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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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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Pellissippi State offers COVID-19 vaccines at on-campus health fair, open to community

Pax and Nursing student
Pellissippi State Nursing adjunct instructor Pakesta Washington and the college’s panther mascot, Pax, 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.

Still need a COVID-19 vaccine? Pellissippi State Community College will offer free vaccinations, no appointment necessary, at a walk-in Vaccinate and Educate Fair on its Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.  

Mark your calendars now for the health fair, which will be held noon-4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 30, outside the Bagwell Center for Media and Art. Pellissippi State Nursing faculty and students will be administering both the two-dose Pfizer and one-dose Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccines, courtesy of Winbigler Medical.  

Pellissippi State is offering Pfizer as an option so that children ages 12-17 may be vaccinated, so bring the whole family. Those who choose the Pfizer vaccine will be scheduled for their second dose of the vaccine noon-2:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, also on the Hardin Valley Campus. 

Pellissippi State is working with the nonprofit Faith Leaders Initiative and New Directions Healthcare to offer a fair not only for faculty, staff and students, but also for the community after seeing the success of a similar event at the YWCA Phyllis Wheatley Center in East Knoxville this summer. 

“Pellissippi State and New Directions Healthcare wanted to offer this fair to help the public understand the COVID-19 virus, encourage vaccination and answer questions for students, faculty, staff and our neighbors,” said Angela Lunsford, dean of Nursing for Pellissippi State. “With the Delta variant now showing up in Tennessee, we want to stress the importance of vaccination. COVID-19 is never going away, and we must protect our community by increasing the number of vaccinated people. Wearing masks for the rest of our lives is not the answer; getting vaccinated is the answer to this now endemic virus.” 

Education stations staffed by Pellissippi State Nursing faculty and students 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. 

The event will have the feel, however, of a celebration, with free popcorn, cotton candy and snow cones available for the entire family. 

For more information about the Vaccinate and Educate fair, contact Cynthia J. Finch of the Faith Leaders Initiative at 865-254-4793 or CONNECT Ministries at 865-851-8005. 

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Centro Hispano and Pellissippi State partner for open house on Division Street Campus

Division Street campus exterior
Centro Hispano and Pellissippi State invite the community to an open house 3-7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 19, to check out the nonprofit’s new space on the college’s Division Street Campus, 3435 Division Street, Knoxville.

Centro Hispano, the leading resource for and about East Tennessee’s Latino community, is expanding its services onto Pellissippi State Community College’s Division Street Campus. 

Centro Hispano and Pellissippi State invite the community to an open house 3-7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 19, to check out the nonprofit’s new space. Pellissippi State’s Division Street Campus is located at 3435 Division Street, Knoxville. 

The open house will include music, food and tours of the coeducational space, which includes not only classrooms for Centro Hispano students to receive instruction from Centro Hispano staff and volunteers, but also a dedicated classroom for children of Centro Hispano students as Centro Hispano and Pellissippi State seek to serve entire families. 

“This collaboration is vital because it paves the road for so many Latino adults and their families to become acquainted with spaces of higher education,” said Centro Hispano President and CEO Claudia Caballero, who is Honduran-American. “We want people to see the pathway to higher education and have the opportunities to build relationships with staff at Pellissippi State.” 

Caballero added that moving Centro Hispano classes onto the Division Street Campus also can help foster a sense of belonging by taking the unknown out of Pellissippi State. 

“We want to walk into these spaces and see ourselves [Latinos] here,” she said. “We are home in East Tennessee, and we want to feel a sense of belonging here at Pellissippi State.” 

Pellissippi State’s mission is to provide a transformative environment fostering the academic, social, economic and cultural enrichment of the individual and the community. That mission is guided by a set of institutional values including Community and Civic Engagement and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

Pellissippi State’s partnership with Centro Hispano was underway before the pandemic. The Division Street Campus has been closed since March 2020, but will reopen on Aug. 2, said Division Street Dean Esther Dyer. 

“At Pellissippi State, we take our obligation to serve our community to heart,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “This partnership with Centro Hispano allows us to serve a growing Latino population by providing new opportunities for learning on our Division Street Campus and by illuminating new pathways to postsecondary education. I can’t wait for these classes to begin in a few weeks.” 

By providing Centro Hispano with a larger learning space, Pellissippi State can help Centro Hispano provide not only workforce development classes for the Latino community, but also children’s programs. 

“A Centro team member has always wanted a post-secondary degree, but life, raising children and working a full-time job made it seem impossible to achieve,” Caballero said. “Because of this partnership with Pellissippi State, she can do it all. Her story reflects that of many, and we hope that this project serves as a model for other communities across the Southeast.” 

Classes will begin in Centro Hispano’s new space the week of Aug. 23. For more information on Centro Hispano programs at Pellissippi State, contact info@centrohispanotn.org or call 865-522-0052. 

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East Knoxville, Pellissippi State celebrate longtime Magnolia Avenue Campus Dean Rosalyn Tillman

Retired Magnolia Avenue Campus Dean Rosalyn Tillman, center, with the sign naming the campus courtyard in her honor June 30, 2021
Longtime Magnolia Avenue Campus Dean Rosalyn Tillman, center, stands in the campus courtyard that was named in her honor at a retirement celebration June 30, 2021. Celebrating with her are, from left, her husband, Sheadrick Tillman IV; Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr.; Tillman’s sister, Barbara Phinisee; Tillman; Tillman’s daughter Danielle Tillman; Vice President for Student Affairs Rushton Johnson; Tillman’s daughter Nichole Tillman Carter; and, in front, Tillman’s grandson, Xavier Carter.

