Pellissippi State hosts Family Visit Night for Latinx community at Division Street Campus

Three students from Venezuela
Pellissippi State students Kelvin Gonzalez, Alejandra Alvarez and Gabriel Gonzalez, from left, are among the Latinx students who have been sharing their experiences with prospective Latinx students and their families during Pellissippi State’s Latinx Family Visit Nights this semester. All three students photographed here are originally from Venezuela.

Latinx families in the Knoxville area are invited to Pellissippi State Community College this Thursday for the school’s second Latinx Family Visit Night.

“We are specifically inviting prospective Latinx students, but we would love for them to bring their families and friends to learn more about enrolling in Pellissippi State and the resources we have to offer,” said Enrollment Services Coordinator Selena Kimber.

The Family Visit Night, the second offered this semester, will be held 5-6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12, on the college’s Division Street Campus, 3435 Division Street. Refreshments will be served.

The event is free, and there is no need to RSVP.

Latinx Family Visit Night will give prospective Latinx students and their families an opportunity to talk to Pellissippi State faculty, staff and students. Admissions, financial aid and scholarships are among the topics that will be addressed, as well as Dual Enrollment options for high school students who want to get a head start on college.

Drema Bowers, director of Student Care and Advocacy, also will be on hand to talk about the ways Pellissippi State can help students who have experience nonacademic barriers to success such as food insecurity, housing and transportation.

A panel of Latinx Pellissippi State students will share their experiences at the college as well.

“Everyone here has been a blessing,” said Pellissippi State student Kelvin Gonzalez, who just arrived in the United States two years ago from his native Venezuela. “Everyone has helped me out. I have felt very welcome here, which is very important when you’re an immigrant.”

Alejandra Alvarez, who has been in the United States for five years, agreed.

“I have really enjoyed Pellissippi State,” she said at the college’s first Latinx Family Visit Night in February. “The faculty and staff have been so welcoming and friendly.”

While Enrollment Services has intentionally reached out to Latinx high school students and their families for this event, the Family Visit Night is open to all interested Latinx families, as Pellissippi State has a robust community of students who are older than the traditional college age of 18-24.

For more information, contact Pellissippi State at 865.694.6400. 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 hosts first Family Visit Night for Latinx community

Pellissippi State sign at entrance to Hardin Valley CampusLatinx families in the Knoxville area are invited to Pellissippi State Community College next week for the school’s first Latinx Family Visit Night.

“We are specifically inviting prospective Latinx students, but we would love for them to bring their families and friends to learn more about enrolling in Pellissippi State and the resources we have to offer,” said Enrollment Services Coordinator Selena Kimber.

The first Family Visit Night will be held 5-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. Refreshments will be served, and a Spanish translator will be on hand to help those family members who may not be fluent in English.

The event will give prospective Latinx students and their families an opportunity to talk to Pellissippi State faculty, staff and students. Admissions, financial aid and scholarships are among the topics that will be addressed while a panel of Latinx Pellissippi State students will share their experiences at the college.

“Everyone here has been a blessing,” said Pellissippi State student Kelvin Gonzalez, who just arrived in the United States two years ago from his native Venezuela. “Everyone has helped me out. I have felt very welcome here, which is very important when you’re an immigrant.”

Pellissippi State staff also will explain the college’s Dual Enrollment options for high school students who want to get a head start on college, Kimber added.

While Enrollment Services has intentionally reached out to Latinx high school students and their families for this event, the Family Visit Night is open to all interested Latinx families, as Pellissippi State has a robust community of nontraditional students who are older than the traditional college age of 18-24.

The event is free, and there is no need to RSVP. For more information, contact Pellissippi State at 865.694.6400.

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TBR honors Blount County Economic Development Board for philanthropy

Fred Lawson accepts matted and framed TBR Chancellor's Award
Blount County Economic Development Board Chairman Fred Lawson, center, accepts the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy from Pellissippi State Community College President L. Anthony Wise Jr. and Regent Danni Varlan on Thursday.

The Blount County Economic Development Board was honored Thursday with the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy.

The board was nominated by Pellissippi State Community College for its early pledge of $1 million on behalf of Blount County and the cities of Alcoa and Maryville to support the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center that will be built on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus.

