Pellissippi State Convocation encourages students to make a difference

Head shot of Whitney Kimball Coe
Whitney Kimball Coe of the Center for Rural Strategies will speak at Pellissippi State’s Convocation on Thursday, Sept. 12.

College students don’t have to wait until they graduate to start making a difference in the world.

That’s the key message behind Pellissippi State Community College’s new Common Academic Experience theme of “Making a Difference,” a two-year discussion of issues, both in and out of class.

Pellissippi State kicks off the Common Academic Experience with Convocation 12:30-1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

This year’s speaker is Whitney Kimball Coe, director of National Programs for the Center for Rural Strategies and coordinator of the National Rural Assembly, a rural movement made up of activities and partnerships geared toward building better policy and more opportunity across the country.

Her presentation is free and open to the public.

“Whitney has a story that I hope will resonate with our students,” explained Pellissippi State librarian Allison Scripa, who co-chairs Common Academic Experience with librarian Will Buck. “Growing up in tiny Athens, Tennessee, her goal was to get out, to go to the big city. But what she found is that, day in and day out, she’s showing up in her community and making a difference in the world.

“That’s what we want our students to know: they can do start here, they can start now,” Scripa stressed. “They don’t have to wait until the graduate. They can start doing things that make a difference whenever they want to, wherever they are.”

Pellissippi State’s Common Academic Experience will encourage students over the next two academic years to explore volunteerism, civic engagement and citizen science.

“’Making a Difference’ is about learning that the little things we do to help others and help our communities can add up to make a big difference,” Scripa said.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call 865.694.6400. To request accommodations for a disability at this event or any campus event, call 865.539.7401 or email