses on partnership and has gained popularity in recent years with the rise of competitive television shows like “Dancing with the Stars.” In the seven-week Ballroom Dancing, Level 1 class offered by Pellissippi State in partnership with Dance Tonight, dancers will learn six core dances: waltz, tango, foxtrot, rumba, cha-cha and swing.

“There are so many reasons to take ballroom dancing,” said Kris Hazard, professional dance instructor and choreographer at Dance Tonight. “It gets you out of the house, and it’s a great way to meet people. Social dancers are friendly. They want more people to dance with, so it’s an easy crowd to get to know people in.

“Exercise is another one,” he continued. “Ballroom dancing is great if you want to be active and retain your mobility. It’s a low impact activity. We’re always sliding our feet on the floor, so you’re using your legs, but not getting the hard impact.”

Ballroom dancing is designed to help you communicate with a partner to move as one with the music, but participants are encouraged to sign up with or without a partner, as there are opportunities to meet and dance with others during the class.

The hardest step for most people is signing up for the class and coming through the door, Hazard noted.

“It’s a big step they took coming because they’re nervous about it, and now I have the responsibility to make them comfortable,” he said. “I want to push them so that they learn something and learn it correctly, but that also makes them comfortable and more confident with their dancing.”

Getting ready to perform on a stage is not the goal of the beginner class, Hazard stressed.

“We’re learning so you can get out on the dance floor, look comfortable and have a good time,” he said.

Students in Ballroom Dancing, Level 1 will have an opportunity to practice their moves outside of the class, if they choose, at Dance Tonight’s dance parties on Friday nights. Dancers and instructors from all of Dance Tonight’s classes are invited to attend the weekly parties.

“Practicing and dancing around others makes such a difference for the dancer’s learning and enthusiasm,” Hazard noted. “They get to use what they’ve learned in class!”

Ballroom Dancing, Level 1 begins Jan. 27 and will be held 6:45-7:30 p.m. Mondays through March 9, at Dance Tonight, 9119 Executive Park Drive, Knoxville, off the Cedar Bluff exit. Cost is $85 for an individual or $100 per couple.

To register for Ballroom Dancing, Level 1, or any other Pellissippi State lifelong learning classes this spring, contact the Business and Community Services office at 865.539.7167 or visit www.pstcc.edu/bcs.

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Pellissippi State wins international award for marketing lifelong learning classes

Two Business and Community Services staff holding award for marketing lifelong learning classes
Marketing Specialist Danielle Dreeszen, left, and Economic and Workforce Development Director Teri Brahams show the International Award for Excellence in Marketing that Pellissippi State Business and Community Services recently received for their e-newsletter about lifelong learning classes.

Pellissippi State Community College has won an International Award for Excellence in Marketing from the Learning Resources Network, the largest association in lifelong learning in the world.

“The workforce training and lifelong learning opportunities that we provide support both individuals and local employers,” said Teri Brahams, director of Economic and Workforce Development for Pellissippi State. “Being able to effectively communicate and market what we offer is integral to the success of our programs. We are honored to be the recipient of the Excellence in Marketing award at the international level.”

The award was one of only 20 given at LERN’s annual conference in San Diego attended by 800 professionals in lifelong learning from five countries. Marketing Specialist Danielle Dreeszen of Pellissippi State Business and Community Services accepted the award, the first Pellissippi State has received from LERN.

“This award is for innovation in the field of lifelong learning and serving communities,” said LERN President William A. Draves. “With more than 100 award nominations every year, gaining an International Award is an outstanding achievement.”

The staff of Pellissippi State Business and Community Services won the international award for their e-newsletter that launched fall class registration in August.

“Our e-newsletter featured each person on our team and focused on WHY we’re interested in classes vs. WHAT the classes are,” Dreeszen explained. “We also integrated each person’s feature on our social media accounts.”

For example, Solutions Management Director Todd Evans noted he was looking forward to taking Bucket Drumming: Introduction to Rhythm.

