Pellissippi State highlights graduates ahead of Friday’s Virtual Commencement

We’re so excited about our Virtual Commencement ceremony this Friday! Please join us on Facebook or YouTube at 7 p.m.  Friday, Dec. 18, to recognize our summer and fall 2020 graduates. 

Well be highlighting some of our 2020 graduates on social media this week to recognize their accomplishments and celebrate their success. Keep an eye out on this page for student spotlights and help us cheer them on as they start the next part of their journeys. Way to go, graduates!  

Tuesday, Dec. 15 – Diana Drye

Diana Drye
Diana Drye didn’t just find support from faculty and staff at Pellissippi State. She also found a passion for helping other college students.

Diana Drye came to Pellissippi State after high school without any goals or direction and soon dropped out. Now, over 10 years later, she is preparing to graduate this week with strong grades and a resume full of achievements. Diana has proven she is #PellissippiStrong while serving as the president of the Student Government Association and the vice president of the National Society of Leadership and Success chapter at Pellissippi State. Not only has Diana achieved academic success, but she has made a lasting impact on countless students during her time at the College. 

The first time Diana attended Pellissippi State, she was not involved in any activities, instead just taking random classes to figure out what I like,” she remembers. When she came back to Pellissippi State the second time, Diana jumped right into student groups and activities, which she believes is the reason she achieved so much at Pellissippi State. “I joined Student Government Association because I saw the needs of the students,” Diana explains. I found that a lot of the students have opinions, but they don’t feel like they can share their needs or concerns. I realized I could be that voice for them.  As SGA president this fallDiana attended Faculty Senate meetings, where she says she felt welcomed and appreciated by every faculty member. They were open to my suggestions and wanted my feedback,” she notes. Professors want to make connections with students.” 

While attending class at the Strawberry Plains Campus, Diana discovered how much she enjoyed being a resource for other college students. “I realized I loved being that rainbow,” says Diana. “I would walk around campus and walk up to students I didn’t know and ask, ‘Hey, how are your classes going?’ And if they said they were having a hard time in math, I would walk them down the hallway and introduce them to the math tutor. I wanted to make them feel comfortable getting help. By working with the staff and faculty at the Strawberry Plains CampusDiana learned all of the resources that Pellissippi State offers so that she could “be the bridge between students and those resources. Through that experience, I’ve found that my passion is helping students get to where they want to be,” Diana says. Now I’m looking into a college resource career.”   

Diana credits her success at Pellissippi State to the support she received from faculty and staff. “They made my experience personable, instead of treating me like just another student,” Diana says. They catered to my personality and my needs. They saw my love for helping other students and pushed me to be able to help them more.”

Students: know your resources and use them,” encourages Diana. “Whether it’s other students and study groups, or reaching out to Counseling Services or Student Engagement and Leadership – all of these resources and activities will really make a huge difference. If you want something, go for it! If you need something, ask for it. If you dream of something, find it. 

Wednesday, Dec. 16 – Brandon England 

Brandon England
Brandon England felt positive energy at Pellissippi State from both his professors and his fellow students.

Brandon came to Pellissippi State because of its welcoming environment and stayed for the positive energy. “I didn’t have anything to worry about when I came to campus,” says Brandon. “Everyone at the College is very down to earth. That support system is really what Pellissippi State has been for me. From the professors to the students, the positive energy on campus is just contagious.” 

Brandon is graduating with a major in Business Administration and will be transferring to University of Tennessee Knoxville next fall. “I started to fall in love with business in high school,” shares Brandon. “I would like to work in high level management or go into commercial law after I go to UT. I’d like to work for a corporation’s law team one day.” 

Brandon found a platform to reach out to new students and make connections through Pellissippi State’s chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success“It’s always been a nice and loving group,” Brandon shares about the Student Engagement and Leadership team, which includes NSLS. “They are incredibly supportive. I remember during my first few days on campus, the Student Activities Board was always doing something around campus. They were there to make sure you knew where you were going, what you were doing and how to find help. It’s like a big family, and the students here make it inclusive for everybody.” 

Brandon has fond memories of his professors as well. “My favorite memory is when a professor and I decided to pull a prank on the class,” Brandon recalls. “I was given permission to order five pizzas for a review dayMy professor acted like he was mad and about to kick me out of class until he set the pizzas down in front of our classmates. That was when I realized that the professors at Pellissippi State are not just willing to guide us through difficulties, but also want to make it as enjoyable as possible.” 