“The Economic Development Board was founded as the Blount County Industrial Development Board more than 50 years ago with the vision to attract good jobs so that young people wouldn’t have to leave Blount County,” said Regent Danni Varlan before presenting the award to Economic Development Board Chairman Fred Lawson at Blount Partnership. “With shared space for high school dual enrollment, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Pellissippi State and incumbent worker training, the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center will ensure that students are ready to enter the workforce with great local employers such as Arconic, Blount Memorial Hospital, DENSO and Clayton Homes.”

The $16.5 million Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center is being funded by a public-private partnership: $5.5 million raised by the Pellissippi State Community College Foundation, $5.7 million from TCAT Knoxville capacity expansion funds and $5.3 million from the state.

“This is a different path than most of our projects take,” noted Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “State building projects usually wait on a list for about 18 years. The conversations we’ve had with business and industry leaders and (Blount Partnership CEO and President) Bryan Daniels indicated that, with the job growth in Blount County, we were pretty sure we didn’t have 18 years to wait.”

Varlan agreed.

“Blount County is just rocking it,” she said. “Since 2012, Blount County has added 6,000 new jobs and $2.9 billion in capital investment.”

In addition to receiving the Chancellor’s Award, the Economic Development Board got a sneak peek at plans for the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on Thursday. The plans by BarberMcMurry Architects have not been shared publicly because they will not go to the state building commission for approval until October, Wise explained.

“The principal layout is large open teaching spaces, similar to our MegaLab at the Strawberry Plains Campus, because we wanted to build in flexibility,” Wise said. “When students walk out to train, they get the feeling they are walking out onto the floor at one of our industry partners. That flexibility is important because my guess is that advanced manufacturing won’t be done the same way 10 years from now.”

Varlan praised the flexibility reflected in the plans and connected that flexibility with how higher education has changed over the years.

“It’s very important to us at TBR to make sure our workforce is competitive,” she said. “The whole idea of our community and technical colleges is to be open and nimble. We don’t know what’s coming down the road, but we have to be ready to teach it. Now we ask communities, ‘What do you need?’ The whole point is that our students can get out of school and get a job.”

Blount County Economic Development Board with Chancellor's Award
Several members of the Blount County Economic Development Board were on hand at the Blount Partnership Thursday for the presentation of the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy. From left are Bob Booker of DENSO, Monica Gawet of Tennessee Marble, Joe Dawson, Regent Danni Varlan, Blount County Economic Development Board Chairman Fred Lawson, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., Greg Wilson of First Tennessee Bank and Matthew Murray of the University of Tennessee.

The 51,000-square-foot Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center will include proposed Pellissippi State programming for Computer Information Technology, Culinary Arts and Engineering Technology concentrations such as Automated Industrial Systems and Industrial Maintenance.

The building also will house a Corporate Training Center that will be available to businesses who want to train their workers off site, for training Business and Community Services provides to local employers and to the community for events.

“It can be divided into three areas for smaller groups, or we can open it up with theatre seating for 234 or round tables for banquets accommodating around 210,” noted Teri Brahams, Pellissippi State’s executive director for Economic and Workforce Development.

TCAT’s portion of the building is slated to include programming for Industrial Electrical Maintenance, Machine Tool Technology, Pipe Fitting and Welding to start, Wise said, while dual enrollment opportunities with Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County schools will continue to grow.

“We’ve done a lot and had a lot of conversations about this, and one of the things that’s exciting is now it’s time to execute that planning and have something really special here in Blount County,” Wise said. “It’s going to be a great facility to teach in, to learn in and to work in.”

Pellissippi State plans to break ground on the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center this winter and fully occupy the building by fall 2021.

“We wouldn’t be here without the support of the people in this room,” Wise said.

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

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Pellissippi State honors retired Rep. Harry Brooks with Career Education Center dedication

Harry Brooks in front of Career Education Center sign
Retired state Rep. Harry Brooks, third from left, unveils the new Harry Brooks Career Education Center on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus on Tuesday, Sept. 10. With Brooks, from left, are Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., Speaker Pro Tempore Bill Dunn of the Tennessee House of Representatives, and Brooks’ wife, Mary.

Pellissippi State Community College lauded retired state. Rep. Harry Brooks of Knoxville on Tuesday by naming a wing of its Strawberry Plains Campus in his honor.

The Harry Brooks Career Education Center contains Pellissippi State’s MegaLab as well as its newly expanded cyber operations and welding centers. The campus is located at 7201 Strawberry Plains Pike.

