Pellissippi State hosts Project Grad Summer Institute

project graduation student working on robotics project
Pellissippi State prepares to host a Project Grad Summer Institute for the 17th year.

Pellissippi State Community College is preparing to host 140 high school students this summer at its Project Grad Summer Institute. This is the 17th year the college has participated in the program, which provides academic and personal enrichment opportunities for students from Austin-East and Fulton high schools.

“Pellissippi State is proud to host the Summer Institute again,” said L. Anthony Wise Jr., president of Pellissippi State. “Based on our conversations with past participants, we know how important it is to be on a campus interacting with faculty and our students. We believe it is a critical component of preparing Project Grad scholars for post-secondary success.”

The Summer Institute gives students the opportunity to experience what it is like to go to college. For three weeks during the summer prior to their sophomore year, they attend classes on a variety of subjects taught by college faculty on the Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus. Students hear from guest presenters and work on special projects such as rocket building, robot design and 3-D printing. The program encourages students to realize and experience their potential for success.

Rosalyn Tillman, the director of the institute and dean of Pellissippi State’s Magnolia Avenue Campus, says she has seen the long-term effect Project Grad has had in the lives of the students and their families.

“Support is so necessary to the success of all students, and extremely so for our first-generation students, who in many cases do not have that at home. Students I’ve met over the years are now studying engineering, medicine, social work, business, culinary arts and finance. They are working in professional fields, taking on leadership responsibilities, involved in politics. They have graduated from prestigious institutions,” said Tillman.

Ella Ruggles is a Summer Institute faculty member and Pellissippi State’s Video Production Technology program coordinator. She agrees that the Project Grad Summer Institute makes a difference.

“Over the years, I have seen these students improve in attitude, manners, academics, self-worth and belief in themselves and others,” said Ruggles. “I have seen students become better prepared for their futures.”

The Summer Institute will be held May 30–June 20.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400.