Brandon experienced lots of support while at Pellissippi State, and he encourages other students to tap into the College’s resources as well. Even though everything’s online and it seems confusing, don’t be afraid to reach out to your professors or the Tutoring Center or one of the other support services at Pellissippi State,” says Brandon. “They are very invested in assisting anyone in need of help. They’ll lead you in the right direction. The Tutoring Center was definitely huge for me and made a difference in my grades and success.” 

Thursday, Dec. 17 – Shayna Smith

Shayna Smith with her late brother, Chad
It was Shayna Smith’s late brother, Chad, who encouraged her to give college another shot. This is the last picture taken of them before he passed away in May 2019.

Shayna was tired of living paycheck to paycheck and knew she needed a college education to take the next step toward her career goals. “Getting a degree is a huge milestone,” she shares. “I would love to help people one day, and I know that I have to invest in myself and my education if I ever want to help others.”  

After struggling in high school, Shayna attended Pellissippi State briefly before dropping out. While she tried to figure out what to do next, Shayna moved in with her dad. “I was struggling and didn’t know what to do with my life,” recalls Shayna. “Then I lost my brother suddenly last year. Before Shayna’s brother passed away, he told her to get back into school. He said, ‘You’re a Ferrari and don’t ever forget that,’” Shayna remembers. It’s amazing how words are so powerful, and those words definitely stuck with me. Sometimes we forget our own potential and it takes someone else to remind us of that.” Shayna’s spotlight photo is her with her brother, Chad, on their last family trip together before he passed away in May 2019. 

After Shayna’s dad and brother both encouraged her to give college another shot, she decided to go back to Pellissippi State and earn a degree in Business Administration. She is now working full time as an appraiser with her dad, who runs his own real estate, construction and appraisal business. 

Shayna credits much of her college success to the support she received at Pellissippi State. “It takes a village,” shares ShaynaI love the team-like effort and community at Pellissippi State so muchI could not have done this without the scholarships and support I received.” Shayna connected with Counseling Services, TRiO and the tutoring center, where she received individualized attention and support. “love TRiO and the tutoring center! They’re actually on my Christmas card list!” says Shayna. Having that hands-on learning and somebody to take that extra time with me was exactly what I needed.”  

Although she has faced many challenges along the way, Shayna has persevered and proven that she is #PellissippiStrong. “You can do it,” encourages Shayna. “Anything you put your mind to, you can do it. But it starts with believing in yourself.” 

Friday, Dec. 18: Eustace Muriithi

Eustace in cap and gown with diploma
Eustace Muriithi has built on the diploma in electrical engineering he earned in Kenya by graduating from Pellissippi State with a degree in Electrical Engineering Technology.

Eustace has known since grade school that he wanted to have a career in an electrical trade, and he had already received a diploma in electrical engineering in Kenya before coming to Pellissippi State. “I like the construction industry and I enjoy hands-on jobs, so I will eventually look for something that has both,” shares Eustace, who is graduating from Pellissippi State with a degree in Electrical Engineering Technology“My goal is to do my best in whatever I do and always be ready to learn.”

During his time at Pellissippi State, Eustace found many ways to stay busy and connect with others. Not only did he hold a workstudy job every semester to pay for his tuition, he was also involved in several important initiatives at the College. Eustacspent four semesters working on the Hardin Valley Campus Garden, which grows organic produce for the Pellissippi Pantry to support those at Pellissippi State who are experiencing food insecurity. He also helped start a recycling program at the college’s Division Street Campus.

Eustace still found the time to work with New Student Orientation, welcoming students and ensuring they got off to a strong start in college, and was a proud member of the International Students Club at Pellissippi State as well. 

Eustace encourages others to stay focused on their dreams. “It doesn’t matter what situation you are currently in,” he shares. “Your persistence will help you achieve your goals.”  

Friday, Dec. 18: Shireena Joy Harris, Stephanie Hurst and Christa Moscicki

Shireena Joy Harris, Stephanie Hurst and Christa Moscicki with graduation caps
Longtime friends Shireena Joy Harris, Stephanie Hurst and Christa Moscicki, from left, are graduating from Pellissippi State together. The trio have been friends since eighth grade. (Photo courtesy: Katie Hannah Photo)

Shireena, Stephanie and Christa have been friends since eighth grade, and today they graduate from Pellissippi State together. Their friendship is definitely #PellissippiStrong!  

“We went through middle school and high school together, and now we’ve just completed our degrees at Pellissippi State together, too,” shares Stephanie. “We said we would be friends through high school and college, and then we all actually ended up at the same college anyway. It was kind of weird, but cool!”

Pellissippi State has been a positive experience for the friends.

“When I got to Pellissippi State, I realized I didn’t want to go anywhere else,” says Stephanie. “I’m kind of sad to be graduating.”  

