Pellissippi State Motorsports finishes sixth in national competition

Pellissippi State Motorsports founder Christian Boone drives the team's 2021 race car on the college's Hardin Valley Campus June 7.
Pellissippi State Motorsports founder Christian Boone drives the team’s 2021 race car on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus June 7. The team was nearly finished with the car and demonstrating it for supporters at a send-off celebration before the competition in Las Vegas the following week.

Pellissippi State Motorsports headed out to Las Vegas with a car about 110 pounds lighter and 60 horsepower faster than the first one the students designed and raced two years ago. 

They were betting the team’s new car would finish better than their first one did at Formula SAE Michigan in 2019, and they were right. 

Pellissippi State Motorsports finished sixth at Formula SAE Nevada held June 16-19.  

“There were 36 teams, and we finished sixth overall, as well as sixth in the Acceleration event,” said Christian Boone, who was a Pellissippi State student when he founded Pellissippi State Motorsports in 2018 and now serves as an engineering lab technician at the college. He is finishing his Mechanical Engineering degree at the University of Tennessee. 

Pellissippi State was, again this year, the only community college in the competition that brings university undergraduate and graduate students together to compete with small, formula-style vehicles that they have conceived, designed, fabricated and developed themselves. The team finished ahead of larger four-year universities including Purdue, West Virginia and Mississippi State, among others. 

“Our biggest surprise for everybody (in 2019) was not that we were the only community college in the competition, but that we were a first-year team,” Boone said. “The chief design judge said our car was the best first-year car he had seen.” 

An issue with the engine, however, tripped up the team in 2019, and Pellissippi State Motorsports finished 95th of 109 teams that year, with an overall score of 181.4. This year’s car finished with an overall score of 378.7, an improvement of nearly 200 points. 

Boone said from the moment the 2019 competition ended that the team’s main objective moving forward was to reduce the weight of the race car from 578 pounds with fuel/without a driver. With the 2020 competition canceled due to COVID-19, the team regrouped and started working on the 2021 car in August, despite the ongoing pandemic. 

“We’re down to 465 pounds now by incorporating lighter materials and being more careful with the choice of hardware we make (internally),” Boone said at a send-off celebration for the team June 7. “We also have a launch traction control that will help us get off the line quicker.” 

“This team took what they learned from their first car and adjusted, and it looks great,” Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. said June 7, checking out the new car. “It’s going to be exciting to put it on the track.” 

The 2021 competition was hot – literally. After temperatures reached 115 degrees in Las Vegas and several competitors passed out from the heat, Formula SAE Nevada revised the schedule. Instead of teams having 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. each day to get their cars to pass tech and safety checks and then complete the competition’s four events, the window was shorted to 5:30 a.m.-2 p.m. after the first day, said Associate Professor Lynn Klett, the team’s faculty advisor. 

“They did great despite the oppressive heat and aggressive schedule,” she said. “Temperatures were 115 and higher every day.”   

The shortened schedule knocked 14 teams out of competition, as their cars never made it out of tech, according to the Formula SAE Nevada results. Tech includes about a 15-page inspection, Boone explained. 

The Pellissippi State Motorsports club at competition in Las Vegas in June 2021
Pellissippi State Motorsports and their faculty advisor, Associate Professor Lynn Klett (third from right on the back row) take a minute to pose with their finished race car at Formula SAE Nevada in June. The team finished sixth in the competition.

“For Formula SAE, you design the car around a set of rules, and Formula SAE goes through everything to make sure your car is rules-compliant — everything from the firewall and the seats to the chassis and every critical fastener,” he said. “We came prepared and got through our tech inspection really quick.” 

Pellissippi State wasn’t spared all the effects of the Las Vegas heat wave, however. During the Acceleration event, which measures the time it takes each car to travel 75 meters, Pellissippi State’s fan broke, causing the car to overheat after one run on the Acceleration course.  

While Pellissippi State’s time of 4.5 seconds still netted the team a sixth-place finish in the Acceleration event, that 4.5 seconds was only 4/10 of a second away from a first-place finish, Boone noted — and the car had been testing at 4.1 seconds on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus. 

