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 www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.


Audition-based Honors Recital gives Pellissippi State students chance to shine

Pellissippi State Community College students who complement their studies through private music instruction will have a chance to share their work with the community at the college’s Honors Recital.

The concert, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

“The Honors Recital highlights students who are (receiving) private instruction in voice or an instrument,” explained Associate Professor Peggy Hinkle, who serves as music program coordinator for Pellissippi State.

Students had to audition for the Honors Recital, she noted. Four music professionals from the community served as judges and selected 16 performers for the Honors Recital – vocalists, pianists, and musicians playing trumpet, guitar, marimba, bass clarinet and trombone.

The Honors Recital is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State. For more information on upcoming visual arts, theatre and music events, as well as the Faculty Lecture Series, at Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts.

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


Pellissippi State’s Winter Choral Concert welcomes Clinton High School Advanced Choir as special guests

Choral Director Meagan L. Humphreys conducts Pellissippi State choral students during the Fall Choral Concert on Oct. 18, 2018.
Choral Director Meagan L. Humphreys conducts Pellissippi State choral students during the Fall Choral Concert on Oct. 18, 2018.

More than 115 college and high school students will have an opportunity to show off their vocal talent this week in Pellissippi State Community College’s Winter Choral Concert.

The performance, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

This year’s Winter Choral Concert will feature three choirs: Pellissippi State’s Variations and Concert Chorale as well as special guests, the Clinton High School Advanced Choir.

“This concert is a wonderful opportunity to share our stage with a local high school choir,” said Pellissippi State Choral Director Meagan L. Humphreys, noting the college has a couple of Clinton High School alumni in its music program. “This is a great way for high school students to get know about our music program here, and it also provides a really great performance venue for them.”

The Winter Choral Concert will feature music from a wide variety of genres, Humphreys noted – from classical to contemporary, from sacred to secular. Pellissippi State students will sing selections in English, Italian and Latin, Humphreys added, while Clinton High School students, led by Choral Director McCall Bohanan, will perform a piece based off a traditional Sioux Indian chant.

The Winter Choral Concert 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 www.pstcc.edu/arts.

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


Annual exhibition gives Pellissippi State photography students a chance to shine

Photo of a student in a black hoodie on a city street
This photo, taken by Pellissippi State student Nathanial Dault, is one of the images that will be on display Feb. 25-March 15 in the Annual Photography Student Exhibition on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus.

Photography students at Pellissippi State Community College will have an opportunity to show some of their best images in an exhibition Feb. 25-March 15.

The Annual Photography Student Exhibition, part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, will be on display in the Bagwell Center for Media and Art Gallery on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The gallery is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, and the exhibition is free and open to the public.

“For a lot of our students, they’ve never been in a show in a gallery, so this gives them that experience,” said Professor Kurt Eslick, who will be curating the images for the exhibition with Associate Professor Ronald Goodrich, the program coordinator for Photography at Pellissippi State. “It’s a chance for them and their families to see their work on the wall. I love seeing families being very proud of their kids for having a picture in a gallery. It reminds you of what a big deal it is to have your work shown.”

The exhibition is open to any Pellissippi State student who has taken or is currently enrolled in Photography 2.

“There is no theme, but the exhibition is comprised of images that the students are really proud of,” Eslick explained, noting the show is not a competition. “This show lets us tell our students in a different way how proud we are of them, and it also lets the community know we’re proud of these photographs and of the people who took them.”

For more information on upcoming visual arts, theatre and music events, as well the Faculty Lecture Series, at Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts.


Pellissippi State responds to cybersecurity incident

Pellissippi State Community College has notified 222 current and former students that their personally identifiable information may have been compromised when an unauthorized user accessed a college email address Jan. 9.

“The incident was limited to one general institutional email account and to a small population of individuals who had sent information to that account,” said Audrey Williams, Pellissippi State’s vice president for Information Services. “Pellissippi State believes this is an isolated incident, and it does not appear that any data have been disseminated to other people or sources.”

An investigation showed that of 1,800 emails in the account that was accessed by an unauthorized user, 222 contained sensitive information such as first name, last name, Pellissippi State username, student identification number, date of birth, driver’s license number and/or partial or full social security number.

“While we cannot confirm that data was viewed or copied from the account, we wanted to let you know about this incident out of an abundance of caution,” Williams wrote in the letter that was mailed to affected current and former students.

Although Pellissippi State immediately made changes to safeguard the email account that was compromised, the college is going a step further by offering the affected individuals credit monitoring and identity protection services for 12 months at no cost to them.

Pellissippi State recommends those affected place a fraud alert on their credit files and check their credit reports every three months for the next year, even if they do not find any signs of fraud on their reports.