The East Knoxville and Pellissippi State Community College communities came together Wednesday, June 30, to honor Rosalyn Tillman, dean of the college’s Magnolia Avenue Campus from when it opened in 2000 until her retirement this spring. 

“A magnificent leader and community influencer,” “one of the pillars and matriarchs of our community,” “a role model,” “a woman of integrity and standards” and “an advocate” were among the words speakers used to describe Tillman at the retirement celebration, held at the Magnolia Avenue Campus. They remembered her tenacity and commitment to making the Magnolia Avenue Campus, the fourth of Pellissippi State’s campuses, a “gleaming institution” for the community. 

“Dean Tillman set a standard for what she wanted this campus to be,” said Phyllis Nichols, president and CEO of Knoxville Area Urban League. “We were not going to be a site sister in East Knoxville. We were going to be a shining example on Magnolia. … The students were going to be proud to walk in these doors.” 

Originally from Chicago, where she taught elementary and middle school, Tillman began her career at Pellissippi State as a math instructor in August 1991 and later served as program coordinator for developmental math, attaining the rank of associate professor of Mathematics. When Pellissippi State purchased the former Knoxville Catholic High School building on Magnolia Avenue, Tillman became the new campus’ first – and only – dean. 

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

Not only did Tillman make sure the students who attended the Magnolia Avenue Campus had the same resources and opportunities as those who attended the college’s other campuses, Tillman made sure students knew they could succeed. 

Jan Sharp, now director of Pellissippi State’s Academic Support Center, reflected on what it was like to be a nontraditional, first-generation student at the Magnolia Avenue Campus in spring 2005 with four children at home. 

“On my first day, Rosalyn Tillman comes in with a group of faculty members, and they’re all dressed in full regalia,” Sharp said. “The point of her coming in dressed in that attire was to prove to us that (1) if we work hard enough, graduation was just right around the corner; (2) nothing was going to be handed to us; and (3) we should always ask for help if we need it. … She told us where her office was and to come get her anytime we needed to talk or if we needed assistance with anything. If we couldn’t find something, she would walk us to where we needed to go. And I really looked up to her for that.” 

Tillman remembered a nail technician who came to her office 30 minutes into her first class, complaining, “I can’t do this. I’m too old.” Tillman talked to her, and the student ended up going on to get her degree in education. 

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

Longtime Magnolia Avenue Campus Dean Rosalyn Tillman addresses the crowd at her retirement celebration June 30, 2021
Longtime Magnolia Avenue Campus Dean Rosalyn Tillman addresses the crowd at her retirement celebration June 30, 2021. Tillman served as dean of Pellissippi State’s Magnolia Avenue Campus from the time it opened in 2000 until her retirement this spring.

In addition to serving as dean at the Magnolia Avenue Campus, Tillman served as Pellissippi State coordinator for Project GRAD Knoxville, which brings Austin-East and Fulton high school students to campus each summer to offer students a glimpse of college life. The program has helped boost the average high school graduation rate for Austin-East and Fulton students from 50% to 83%.  

“We give them all kinds of experiences they wouldn’t ordinarily have so that they will think, ‘I can do that,'” Tillman explained. “When they get back (to high school), school isn’t ho-hum. It changes attitudes.” 

Just under 3,000 students have participated in the Project GRAD summer institute under Tillman’s guidance and direction, said Tanisha Fitzgerald-Baker, program and analytics director for Project GRAD. 

“Dean Tillman is so committed and dedicated to the outcome and excellence of our students,” Fitzgerald-Baker said. “The expectations are very rigid, and now right under 3,000 students understand what they can be, where they can be and how they’re going to do it. 

“Even though you try to be behind the scenes, it’s very hard to dim a light meant to shine as bright as you,” she added, to a chorus of “Amen!” from the audience. 

The Rev. Renee Kesler, president and CEO of Beck Cultural Exchange Center, agreed, noting she has lived in the community her entire life and knows the area “like the back of my hand.” 

“You lit up something,” Kesler said to Tillman. “There was some darkness, but you brought the light.” 

Kesler compared Tillman to an unnamed wise woman in the Bible who uses her voice to stand up for her community and save her city from destruction in 2 Samuel. 

“She said, ‘Let me handle this,’ but she didn’t do it by herself – she knew she couldn’t,” Kesler said. “A wise woman knows that if I’m going to be great, I have to surround myself with other great people. And the Bible says she went back to the people, and she had a collaboration meeting. And that’s who you are: the collaborator. You know to bring people together to get it done.” 

Longtime Magnolia Avenue Dean Rosalyn Tillman with her administrative assistant, Patti Rogers
Newly retired Magnolia Avenue Campus Dean Rosalyn Tillman takes a moment with her longtime administrative assistant Patti Rogers at a celebration June 30, 2021. Rogers spoke on behalf of the Magnolia Avenue Campus faculty and staff that Tillman led for 21 years.

Not only will Tillman be honored with a memorial brick at the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. unveiled Wednesday a sign naming the Magnolia Avenue Campus courtyard in her honor. 

“You sought so many ways to connect the college to the community and the community to the college,” he said. “Not only are we naming the courtyard in your honor, but we will be renovating it and making it accessible to the whole community as a teaching space and learning space. Thank you for giving us your very best.” 

Tillman, who prefers to stay out of the limelight, humbly shared her successes at the Magnolia Avenue Campus with her small but dedicated staff and called her work for Pellissippi State not only her pleasure, but also her passion. 

“I just want to be remembered that I did some good for somebody,” she said. 

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Pellissippi State Motorsports finishes sixth in national competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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