“I think we could have won if we had another run, but we had to let the car cool down,” he said. 

Pellissippi State fixed the fan and went on to compete in the other four events: Skid Pad, which tests each car’s cornering capability on a figure-8-shaped course; Autocross, which tests how fast each car can make it around an open course; and Endurance and Efficiency, which test each car’s overall reliability on a 22-kilometer closed course, as well as how much fuel is used during the run. 

“When we got there at 6 a.m., it was already 95 degrees,” Boone said. “We were worried about the temperatures, but we managed to keep the car 5 degrees below where the ECU (engine control unit) would have cut off the engine.” 

In the end, Pellissippi State was one of few teams in the competition that got to finish all the events, which made Boone proud. 

“With the car we had, we did the best we could have done,” he said after the team returned from competition. “There were some technical things we did with the car that we could do differently next time, but this was a good team with good organization and good communication at the competition. Everyone had a job to do.” 

Pellissippi State students attending the competition this year included Daniel Ray (powertrain performance), Daniel Rasmussen (composite materials specialist), Ethan Crisp (electrical capstone student) and Zachary Koller (co-captain).  

They were joined by UT students Clayton Hickey and Charles Brush, both of whom previously attended Pellissippi State, as well as UT students Charlie LindeJeff Cargile and Cooper Jenkins. Cargile and Jenkins designed the race car’s aerodynamic package as their senior design project with fellow UT Aerospace Engineering student Gavin Jones. 

All UT students who serve on the team do so as volunteers and pay their own way to competition. 

Other Pellissippi State Motorsports team members who worked on the car but did not travel to the competition this year include George Johnson IV of Pellissippi State and Forrest Hamilton, a dual enrollment student who completed his Associate of Applied Science in Welding Technology while completing high school at Knox County’s Career Magnet Academy. 

“A lot of it has not been easy, but it was definitely a great experience,” Hamilton said. “There was a lot of going to school and going to work and then coming here and welding for six to eight hours, but it feels good to see so much of it finished. A lot of welding is not small diameter tubes so this has given me so much more confidence.” 

Pellissippi State Motorsports is a college-sponsored student club that could not do what it does without additional help from sponsors such as Barton Racing, Daycab Company, Norm and Ann Naylor, Gene Haas Foundation, Dave and Lynne Blair, Morlind Engineering, BHS Corrugated and Endeavor Composites. 

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Pellissippi State alumnus Atherton gives back to school that got him started

Rick Atherton Jr.
Pellissippi State recently honored Rick Atherton Jr. with the the 2021 Peggy Wilson Volunteer Alumni Award.

First-generation college student Rick Atherton Jr. has worked his way up from general laborer to facilities manager and senior project manager for the commercial division of Schaad Companies, but he’s still found time to give back to his alma mater and the students who are following in his footsteps. 

Pellissippi State Community College honored Atherton, Class of 2011, with the 2021 Peggy Wilson Volunteer Alumni Award at a virtual event April 16. The award, which highlights an outstanding graduate in recognition of extraordinary service to the Pellissippi State community, was announced and sponsored again this year by Discovery Inc. 

At Discovery, we value the communities where our employees work and live. It’s important to us to be purposeful and do the right thing,” said Vikki Neilexecutive vice president and general manager of Discovery’s Digital Studios Group. Encouraging our employees to volunteer has always been core to our DNAThat’s why Discovery is proud to honor Rick, who has gone above and beyond by continuously giving back to his community and his school. We extend our heartfelt congratulations and gratitude to him.” 

Atherton earned his associate degree in Engineering Technology/Civil Engineering from Pellissippi State in 2011, followed by a bachelor’s degree in project management from Bellevue University in Nebraska. He also is a certified project management professional through the Project Management Institute, where he is active in both the local chapter and the global organization. 

At Schaad Companies, Atherton directs all capital improvement projects, tenant improvement projects and facilities maintenance for 1.6-million square feet of commercial lease space, as well as overseeing all new commercial construction projects. 