“I played the drums as a kid,” he said in the e-newsletter. “I would love to get into drumming, but in a different way.”

And Project Coordinator Angela Branson said she couldn’t wait to check out The Art of Glass Fusion.

“Years ago I took some classes in stained glass and mosaics, and I really enjoyed the classes at the time and getting to be creative,” she explained in the e-newsletter. “This sounds like a fun opportunity to get back into the art of working with glass.”

Other Business and Community Services staff shared the reasons they were looking forward to taking classes in Hobbyist Welding, Zentangle Noir, Working with Yarn: Knit and Crochet, Say Goodbye to Diets and Quick Pickin’ Mandolin.

The approach worked, as the e-mail newsletter achieved a 42% open rate and a 30% click-through rate, 10% higher than regular monthly email results.

The e-newsletter also generated 25 enrollments before the print class catalog even hit mailboxes.

“Email is the workhorse of marketing your program, second only to the print brochure in importance,” Draves said. “Pellissippi State introduced Staff Picks in their regular email newsletter. The technique introduced staff and made the program more approachable to potential participants. It was also effective in that people tend to pay more attention to what the professionals are interested in. LERN’s going to steal this idea, too.”

Registration for spring lifelong learning classes at Pellissippi State is open now. View a full list of spring classes or register for a class at www.pstcc.edu/bcs.

For more information about Pellissippi State’s lifelong learning classes, contact Business and Community Services at 865.539.7167.

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Pellissippi State wins statewide food drive, collects equivalent of 15,411 items

Three students stack canned goods given during the Pack the Pickup campaign
Pellissippi State students in Professor Lisa Fall’s Project Design and Management class help “Pack the Pickup” with donations to the Pellissippi Pantry on Dec. 6.

The Pellissippi Pantry will be stocked with more than 15,000 new units of food, thanks to Pellissippi State Community College’s recent Pack the Pickup campaign.

The food drive, which ran Nov. 1 through Dec. 11, collected seven times the amount of food the college gathered the previous year.

“Last year we collected 1,904 items of food,” said Student Care and Advocacy Director Drema Bowers. “This year we set the lofty goal of 10,694, one item for each student enrolled at Pellissippi State this fall. We are thrilled to report that we surpassed our goal and collected the equivalent of 15,411 items.”

Pellissippi State’s Pack the Pickup campaign was part of the Tennessee Board of Regents’ annual food drive. TBR is the largest system of higher education in the state, responsible for governing Tennessee’s 13 public community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology.

TBR Vice Chancellor for Student Success Heidi Leming announced Friday that 110,944 items were collected and donated to food pantries at the nine community colleges and 16 colleges of applied technology that participated in the food drive this year.

Institutions were grouped by student headcount to determine the top institutions, and Pellissippi State won for Tier 2 community colleges while Jackson State Community College pulled in the most items – 18,315 – as a Tier 1 community college.

“Pellissippi State was awarded an additional $6,000 not included in their total to further support their food pantry,” Leming added, referencing a $5,000 donation from Discovery, Inc. and a $1,000 donation from Lipscomb University for projects completed with Pellissippi State earlier this year. “What an incredible expression of kindness and generosity across the TBR system!”

Pellissippi State had some extra helping hands with its food drive this year. Professor Lisa Fall’s Project Design and Management students set up Food Drive “Service Stations,” in tandem with the college’s Pack the Pickup theme, to accept donations as well as share information about the Pellissippi Pantry and food insecurity among college students.

Right now the Pellissippi Pantry serves 125 participants, representing 398 total people in those participants’ households. That’s a significant increase from last year, Bowers noted, as the Pellissippi Pantry only served 130 participants during the entire 2018-2019 academic year.

Group of students with donation box for food drive
Jimmy Buckner, executive director of Scarecrow Foundation, an organization to fight hunger (far left), joined Pellissippi State Student Care and Advocacy Director Drema Bowers (second from left), Professor Lisa Fall (third from right) and Fall’s Project Design and Management students in helping “Pack the Pickup” with food drive donations on Dec. 6.