“At Pellissippi State, we value everyone’s privacy,” Williams said. “We take this event, and the security of our information, very seriously. We are reviewing our policies and procedures to better protect against an event like this happening again in the future.”

The Tennessee Board of Regents, the State of Tennessee Department of Treasury and the United States Department of Education all have been notified, she added, and Pellissippi State continues to monitor the college’s network and accounts.

Those with additional questions should visit www.pstcc.edu/records/datafaq.

Pellissippi State sign language students bring ‘Toy Story’-themed lessons, donate bikes to Tennessee School for the Deaf

Two students at Tennessee School for the Deaf hug Pellissippi State ASL, Please! club president Stephen Roberts after seeing the bicycles the college students donated.
Two Tennessee School for the Deaf students hug Pellissippi State ASL, Please! president Stephen Roberts after the club presented the children with bicycles on Dec. 11, 2018.

Pellissippi State Community College students brought holiday cheer – and 45 bikes – to Tennessee School for the Deaf this month, as Gay Baker’s American Sign Language classes led two days of “Toy Story”-themed activities for TSD elementary and middle schoolers.

“This is a perfect partnership,” said Sue Ivey, dean of students for TSD’s middle and high schools. “Gay’s students get real live experience with deaf students, and they always bring activities that are educational, age appropriate and fun. The students don’t even know that they’re learning!”

“This is their final project, which is why it falls during finals week,” explained Baker, who has been teaching ASL at Pellissippi State since January 1998. “It stresses team building and collaboration effort, and it exposes them to authentic experiences with deaf students.”

On Dec. 10, Pellissippi State students presented a “Toy Story”-inspired play for the TSD students; introduced them to deaf role models such as cowboy Clint Thomas, who graduated from Georgia School for the Deaf; and guided them through rodeo/carnival games inspired by the “Toy Story” character Woody, tossing toy snakes into boots and “shooting out” tin cans with Nerf guns.

Activities on Dec. 11 centered around the “Toy Story” character Buzz Lightyear and Pellissippi State’s Common Academic Experience theme of “Inner Space | Outer Space.” TSD students learned about deaf #StudentAstronaut winner Julia Velasquez, deaf NASA engineer Johanna Lucht and the deaf college students, known as the Gallaudet Eleven, who helped NASA understand the effects of gravitational changes on the human body.

Tennessee School for the Deaf students play planet Twister.
Tennessee School for the Deaf students play planet Twister in one of eight learning stations set up for them by Pellissippi State American Sign Language students on Dec. 11, 2018.

Afterwards TSD students moved through eight learning stations with games such as planet Twister and Comet Ball, a riff on Dodge Ball, and activities like playing the board game Operation while wearing space gloves or taking a turn on an inversion table to mimic the motion sickness some experience in space.

“This has been really good, really fun,” signed TSD eighth grader Lizzie Parker. “There have been lots of things to do, like tasting different kinds of space food that an astronaut would eat. I really liked it.”

Seventh grader Teya Stafford signed that she liked learning about constellations and then getting to create her own while sixth grader Shequita Morris signed that she liked learning about Mars.

“We learned how to make rockets, too,” Morris signed, indicating the propulsion station where students mixed vinegar and baking soda in plastic bottles. “I learned all about space and the different planets and black holes.”

At the end of the night, TSD students gathered outside to watch Pellissippi State students launch a small rocket, but that wasn’t the biggest surprise the college students had in store for them. Pellissippi State’s ASL, Please! club presented each residential elementary and middle school student with a bicycle to keep on the TSD campus.

“Every year they ask us what we need,” Ivey explained, noting Pellissippi State’s ASL students have provided everything from lotion, toothbrushes and toothpaste for the students to larger items such as winter coats and beanbag chairs for the student union. “This year we requested bikes because we’re starting a bike club, and when we did an inventory last spring, our bikes here are in terrible shape.”

An American Sign Language student at Pellissippi State rides in on one of the bikes the college's ASL, Please! club had donated to Tennessee School for the Deaf.
Pellissippi State’s American Sign Language students surprise Tennessee School for the Deaf students on Dec. 11, 2018, by riding in on the 45 bikes the college’s ASL, Please! club donated to TSD so that the school can start a bike club.

The ASL, Please! club gathered 45 bikes: 20 donated by Kickstand Community Bike Shop, six donated by DreamBikes and 19 donated by community members who responded to a post by a student’s mother in a neighborhood Facebook group. The Epilepsy Foundation of East Tennessee chipped in 45 helmets.

“Our club has been working really hard for you guys for this special surprise,” Baker signed to the anxiously awaiting children before the Pellissippi State students rode in on the bikes to shocked expressions and excited cheers. One TSD student jumped right up and hugged ASL, Please! President Stephen Roberts, who has been leading mission trips to a deaf village in Jamaica for four years.

