Pellissippi State welcomes five female officeholders for Women’s History Month Event

Knoxville’s four city councilwomen and one of Knox County’s two female commissioners will speak at Pellissippi State Community College next week, and the public is invited to attend the free event.

The Women’s History Month Event, spearheaded by a Pellissippi State student, will be held 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Monday, March 25, in the Community Room on the college’s Magnolia Avenue Campus, 1610 E. Magnolia Ave.

Knox County Commissioner Evelyn Gill, who represents the 1st District, will join Knoxville City Councilwomen Stephanie Welch (1st District), Seema Singh-Perez (3rd District), Lauren Rider (4th District) and Gwen McKenzie (6th District) to talk about their individual journeys to success and answer questions from the audience.

“I believe this event will put women in a positive light,” said Detriedah Welsh, a Pellissippi State student who will graduate in May and continue her education at Tennessee State University. “It’s not every day we can meet our council members and commissioners. This is a great opportunity for Pellissippi State students and the community as well.”

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


Rising country music star to perform free concert after manufacturing showcase at Pellissippi State

Courtney Cole in front of the ocean
Rising country music star Courtney Cole will perform a free concert April 10 on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus, as part of Country Music Television’s Empowering Education tour.

Those interested in careers in manufacturing have a chance to learn more about local job opportunities and catch a free concert at Pellissippi State Community College next month.

Pellissippi State is one of four Tennessee community colleges on Country Music Television’s Empowering Education tour featuring rising star Courtney Cole, a Belmont University graduate who has been named one of CMT’s Next Women of Country.

A manufacturing showcase will start at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, in the lobby of Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus, followed by the free concert at 6 p.m. in the campus’ West Chevrolet Auditorium.

Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus is located at 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Friendsville. While the concert is free, tickets are required, as seating is limited.

“We want folks to come out, maybe who have never set foot on our campus, to learn more about the manufacturing careers available right here in our community as well as the manufacturing programs we offer at Pellissippi State,” said Blount County Campus Dean Holly Burkett.

The manufacturing showcase will highlight resources available to students to pursue the initial education and training required to break into a manufacturing career as well as resources available for those who wish to advance their careers with their existing employers, she noted.

Representatives of local companies – including DENSO, Newell Rubbermaid, Cherokee Millwright, Massey Electric, ICC International and Arconic – will be on hand to answer questions, as will representatives from Pellissippi State and Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville, which will inhabit a portion of the new Blount County Workforce Development Center planned for Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus.

The 62,000-square-foot Workforce Development Center, which the college plans to break ground on in December, will include a Smart Factory MegaLab; a Corporate Training Center for training the employees of the college’s more than 30 employer partners; and Pellissippi State programming for computer information technology, culinary arts, industrial maintenance, mechanical engineering technology, and robotics and industrial automation. Meanwhile, TCAT Knoxville will offer machine tool technology, pipe fitting, industrial electrical maintenance and welding and a variety of healthcare programming.

“My excitement is that not only will Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus be able to offer associate degrees, but also these technical trades that the Blount County community needs,” Burkett said, referencing the 5,500 new jobs Blount Partnership has announced since 2011. “Many times our Tennessee Promise scholarship students come to college because they know it’s a great opportunity, but they don’t know what they want to do. Now they can choose to pursue a program that will transfer to a four-year institution or go with one of our many career programs that prepares them to enter the workforce as soon as possible. It’s a total win-win.”

CMT joined forces with TBR – The College System of Tennessee – for the Empowering Education tour in an effort to increase the number of work-ready residents in the state. Those who attend the concert after the manufacturing showcase will hear success stories from two Pellissippi State students and two TCAT Knoxville students as well as from the artist, who is a vocal advocate for education.

“As someone who graduated from college in Tennessee, I am thrilled to be working with CMT and TBR to spread the message of the potential education has to change your life,” said Cole, who has opened for Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesney and Thomas Rhett. “I can’t wait to tour the state, put on a really fun show and encourage people to follow their dreams.”

