Pellissippi State expands Culinary Arts program into Blount County with new Culinary Institute

Two Culinary Arts students prepping in the kitchen
Pellissippi State Culinary Arts students prep food for an event on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus in November 2019.

A $250,000 gift from the Blackberry Farm Foundation is paving the way to expand Pellissippi State Community College’s Culinary Arts program into Blount County.

The new Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on the college’s Blount County Campus will include a 4,700-square-foot Culinary Institute, including a teaching and demonstration kitchen and a baking center.

The Culinary Institute will support not only Pellissippi State’s students seeking an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts, but also will be located adjacent to the Workforce Development Center’s Corporate Training Center and Lobby so that Culinary Arts students can support the community at events and pre-event functions held on the Blount County Campus.

“Blackberry Farm Foundation is excited to continue to invest in our already successful relationship with Pellissippi State,” said Matt Alexander, Blackberry Farm president, noting Blackberry Farm provides internships for Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts students. “The restaurant and hospitality industries provide so much opportunity for advancement, as well as lifelong careers. We believe it is important for us to expand our impact on the industry and help create pathways to careers in culinary arts.”

“This expansion of Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts program into Blount County will not only benefit local college students who want to prepare for a career in Culinary Arts, but also will provide dual enrollment opportunities with local high schools that offer Culinary Arts classes,” added Dean Michael Wolfe.

Currently, Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts program is based on the college’s Division Street Campus in Knoxville, with students using the kitchen facilities at the nearby University of Tennessee. The Culinary Institute in the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center marks Pellissippi State’s first on-campus facilities dedicated to Culinary Arts and will allow the program to offer additional concentrations such as baking.

Pellissippi State also is looking at offering a one-year certificate program to prepare students for casual dining careers, in keeping with Gov. Bill Lee’s workforce education priorities.

“With the support of local employers, Pellissippi State will develop pathways to culinary degrees that include significant amounts of work-based learning,” Wolfe said.

An artist rendering of the outside of the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center
This artist rendering, courtesy of BarberMcMurry Architects, shows the new building planned for Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus.

Construction of the Culinary Institute at the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center is expected to cost $1.9 million, with an additional $525,000 set aside for outfitting the institute with the necessary equipment. Pellissippi State plans to employ new full-time faculty members and a kitchen technician to staff the Culinary Institute.

The Culinary Arts program at Pellissippi State is offered as a cohort, in that students begin and progress through a degree program as a united group. The Culinary Institute on the Blount County Campus will have the capacity to enroll 20 students in the daytime cohort and 20 students in the evening cohort, with full enrollment capped at 80 full-time students progressing through the program concurrently over the two years it takes to complete the Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts.

Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts program is accredited by the American Culinary Federation. Graduates certify through the National Restaurant Association in food production and sanitation, and graduates of ACF-accredited programs such as Pellissippi State are certified as ACF culinarians upon graduation.

To learn more about Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts program, contact Chef Joseph Blauvelt, program coordinator, at jsblauvelt@pstcc.edu or 865.971.5246, or contact Pellissippi State’s Admissions office at admissions@pstcc.edu or 865.694.6400.

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Pellissippi State celebrates Black History Month with Harlem Renaissance performance, other events

Actor and instrumental trio
“Of Ebony Embers: Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance” features one actor and a trio playing cello, piano and percussion.

Pellissippi State Community College will celebrate the music and poetry of outstanding African-American artists by hosting the chamber music theatre work “Of Ebony Embers: Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance” as one of its Black History Month events.

The work, which features one actor accompanied on stage by an instrumental trio, will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, at the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The performance is free and open to the public.

“Of Ebony Embers,” written by Akin Babatunde and performed by the Core Ensemble of Florida, examines the lives of African-American poets Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen and Claude McKay as seen through the eyes of the African-American painter and muralist Aaron Douglas.

Actor Dracyn Blount portrays all the characters while interacting with the onstage musical trio playing cello, piano and percussion. The trio will perform music by African-American composers ranging from jazz greats Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus to concert music composers Jeffrey Mumford and George Walker.

Since 1993, the Core Ensemble has toured nationally to every region of the United States and internationally to England, Russia, the Ukraine, Australia and the British Virgin Islands. The Ensemble was the recipient of the 2000 Eugene McDermott Award for Excellence in the Arts awarded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has received support from the State of Florida Department of Cultural Affairs, New England Foundation for the Arts, Palm Beach County Cultural Council, Aaron Copland Fund for Music and the Virgil Thomson Foundation.