“My parents had taught me to always work hard, and good things would come my way,” said Atherton, noting he first got interested in construction when he and his wife, Staci, decided to build their own home. “I thank God for everything He has provided for me, including the opportunity of being a part of a great school like Pellissippi State.” 

Since 2015, Atherton has served on Pellissippi State’s Academic Advisory Committee, where he helps recommend and approve new curriculum for the Civil and Construction Engineering Technology program with Program Coordinator Sami Ghezawi. 

“Pellissippi State offered the classes and hands-on learning I needed to advance in my career,” Atherton said. Dr. Ghezawi and (Retired Professor) George Cox made learning interesting and helped foster my desire for continuous learning, so I’m proud and honored to be able to give back by volunteering with the advisory committee now. 

Atherton also has visited Pellissippi State classes to give overviews of his latest projects and volunteered to clean the Construction Materials Lab and Computer Lab to prepare them for student use. He recently assisted in review of an endofprogram assessment for the college and, in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, facilitated a student tour of model homes created using sustainable building methods. 

Pellissippi State relies on the influence and service of our alumni to further institutional goals,” said Britney Sink, director of Alumni and Donor Engagement for the Pellissippi State Foundation. “Rick Atherton has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to the college by sharing his expertise and doing whatever is needed to ensure student success. We are proud to honor him with this volunteer award. 

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 About Discovery 

Discovery, Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) is a global leader in real life entertainment, serving a passionate audience of superfans around the world with content that inspires, informs and entertains. Discovery delivers over 8,000 hours of original programming each year and has category leadership across deeply loved content genres around the world. Available in 220 countries and territories and nearly 50 languages, Discovery is a platform innovator, reaching viewers on all screens, including TV Everywhere products such as the GO portfolio of apps; direct-to-consumer streaming services such as discovery+, Food Network Kitchen and MotorTrend OnDemand; digital-first and social content from Group Nine Media; a landmark natural history and factual content partnership with the BBC; and a strategic alliance with PGA TOUR to create the international home of golf. Discovery’s portfolio of premium brands includes Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, MotorTrend, Animal Planet, Science Channel, and the forthcoming multi-platform JV with Chip and Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Network, as well as OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network in the U.S., Discovery Kids in Latin America, and Eurosport, the leading provider of locally relevant, premium sports and Home of the Olympic Games across Europe. For more information, please visit corporate.discovery.com and follow @DiscoveryIncTV across social platforms. 

Former Pellissippi State student named Georgia Tech’s top engineering senior

Lily Turaski at Georgia Tech
Lily Turaski of Blount County, a former dual enrollment student at Pellissippi State, has been awarded the highest honor from Georgia Tech College of Engineering.

Former Pellissippi State Community College student Eleanor (Lily) Turaski of Blount County has been awarded the Tau Beta Pi Senior Engineering Cup, the highest honor from the Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Engineering, recognizing academic excellence, leadership and service.  

Turaski was selected from approximately 2,000 graduating engineers for this honor and will receive an engraved cup and $5,000 in recognition of her accomplishments. 

During high school, Turaski took multiple classes at Pellissippi State through the College’s dual enrollment program, which allows high school students to take college classes for credits they can then transfer to four-year institutionsIn addition to taking dual enrollment classes, Turaski was a member of the College’s Science Club and participated in a research project with other Pellissippi State Chemistry students 

Turaski also participated in many academic contests sponsored by Pellissippi State for local middle and high school students — the Math Contest, the Science Bowl and the Science Olympiad. She said she is grateful Pellissippi State offered so many opportunities for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math fields. 

“The courses I took at Pellissippi State gave me a strong foundation to be successful in my STEM classes at Georgia Tech,” said Turaski, who was homeschooled through high school and graduated in May 2017. “I am so thankful for professors Patricia Zingg and Rachel Glazener who made learning Chemistry fun!” 

“Lily was an outgoing and inquisitive student from day one in my course,” said Glazener, an associate professor of Chemistry. “It was a joy to have her in my class and field her array of questions about chemistry. I have no doubts that with her dedication to the STEM field she will do great things in life!  