“This has been amazing,” said Pellissippi State student Brandon Owens, who is majoring in interpretation. “I always think it can’t get any more fun, but it does. Interpreting was not my original major, but I just fell in love with the ASL classes and with this community.”

This was Pellissippi State student Lucille Wright’s first experience with TSD.

“This has been fascinating because I’ve never been around deaf kids before,” she said. “They are all so happy to have us and willing to help. We’re in ASL I so they actually are helping us learn.”

Sue Ivey of Tennessee School for the Deaf and Gay Baker of Pellissippi State embrace after presenting TSD students with bicycles
Sue Ivey, dean of students for Tennessee School for the Deaf’s middle and high schools, and Gay Baker, American Sign Language instructor at Pellissippi State, embrace after Pellissippi State’s American Sign Language students presented TSD students with 45 bicycles and helmets on Dec. 11, 2018.

Indeed, Baker stressed that the interaction with the deaf community is one of the most important things Pellissippi State students take away from their ASL classes.

“One of the most vital things about the final project at TSD is that it gives our ASL students exposure to one of our country’s indigenous languages as well as another culture,” she says. “ASL helps our students be aware of accessibility, equality and diversity.”

And that pays off for their futures, Ivey noted.

“A lot of Pellissippi State students have become teachers here, and some are now in administration, having worked their way up,” she said. “Pellissippi State ASL students become some of our most well-rounded employees because they understand deaf culture and the importance of the language.”

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. For more photos of the Dec. 11 event at TSD, see the photo gallery below. Clicking on any of the photos in this story or in the gallery will lead you to high-resolution versions that can be downloaded for your use.



Pellissippi State hosts inaugural intercollegiate art exhibit

A work of art that will be on display at the Inaugural Intercollegiate Juried Student Exhibition at Pellissippi State
“Untitled,” a painting by Grace Wright of Chattanooga State Community College.

Community college students from across the state will have their art work displayed at Pellissippi State Community College in the first show of its kind.

The Inaugural Tennessee Intercollegiate Juried Student Exhibition will be on display Nov. 19-Dec. 7 in the Bagwell Center for Media and Art Gallery on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and the exhibition is free and open to the public.

“We at Pellissippi State and Tennessee’s community colleges believe strongly in our students, and that’s why we are teaching at a community college,” said Herbert Rieth, associate professor of art. “We bend over backwards to help their needs and pave their way to a four-year college.”

Rieth and Nathanial Smyth, art faculty and department chair at Volunteer State Community College, had the idea for an intercollegiate juried student exhibition at a conference a couple of years ago, Rieth explained.

“Being community colleges, there is not as much rivalry because we’re more regionally based,” Rieth said. “Not only did we think it would be fun for us to see what other programs are doing, but many students want to become professional artists, and we thought this would be a way for students to go through the process of applying for a juried exhibition to see what that’s like.”

Current and former students at Tennessee’s 13 community colleges were invited to enter works generated the past two years in studio art classes. There was no cost to enter.

Seven community colleges had students participate, with 103 works submitted. Peter Hoffecker Mejia, a visiting assistant professor of art at the University of Memphis and a former Pellissippi State student, served as juror, choosing 22 works for the exhibition.

“Twenty-one students made it in, including seven from Pellissippi State, so it’s an honor to get in there,” Rieth said. “There’s a little bit of everything we were allowing: photography, painting, drawing, design, sculpture, blacksmith, print making, collage. It’s quite a survey.”

A piece of art that will be displayed in the Intercollegiate Juried Student Exhibition at Pellissippi State Nov. 19-Dec. 7
“Reality,” a photograph by Oscar Morales of Volunteer State Community College.

A closing reception and awards ceremony will be held 3-5 p.m. Dec. 7. Three places and two honorable mentions will be awarded, with gifts donated by David Lusk Gallery, located in Memphis and Nashville, and Jerry’s Artarama in Knoxville.

Pellissippi State also will purchase the winning art work for $500, which the student will receive. The art work then will go on display at the college.

The exhibition is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State series. For more information on upcoming visual arts, theatre and music events,  visit www.pstcc.edu/arts.

Pellissippi Preview shows prospective students what Pellissippi State has to offer

Anyone who has considered taking classes at Pellissippi State Community College has an opportunity next week to check out the school: from the academic programs offered to the financial aid available.

Pellissippi State’s fall open house, now called Pellissippi Preview, will be held 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Oct. 27, at the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

Pellissippi Preview is open to prospective students of all ages.

Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. will kick off the event in the Clayton Performing Arts Center before those who attend are let loose to explore the campus at their leisure for one hour, explained Sarah Davis with Enrollment Services.