“Black history is America’s history,” said Pellissippi State Access and Diversity Director Gayle E. Wood. “February allows us to highlight the numerous contributions African Americans have made to American history. We celebrate the diversity of this history through music, art, displays, literature, theatre, food and much more.”

Lee Willis and Soulful Sounds Review performing on campus
The Soulful Sounds Revue featuring Lee Willis, center, performs during a Black History Month event on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus in February 2019.

All events Pellissippi State has planned for Black History Month are free and open to the public:

  • The Tom Johnson Jazz Combo and Knoxville’s Soulful Sounds Revue will perform on the Hardin Valley Campus on Friday, Feb. 28 – the jazz combo at noon and the Celebration of the Music of Motown 6-9 p.m., both in the Goins Building College Center.
  • The WordPlayers, a Knoxville-based company of Christian theatre artists, will present the one-act play “Jackie Robinson Steals Home” at 11:50 a.m. Friday, Feb. 21, on Pellissippi State’s Magnolia Avenue Campus. The play should end at 12:45 p.m.
  • African-American Read-Ins will be held on all campuses, celebrating the work of black authors: 8:45 a.m.-3:45 p.m. Feb. 18 at Division Street; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 19 at Hardin Valley; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 19 at Blount County; times to be determined Feb. 19 at Strawberry Plains; and 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at Magnolia Avenue.
  • Four “Monday Movies” will be shown on the Hardin Valley Campus, followed by discussions: “Mississippi Burning” on Feb. 3, “Selma” on Feb. 10, “The Hate U Give” on Feb. 17 and “Harriet” on Feb. 24. Each movie will be shown beginning at 12:30 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium with a discussion following in the Goins Building Cafeteria Annex.

Other Black History Month events include lunch with guest speaker Vrondelia (Ronni) Chandler, a Pellissippi State alumna and chief executive officer for Project GRAD Knoxville; opportunities to chat about “hot topics” with the Active Black Student Association; and student poetry displays.

For more information about any of Pellissippi State’s upcoming Black History Month events, visit www.pstcc.edu/events/black-history, or contact Wood at 865.539.7160 or gwood@pstcc.edu.

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 exhibit features 12 regional artists

Painting of a mom and child by a boat
Virginia Derryberry’s “The Voyage” is one of the works featured this month in The Figurative Impulse at Pellissippi State.

A new art exhibit at Pellissippi State Community College focuses on the human figure and celebrates that which makes us human.

The Figurative Impulse, the first offering in The Arts at Pellissippi State for spring 2020, is showing in the college’s Bagwell Center for Media and Art Gallery on the Hardin Valley Campus until Friday, Jan. 31, with a closing reception 3-5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30.

The Gallery, located at 10915 Hardin Valley Road, is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Friday.

This regional survey of contemporary paintings and drawings includes 12 artists from Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana and Georgia.

“There is a diversity of mediums, messages and outlooks embedded within the work and quite a bit to take in within such a small format,” said Associate Professor Herb Rieth, who curated the exhibit. “The artists come from diverse backgrounds, generations, impetuses and are at many different points in their careers, yet they hold in common their concern for their fellow humans. That lens can be sympathetic, ironic or sardonic, but is used to focus on the motivations and machinations of other people, which in turn can act as a mirror of our own selves.”

Rieth, who has work included in the exhibit, had the idea for the Figurative Impulse two years ago, he said, as a reaction to the increasingly shrill and acrimonious debate between people on social media and in person.

“My thoughts at the time balanced between, first, ‘We are all human and, thus, why can’t we just get along?’ and second, ‘The human condition is endlessly fascinating in its attempt to plumb our own and other’s motivations,’” Rieth explained. “As the Technological Revolution has started to eclipse our humanness, I believe that we should redouble our efforts to celebrate that which makes us human.”

Artists who have works included in the Figurative Impulse include Randy Arnold, Tamie Beldue, Aaron Carroll, Virginia Derryberry, Samuel Dunson, Mira Girard, Jed Jackson, Vitus Shell, Denise Stewart-Sanabria, Jason Stout, Tom Wegrzynowski and Herb Rieth.

The Figurative Impulse 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.

To request accommodations for a disability for this event or any Pellissippi State event, call 865.539.7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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Improve your health and social life in the New Year with ballroom dancing

Couple ballroom dancing
Ballroom dancing can help you keep your New Year’s resolutions to be more active and get your exercise in 2020.

If living a more active lifestyle is one of your New Year’s resolutions, ballroom dancing classes offered by Pellissippi State Community College Business and Community Services can help you meet your goals.