“We know we have students who don’t eat, who live in their cars,” said Fall, who also is serving as co-advisor of X-Hunger, a new student club devoted to supporting the Pellissippi Pantry. “This isn’t New York City. This is right here on our campuses, right here in our backyard.”

The college also collected donations at its first Wild Goose Chase 5K and during its annual Breakfast with Santa.

Pellissippi State had support from the community this year as well. Chick-fil-A locations in Turkey Creek and Oak Ridge held a fundraiser to support Pack the Pickup while other community partners collected for the food drive at their places of business: Regions Bank on Hardin Valley Road, Integrity HR Services, King University, Food City, Maple Street Biscuit Company, Cotton-Eyed Joe and Sitel.

“Food insecurity impacts every community, and it’s gratifying that so many local businesses partnered with us during this food drive,” Bowers said. “We look forward to continuing this important work together.”

Another thing that made a huge difference this year was online giving enabled by the Pellissippi State Foundation, she added. More than $5,500 in donations was collected online, and each dollar was counted as equivalent to two food items.

In total, Pack the Pickup collected 4,983 items while 11,018 items will be purchased from monetary donations given during the campaign.

“In addition to thanking those who supported us throughout the Food Drive, I would also like to acknowledge the support we receive all year long through our employee giving, monthly food drives and student clubs and organizations,” Bowers stressed. “That support from the Pellissippi State community keeps us going throughout the entire year.”

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Registration open for Pellissippi State’s spring lifelong learning classes

Group of hobby welders in class
Welding for the Hobbyist is just one of the Industrial Arts lifelong learning classes offered at Pellissippi State.

Are you looking to learn something new in 2020?

Pellissippi State Community College is offering more than 80 different lifelong learning classes in spring 2020. These noncredit classes are open to the public and cover a variety of topics including music, art, health and wellness, technology, leadership and more.

Some of the new classes offered this spring include:

  • Floral Design – Learn how to make beautiful floral arrangements in Introduction to Floral Design. Instructor and professional floral designer Lori Wilson will help you create an arrangement using seasonal fresh flowers.
  • Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions – Get back to the basics and keep your goals on track this year. Whether your goal is improving your health, increasing your finances or changing careers, instructor Drema Bowers will give you the resources you need to make lasting changes and achieve success.
  • Book Writing – This one-day workshop will help you start writing your own story. Learn about the creative process and how to become a published author as instructor Tina Thompson discusses the inner workings of book publishing along with her experience in writing.
  • Business Analytics – Businesses face constant challenges, and using data effectively can help provide solutions. Bring your data to life with live dashboards and reports, analyze trends and make data-driven decisions using Power Bi and Tableau.
  • Industrial Arts – Combine creativity and technology in Welding for the Hobbyist and 3D Printing classes. Learn the basics and make your own custom creations while also gaining knowledge of how to set up your own work stations at home.

Registration for spring classes is open now. View a full list of spring classes or register for a class at www.pstcc.edu/bcs.

For more information about Pellissippi State’s lifelong learning classes, contact Business and Community Services at 865.539.7167.

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Pellissippi State offers Career in a Calendar Year for Medical Office occupations starting in 2020

Student in scrubs in front of files at a doctor's office
You could be ready to work in a medical office by this time next year with Pellissippi State’s Career in a Calendar Year for Medical Office, which launches in January.

If one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2020 is to start a new career, Pellissippi State Community College has options to help you meet that goal in just 12 months.

Pellissippi State is launching Career in a Calendar Year in January for Medical Office, a concentration in the college’s Administrative Professional Technology program.

By attending accelerated classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights as well as some online courses, students who start in January can earn two certificates in the medical office field by December.

“This format appeals to many of our students,” said Program Coordinator Regina Buckley.

Students who take the prescribed three classes in spring 2020, two in summer 2020 and four in fall 2020 will finish the calendar year with their two certificates, as well as 27 credit hours toward an associate degree in Medical Office, a concentration in the Administrative Professional Technology program.