Turaski won a full scholarship to Georgia Tech, where she is a Stamps President’s Scholar graduating in May 2021 with a 4.0 GPA. She is majoring in Materials Science Engineering with a minor in Chemistry.  

In addition to excelling in the classroom, Turaski has seven semesters of research experience in two Georgia Tech labs and has presented her research at four national conferences. For her research acumenTuraski was selected for the prestigious Goldwater Fellowship in 2019, which recognizes the top students across the country participating in STEM research. 

“I have really enjoyed my classes at Georgia Tech,” Turaski said. “Georgia Tech is a special place, where you are surrounded by incredibly talented and diverse people. I have learned so much not only from my classes and my professors, but also from my peers.” 

As a sophomore at Georgia Tech, Turaski created an undergraduate leadership team for Women in MSE (Materials Science Engineering) to integrate with the graduate team, and she served as the first undergraduate president of the group. She also was instrumental in revitalizing the Material Advantage chapter at Georgia Tech, which was named one of the top five chapters globally in 2020.  

In 2019, she founded the MSE Peer Partners Organization, which works alongside the Materials Science Engineering advising staff to help students with course scheduling, applying for internships and finding undergraduate research opportunities. 

“She is a dedicated, thoughtful student, one who strives to build community and advocate for STEM women to magnify their voice,” said Mary Lynn Realff, associate professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech. “Turaski stands out among the thousands of students that have passed through my hands over the years just by how effective she has been in making the School of MSE and Georgia Tech a more inviting, inclusive and diverse community.” 

Shortly after being named the winner of the Senior Engineering Cup, Turaski received a competitive fellowship from the National Science Foundation, which will pay for her to continue her studies at the graduate level. She will begin a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University in the fall, where she will focus on electronic materials. 

Turaski is the daughter of Steven and DeeDee Turaski from Friendsville, Tenn. Her mother is a longtime adjunct instructor of Biology at Pellissippi State. 

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Pellissippi State honors 2021 Distinguished Alumni this Friday 

Headshot of Vivian Underwood Shipe
Join Pellissippi State and presenting sponsor FirstBank this Friday in honoring Vivian Underwood Shipe as the College’s 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award winner.

Coming off the most challenging year Pellissippi State Community College has faced in its 47-year history, who better to recognize than an alumna who is helping educate and vaccinate at-risk populations during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Vivian Underwood Shipe, class of 1991, will be honored Friday by the Pellissippi State Community College Foundation at Pellissippi Strong: A Virtual Celebration. The free event, 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. online, is open to the public and includes door prizes, networking and an exclusive Q&A with Allison Page, president of Magnolia Network, the joint venture between Discovery Inc. and Chip and Joanna Gaines’ home and lifestyle brand. 

Presenting sponsor FirstBank will present Shipe with Pellissippi State’s 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award, which highlights an outstanding graduate in recognition of significant professional achievement and service to the community. 

“FirstBank is happy to partner with Pellissippi State to support the great work this school is doing in our community,” said Brent Ball, Knoxville market president for FirstBank. “As a longtime resident of East Tennessee, I know how important Pellissippi State is to the residents of this area, and we are proud to support their alumni and students’ success.” 

Shipe, who earned her associate degree in Marketing from Pellissippi State at 41, has stayed active in the community since retiring from the U.S. Postal Service in 2018 after 35 years of service. She is founder and chief executive officer of I AM the Voice of the Voiceless, a nonprofit dedicated to providing education and resources for vulnerable populations, as well as a founding member of Faith Leaders Health Initiative and the state’s pre-arrest diversion task force. 

Shipe also serves on the boards of the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee, Elder Abuse Task Force of Knoxville/Knox County, Knoxville Community Health Fair and many other community organizations. 

“Vivian Shipe is a strong advocate and champion for people often marginalized,” writes Vrondelia (Ronni) Chandler, executive director of Project GRAD Knoxville, in nominating Shipe for the award. “Vivian firmly believes we are only as great as the least of us. She lives by two scriptures: Proverbs 19:17 and Matthew 25:40, ‘The King will say to them, I assure you that to the extent you did it for the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for Me.’” 