Ballroom dance is a social dance that focuses on partnership and has gained popularity in recent years with the rise of competitive television shows like “Dancing with the Stars.” In the seven-week Ballroom Dancing, Level 1 class offered by Pellissippi State in partnership with Dance Tonight, dancers will learn six core dances: waltz, tango, foxtrot, rumba, cha-cha and swing.

“There are so many reasons to take ballroom dancing,” said Kris Hazard, professional dance instructor and choreographer at Dance Tonight. “It gets you out of the house, and it’s a great way to meet people. Social dancers are friendly. They want more people to dance with, so it’s an easy crowd to get to know people in.

“Exercise is another one,” he continued. “Ballroom dancing is great if you want to be active and retain your mobility. It’s a low impact activity. We’re always sliding our feet on the floor, so you’re using your legs, but not getting the hard impact.”

Ballroom dancing is designed to help you communicate with a partner to move as one with the music, but participants are encouraged to sign up with or without a partner, as there are opportunities to meet and dance with others during the class.

The hardest step for most people is signing up for the class and coming through the door, Hazard noted.

“It’s a big step they took coming because they’re nervous about it, and now I have the responsibility to make them comfortable,” he said. “I want to push them so that they learn something and learn it correctly, but that also makes them comfortable and more confident with their dancing.”

Getting ready to perform on a stage is not the goal of the beginner class, Hazard stressed.

“We’re learning so you can get out on the dance floor, look comfortable and have a good time,” he said.

Students in Ballroom Dancing, Level 1 will have an opportunity to practice their moves outside of the class, if they choose, at Dance Tonight’s dance parties on Friday nights. Dancers and instructors from all of Dance Tonight’s classes are invited to attend the weekly parties.

“Practicing and dancing around others makes such a difference for the dancer’s learning and enthusiasm,” Hazard noted. “They get to use what they’ve learned in class!”

Ballroom Dancing, Level 1 begins Jan. 27 and will be held 6:45-7:30 p.m. Mondays through March 9, at Dance Tonight, 9119 Executive Park Drive, Knoxville, off the Cedar Bluff exit. Cost is $85 for an individual or $100 per couple.

To register for Ballroom Dancing, Level 1, or any other Pellissippi State lifelong learning classes this spring, contact the Business and Community Services office at 865.539.7167 or visit www.pstcc.edu/bcs.

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Pellissippi State wins international award for marketing lifelong learning classes

Two Business and Community Services staff holding award for marketing lifelong learning classes
Marketing Specialist Danielle Dreeszen, left, and Economic and Workforce Development Director Teri Brahams show the International Award for Excellence in Marketing that Pellissippi State Business and Community Services recently received for their e-newsletter about lifelong learning classes.

Pellissippi State Community College has won an International Award for Excellence in Marketing from the Learning Resources Network, the largest association in lifelong learning in the world.

“The workforce training and lifelong learning opportunities that we provide support both individuals and local employers,” said Teri Brahams, director of Economic and Workforce Development for Pellissippi State. “Being able to effectively communicate and market what we offer is integral to the success of our programs. We are honored to be the recipient of the Excellence in Marketing award at the international level.”

The award was one of only 20 given at LERN’s annual conference in San Diego attended by 800 professionals in lifelong learning from five countries. Marketing Specialist Danielle Dreeszen of Pellissippi State Business and Community Services accepted the award, the first Pellissippi State has received from LERN.

“This award is for innovation in the field of lifelong learning and serving communities,” said LERN President William A. Draves. “With more than 100 award nominations every year, gaining an International Award is an outstanding achievement.”

The staff of Pellissippi State Business and Community Services won the international award for their e-newsletter that launched fall class registration in August.

“Our e-newsletter featured each person on our team and focused on WHY we’re interested in classes vs. WHAT the classes are,” Dreeszen explained. “We also integrated each person’s feature on our social media accounts.”

For example, Solutions Management Director Todd Evans noted he was looking forward to taking Bucket Drumming: Introduction to Rhythm.

“I played the drums as a kid,” he said in the e-newsletter. “I would love to get into drumming, but in a different way.”

And Project Coordinator Angela Branson said she couldn’t wait to check out The Art of Glass Fusion.

“Years ago I took some classes in stained glass and mosaics, and I really enjoyed the classes at the time and getting to be creative,” she explained in the e-newsletter. “This sounds like a fun opportunity to get back into the art of working with glass.”

