Overstreet named State Star by Tennessee Small Business Development Center network

Laura Overstreet headshot
Under Laura Overstreet’s leadership, the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Knoxville assisted clients with $11.3 million in federal disaster assistance in 2020 and $15.3 million in federal disaster assistance in 2021, to date. The Center also assisted in retaining 1,348 jobs in 2020 and 847 jobs in 2021 so far.

Pellissippi State Community College’s Laura Overstreet, director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Knoxville, has received the state’s highest honor from her peers and was celebrated this week at America’s Small Business Development Center’s annual conference. 

The State Stars, who were chosen by their SBDC networks, are among the best of the best – those who demonstrate exemplary performance, make significant contributions to their networks and are deeply committed to the success of America’s small businesses. 

“I am honored, but it takes a team,” Overstreet said. “I depend on them heavily, and they are fantastic. You have to have a very well-oiled machine to pull off what we pulled off this last year.” 

The Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Knoxville is hosted by Pellissippi State, although its office is located in Market Square. Overstreet joined the Center in 2013 as a business specialist, after owning and operating her own retail business for 17 years. 

“I opened the first legal liquor store in the town that temperance built,” Overstreet explained, referring to Harriman, Tennessee. “I was a self-made entrepreneur. I went from zero sales to $2.5 million at peak. I went from leasing a space to owning a shopping center.” 

Along the way, Overstreet received the Athena Leadership Award and the Sam Walton Business Leader Award and served on several community boards, including chairing the capital campaign to restore the historic Roane County Courthouse.  

Overstreet sold her business in 2010, but found her retirement to be premature, she said. A job posting for the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Knoxville piqued her interest. 

“I thought, ‘Isn’t that the perfect thing for me to do?’ because I received so much help from the community when I started my business,” she said. “It sounded like the perfect opportunity to give back.” 

America’s nationwide network of Small Business Development Centers provide one-on-one consulting and training services to new and existing businesses, “at no cost to clients for the life of the business,” Overstreet noted. The SBDCs are funded in part by the U.S. Congress through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Pellissippi State provides the rest of the funding for the Knoxville Center. 

Since joining the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Knoxville, which serves seven counties, Overstreet has assisted small businesses in generating over $29 million in capital formation and has helped 85 entrepreneurs start a business. She has earned her Certified Export Specialist designation as well as her Certified Global Business Professional designation, which allowed her to represent Tennessee’s marine equipment manufacturing industry at an international trade show in Amsterdam two years in a row, pre-pandemic. 

“95% of the market for marine equipment is international,” she explained. “We just happen to have a lot of marine equipment manufacturers in Tennessee, and this helped them get leads all over the world.” 

When the coronavirus pandemic hit East Tennessee, Overstreet and her two staff members shifted to “100 percent disaster relief,” she said, helping clients navigate the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, the Shuttered Venues Operations Act, the Restaurant Recovery Fund and more. 

“Our phones rang and rang and rang, seven days a week,” Overstreet remembered. “It was heart-wrenching. The rules for everything were changing constantly. Changes would come out every night around midnight. I felt like I read the Encyclopedia Britannica cover to cover. The three of us worked seven days a week from March (2020) through June (2020).” 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, allowed Overstreet to hire nine part-time consultants, which she called “a huge relief to the team.”  

Under Overstreet’s leadership, the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Knoxville assisted clients with $11.3 million in federal disaster assistance in 2020 and $15.3 million in federal disaster assistance in 2021, to date. The Center also assisted in retaining 1,348 jobs in 2020 and 847 jobs in 2021 so far. 

“Our work during the pandemic has been rewarding, but really hard,” Overstreet said. “It was emotionally taxing, but we couldn’t not answer the phones. We had to help.” 

In nominating Overstreet for the award, Overstreet’s team recognized her dedication and commitment to her community, witnessing her expertise, professionalism and willingness to learn in an effort to serve more individuals. 

“Pellissippi State, the TSBDC network and our clients are very fortunate to have someone of Laura’s caliber leading our Center,” said Teri Brahams, executive director of Economic and Workforce Development for Pellissippi State. “She’s a great advocate for our area’s small businesses, an extremely competent business advisor and an exceptional leader. I’m extremely pleased she is part of my team.” 

For more information about the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Knoxville, visit www.tsbdc.org/pscc/ or call 865-246-2663. While the Center is located in Market Square, staff meet clients one day each week at the Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce and at the Blount County Chamber of Commerce and one day each month at the Cocke County Chamber of Commerce. 