Shipe is most proud of four recent projects: 

  • her collaborative work with other organizations in the development of a Safety Center as a jail alternative for the mentally ill,  
  • the successful passing of a $15 million state budget addition for prearrest diversion for the mentally ill,  
  • the shutdown of a nursing home charged with elder abuse and  
  • her ongoing work with the Faith Leaders initiative in the fight to educate and vaccinate during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

I believe in building relationships and communicating,” Shipe said. I try to bring out the best in everyone I meet and help them to develop or use their talents to help others. 

Whether helping create warming centers in area businesses and churches to protect the homeless in frigid temperatures to working with A21 to fight human trafficking, Shipe is a champion for Knoxville. 

As an advocate I speak at the local and state level for the most vulnerable, voiceless and those who fear retaliation,” Shipe said. I work to bring together those who need with those who have. 

Join Pellissippi State and presenting sponsor FirstBank on Friday in celebrating Shipe and her many contributions to the community. Register here for the virtual event, which will begin with networking at 11:45 a.m. and will wrap up by 12:45 p.m. 

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Nashville-based FirstBank, a wholly owned subsidiary of FB Financial Corporation (NYSE: FBK), is the third largest Tennessee-headquartered bank, with 81 full-service bank branches across Tennessee, South Central Kentucky, North Alabama and North Georgia, and a national mortgage business with offices across the Southeast. The bank serves five of the major metropolitan markets in Tennessee and, with approximately $11.2 billion in total assets, has the resources to provide a comprehensive variety of financial services and products. 

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President of Discovery’s new Magnolia Network headlines Pellissippi State celebration

Headshot of Allison Page
Allison Page, president of Discovery Inc.’s new Magnolia Network, will headline Pellissippi Strong: A Virtual Celebration on April 16.

Join Pellissippi State Community College for a free virtual event featuring a Q&A with the president of Magnolia Network, the joint venture between Discovery Inc. and Chip and Joanna Gaines’ home and lifestyle brand. 

Pellissippi Strong: A Virtual Celebration will be held 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Friday, April 16, and also will feature door prizes, networking and the college’s annual alumni awards. Registration is free and open to the public. 

The virtual celebration represents a transition from our former Alumni & Friends luncheon to a new event encompassing all individuals in the community that have a vested interest in the success of the college and its students,” said Aneisa Rolen, executive director of the Pellissippi State Community College Foundation. We are focused on sharing the stories that bring our Pellissippi State mantra start strong, stay strong and finish strong to life. Next year, we hope to fully launch the redesigned event in person. 

The celebration, presented by FirstBank, will be held on Lunchpool, which allows participants to video chat around virtual tables for face-to-face networking if they choose. Participants also may choose to keep their cameras off, if they prefer. 

At noon, media sponsor WATE-TV’s Tearsa Smith will kick off the event with a Q&A with Allison Page of the Magnolia Network. The former president of HGTV and Food Network, Page joined Food Network in 2001 and spent many years developing primetime series for Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri. Her efforts were key to Food Network’s record-breaking, double-digit, ratings growth and instrumental in the successful launch of Cooking Channel in 2010. 

She later served as general manager of HGTV, DIY Network, Great American Country and Travel Channel. Under her leadership, series such as Fixer Upper, Flip or Flop and Brother vs. Brother garnered record ratings for HGTV.  

Allison Page’s story of launching a new network during a pandemic is the perfect way to kick-off a conversation about how you start strong,’” Rolen said. Overcoming adversity takes determination and a clear vision of success. I look forward to hearing more about Allison’s leadership and lessons learned during this challenging time. 

Following the Q&A, Pellissippi State will present the College’s annual alumni awards. The Distinguished Alumni Award, announced by FirstBank, highlights an outstanding graduate in recognition of significant professional achievement and service to the community, while the Peggy Wilson Volunteer Alumni Award, sponsored and announced by Discovery Inc., highlights an outstanding graduate in recognition of extraordinary service to the Pellissippi State community. 