CMT Empowering Education’s goal is to connect Tennesseans with ways to further their education and develop their skills in order to achieve their dreams. It also supports the state’s “Drive to 55” mission to increase the number of Tennesseans with a post-high-school degree or certificate to 55 percent of the state’s population by 2025. Achieving that goal will require 800,000 more Tennesseans getting the training and skills needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

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


Aerialists, acrobats and other circus artists bring amazing feats to Pellissippi State

Two aerialists and two acrobats perform at Pellissippi State in 2016
Performers with Dragonfly Aerial Arts Studio entertain audiences at Pellissippi State during the annual Circus Extravaganza in 2016.

Knoxville’s own Dragonfly Aerial Arts Studio brings its 8th Annual Circus Extravaganza to Pellissippi State Community College next week in a show designed to appeal to all ages.

Titled “Dominion” this year, the Circus Extravaganza will include about 40 performers – a mix of professionals, teachers and students – entertaining audiences through aerial arts, acrobatics, stilt walking and more.

“People love the shows,” said Jake Weinstein, who is directing the Circus Extravaganza and is on the management team of Dragonfly Aerial Arts Studio. “It’s very family-friendly, story-centered and thought-provoking. With spectacles, amazing feats and humor, there is something that appeals to everybody.”

Four shows will be offered this year at Pellissippi State’s Clayton Performing Arts Center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road:

  • 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 22 and 23; and
  • 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 23 and 24.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children and seniors. All proceeds benefit circus classes for at-risk youth.

“From the beginning, the Circus Extravaganza has supported our scholarship fund that helps at-risk youth and underserved groups attend circus classes and summer camps,” Weinstein said. “We also do circus work in the community.”

The Circus Extravaganza is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State. For more information on upcoming visual arts, theatre and music events, as well the Faculty Lecture Series, at Pellissippi State, visit

To request accommodations for a disability for this event, call 865-539-7401 or email

For more information about Dragonfly Aerial Arts Studio, visit or contact Weinstein at 203-843-7444 or


Explore your genealogy at free workshop at Pellissippi State’s Magnolia Avenue Campus

Members of the community who want to learn how to pursue their genealogy have a unique opportunity this week, as Pellissippi State Community College offers a free workshop on its Magnolia Avenue Campus.

The event, led by community members Alice Greene and Harold Hicks, will be held noon-2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, in Magnolia Avenue Campus Room 123, 1610 E. Magnolia Ave.

Greene, who was born in Washington, D.C., learned about her maternal family from her mother and at family reunions beginning in 1962. She completed her first family pedigree chart in 1987 and disseminated it to family members. Since then she has researched her family history in Washington, D.C., Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and in the largest genealogy library in the world, which is located in Salt Lake City, Utah. She plans to write a book on her family research.

Hicks has researched his family since the early 1980s. He became interested in researching his family’s past after listening to his second cousin share family history as relayed to her from her grandmother. Hicks discovered that his family’s roots date to 1824, starting with his great-grandfather on a Lynchburg, Va., plantation. The Hicks family later traveled through Baltimore, Md., and Newport, Rhode Island. Hicks’ research has uncovered more than 3,800 relatives.

While the genealogy workshop is free, space is limited. Call the Magnolia Avenue Campus at 865-329-3100 to reserve a space. To request accommodations for a disability for this event, call 865-539-7401 or email

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400.


Folk singers trace path to freedom from slavery through civil rights movement

Rhonda and Sparky Rucker performing on banjo and guitar
Folk musicians Rhonda and Sparky Rucker will perform at Pellissippi State on Thursday, Feb. 21.

Pellissippi State Community College will celebrate World Day of Social Justice through music and song with internationally known musicians, storytellers and authors Sparky and Rhonda Rucker.

Sparky and Rhonda’s “Let Freedom Ring” performance will be held 10:45 a.m.-12:05 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The event is free and open to the public.

Sparky and Rhonda’s program at Pellissippi State will demonstrate how movements for justice have produced some of our country’s most inspiring songs and stories. They will trace the nation’s struggles from slavery and the Underground Railroad through the battles for women’s suffrage and workers’ rights and into the civil rights movement.

“As a social worker by training, I’ve been involved is social justice work for over 30 years, and I’ve always been amazed at how artists can utilize their works to reflect the time,” said Drema Bowers, director of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement for Pellissippi State. “That is especially true of musicians. Although I’ve only heard the Ruckers perform once, it made a lasting impression and I want others to share this experience.”