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Get answers to your college questions at fall Pellissippi Preview

Students walking on Hardin Valley Campus in fall leaves
Prospective students are encouraged to join Pellissippi State for its fall open house in person Oct. 2 or on Zoom Oct. 20.

Anyone who has considered taking classes at Pellissippi State Community College has two opportunities this October to check out the school from the academic programs offered to the financial aid available. 

Pellissippi State’s open house, now called Pellissippi Preview, will be held in person 9:15-11:15 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, at the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. An online version will be held 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, for those who would rather learn about the college via Zoom. 

Pellissippi Preview is open to prospective students of all ages and is free to attend. 

Pellissippi State will kick off the Oct. 2 in-person event in the Clayton Performing Arts Center at 9:15 a.m. before letting prospective students browse the departments that interest them until 10:30 a.m. Faculty and staff will be available to answer questions about the college’s academic programs as well as the student services available at Pellissippi State. 

Pellissippi Preview also will feature a presentation on academic programs, services and financial aid at 10:30 a.m. Participants will get hands-on information about one of the questions Pellissippi State advisers and recruiters hear the most: “Will my Pellissippi State classes transfer?” They’ll also learn more about scholarship opportunities, including Tennessee Promise for high school seniors. 

All those who attend Pellissippi Preview in person will be entered in a drawing for one of two $250 scholarships from the Pellissippi State Foundation. The drawing will be held at 11:15 a.m. to close the event.  

“You are sure to get all your questions answered,” said Enrollment Services Coordinator Sarah Davis. “We hope to see you there.”  

To RSVP for Pellissippi Preview in person or online, visit www.pstcc.edu/prsvp. To request accommodations for this or any campus event, call 865-694-6411 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu. 

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All4Knox offers free substance misuse and prevention trainings at Pellissippi State

All4Knox logo with interlocking red and blue diamondsLearn about substance misuse and prevention during Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies week at Pellissippi State Community College, Sept. 27-30. 

The programming, which touches on everything from suicide prevention techniques to human trafficking, is sponsored by All4Knox, a joint effort of Knox County and the City of Knoxville with support from Metro Drug Coalition, the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office and Knox County Health Department. 

All sessions are free and open to the public. Pellissippi State encourages all individuals to wear masks in indoor spaces. 

“Our goal for this week is for our community to understand the purpose of substance misuse and prevention,” said Courtney Niemann, director of prevention for Metro Drug Coalition. “By providing an array of speaking sessions, we want individuals to have resources and education on the substance misuse epidemic in our community.” 

Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies will kick off at 1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 27, with speaker Cory Henry in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the Hardin Valley Campus. Henry has been free of substances for more than seven years and now works at Faith Promise Church. Jason Goodman, director of Recovery Support Services for Metro Drug Commission, also will share about The Gateway, a recovery community center that will provide additional support and ongoing recovery to those transitioning from addiction treatment back into the community and to those who are seeking recovery but need someone to walk beside them as they navigate a path free from substance misuse. 

Sessions planned for Tuesday-Thursday, Sept. 28-30, will touch on a variety of topics, including: 