Other Business and Community Services staff shared the reasons they were looking forward to taking classes in Hobbyist Welding, Zentangle Noir, Working with Yarn: Knit and Crochet, Say Goodbye to Diets and Quick Pickin’ Mandolin.

The approach worked, as the e-mail newsletter achieved a 42% open rate and a 30% click-through rate, 10% higher than regular monthly email results.

The e-newsletter also generated 25 enrollments before the print class catalog even hit mailboxes.

“Email is the workhorse of marketing your program, second only to the print brochure in importance,” Draves said. “Pellissippi State introduced Staff Picks in their regular email newsletter. The technique introduced staff and made the program more approachable to potential participants. It was also effective in that people tend to pay more attention to what the professionals are interested in. LERN’s going to steal this idea, too.”

Registration for spring lifelong learning classes at Pellissippi State is open now. View a full list of spring classes or register for a class at www.pstcc.edu/bcs.

For more information about Pellissippi State’s lifelong learning classes, contact Business and Community Services at 865.539.7167.

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Pellissippi State wins statewide food drive, collects equivalent of 15,411 items

Three students stack canned goods given during the Pack the Pickup campaign
Pellissippi State students in Professor Lisa Fall’s Project Design and Management class help “Pack the Pickup” with donations to the Pellissippi Pantry on Dec. 6.

The Pellissippi Pantry will be stocked with more than 15,000 new units of food, thanks to Pellissippi State Community College’s recent Pack the Pickup campaign.

The food drive, which ran Nov. 1 through Dec. 11, collected seven times the amount of food the college gathered the previous year.

“Last year we collected 1,904 items of food,” said Student Care and Advocacy Director Drema Bowers. “This year we set the lofty goal of 10,694, one item for each student enrolled at Pellissippi State this fall. We are thrilled to report that we surpassed our goal and collected the equivalent of 15,411 items.”

Pellissippi State’s Pack the Pickup campaign was part of the Tennessee Board of Regents’ annual food drive. TBR is the largest system of higher education in the state, responsible for governing Tennessee’s 13 public community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology.

TBR Vice Chancellor for Student Success Heidi Leming announced Friday that 110,944 items were collected and donated to food pantries at the nine community colleges and 16 colleges of applied technology that participated in the food drive this year.

Institutions were grouped by student headcount to determine the top institutions, and Pellissippi State won for Tier 2 community colleges while Jackson State Community College pulled in the most items – 18,315 – as a Tier 1 community college.

“Pellissippi State was awarded an additional $6,000 not included in their total to further support their food pantry,” Leming added, referencing a $5,000 donation from Discovery, Inc. and a $1,000 donation from Lipscomb University for projects completed with Pellissippi State earlier this year. “What an incredible expression of kindness and generosity across the TBR system!”

Pellissippi State had some extra helping hands with its food drive this year. Professor Lisa Fall’s Project Design and Management students set up Food Drive “Service Stations,” in tandem with the college’s Pack the Pickup theme, to accept donations as well as share information about the Pellissippi Pantry and food insecurity among college students.

Right now the Pellissippi Pantry serves 125 participants, representing 398 total people in those participants’ households. That’s a significant increase from last year, Bowers noted, as the Pellissippi Pantry only served 130 participants during the entire 2018-2019 academic year.

Group of students with donation box for food drive
Jimmy Buckner, executive director of Scarecrow Foundation, an organization to fight hunger (far left), joined Pellissippi State Student Care and Advocacy Director Drema Bowers (second from left), Professor Lisa Fall (third from right) and Fall’s Project Design and Management students in helping “Pack the Pickup” with food drive donations on Dec. 6.

“We know we have students who don’t eat, who live in their cars,” said Fall, who also is serving as co-advisor of X-Hunger, a new student club devoted to supporting the Pellissippi Pantry. “This isn’t New York City. This is right here on our campuses, right here in our backyard.”

The college also collected donations at its first Wild Goose Chase 5K and during its annual Breakfast with Santa.

Pellissippi State had support from the community this year as well. Chick-fil-A locations in Turkey Creek and Oak Ridge held a fundraiser to support Pack the Pickup while other community partners collected for the food drive at their places of business: Regions Bank on Hardin Valley Road, Integrity HR Services, King University, Food City, Maple Street Biscuit Company, Cotton-Eyed Joe and Sitel.

“Food insecurity impacts every community, and it’s gratifying that so many local businesses partnered with us during this food drive,” Bowers said. “We look forward to continuing this important work together.”

Another thing that made a huge difference this year was online giving enabled by the Pellissippi State Foundation, she added. More than $5,500 in donations was collected online, and each dollar was counted as equivalent to two food items.