For more information about the event, including sponsorship opportunities, visit https://sites.pstcc.edu/foundation/pellissippistrong 

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Pellissippi State’s Magnolia Avenue Campus celebrates 20 years of changing lives

Students gather in the Magnolia Avenue Campus courtyard in pre-pandemic times.
Pellissippi State students gather in the Magnolia Avenue Campus courtyard in pre-pandemic times.

Pellissippi State Community College’s Magnolia Avenue Campus will celebrate its 20th anniversary in a socially distanced way, in keeping with the challenges of marking milestones during a pandemic. 

The celebration will take place noon-1:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, over Zoom. Those who would like to attend should RSVP to tltrivette@pstcc.edu or call 865.329.3100 to receive the Zoom link for the event. 

Magnolia Avenue Campus Dean Rosalyn Tillman, who has served as dean since the campus opened, will oversee the celebration, which will include speakers sharing what Magnolia Avenue Campus did for them. 

“This was the only east campus (of Pellissippi State) when we opened 20 years ago, and we had the opportunity to serve this community in a way that they had not been served before,” Tillman remembered. “There was a reluctance at first to come inside a college door, but now they had a place in the neighborhood, and we tried to make them feel comfortable.” 

Among the students who have passed through the halls of Magnolia Avenue Campus over the years, one stands out in Tillman’s mind: a nail technician who came into the office 30 minutes into her first college class. Tillman recalled the student telling her, “I can’t do this. I’m too old,” but the Magnolia Avenue Campus staff encouraged her to stick with it.  

That student ended up getting her degree in education. 

That always has stayed with me because she was so devastated that day,” Tillman said. “We have been able to change people’s lives.” 

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

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Pellissippi State plans Virtual Commencement for December

Pellissippi State Community College has announced it will not hold an in-person Commencement ceremony in December due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

Instead Pellissippi State’s summer and fall 2020 graduates are invited to participate in a Virtual Commencement, which will premiere at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18, on the College’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. 

“Students, we know this has been a challenging time for you, and we are so proud of the strength and dedication you’ve shown throughout the year,” Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. said in a video announcement emailed to students and their families on Monday. “Thank you for being a prime example of what it means to be #PellissippiStrong.” 

While Pellissippi State has only had 31 reported cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to the Tennessee Board of Regents System COVID dashboard, the College continues to conduct most classes and student services virtually out of an abundance of caution. Masks are required for any faculty, staff and students who do report to campus. 

With 303 summer 2020 graduates and 503 graduation applications for fall 2020 already received ahead of this weekend’s deadline, the College’s graduation committee decided a Virtual Commencement would be the safest option. 

To participate in Pellissippi State’s Virtual Commencement, summer 2020 graduates and those students graduating this semester should submit a photo of themselves or a 5-second video of themselves via this form by Sunday, Dec. 6. Only a single file of 100 MB or smaller can be uploaded per graduate. 

Students do not have to wear a cap and gown in their photos to participate in the Virtual Commencement, but those who want to should order their regalia as soon as possible to ensure the cap and gown arrive in time. Students who need financial assistance purchasing regalia should email Beth Correro at mbcorrero@pstcc.edu and put “Cap and Gown for Graduation” in the subject line. 

Any updates on Virtual Commencement will be posted on the College’s graduation webpage. 

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100% of Pellissippi State’s spring 2020 Nursing graduates pass national licensing exam

 Heidi Chisholm and Rachel Coar in scrubs
Pellissippi State Nursing graduates
Heidi Chisholm and Rachel Coar, from left, are among the spring 2020 graduates who passed their national licensing exam on their first attempt. This is the first year 100% of the College’s Nursing graduates passed the NCLEX-RN since Pellissippi State started its Nursing program in 2011.

For the first time, 100% of Pellissippi State Community College’s graduating Nursing students have passed their national licensing exam on their first attempt. 

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing released the results of the NCLEX-RN exam last week. All 70 of Pellissippi State’s spring 2020 Nursing graduates passed the exam, which each nurse in the United States and Canada must pass to become a registered nurse. 

“This is the first time a graduating class has achieved 100% pass rate since the inception of our Nursing program in 2011,” said Dean of Nursing Angela Lunsford, noting the College achieved a 99% pass rate in 2019. “I am very proud of our faculty, staff and students. They worked through a very demanding curriculum, put in 540 clinical hours during their program and graduated during a global pandemic. 