All three graduates have exciting plans for after graduation, however. Shirenna earned an Associate of Arts degree and plans to further her education in the field of real estate. Stephanie, who graduated with an Associate of Science, is transferring to Tusculum University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and certification to teach grades K-5Christa earned her Associate of Science degree and is transferring to Lincoln Memorial University to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. 

Congratulations and best wishes to all three of you! 

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 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. 


Pellissippi State cancels August Commencement ceremony

Pellissippi State Community College has decided it will not hold an in-person Commencement ceremony this August for its spring and summer graduates as was hoped. With the increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases, the college decided it was not safe to move forward with the specially scheduled ceremony. 

“When we postponed our May Commencement, was hopeful that we would be able to hold the ceremony in August,” said President L. Anthony Wise Jr. 

The Knox County Health Department reported 91 new positive COVID-19 cases Thursday. Federal officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies visited Knoxville last week after declaring the area a hotspot for the coronavirus. 

Pellissippi State’s summer graduates will be notified by postcard when their diplomas are available for pick up, and the college also will offer all 2020 graduates photo opportunities on campus when it is safe to do so, Wise said. 

Spring and summer graduates will be allowed to walk in the college’s next Commencement ceremony as well. 

“We are so proud of the diligence and resilience our 2020 graduates have shown, completing their associate degrees under what have been the most unusual and stressful circumstances in the 46-year history of our college,” Wise said. “Pellissippi State is a family, and we want to celebrate with our graduates who have worked so hard to reach this milestone. But, like with our individual familiesthe health and safety of our Pellissippi State community is our top priority.” 


Pellissippi State moves online for rest of semester, postpones commencement

Pellissippi State sign at entrance to Hardin Valley Campus
Pellissippi State is moving its classes and student services online for the remainder of the spring semester.

President L. Anthony Wise Jr. announced Thursday that it is in the best interest of Pellissippi State Community College faculty, staff and students to move classes and student services online for the remainder of the spring semester, with very few exceptions. 

This serious decision was made after the White House and the Centers for Disease Control revised their guidance that social gatherings should be limited to 10 or fewer people, a challenge for any institution. 

To that end, all college events through May 11 have been canceled, effective immediately. Spring commencement and the Nursing pinning ceremony, originally planned for May 10, will be postponed until a later date, but will be held in person when it is safe to do so. 

We know this is not the semester you imagined. It is not the semester we imagined. But we will get through this together,” Wise said in an email to faculty, staff and students. “We have a dedicated group of employees working every day to ensure we cover all our bases so we can finish the semester Pellissippi Strong. This includes everything from offering advising and tutoring online or by phone to making sure our work-study students and part-time employees get paid, even if their jobs change to duties they can do remotely. 

Although classes are moving to an online format for the rest of the semester, at least one computer lab on each campus will continue to operate its normal hours. However, there will be a reservation system put in place after the college’s extended spring break ends March 29 to ensure that there are no more than 10 people in a lab at one time. The same is true for classes that need to hold labs on campus to complete the semester. Instructors may meet with nine or fewer students in a lab while practicing social distancing measures of leaving at least 6 feet between individuals. 

As Pellissippi State transitions to an online learning environment, students can submit questions and concerns about technology, coursework, and support services to our new PantherHelp team at this link. Pellissippi State will continue to update its website – – with frequently asked questions, as well as new pages of resources for faculty, staff and students.  The college also will communicate with faculty, staff and students via their Pellissippi State email and Pellissippi State’s social media accounts. 

Meanwhile, Pellissippi State’s Business and Community Services has suspended all non-credit classes until further notice as well and is working with those instructors to discuss rescheduling options. Those with questions about non-credit classes should call 865.539.7167 or email 

“Although these are challenging circumstances, I look forward to the day when we can gather in community on campus once again,” Wise said. 

View Wise’s video message to faculty, staff and students today at 


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 or call 865.694.6400. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, call 865.539.7401 or email


Pellissippi State commencement May 3 will honor longtime student who died last year

Barry King
The late Barry King, photographed here as he was training to be a New Student Orientation leader at Pellissippi State, passed away in January 2018 at the age of 32.

Exactly 800 Pellissippi State Community College students will graduate this spring, but there will be one poignantly empty chair at the school’s Commencement ceremony Friday, May 3, at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The empty chair will be left for the late Barry King, a longtime Pellissippi State student who likely would have finished his associate degree and graduated this semester. Barry, who had brittle diabetes and kidney disease, passed away in January 2018 after being hospitalized for flu. He only lacked three classes to earn his Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Information Technology with a concentration in Programming, but he would have had to take those three classes consecutively.