Each building on the Hardin Valley Campus will be open for the program showcase, 9:45-10:45 a.m., with maps showing participants where to find out more about the academic programs that interest them and the student services that are available at Pellissippi State.

“We hope they will go to every building and check out as many programs as they want,” Davis said, noting academic programs will be showcased in the buildings where those classes are taught.

Pellissippi Preview will feature two presentations after the program showcase ends: one on transferring from Pellissippi State to four-year colleges and universities and one on financial aid. Each of the presentations will be given twice – once at 10:45 and once at 11:25 – so that prospective students have the opportunity to attend both presentations, if they choose.

“They will get hands-on information about one of the questions we hear the most: ‘Will my Pellissippi State classes transfer?’” Davis said. “They’ll also learn more about scholarship opportunities, including Tennessee Promise for high school seniors and Tennessee Reconnect for adult learners.”

Throughout the day, participants can snag some refreshments in the college’s cafeteria or mug for the camera with fun props in a photo booth. All those who attend Pellissippi Preview will be entered in a drawing for two $250 scholarships from the Pellissippi State Foundation to attend Pellissippi State; winners will be contacted at a later date.

“This is a fun way to get on campus and see everything we have to offer – not just our academic programs, but our services as well, from Advising to Financial Aid to Student Life,” Davis said.

To RSVP for Pellissippi Preview or see the full agenda, visit www.pstcc.edu/prsvp.

To request accommodations for this event, call 865-539-7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.


Pellissippi State student appointed to Tennessee Board of Regents

Carlos Gonzalez
Carlos Gonzalez, a student at Pellissippi State Community College, has been appointed Student Regent for the Tennessee Board of Regents.

A Pellissippi State Community College student has been appointed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam to serve as Student Regent for the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Carlos Gonzalez will represent the students of the 40 community and technical colleges governed by TBR, the largest system of higher education in Tennessee, for a one-year term that ends June 2019.

“I will be talking to student leaders throughout the state, both trying to convey messages from TBR to students and also hearing from students and letting TBR know what they think,” said Gonzalez, who previously served as a New Student Orientation Leader and as a mathematics and Spanish tutor at Pellissippi State.

Gonzalez, 29, was nominated for the position by Gayle Wood, director of Access and Diversity at Pellissippi State. Gonzalez works for Access and Diversity, where he helps his fellow adult learners transition into college.

Gonzalez started Pellissippi State in fall 2016, almost 10 years after an unforeseen setback thwarted his plans to attend college after his high school graduation.

“I always liked school, but when I was applying for college, I found out I was undocumented, and my dream of being a math teacher went poof,” explained Gonzalez, a native of Guerrero, Mexico, who has lived in Knoxville since he was 4 years old.

Unable to attend college as an undocumented immigrant, Gonzalez joined the family business, handling the accounting and managing the finances. He married in 2012 and applied for his Permanent Resident Card, also known as a Green Card.

The Green Card Gonzalez received in March 2016 opened the door for him to start his college education but, like other adults considering enrolling in college for the first time, he was nervous.

“When I came here to Pellissippi State, I was scared because life had been putting me down,” Gonzalez said. “But being here was a breath of fresh air. It brought life back to me. It revived my dream of being a teacher.”

Wood remembers her first meeting with Gonzalez, who she described as “anxious, fearful, unsure and insecure — characteristics of many adult learners as they begin the process of enrolling in college.” Gonzalez participated in Pellissippi Achieves for Adult Learners, a mentoring program for adult learners who are first-generation college students and first-time freshmen, and has never looked back.

“Carlos’ accomplishments are enormous: he has soared academically; he is a sought-out tutor for math and Spanish; he volunteers at the Admissions office as a translator; he has been guest speaker for a UT instructor’s class; and he introduced the guest speaker at the 2017 Convocation,” Wood said. “Although Carlos is a student, he is also a student advocate. His personality, character, contagious spirit and willingness to help fellow students, faculty and staff make him the ideal TBR Student Regent.”

Gonzalez is double majoring in accounting and mathematics at Pellissippi State. He plans to graduate in spring 2019 and continue his education at the University of Tennessee. Gonzalez’s goal is to return to Pellissippi State as a math professor.

“That’s another reason I applied for this position as Student Regent for TBR,” he noted. “I want to know what goes on behind the scenes, to understand the policy decisions that affect community college students.”

Being Student Regent involves traveling throughout the state, not only to TBR meetings, but also to meet with student leaders from other schools. Still, Gonzalez is taking 12 hours of classes this semester and cannot say enough about his experience at Pellissippi State.

“The professors here are accessible to you and really try to make that connection with students,” Gonzalez said. “That’s why I want to come back and teach here.”


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.