  • Mindfulness – Offered at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28, and Thursday, Sept. 30 at the Magnolia Avenue Campus and 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29, at the Hardin Valley Campus, mindfulness is a set of skills and practices that anyone can learn. Mindfulness can be beneficial for helping people deal with difficult emotions and stressful situations by cultivating curiosity, compassion and acceptance of whatever arises in the present moment. Using a combination of groundbreaking neuroscience, mindfulness-based techniques and discussion format, Mindful Recovery Groups are open to all people seeking a better sense of balance in their lives. 
  • Metro Drug Coalition’s community meeting – At noon Tuesday, Sept. 28, at the Magnolia Avenue Campus, Amanda Ainsley and Asheton Casey of MDC will offer a comprehensive presentation on substance misuse from the perspectives of crisis intervention, prevention work, advocacy and recovery. Topics include addiction and the brain, substance facts and statistics, and how to connect with resources. 
  • Building Strong Brains Adverse Childhood Experiences training – 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28, on the Magnolia Avenue Campus. This training mobilizes the Tennessee community in having a shared understanding, based in science, of the architecture of a young child’s brain, how interactions shape this brain architecture, how adversity negatively impacts the developing brain, and how children thrive in safe, stable, nurturing environments. 
  • Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) – Offered at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29, on the Hardin Valley Campus, this internationally renowned suicide prevention training educates participants on identifying signs and risk factors common to individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts, techniques to engaging with this individual, and available resources within the community to help. 
  • PrEP – At noon Wednesday, Sept. 29, on the Hardin Valley Campus, leaders will discuss how to access PrEP, a daily pill taken to protect you from HIV. The session will include answers to common questions and additional resources available in the greater Knoxville community.  
  • One family’s addiction story – At 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29, on the Hardin Valley Campus, Sharon Hajko will share about her son, Justin Hajko, who she describes as the “daredevil of the family” who “thrived on adventure” until the disease of addiction changed all their lives. 
  • Narcan training – At 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, on the Magnolia Avenue Campus, Regional Overdose Prevention Specialists will provide an opioid training that addresses harm reduction, reducing stigma and increasing public awareness. These specialists are located throughout the state and serve as a point of contact for overdose prevention through the distribution of naloxone. 
  • Opening Up About What’s Getting You Down – This first session in the CHASCO Lunch and Learn series will be held noon-1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, on the college’s Magnolia Avenue Campus. Speakers include Schylar Long, Student Government Association parliamentarian for Pellissippi State, and Amy Rowling, violence prevention educator for the Knox County Health Department and facilitator for the Tennessee Building Strong Brains Initiative, who will present on how trauma affects the brain and nervous system, resiliency and self-care. 
  • Human trafficking – At 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, on the Magnolia Avenue Campus, the Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking will address the basics of human trafficking including prevalence and types of trafficking in our community, the common misconceptions surrounding human trafficking and how you can combat them in your neighborhood. 
  • Harm Reduction: Safer Sex and Drug Use – Offered at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, on the Magnolia Avenue Campus. Did you know there are ways to reduce the risks associated with sex and drug use? This workshop will introduce attendees to the concept of Harm Reduction and provide a variety of strategies you can employ to improve your overall health and wellness. Presented by Positively Living & Choice Health Network, Knoxville’s premier public health nonprofit and home of East Tennessee’s largest syringe service exchange and medical clinic specifically focused on HIV prevention and care for people living with HIV. 

Sessions on the Hardin Valley Campus will be held in the Goins Auditorium in the Goins Administration Building. The Hardin Valley Campus is located at 10915 Hardin Valley Road. 

Sessions on the Magnolia Avenue Campus will be held in the Magnolia Community Room. The Magnolia Avenue Campus is located at 1610 E. Magnolia Ave. 

All sessions will have a virtual option as well. You can find those links on each event in the Pellissippi State calendar. Click on the date on the calendar to bring up all sessions on that date, then click on the session you want to access the webinar link. 

For more information about Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies week, contact Courtney Niemann at cniemann@metrodrug.org. To request accommodations for a disability for any Pellissippi State event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu. 

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Pellissippi State marks Hispanic Heritage Month with lectures, music, stories

Three students from Venezuela
Pellissippi State graduates Kelvin Gonzalez and Alejandra Alvarez, from left, and former student Gabriel Gonzalez, right, were among the Latinx students who shared their experiences with prospective Latinx students and their families during Pellissippi State’s Latinx Family Visit Nights in early spring 2020. All three students photographed here are originally from Venezuela.

Celebrate the rich and beautiful complexity of Latino and Hispanic culture with a variety of events hosted by Pellissippi State Community College.  

“A key component of our college’s mission is to foster the academic, social, economic and cultural enrichment of our community. As our Hispanic community in East Tennessee continues to grow and thrive, I feel that it is important that we highlight and celebrate the contributions of this very important sector of our population,” said Associate Professor Larry Vincent, co-chair of the college’s Hispanic Heritage Month Committee. “Being a Venezuelan citizen and a native Spanish speaker, I have always cherished the opportunity to share my culture with my friends and neighbors in East Tennessee.” 