Barry’s father, Associate Professor Donn King, will address Pellissippi State graduates with “Lessons from a Not-So-Empty Chair.” Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and commencement begins at 7 p.m.

“Barry was a student at Pellissippi State for 12 years; he was determined to get that degree, and he kept at it,” said King, who has taught communication at Pellissippi State for 28 years. “It took him so long because he would get part way through a semester, wind up in the hospital for a couple of weeks, get too far behind to catch up and withdraw for the semester to try again later.”

While Barry’s long-sought degree will be awarded posthumously at commencement, King stressed he will focus his address not on his son, but on the lessons he learned from Barry – lessons that Pellissippi State students may realize they also have learned along the way.

“I want to recognize our graduates’ own strength and what it took for them to get to this spot and what it will take moving forward,” King said. “Graduation is not the end of their education. Like a graduated cylinder they may have used in their science classes, ‘graduated’ means ‘marked.’ Graduation marks a major transition and achievement in these students’ ongoing journey.”

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, call 865.539.7401 or email


2018 Alumnus of the Year to speak at Pellissippi State Commencement

Photo of Travis Howerton
J. Travis Howerton, winner of Pellissippi State’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award, will speak at Commencement on Dec. 14.

Pellissippi State Community College’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award Winner J. Travis Howerton will speak at the college’s fall Commencement ceremony Friday, Dec. 14, at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Commencement begins at 7 p.m. Approximately 513 students will graduate this fall.

Howerton, who earned his Associate of Applied Science in Computer Systems Technology in 2002, now serves as Global Director for Strategic Programs for the Bechtel Corporation in Reston, Va. He previously served as Senior Director for Transformation for Bechtel in Oak Ridge.

During his career in information technology and cyber security, Howerton garnered more than a dozen significant local and national awards, including the East Tennessee Economic Council’s prestigious Postma Young Professional Medal, which honors those who have led top priority transformation projects and have demonstrated innovation. Howerton created the Pegasus Information Management System used by Y-12 National Security Administration, and he served as the first chief technology officer for the National Nuclear Security Administration.

In nominating Howerton for the Distinguished Alumni Award, one professor called Howerton “the most outstanding student we have ever had graduate from Pellissippi State’s Computer Science department” and noted he has supported the college by recommending and employing at least 10 Pellissippi State graduates in computer science and networking/communications.

“I’m very proud to be an alumnus at Pellissippi State,” Howerton said at the college’s annual Alumni Luncheon. “I worked my way through school, and classes at Pellissippi State were amenable to my schedule. The facilities and the curriculum were great. I took advantage of the library – up and beyond what was required of the course. I had good professors all around.

“I feel fortunate that Pellissippi State helped me find a career where I have a life-long passion for my work,” he added.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, call 865.539.7401 or email


Three Pellissippi State students earn high school and college degrees in the same month

“High achieving” doesn’t begin to describe three students who will earn their associate degrees from Pellissippi State Community College during Friday’s Commencement ceremony. Unlike the other graduates walking across the stage to receive their diploma, these three have yet to graduate from high school—though they’ll accomplish that, too, later this month.

Although difficult to imagine, Andrew Jerome, Haley Folsom and Savannah Keck will earn their college degree almost simultaneously with their high school diploma. Each student has invested years of hard work, determination and self-motivation to reach this milestone.

“I’ve always been up for a challenge. I started taking classes that interested me, and before I knew it, I only had one class left to earn a college degree,” said Folsom, 17, who attends L&N STEM Academy.

“How many high school students get to say they’re graduating from college at the same time?” asked Keck, 17. “It has been an amazing experience.”

Savannah Keck
Savannah Keck

“We look forward to celebrating the success of these exceptional students at commencement,” said L. Anthony Wise Jr., president of Pellissippi State. “They have excelled as dual enrollment students and demonstrated they can succeed in a rigorous academic environment. I have every confidence they will do well as they transition to their chosen four-year institutions.”

These students have been able to accomplish this by taking a combination of advanced placement and dual enrollment classes alongside their regular high school courses. They also took additional classes during the summer. Taking these classes allowed them to earn college credit while still in high school. Pellissippi State offers a wide range of dual enrollment courses in both high schools and on the college’s campuses.

jerome standing with trees in the backgroun
Andrew Jerome

“I heard about dual enrollment classes at Pellissippi State and starting taking them in 9th grade,” said Jerome, 18, and a home-schooled student under the umbrella of Christian Academy of Knoxville. “In my junior year, I realized that I would soon earn a college degree.”

Jerome began taking classes at the Hardin Valley Campus when he was just 14. He started out with one Spanish class. His older brother, also a dual enrollment student, showed him where to go and what to do during that first semester.