Lunsford also stressed the difficulty of the NCLEX-RN, which tests a Nursing graduate’s ability to think critically, use clinical judgement and perform in a safe and ethical manner when caring for patients. 

“The exam is a computer-adaptive test, so questions get harder or easier depending on how the candidate performs,” she explained. “Students are given situations and must use the knowledge acquired in the program to select the best response. These are not yes-or-no questions. 

Another aspect of the exam that makes it challenging is that the test can be as few as 65 questions or as many as 245 because the test continues until the computer decides the candidate is safe or not safe, Lunsford added. 

The candidate can finish in 45 minutes or they may be there for up to four hours, depending on how they perform,” she said. “When the computer cuts off, the candidate has no idea if they have passed. They have to wait 24 to 48 hours for the results.” 

Hannah Long, Andrew Cook, Jaleesa Grubb, Rachel Coar, Alicia Martin,
Pellissippi State spring 2020 Nursing graduates Hannah Long, Andrew Cook, Jaleesa Grubb, Rachel Coar and Alicia Martin, from left, wait to get their graduation photos taken.

The national pass rate for those associate degree graduates taking the exam for the first time is 84%, according to NCLEX statistics. 

“Our faculty and staff work closely with our hospitals and clinical agencies to ensure Pellissippi State students get the experience needed to be safe professional nurses,” Lunsford said. Our program is extremely rigorous and requires students to spend 20 to 30 hours a week on their studies. All of these factors are what makes achieving a 100% pass rate something of which to be very proud. 

Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. echoed his pride in the College’s spring 2020 graduates. 

To have 100% of graduates pass the NCLEX in the best of times is an outstanding achievement. To do so in the midst of a curriculum change and pandemic is quite remarkable,” he said. Our faculty and staff did a wonderful job preparing the students for success, and our graduates have demonstrated excellence across the boardThey will serve as outstanding nursing professionals in our community for years to come.   

For more information about Pellissippi State’s Nursing program, visit www.pstcc.edu/nursing-pathway. 

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Tennessee Board of Regents honors Pellissippi State alumnus veteran with commendation

Randy Martinez accepts a challenge coin from Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr.
U.S. Army veteran and Pellissippi State alumnus Randy Martinez, left, accepts a Challenge Coin from Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. on Wednesday. Martinez is the first Pellissippi State recipient of the Tennessee Board of Regents’ new Chancellor’s Commendation for Military Veterans.

Pellissippi State Community College alumnus Randy Martinez was honored on Veterans Day by his alma mater and by the Tennessee Board of Regents, the system that governs the state’s 13 community colleges and 27 technical colleges. 

Martinez, who graduated from Pellissippi State in 2017, received the Chancellor’s Commendation for Military Veterans, which was accompanied by a Challenge Coin from Chancellor Flora Tydings. The TBR and Tydings established the new commendation as a system-level award to honor the service, bravery and sacrifices of military veterans in the campus communities. 

Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. presented Martinez with the coin, which carries a strong history of military tradition associated with loyalty, unity and commitment. 

I am glad a small number of the Pellissippi State community could gather on campus today to recognize and honor the sacrifice military veterans and their families have made on behalf of our country,” Wise said. “Of special significance today is the opportunity to recognize alumnus Randy Martinez with the Chancellor’s Commendation for Military Veterans. He was a decorated soldier during his time in the service and an engaged learner and leader while at the College. We are grateful for Randy and pleased to honor him today. 

The Veteran Support Committee of Pellissippi State recommended Martinez for the commendation, which he received during the College’s Veterans Day Commemoration on its Hardin Valley Campus.  

Martinez served in the U.S. Army for eight years, earning the rank of Specialist 4th Class. He served in the United States, Korea and the Middle East and was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Army Commendation Medal twice, the Unit Commendation Medal twice, Good Conduct Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon. 