“Rep. Harry Brooks championed career and technical education during his many years in the legislature,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “His advocacy for workforce training, dual credit and dual enrollment promoted career opportunities for students not just at Pellissippi State, but across Tennessee.”

Brooks, who was on hand Tuesday to witness the dedication with many friends and family members, represented District 19, part of Knox County, in the state legislature for eight terms, from 2003 until his retirement in 2018. During that time he served myriad committees, including chairing the House Education Committee during the 108th General Assembly and the House Education Administration and Planning Committee during the 109th and 110th General Assemblies. He also served on the Knox County School Board from 1992 until 1996.

“I’ll remember this day forever,” Brooks said Tuesday. “It’s an honor to see your name added to an educational institution, whether it’s K-12 or a college, and I don’t deserve it. I’m just happy to have been part of a team that made great strides in education in our state, and the future is bright.”

Pellissippi State also held a grand opening for its new cyber defense and welding centers on Tuesday.

Pellissippi State has 80 students enrolled in its Cyber Defense concentration under the Computer Information Technology program. The concentration has added $69,000 worth of equipment and supplies in response to explosive growth from an initial 19 students in fall 2016.

Cyber Defense Program Coordinator Charles Nelson
Cyber Defense instructor Charles Nelson shows off Pellissippi State’s new Cyber Security Operations Center on the college’s Strawberry Plains Campus on Tuesday, Sept. 10. The Harry Brooks Career Education Center also contains Pellissippi State’s MegaLab and welding areas.

Funding was made possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor via the Knoxville area Information Technology and Engineering (KITE) Program, which focuses on removing barriers facing unemployed or underemployed 17- to 29-year-olds in order to obtain middle- and high-skill jobs in the information technology and advanced manufacturing sectors.

“When we were teaching in a general purpose classroom with no dedicated equipment, we were not able to provide the quality or capacity we wanted,” said Cyber Defense instructor Charles Nelson. “This facility provides a digitally safe and secure environment to simulate cyber security scenarios that allow students to explore a wide variety of tools and techniques without interfering with normal campus operations, leaking threats or exposing vulnerabilities outside of the lab space.”

Pellissippi State has 52 students enrolled in its Welding Technology program and has expanded its welding area at the Strawberry Plains Campus by adding 15 booths to the 14 the college already had there. In addition to offering Welding Technology cohorts for Pellissippi State students during the day and in the evenings, the college also is offering three welding classes this semester to high school students in Knox County Schools’ Career Magnet Academy located on the Strawberry Plains Campus.

“These facilities are now available and utilized from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturday mornings for student utilization, open labs and courses,” said Welding Technology Program Coordinator Adam Streich, noting the American Welding Society is predicting a shortage of 450,000 skilled welders by 2022. “Local employers have asked for more student proficiency in alloys, stainless steel and aluminum (so) this expanded space and new equipment allows students to get more time on the skills local employers require.”

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

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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.

Record number of high school students takes classes at Pellissippi State

A record number of high school juniors and seniors have taken college-level classes at Pellissippi State Community College over the past academic year.

The college’s Dual Enrollment program — which allows high school students to take college level classes at their high schools or at Pellissippi State campuses in order to receive dual high school and college credit — had 1,849 students in 2015-2016. The students came from Knox and Blount counties. A record 84 academic sections were offered to those students.

“Dual Enrollment is all about helping students reach their goals,” said Spencer Joy, Dual Enrollment specialist. “We’re proud to reach record enrollment, but we’re prouder that these students are achieving so much. Dual Enrollment students can get a jump-start on their college education, entering college as freshmen who already have credits under their belt.”

A Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation grant pays for students to earn up to six hours of college credit during their junior and senior years of high school, but Dual Enrollment students can take additional classes if they choose, at their own cost.

About 55 percent of Dual Enrollment students take courses on one of Pellissippi State’s five campuses. The remainder take college-level courses at their high schools. A record six high schools registered more than 100 Dual Enrollment students this past year — at Farragut High School (259 students), Bearden High School (236), Hardin Valley Academy (174), Halls High School (133), Maryville High School (113) and Karns High School (110).

Farragut, Bearden, Karns, Alcoa, Central and Gibbs high schools, plus the L&N STEM Academy, set individual records for the numbers of Dual Enrollment students each had enrolled.

For more information about Dual Enrollment, visit www.pstcc.edu/dual or call 865-539-7349. For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

 

Download this press release: Dual Enrollment 2016 Record