Sparky Rucker grew up in Knoxville and has been involved with the civil rights movement since the 1950s. He got his start in folk music during the movement, marching shoulder-to-shoulder with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Freedom Singers Matthew and Marshall Jones and playing freedom songs at rallies alongside such luminaries as Guy and Candie Carawan, Pete Seeger and Bernice Reagon. In addition, he worked for the Poor People’s Campaign and helped to gain benefits for coal miners in Southern Appalachia. Sparky accompanies himself on guitar, banjo and spoons.

Rhonda Hicks Rucker practiced medicine for five years in Maryville, Tenn., before becoming a full-time musician, author and storyteller. She is a versatile singer and performer, playing blues harmonica, piano, clawhammer banjo and rhythmic bones. Rhonda has become a passionate voice in social and environmental advocacy through her songwriting, creating moving songs about topics such as global warming, the broken health care system and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Sparky and Rhonda are world-renowned performers, and we are fortunate to have them here in our area,” Bowers said. “It would be a shame not to take advantage of this opportunity to journey through time with them.”

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


Benefit performances of “The Vagina Monologues” to help victims of violence

Oil panting by Jennifer Brickey
“Private Places,” an oil on canvas painting by Jennifer Brickey, an associate professor of studio art and art history at Pellissippi State, is being used to help advertise the upcoming benefit performances of “The Vagina Monologues” at the college.

Pellissippi State Community College is using art to bring awareness of violence against women with two theatre performances that benefit the Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee.

Women faculty and students will perform a staged reading of Eve Ensler’s play, “The Vagina Monologues,” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road, and at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, in the West Chevrolet Auditorium on the college’s Blount County Campus, 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Friendsville.

A $10 donation is suggested at the door, as the performances are part of V-Day, a global activist moment to end violence against all women and girls. However, Associate Professor Grechen Wingerter said Pellissippi State will turn no one away because the messages in the play are powerful.

“Women in all walks of life have been affected by violence,” said Wingerter, who is directing both performances at Pellissippi State. “If we haven’t experienced violence personally, we know someone who has.”

“The Vagina Monologues,” which debuted in 1996, broke new ground. Based on dozens of interviews Ensler conducted with women, the play addresses women’s sexuality and the social stigma surrounding rape and abuse. After every performance, Ensler found women waiting to share their own stories of survival, leading Ensler and a group of women to establish in 1998 the nonprofit V-Day, which stages benefit performances of “The Vagina Monologues” and “A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer: Writings to Stop Violence Against Women and Girls,” also by Ensler, every February.

To date, the V-Day movement has raised more than $100 million and funded more than 13,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Indian Country and Iraq, according to the V-Day website.

“All our readers are women or identify as women because these are all real stories from real women,” Wingerter noted. “These are stories of women who have not had power. In some situations, women are considered second-class citizens. Race, gender, sexuality, religion – all of that plays a part. And we will keep telling these stories until the violence stops.”

Wingerter warns that “The Vagina Monologues” is an adult-oriented show that tries to break the taboo of talking about women’s bodies. Parental discretion is advised.

“Some of these stories have tough language, and some have tough subject matter,” she said. “We say the word ‘vagina’ a lot, as well as its many euphemisms. You may be uncomfortable. Our readers may be uncomfortable. But we have to learn not to be afraid to say the word ‘vagina.’”

While the issues are serious, some stories have taken a comedic or light-hearted approach, leading to moments of laughter that allows audiences to let some of that tension go, Wingerter added.

“I hope both our students who are participating and those who come to see the play will take away that their voices matter, that their experiences matter,” she said. “Let’s look at how often those in the minority are told that their voices are not important. ‘The Vagina Monologues’ empowers women to speak out, that there are people who will listen.”

A talk-back session will be held after each performance, allowing those in the audience and the readers to discuss what they’ve seen and heard, as well as their own experiences.

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


Pellissippi State hosts play about Underground Railroad

Poster for "Oh Freedom"
Pellissippi State will host “Oh Freedom! The Story of the Underground Railroad” on two of its campuses this month.

Pellissippi State Community College will host free performances of “Oh Freedom! The Story of the Underground Railroad” on two of its campuses this month, and the public is invited.