While 27 credit hours is shy of the 60-61 hours needed to complete the associate degree, students who complete the 27 hours will have two Pellissippi State certificates that enable them to work in the medical office field: Medical Insurance Coding and Reimbursement and Electronic Health Records Specialist.

They also will have the education and skill set required to sit for three national certifications: National Healthcareer Association Certified Billing and Coding Specialist, Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist and Microsoft Office Specialist.

These certificates and national certifications can springboard students to medical office careers such as coding, billing and insurance specialist; compliance specialist; electronic health records specialist; hospital unit coordinator; office manager and scheduler.

“Medical offices depend on health care administrators, those important people who are tasked with nonclinical patient care,” Buckley said.

The 27 hours of Career in a Calendar Year count toward Pellissippi State’s associate degree in Administrative Professional Technology as well. Those students who wish to go on to complete the associate degree can choose from traditional, online or accelerated classes.

The associate degree program also provides a built-in internship in a medical office setting to give students real-world experience before graduation.

The deadline to apply to Pellissippi State for spring 2020 is Jan. 13. Classes begin Jan. 21. To apply, visit www.pstcc.edu/admissions.

For more information about studying Medical Office at Pellissippi State, contact Regina Buckley at rbuckley@pstcc.edu or 865.694.6413.

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Pellissippi State microbiology students create intricate art using bacteria

Art in Petri dishes
Pellissippi State microbiology students created these and other designs using bacteria in the Strawberry Plains Campus lab.

Microbiology students on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains and Magnolia Avenue campuses have used the techniques they’ve learned in lab this semester to create agar art, also known as microbial art.

You can see this agar art displayed on the Strawberry Plains Campus, in a hall on the main level of the building.

Agar art is an active learning tool that presents the microbial community in an interesting way, explained microbiology instructor Zainab Ahmed, who is a microbiologist and virologist.

Students created artwork using agar – a gel-like substance used to grow bacteria in Petri dishes – as a canvas and bacteria as the paint. The kind of agar and bacteria used determines the color of the artwork students produced.

“The pigments are colorful evidence of bacteria’s morphology in their real habitat,” Ahmed noted. “This illustrates the beauty of these microorganisms in nature.”

The agar art was created solely on the Strawberry Plains Campus this semester, offered as extra credit in lab time outside of class. Microbiology students on any of Pellissippi State’s campuses were welcome to participate.

“Students all like it,” Ahmed said. “Some have asked to come back and participate again the next semester we offer it, and I have met with a high school biology teacher in Blount County who would like for us to promote Agar art for high school students in the future.”

This was the third time Ahmed has offered her microbiology students the opportunity to create agar art, but it’s the first time Strawberry Plains Campus Dean Mike North has invited Ahmed to display the students’ artwork on campus.

“I thought it was the coolest thing that was done with the outcome of the Agar art,” North said. “I love filling up the campus with art, and when it’s contributions from students, that’s even better. I want to support them. It’s educational, and it looks really really cool.”

Photos of the Petri dishes show everything from Christmas trees to a lizard to a map of North and South America – all formed by bacteria grown in the Strawberry Plains Campus microbiology lab.

“Students had the option of what they wanted to draw – they could use a stencil or choose something from the internet and draw it freehand,” Ahmed explained. “We have heard from other instructors and students that they like this agar art.”

Ahmed and microbiology technician Katherine Fullerton prepared the agar and cultured the bacteria, but students took it from there.

The bacteria students could choose to use produced pigments of red, blue, orange and green. While red, blue and orange pigments occur naturally in bacteria, some bacteria that appear white or tan on other agar present as green when grown on a different kind of agar.

Students also could choose how to transfer the bacteria to their Petri dishes – using a wire loop that had to be fired in a Bunsen burner, a toothpick or a fine paintbrush.

“This is a good opportunity for our microbiology students to use all the different tools in the lab and to feel free to experiment,” Ahmed said. “They get to use all the knowledge they’ve learned earlier in the semester, from lab safety to how to incubate the bacteria, and they get to see chemical reactions and how colonies of bacteria can change color.”