All are free and open to the public, and all but one will take place on Zoom this year: 

  • Tuesday, Sept. 14, 6 p.m.
    “Is ‘Latin’ a Flavor? Food Diversity in Latin America”
    Doug Sofer, associate professor of history at Maryville College 
  • Thursday, Sept 16, 6-7:30 p.m.
    “Why Don’t People Just Wait in Line?”
    A role-play workshop about how and why people seek life in the U.S., co-presented by Pellissippi State alumnus Luis Mata and Associate Professor Katie Morris 
  • Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2 p.m.
    “Crime Shows and Latino Representation on TV”
    Assistant Professor Mauricio Espinoza from the University of Cincinnati 
  • Thursday, Sept. 23, 1-3 p.m.
    Kukuly Uriarte and her salsa, jazz band Candela in the Hardin Valley Campus Courtyard, 10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville. Refreshments available. 
  • Tuesday, Sept. 28, 6 p.m.
    “Don’t Take My Boy: Yellow Journalism and the Zoot-Suit Riots of 1943”
    Pellissippi State History Instructor Leslie Coffman 
  • Tuesday, Oct. 5, 6-6:45 p.m.
    “Connecting Campus and Community Using Spanish-Language Conversation Tables”
    Pellissippi State Adjunct Instructor Raúl Rivero and colleagues 
  • Thursday, Oct. 7, 6 p.m.
    Latino and Hispanic Pellissippi State students and staff share their stories 

Zoom links are available at www.pstcc.edu/events/hispanic-heritage. 

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Live music returns to Pellissippi State this fall

Eric Reed headshot
Eric Reed Trio, featuring the jazz composer-pianist, will kick off live music events at Pellissippi State with a concert at 7 p.m. Sept. 9.

Pellissippi State Community College welcomes back live music to its Clayton Performing Arts Center this fall after a year of virtual concerts. 

Knoxville Jazz Orchestra Presents: Eric Reed Trio in Concert will kick off The Arts at Pellissippi State for 2021-2022. The free concert will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. 

Reed is an influential fixture in music as a pianist, composer, arranger, bandleader and champion of young musicians. He will be joined at Pellissippi State with Rob Linton on bass and Jack Roben on guitar. 

Next up is Knoxville Opera, which will present select previews from its upcoming 2021-2022 season and offer a master class to those who attend at 11:50 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15.  

All concerts at Pellissippi State are free and open to the public. The college recommends wearing masks in indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status. 

The Arts at Pellissippi State is an annual arts series that includes music and theatre performances and fine arts exhibits. For more information about The Arts at Pellissippi State this season, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts or call 865-694-6400. 

To request accommodations for a disability at any campus event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu. 

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Pellissippi State art exhibit features black-and-white prints made with mezzotint technique

A mezzotint print by artist Jacob Crook
Artist Jacob Crook uses the mezzotint technique to create haunting images of vacant interiors and nocturnal landscapes.

Mezzotint prints created by artist Jacob Crook are on display at Pellissippi State Community College through Sept. 24, and the public is invited to enjoy the show. 

The free exhibit is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Bagwell Center for Media and Art Gallery on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. Pellissippi State encourages the wearing of masks in indoor spaces. 

Crook, assistant professor of art and printmaking coordinator at Mississippi State University, works primarily in the intaglio printmaking technique of mezzotint, invented in 1642. This process achieves tonality – a range of tones in a work of visual art – by roughening a metal plate with a metal tool called a rocker. The rocker has a beveled, serrated, curved edge with many tiny teeth that create innumerable tiny indentations and burrs that hold ink during the printing process. Ink is rubbed into the varieties of textures and the excess wiped away, gradually revealing the image. 

“The fully rocked areas that are left alone produce a rich, velvety blank print, and areas that are scraped and burnished to varying degrees of smoothness will hold less ink, producing lighter value,” Crook explained. “Essentially the image is created in a reductive manner by ‘erasing’ the roughened areas to create areas of light.” 

Mezzotint of an empty alley
Nightrise IV is just one of the mezzontint prints by Jacob Crook on display at Pellissippi State through Sept. 24.

Crook’s works have been exhibited nationally and internationally at the Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts in Russia, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, among others. His works also are displayed in academic institutions and private collections. 

“The quality of light cast into a space has the potential to bring poetry to the prosaic, magic to the mundane and beauty to the banal,” Crook said. “The light spilling through these nocturnal landscapes and vacant interiors serves as a sort of spotlight, transforming the scenes into empty stage sets, either soon to be entered or perhaps long abandoned, suggesting the possibility of untold narratives that are just out of reach.  

“My intent is not to tell a story directly, but to set the stage in such a way that viewers are compelled to consider the moments before and after the one presented based on their own associations with the imagery,” he added. 