The one-act play will be performed by The WordPlayers at 12:25 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, at the college’s Magnolia Avenue Campus, 1610 E. Magnolia Ave., Knoxville, and at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, at the college’s Blount County Campus, 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Friendsville.

Each performance is approximately 50 minutes.

Written by Peter Manos, “Oh Freedom! The Story of the Underground Railroad” combines the stories of the men and women who were active in the fight against slavery with songs of the period, according to a description on The WordPlayers’ website. Famous participants like Harriet Tubman and Harriet Beecher Stowe are represented, but so are lesser known heroes of the movement like John Rankin, whose house on a hill above the Ohio River was a beacon for freedom for many escaping bondage; the mysterious “Peg Leg” Joe, who moved among the plantations teaching slaves to escape and “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” a song designed to show them the way; and Henry “Box” Brown, who had himself put in a box and mailed to freedom by general post.

“Knowledge about our American history, on all levels, is extremely important,” said Magnolia Avenue Campus Dean Rosalyn Tillman and Blount County Campus Dean Holly Burkett in a joint statement. “Sharing this knowledge in this entertaining way enlightens our students and our community about this history.”

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


K-12 educators invited to teaching conference keynote at Pellissippi State

Alan November
Alan November will give a keynote presentation on “Transforming the Culture of Teaching and Learning” on Jan. 11, and K-12 educators are invited.

An international leader in educational technology is coming to Pellissippi State Community College in January, and K-12 teachers are invited to attend his keynote presentation.

Alan November, named one of the nation’s 15 most influential thinkers of the decade by Tech & Learning magazine, will be at Pellissippi State for a Teaching and Learning Conference sponsored by the Pellissippi Academic Center for Excellence (PACE) and Mobile Fellows Program.

November’s keynote, “Transforming the Culture of Teaching and Learning,” will be held 8:30-10:15 a.m. Jan. 11 in the Goins Building Auditorium on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville.

“Alan November will be discussing current and past ideas circulating on using technology in the classroom,” said Pellissippi State Chemistry Assistant Professor Rachel Glazener, PACE Faculty Fellow for Mobile and Emerging Technology. “Do not let the technology aspect scare you; rather, the conference is focused on a way of thinking about how to harness technology to help our students own their learning.”

November’s keynote will explore how the design of an assignment can move students from simply regurgitating learning material to being critical thinkers and applying the learned material. He also will delve into how forming a global network can increase collaboration not only inside the classroom, but outside of the classroom as well.

“Forming a learning network can move students to become empowered in their own learning, can help the learning become visible and can expand student’s communication in their field outside of the classroom,” November said.

The keynote is free, but teachers are asked to register at by Dec. 14 because space is limited.

For more information, contact Glazener at To request accommodations for a disability for this event, call 865-539-7401 or email

Pellissippi State shares resources with students during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week

Forty-one Pellissippi State Community College students receive food every two weeks from the Pellissippi Pantry, a free service that is helping feed not only these students, but 127 family members.

The College is using Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, Nov. 12-18, to make sure all students across Pellissippi State’s five campuses are aware of the resources available to them.

“Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is purposely the week before Thanksgiving so that we can think about the bountiful meal most of us will be enjoying and realize that not everybody has that,” said Drema Bowers, director of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement at Pellissippi State. “Among our goals is to share the definitions of food insecurity and housing insecurity, as we are working hard to address these issues at Pellissippi State.”

The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice’s 2017 #RealCollege survey of basic needs in higher education, released in April 2018, shows 42 percent of respondents at community colleges across the country had faced food insecurity in the past month while 46 percent had faced housing insecurity in the past year.

“My colleague Sandra Davis and I went to #RealCollege, a national conference on food and housing insecurity, in September, and we came back with a greater desire to make sure we are doing all that we can do,” Bowers said. “We’ve got our Pellissippi Pantry and our Hardin Valley Campus Garden, which grows produce for the Pantry, but what else would help our students?”

The Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week events will help Pellissippi State identify how the College could be more proactive in meeting students’ food needs, in particular.

A Student Voice Survey is set for 10:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, on the Strawberry Plains Campus and 10:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, on the Blount County Campus.