Ahmed’s agar art project was supported this semester by a grant from Pellissippi State’s Instructional Development Committee, which allowed Ahmed to purchase more agar and new bacteria. The grant will cover another semester of agar art, but Ahmed said she may wait until fall 2020 to offer the opportunity again, as it would give microbiology students a chance to enter their agar art into an international competition sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400.

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Pellissippi State boasts record number of graduates this fall

Four spring 2019 grads at Pellissippi State commencement
Four spring 2019 Pellissippi State graduates take time to pose for a photo before Commencement.

Pellissippi State Community College will graduate a record number of students this month, with 580 graduates and at least 450 expected to walk in the Dec. 13 Commencement ceremony at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The number of December graduates has grown by more than 100, noted Manager of Records Terri L. Strader. Pellissippi State graduated 477 students in December 2018.

“We have summer graduates participating in December’s Commencement as well, and we had a record number of summer graduates, too,” Strader added. “In summer 2018, we had 217 graduates, and this summer we had 262.”

Commencement will begin at 7 p.m. Thompson-Boling adheres to a strict bag policy that everyone attending the ceremony should read before heading to the ceremony.

Assistant Professor Tracy Rees, winner of the Roger Crowe Excellence in Teaching Award for 2019, will be the Commencement speaker. She will address graduates about the role self-care plays in success, encouraging them to take care of themselves and to exercise their minds in new ways.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, call 865.539.7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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Pellissippi State holds steady at No. 2 for number of community college students who study abroad

Students on a TnCIS trip
Pellissippi State ranks No. 2 in the nation for number of community college students who study abroad.

For the second year in a row, Pellissippi State Community College has ranked No. 2 in the nation among community colleges for its number of students who study abroad.

The 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released Nov. 18, notes that Pellissippi State sent 188 students to study abroad in academic year 2017-18, three more than the previous academic year.

Citrus College in Glendora, California, is the only community college that ranked higher than Pellissippi State, with 193 students studying abroad in 2017-18.

This is the eighth year in a row that Pellissippi State has appeared in the top 5 community colleges for study abroad participation.

“Study abroad is, without a doubt, the most impactful experience students have at community colleges,” said Tracey C. Bradley, executive director of the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies, which serves all community colleges in the Tennessee Board of Regents system. “While students who study abroad have higher GPAs, are more likely to get a job after graduation and, in some fields, earn a higher starting salary, we also know that the value of study abroad is profound in ways we can’t even measure.”

TnCIS, which is housed on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus, offers more than 25 study abroad programs each year all over the world, many of them short-term programs designed specifically to suit the schedules of community college students. All programs are faculty led.

The 2019 Open Doors Report also shows that the number of international students in the United States set an all-time high in the 2018-19 academic year, the fourth consecutive year with more than 1 million international students. The total number of international students, 1,095,299, is a 0.05 percent increase over the previous academic year.

Tennessee colleges and universities had 9,267 international students enrolled in 2018-19, with an economic impact of nearly $350 million.

Pellissippi State had 116 international students during the 2018-19 academic year here on student visas from 35 countries, the highest among all Tennessee community colleges.

For more information about TnCIS, visit www.tncis.org or call 865.539.7279. For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400.

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Enter a ‘Winter Wonderland’ at Pellissippi State’s annual holiday concert

Group of students singing with Santa Claus in middle
Pellissippi State students, faculty and staff perform with Santa Claus during the 2018 Holiday Spectacular.

Pellissippi State Community College will wrap up its fall 2019 Arts at Pellissippi State series with its annual concert featuring all of the college’s instrumental ensembles and choirs.

The hugely popular Holiday Spectacular is a perfect time to catch performances of the musicians you may have missed earlier in the season.

There will be two performances of the Holiday Spectacular, which is themed “Winter Wonderland” this year: 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5.

Both performances will be held in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

Tickets are free and available at the door on a first come, first served basis.