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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COVID-19 boosters available at Pellissippi State this Monday

Pax gets his COVID-19 vaccine
Pellissippi State’s mascot, Pax, and Nursing adjunct instructor Pakesta Washington encourage anyone in the community who has not received a COVID-19 vaccine to drop by the Hardin Valley Campus on Aug. 30 for a Vaccinate and Educate Fair.

Pellissippi State Community College will offer COVID-19 boosters for immunocompromised people at its Vaccinate and Educate Fair next week. 

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held noon-4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 30, outside the Bagwell Center for Media and Art on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. 

Pellissippi State Nursing faculty and students will be administering both the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, which was granted full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Aug. 23, and the one-dose Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Pellissippi State also will offer boosters of Pfizer for those who had their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at least eight months ago.  Please bring your original vaccine card. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine, as outlined in this Aug. 18 media statement. This includes people who have: 

  • Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies 
  • Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy 
  • Receipt of CAR-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy) 
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome) 
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection 
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (i.e., ≥20mg prednisone or equivalent per day), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory 

Pellissippi State is working with the nonprofit Faith Leaders Initiative and New Directions Healthcare to offer the Vaccinate and Educate Fair for the community. Education stations will provide information about COVID-19 including handouts explaining what the COVID-19 virus is, how vaccines work to combat it and why common myths about COVID-19 and vaccinations are untrue. Free popcorn, cotton candy and snow cones will be available for the entire family. 

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TBR honors Richard B. Ray, Blount Memorial Hospital for support of higher education 

Richard Ray at lectern, accepting Regents' Award on Aug. 17, 2021
Richard B. Ray of Knoxville, a co-founder of tnAchieves, accepts the Regents’ Award for Excellence in Philanthropy at Pellissippi State on Aug. 17.

Richard B. Ray of Knoxville, a co-founder of tnAchieves, and Blount Memorial Hospital were honored this month by the Tennessee Board of Regents for their longstanding support of education. Both were nominated by Pellissippi State Community College President L. Anthony Wise Jr. 

Ray received the 2021 Regents’ Award for Excellence in Philanthropy at a Ribbon Cutting Celebration for Pellissippi State’s Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on Aug. 17, while Blount Memorial’s chief executive officer Don Heinemann and board vice chair David Pesterfield accepted the 2021 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy at a Blount Partnership event Aug. 25. 

Established in 2001, these awards honor individuals, companies and organizations who go “above and beyond” to donate their resources, finances, and personal time to TBR’s 40 community and technical colleges. 

Wise nominated Ray, co-founder and chief financial officer of 21st Mortgage Corporation, for his commitment to tnAchieves, the college scholarship and mentorship program that pairs volunteer mentors with incoming college students who receive the Tennessee Promise scholarship.  

Not only did Ray found KnoxAchieves, the precursor to tnAchieves, with fellow Knoxville businessmen Randy Boyd, Bill Haslam, Mike Ragsdale and Tim Williams in 2009, but Ray is one of only four tnAchieves volunteers across the state who has served as a mentor every single year. Over the past 12 years, Ray has mentored over 60 students. He drives from his home in west Knoxville to the Carter community in east Knox County to meet with his mentees, and he volunteers every year to teach budgeting at tnAchieves’ Summer Bridge Program at Pellissippi State, which helps incoming students start on a more college-ready level, both academically and socially. 

“Rich Ray was the first in his family to graduate from college,” Wise writes in nominating Ray for the award. “Growing up in east Knoxville, Rich worked his way through the University of Tennessee. He remembers the challenges of working to pay tuition and navigating higher education without a mentor to guide him. Rich says, ‘If you are the first in family to ever go beyond high school, you need someone to tell you it is possible, that you can do it.’” 

Ray and his wife, Jane, also have supported Pellissippi State since 2017, with gifts to the Student Opportunity Fund, which helps the Pellissippi State Foundation assist students in crisis, and to support the expansion of the Strawberry Plains Campus library. The couple also has committed a planned gift to Pellissippi State to continue their support of community college students into the future. 

“Jane and I have been fortunate to contribute to wonderful organizations, but we do focus on education,” Ray said when accepting the award from Regent Danni B. Varlan on Aug. 17. “We firmly believe that to have a better quality of life for our kids in Tennessee, they must be better educated. That begins with K-3 and continues all the way through getting their degrees either at a university or a community college or developing a trade at TCAT, so thank you for this recognition. I appreciate it.” 