“We want to find out if students know about the Pellissippi Pantry, whether they are willing to utilize our services, and why or why not,” Bowers explained. “We also want to ask them what they would like to see in a pantry.”

To help identify the kinds of foods students would eat, Bowers and Davis will ask students to choose between two bags of food. Bowers, who has three children who are young adults, has a theory about why Pellissippi State students at the Strawberry Plains and Blount County campuses do not use the Pellissippi Pantry as often as students at the college’s other three campuses: the students at those two campuses tend to be fresh out of high school.

“Right now we have a lot of food like corn, green beans, peas – things you’d find in your mom’s pantry,” she said. “I think if we provided foods that are easier to fix – microwavable meals, single-serving-sized cereals – that we would have more traditional-age students utilize the Pellissippi Pantry.”

Other Pellissippi State events planned for Hunger and Homelessness Week include:

  • Monday, Nov. 12: “Soup, Salad and Solutions,” a panel discussion featuring Bowers, Andy Buckner of Helen Ross McNabb Center’s runaway and homeless youth programming, Shawn Griffith of the Homeless Youth Council, and Ross Jones of Knoxville Dream Center. The discussion will be held 11:50 a.m.-12:45 p.m. in the Cafeteria Annex on the Hardin Valley Campus and, while this event is free and lunch is provided, those interested should RSVP to by Nov. 8.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 14: #WisdomWednesday, an opportunity to drop by the Division Street Campus 10-11:30 a.m. to learn more about food and housing insecurity among college students and identify ways you can make a positive impact.
  • Friday, Nov. 16: Bowers will speak at the monthly Homeless Youth Council meeting 9-10 a.m. at the L.T. Ross Building, 2247 Western Ave., to share ways Pellissippi State is addressing food and housing insecurity among college students and to give an overview of the #RealCollege conference.
  • Saturday, Nov. 17: Bowers and Davis will create a Pop-Up Pantry at the Magnolia Avenue Campus to introduce Weekend College students to the Pellissippi Pantry and Hardin Valley Campus Garden – and to ask Weekend College students how Pellissippi State could better serve them.

For more information on Pellissippi State, visit or call 865.694.6400.

To request accommodations for the events on Nov. 12 and 14, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or


Pellissippi State faculty explore World War I’s legacy on Armistice centennial

Pellissippi State Community College will mark the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I with a symposium covering seven topics, from poetry to propaganda.

“The Great War: One Hundred Years Later” will be held 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, in the Goins Building Auditorium on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The symposium, which includes seven 30-minute lectures by Pellissippi State faculty of different disciplines, is free and open to the public.

“This gives us an opportunity to present some research outside of our classrooms,” said symposium organizer Nathan Pavalko, an assistant professor of history who specializes in modern U.S. history and the Cold War. “I like to try to bring history topics outside the classroom, and I wanted to make this as interdisciplinary as possible. We have art, English and history represented.”

The symposium schedule includes:

  • 10-10:30 a.m.: The Great War and the end of the Long Nineteenth Century, presented by Harry Whiteside
  • 10:30-11 a.m.: Russian Propaganda, presented by YuLiya Kalnaus
  • 11-11:30 a.m.: Poets of the Great War, presented by Brigette McCray
  • 11:30 a.m.-noon: Versailles Treaty and 100 Years Later, presented by Pavalko
  • Noon-12:30 p.m. World War I and the Women Who Waged It, presented by Josh Durbin
  • 12:30-1 p.m.: The Great War and German Expressionism, presented by Herb Rieth
  • 1-1:30 p.m.: War Crimes of World War I, presented by Alison Vick

World War I left quite a legacy, Pavalko said.

“The world we live in today probably would not exist, politically and culturally, had World War I not happened,” he noted. “World War I creates the modern concept of what war is. It’s not heroic. It’s not some grand adventure. It’s sheer brutality, and that is what shocks people into rethinking what war is.”

World War I can serve as a cautionary tale even today, Pavalko added.

“One of the overarching thoughts before the war, especially in Europe, was, ‘We’ll never have another war because we are so civilized, technologically advanced and diplomatic,’” he explained. “We should learn not to underestimate the horribleness of humanity.”

For more information on Pellissippi State, visit the website at or call 865.694.6400. To request accommodations for this event, call 865-539-7401 or email