The Holiday Spectacular will feature religious and secular selections performed by

  • Variations, Pellissippi State’s audition choir;
  • Concert Chorale, the college’s non-audition choir;
  • Faculty/Staff Choir;
  • Jazz Band and Bluegrass Ensemble, both audition groups;
  • Brass, Guitar and Percussion Ensembles; and
  • Studio Orchestra.

Among the selections this year will be familiar Christmas carols such as “What Child Is This?” and “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” as well as pop culture classics like “Christmas Time is Here” from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “The Grinch.” And not only will audiences hear “Snow” from “White Christmas,” but the concert will end with falling snow, a perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.

Plan to arrive early to the performance of your choice to get a complimentary ticket, as seating is limited to the first 495 guests per show. While the performance is free, donations are accepted at the door for the Pellissippi State Foundation on behalf of the Music Scholarship fund.

The Holiday Spectacular is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State series. For more information on upcoming visual arts, theatre and music events, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts.

To request accommodations for a disability for this event or any Pellissippi State event, call 865.539.7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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Pellissippi State aims to ‘Pack the Pickup’ with food donations

Students with donated food items and Pack the Pickup poster
Pellissippi State students in Professor Lisa Fall’s Project Design and Management Class have been setting up Food Drive “Service Stations” this month to collect donations for “Pack the Pickup.”

How much food can fit in the bed of a pickup truck?

Pellissippi State Community College is hoping the answer is 10,694 items. That’s the college’s goal for this year’s TBR Annual Food Drive. TBR, The College System of Tennessee, is the largest system of higher education in Tennessee, governing the state’s 13 community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology.

“Our theme is Pack the Pickup,” explained Drema Bowers, director of Student Care and Advocacy, noting that the goal equals the number of students enrolled at Pellissippi State this fall. “We are collecting donations, and then we will meet with our community partners on Dec. 6 to pack a pick-up with our donations.”

In addition to collection boxes on all five Pellissippi State campuses in Knox and Blount counties, community partners are collecting for Pellissippi State as well: Regions Bank on Hardin Valley Road, Integrity HR Services, King University, Food City, Maple Street Biscuit Company, Cotton-Eyed Joe and Sitel.

“We are fortunate to have so many of our local businesses support our Pellissippi Pantry,” Bowers said. “They understand the challenges that some college students experience, including food insecurity, and they are eager to help.”

Students in Professor Lisa Fall’s Project Design and Management Class have set up Food Drive “Service Stations,” in tandem with the pickup theme, across all five campuses to help educate students about food insecurity and the Pellissippi Pantry, which provides food for Pellissippi State students and their families.

“We know we have students who don’t eat, who live in their cars,” said Fall, who also is serving as co-advisor of X-Hunger, a new student club devoted to supporting the Pellissippi Pantry. “This isn’t New York City. This is right here on our campuses, right here in our backyard.”

Student places donated food in box
A Pellissippi State student places donated food into a box on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus. Pellissippi State has set a goal of collecting 10,694 items for the TBR Annual Food Drive, one item for each student enrolled at Pellissippi State this fall.

In fact, at this time last year, Pellissippi Pantry had 67 participants, Bowers noted. That number is up to 98 participants this year, representing 305 total people in those participants’ households.

“I think what I’ve learned most by participating in the food drive is that there are more people than you think that have food insecurity,” said Pellissippi State student Amberlie John. “Being provided with the numbers of last year’s participants in total versus where we are just three months into the academic year is astounding. By raising awareness of this issue, we hope to help those in need feel comfortable speaking out and asking for help – and to not be shy or ashamed of what they are going through.”

Financial contributions may be made this year in lieu of purchasing items, Bowers added. Every dollar donated equals two units of food. You can give directly online at this link provided by the Pellissippi State Foundation: https://sites.pstcc.edu/foundation/pack-the-pickup/.

For more information about the TBR food drive, contact Student Care and Advocacy at 865.539.7417 or ppantry@pstcc.edu.