Blount Memorial Hospital chief executive officer Don Heinemann, second from left, and hospital board vice chair David Pesterfield, third from left, accept the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Philanthropy on Aug. 25, 2021
Blount Memorial Hospital chief executive officer Don Heinemann, second from left, and hospital board vice chair David Pesterfield, third from left, accept the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy on Aug. 25, from Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., left, and Regent Danni B. Varlan.

Wise nominated Blount Memorial Hospital for the Chancellor’s Award for its longstanding support of Pellissippi State students. In 2001 the hospital established the Blount Memorial Nursing Scholarship, which is awarded annually to a Nursing student from Blount County. The hospital later funded the Nursing simulation lab at the college’s Blount County Campus, helping establish the college’s Nursing program in 2010. More recently Blount Memorial pledged $100,000 to help build the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on the Blount County Campus, which is now underway and is scheduled for completion in 2022. 

While Blount Memorial sponsors clinical rotations for Pellissippi State’s Nursing students, last year Pellissippi State helped the hospital train 61 of its medical-surgical nurses in COVID-19 patient care, allowing the hospital to use the Nursing simulation lab on the Blount County Campus to practice scenarios based on actual COVID-19 cases. These COVID-19 trainings were just the beginning of what Pellissippi State and Blount Memorial envision being a year-round partnership, including the possibility of launching a nurse residency program. 

Blount Memorial’s support of Blount County and its people, however, dates to its founding in 1947, when local physicians and philanthropists partnered with ALCOA Inc. to realize the dream of a community hospital. 

“Blount Memorial Hospital is committed to care for the health and well-being of any individual who needs assistance, regardless of their ability to pay,” Wise writes in nominating Blount Memorial for the award. “This ethos permeates the organizational culture, from the greeter at the welcome desk to the most skilled surgeon. As healthcare challenges increase, so does Blount Memorial’s commitment to care for all who need assistance: every child, every senior, every hurting or sick individual, regardless of circumstance.” 

 “It’s truly an honor for Blount Memorial to receive the Chancellor’s Award,” said Heinemann, the hospital’s CEO. “Our work with Pellissippi State is something we’ve cherished over the years, and we’re committed to continuing our efforts to support Pellissippi State students who are planning careers in health care. As we saw just in the last year, our collaboration with Pellissippi State helped us ensure our team was prepared to handle the influx of COVID-19 cases in our community. In a pandemic – or any other time – that’s a win-win for us.” 

Fall classes are now underway at Pellissippi State. For more information about the college or the Foundation, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. 

To apply to be a tnAchieves mentor for the Class of 2022, a commitment of about one hour per month, visit www.tnachieves.org/mentors 

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Pellissippi State addresses community’s COVID-19 job losses with free training program

Student in Electrical Engineering TechnologyPellissippi State Community College is launching a free, noncredit training program designed for individuals whose finances or job outlook were negatively impacted by COVID-19.  

The two-part Reimagine Your Career program is for anyone who, at any time since March 2020, has been let go from a job, laid off permanently or temporarily, experienced a reduction in hours or wages, or has had to take a new job that pays less, due to the pandemic. 

Reimagine Your Career features foundational career skills as well as career-specific training. Participants choose the career track they’d like to pursue from options such as customer service, information technology and manufacturing. 

“We focused on career tracks that had the greatest need in the Knoxville area and tracks that would allow someone to fully complete the training and earn an industry-recognized credential in a fairly short amount of time,” said Teri Brahams, executive director of economic and workforce development for Pellissippi State. 

Pellissippi State has partnered with over a dozen local businesses that are actively hiring positions within each Reimagine Your Career track, including Keurig Dr Pepper, Avero Advisors, Timken, Flowers Foods and more. At the end of the program, participants are guaranteed an interview with at least one of the partnering businesses. 

“This is a great opportunity for both the individuals in our community that were impacted negatively from the pandemic and for the businesses that make up our local economy,” Brahams said. “There are people who are seeking a meaningful career path and financial stability, and there are businesses that need people with certain skillsets to fill their open positions. It’s a win-win situation we’re helping provide.” 

students in electrical engineering technology in 2020While the Reimagine Your Career program is provided at no cost to the participants, there is an investment of time. The career foundations training is a 36-hour commitment, while the training in specific career tracks vary from 36 to 140 hours. 

“We know that people are often juggling multiple responsibilities from parenting to working part-time or full-time jobs to taking care of family members, so it was important to us to offer several options,” Brahams said.  