“It was weird at first because I was younger, but I got used to it. I’ve enjoyed the experience,” said Jerome. “I don’t think many have known that I’m a dual enrollment student. Those who have found out were surprised, but they didn’t treat me any differently.”

Folsom agreed. “Age wasn’t an issue. Some of my best friends were adult learners.”

“I found dual enrollment to be a lot of fun. It’s a great opportunity to get ready for attending a college,” added Jerome.

Keck is a student at Career Magnet Academy, which is located on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus. The two schools have a partnership in which CMA students take dual enrollment classes through Pellissippi State and then earn their associate degree after they graduate from high school. This month CMA will celebrate their first graduating class. Keck is not only a part of that class, but she is the first CMA student to complete high school and an associate degree simultaneously.

“It has been a crazy, amazing experience,” says Keck. “I love going to a high school located on a college campus. The standards are higher; it’s more challenging. And I love being taught by actual college professors. The CMA teachers work with you one-on-one. They trust us to be more responsible and give us more freedoms.”

Haley Folsom with stained glass on background
Haley Folsom

Keck even found time to participate in Pellissippi State’s student clubs and work in the summer as a New Student Orientation leader who helps new students acclimate to the college.

“Savannah Keck’s success is a great example of what we believe the partnership between Pellissippi State and Career Magnet Academy can produce. We are taking the time to celebrate the success of all the students in the school’s first graduating class and to develop new opportunities for student achievement moving forward,” said Wise.

Folsom took classes at the Hardin Valley Campus and online. She says that dual enrollment gave her more opportunities than were available at her high school. She often took classes that her high school didn’t offer, such as American Sign Language. She said that this allowed her to get used to a college environment and to meet new people.

Folsom will attend Georgia Tech in the fall and major in neuroscience. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she plans to continue her education to become a brain surgeon.

The next stop for Keck is Michigan State University where she will study criminal justice and international affairs. She will be part of James Madison College, a residential college at MSU where students and faculty examine the major political, legal, social and economic issues affecting our world.

“It’ll be a big change, but I’m looking forward to it,” she said.

Jerome will attend the University of Alabama in the fall and major in computer science. He plans to study German and participate in the college’s competitive and challenging Two Steps Ahead International German Student Exchange Program, which will allow him to spend a year studying in Germany.

All three students said that they would recommend dual enrollment classes to other high school students as a way to get ahead in their college courses and careers.

Pellissippi State’s Commencement ceremony is Friday, May 4, at 7 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena on the University of Tennessee campus.

‘Teaching Award’ winner Sichler to speak at Pellissippi State Commencement

Judith Sichler
Judith Sichler

Pellissippi State Community College’s Excellence in Teaching Award winner, Judith Sichler, will speak at the college’s fall commencement ceremony Dec. 15 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Commencement begins at 7 p.m. Approximately 490 students will graduate this fall.

Sichler is the 2017 recipient of the college’s Excellence in Teaching Award, which recognizes innovative teaching techniques and the positive impact a faculty member has had on students. Sichler has integrated unique and interactive learning opportunities into her anthropology classes that aim to increase engagement and inspire students.

Sichler worked as an archaeologist before coming to teach at Pellissippi State in 2010. Today, she teaches cultural anthropology courses and has embedded Service-Learning components into them. She also teaches a cultural anthropology study-abroad course in South Africa.

“The best decision I ever made was to teach full-time,” Sichler said. “My favorite class to teach is cultural anthropology because I ask students to ponder human diversity. I really want them to talk to each other. I want them to debate perceptions and talk about how and why cultures are different, and what the basis for those differences are.”

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, call 865-539-7401 or email

Mike Krause is keynote speaker at Pellissippi State Commencement

Mike Krause
Mike Krause

Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, will be the keynote speaker at Pellissippi State Community College’s Commencement ceremony Friday, May 5.

Commencement will begin at 7 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena. About 800 students will earn their associate degree that night. Many of those students will be among the first class of Tennessee Promise students to graduate.

Krause will speak about the future of higher education in Tennessee and will share stories of student success at Pellissippi State.

Krause was appointed as the executive director of THEC and TSAC by Governor Bill Haslam in August 2016. Prior to assuming this role, he served as the founding executive director of Tennessee Promise and Drive to 55.

Previously, Krause served as the assistant executive director at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, leading a variety of initiatives within the Academic Affairs Division. He also served for eight years in the United States Army, where he completed three combat tours with the 101st Airborne Division. An eighth-generation Tennessean, Krause earned his bachelor’s degree from Austin Peay State University and master’s degree in Public Policy from Vanderbilt University.

For more information, visit or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at Commencement, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or