As a student at Pellissippi StateMartinez served as a New Student Orientation leader, a Veteran’s Affairs work study, an officer with the Student Veterans Club and a mentor for new student veterans. He was deeply involved in volunteer activities supporting homeless veterans at the Mountain Home Domiciliary in Johnson City, as well as assisting with several massive clean-up projects at Sharp’s Ridge Veterans Memorial Park in Knoxville. Martinez also is a gifted cook and provided many delicious meals to student veterans, staff and faculty while he was a student at Pellissippi State.  

“Randy’s caring nature, easy humor and innate kindness made him a favorite across the College,” said Rachael Cragle of Pellissippi State’s Veteran Support Committee. “We are proud of his accomplishments and pleased to call him one of our own. 

Martinez earned his Associate of Science degree, Tennessee Transfer Pathway in Business Administration at Pellissippi State. He transferred to King University and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration. Martinez now works as a member of the quality control management team at C.R. Barger & Sons, Inc. in Lenoir City, with plans to pursue a master’s degree in project management.  

Up close shot of the challenge coin for the Chancellor's Commendation for Military Veterans
Randy Martinez shows the Challenge Coin he received Wednesday, when he was honored with TBR’s Chancellor’s Commendation for Military Veterans, a new system-level award to honor the service, bravery and sacrifices of military veterans in the campus communities.  

“Pellissippi State has a great support structure between the faculty and staff, and the Veteran Support Committee was just phenomenal,” Martinez said. “Without them, I know for a fact that I would not have graduated. And as an alum, I was able to come back and still get help; these people were still willing to sit with me and do the tutoring. There is so much Pellissippi State offers, not just to veterans but to all students, that it would be silly not to take advantage of it.” 

For more information on Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. 

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Pellissippi State, Discovery honor alumna for extraordinary volunteer service

Leila Howell in front of a black backdrop
Leila Howell, a 2013 Pellissippi State graduate, has been named the 2020 Peggy Wilson Volunteer Alumni Award winner by the College and Discovery.

Pellissippi State Community College has recognized Leila Howell as winner of the 2020 Peggy Wilson Volunteer Alumni Award, sponsored and announced this year by Discovery, Inc. 

This honor highlights an outstanding graduate in recognition of extraordinary service to the Pellissippi State community. 

“At Discovery, being purposeful and doing the right thing are two of our Guiding Principles and core to our DNA,” said Vikki Neil, executive vice president and general manager for Discovery’s Digital Studios Group. We are dedicated to giving back in communities where we live and work and value the importance of volunteerism and recognize the passion and commitment volunteers bring to an organization. We are honored to partner with Pellissippi State and sponsor the 2020 Peggy Wilson Volunteer Alumni Award and honor Leila Howell, who is incredibly deserving of this award.” 

Howell’s story is one of persistence. She started her education at Pellissippi State more than 20 years ago, but then put college on hold when she became a mother to five daughters. She returned to Pellissippi State in 2011 and earned her general Associate of Science degree in 2013. 

Today Howell is a human resources manager at Integrity HR Services and is pursuing a master’s in organizational leadership at Trevecca Nazarene University. 

Despite working full time, taking classes and raising her daughters as a single mom, Howell still finds the time to be an active member of Pellissippi State’s Alumni Association. For 2019’s Pack the Pickup food drive, she led a campaign to support both the Pellissippi Pantry and the college’s Clothes Closet — promoting the needs of students, setting up her workplace for drop-offs and personally picking up donations around town. 

Howell also volunteers at student events and mentors Pellissippi State students through Tennessee Achieves. 

Volunteering means a great deal to me,” Howell said. I have always harbored the philosophy that when we are blessed, we should bless others in return. My father, a sage man, once told me that anyone could give money, but not everyone can give time and talent. This is an idea that has followed me, with merit, through my adult life. 

“The Foundation is proud to honor Leila Howell’s passion for serving Pellissippi State through the Peggy Wilson Volunteer Alumni Award,” said Britney Sink, director of Alumni and Donor Engagement for the Pellissippi State Foundation. Supporting our community is vital, and we encourage our alumni to get involved and give back. 

For more information about Pellissippi State Alumni, visit www.pstcc.edu/alumni or call 8655397275. 

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