Fall sessions are scheduled at the following times and locations:  

  • Tuesdays & Thursdays, Sept. 7-Oct. 14, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Blount County Campus 
  • Tuesdays & Thursdays, Sept. 7-Oct. 14, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Hardin Valley Campus 
  • Wednesdays & Fridays, Sept. 8-Oct. 8, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Magnolia Avenue Campus 
  • Tuesdays & Thursdays, Nov. 2-Dec. 14, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Blount County Campus 
  • Tuesdays & Thursdays, Nov. 2-Dec. 14, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Hardin Valley Campus 
  • Wednesdays & Fridays, Nov. 10-Dec. 10, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Magnolia Avenue Campus

For more information or to apply for the Reimagine Your Career program, visit www.pstcc.edu/reimagine or call Business and Community Services at 865-539-7167. 

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Pellissippi State’s new Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science opens ahead of fall semester

Ribbon cutting for Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science, outside the lobby doors
Pellissippi State Community College Student Government Association President Caitlandt Southall, center with ceremonial scissors, cuts the ribbon for the new Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus on Tuesday, Aug. 17. Joining her on the front row, from left, are Tennessee Higher Education Commission Executive Director Emily House, Regent Danni B. Varlan, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora W. Tydings, former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Crissy Haslam and Meg Counts of Pilot Company.

Pellissippi State Community College students in math, science and teacher education courses will return to classes next week in a state-of-the-art new building. 

Denark Construction completed the Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus this summer, and a Ribbon Cutting Celebration was held Tuesday, Aug. 17, to celebrate.  

“We made a strategic decision that if we’re going to teach science, mathematics and teacher education, as well as have the ability to offer new programs like Water Quality Technology, we had to make this investment,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “We are really grateful for our partnership with BarberMcMurry Architects in thinking about what this space might look like, not only for teaching and learning inside the classroom, but for the kind of collaboration that is necessary outside the classroom for our students to be successful in working with each other and with their faculty and staff.” 

The new 82,000-square-foot building has been under construction since May 2019. It includes 18 classrooms, six computer labs, nine science labs and a teacher education center for the college’s Early Childhood Education and Teacher Education programs. 

“As I walked around inside the Haslam Center, I was impressed with the meaningful use of space and the attention to detail to better serve our students,” said Pellissippi State alumnus Carlos Gonzalez, who is finishing his bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a certificate in teaching at Maryville College. “For example, the Teacher Education Center and the state-of-the-art equipment in the labs — having these resources will keep students competitive in today’s society.” 

Opening the new building allows Pellissippi State to transform its Hardin Valley Campus, Wise added, by thinking about the spaces those programs have vacated and other ways to use them to support other college programs and initiatives. 

Former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, for whom the building is named, was on hand Tuesday to tour the new building. As governor of Tennessee from 2011 to 2019, Haslam was key to establishing Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, last-dollar scholarships that provide two years of tuition-free attendance at a community or technical college in Tennessee, and the Haslam Family Foundation and Pilot Company were “Campaign Leaders” for Pellissippi State’s new math and science center, donating between $500,000 and $1 million toward the $27 million project. 

“I was thinking, driving out here, if you were going to pick a perfect location for a community college, you might pick this one,” Haslam said. “You’re strategically located between Oak Ridge and everything that is happening there, Blount County and Knox County. And if you’re going to find a really critical discipline that you want to make certain you have the room to grow and expand, it would be math and science.” 

Exterior of the Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science
The Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Class will welcome its first students to class when the college’s fall semester starts Monday, Aug. 23.

Haslam told the audience that he had talked last night with Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thomas Zacharia, Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and others about how to leverage the area’s assets of ORNL, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee Valley Authority and the University of Tennessee, among others. 

“Among the key tactics to make that happen is the success of Pellissippi State,” Haslam said. “You all feel like I do: that the key to success is giving more folks a chance for education. We’re struggling with a lot of things in this country – a whole lot of things that are dividing us – and to me, the best answer for all of those problems comes back to more opportunity out of great public education. So thank you to all of you who serve, work out here and have been a part of making this happen. I truly am honored by it and always will be.” 

Following the ribbon cutting, Pellissippi State held an open house so that guests could tour the new building. Pellissippi State’s fall 2021 classes start Monday, Aug. 23, as many students return to campus for the first time since March 2020. 

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