In total, Pack the Pickup collected 4,983 items while 11,018 items will be purchased from monetary donations given during the campaign.

“In addition to thanking those who supported us throughout the Food Drive, I would also like to acknowledge the support we receive all year long through our employee giving, monthly food drives and student clubs and organizations,” Bowers stressed. “That support from the Pellissippi State community keeps us going throughout the entire year.”

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Registration open for Pellissippi State’s spring lifelong learning classes

Group of hobby welders in class
Welding for the Hobbyist is just one of the Industrial Arts lifelong learning classes offered at Pellissippi State.

Are you looking to learn something new in 2020?

Pellissippi State Community College is offering more than 80 different lifelong learning classes in spring 2020. These noncredit classes are open to the public and cover a variety of topics including music, art, health and wellness, technology, leadership and more.

Some of the new classes offered this spring include:

  • Floral Design – Learn how to make beautiful floral arrangements in Introduction to Floral Design. Instructor and professional floral designer Lori Wilson will help you create an arrangement using seasonal fresh flowers.
  • Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions – Get back to the basics and keep your goals on track this year. Whether your goal is improving your health, increasing your finances or changing careers, instructor Drema Bowers will give you the resources you need to make lasting changes and achieve success.
  • Book Writing – This one-day workshop will help you start writing your own story. Learn about the creative process and how to become a published author as instructor Tina Thompson discusses the inner workings of book publishing along with her experience in writing.
  • Business Analytics – Businesses face constant challenges, and using data effectively can help provide solutions. Bring your data to life with live dashboards and reports, analyze trends and make data-driven decisions using Power Bi and Tableau.
  • Industrial Arts – Combine creativity and technology in Welding for the Hobbyist and 3D Printing classes. Learn the basics and make your own custom creations while also gaining knowledge of how to set up your own work stations at home.

Registration for spring classes is open now. View a full list of spring classes or register for a class at www.pstcc.edu/bcs.

For more information about Pellissippi State’s lifelong learning classes, contact Business and Community Services at 865.539.7167.

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Pellissippi State offers Career in a Calendar Year for Medical Office occupations starting in 2020

Student in scrubs in front of files at a doctor's office
You could be ready to work in a medical office by this time next year with Pellissippi State’s Career in a Calendar Year for Medical Office, which launches in January.

If one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2020 is to start a new career, Pellissippi State Community College has options to help you meet that goal in just 12 months.

Pellissippi State is launching Career in a Calendar Year in January for Medical Office, a concentration in the college’s Administrative Professional Technology program.

By attending accelerated classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights as well as some online courses, students who start in January can earn two certificates in the medical office field by December.

“This format appeals to many of our students,” said Program Coordinator Regina Buckley.

Students who take the prescribed three classes in spring 2020, two in summer 2020 and four in fall 2020 will finish the calendar year with their two certificates, as well as 27 credit hours toward an associate degree in Medical Office, a concentration in the Administrative Professional Technology program.

While 27 credit hours is shy of the 60-61 hours needed to complete the associate degree, students who complete the 27 hours will have two Pellissippi State certificates that enable them to work in the medical office field: Medical Insurance Coding and Reimbursement and Electronic Health Records Specialist.

They also will have the education and skill set required to sit for three national certifications: National Healthcareer Association Certified Billing and Coding Specialist, Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist and Microsoft Office Specialist.

These certificates and national certifications can springboard students to medical office careers such as coding, billing and insurance specialist; compliance specialist; electronic health records specialist; hospital unit coordinator; office manager and scheduler.

“Medical offices depend on health care administrators, those important people who are tasked with nonclinical patient care,” Buckley said.

The 27 hours of Career in a Calendar Year count toward Pellissippi State’s associate degree in Administrative Professional Technology as well. Those students who wish to go on to complete the associate degree can choose from traditional, online or accelerated classes.

The associate degree program also provides a built-in internship in a medical office setting to give students real-world experience before graduation.

The deadline to apply to Pellissippi State for spring 2020 is Jan. 13. Classes begin Jan. 21. To apply, visit www.pstcc.edu/admissions.

For more information about studying Medical Office at Pellissippi State, contact Regina Buckley at rbuckley@pstcc.edu or 865.694.6413.

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Pellissippi State microbiology students create intricate art using bacteria

Art in Petri dishes
Pellissippi State microbiology students created these and other designs using bacteria in the Strawberry Plains Campus lab.

Microbiology students on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains and Magnolia Avenue campuses have used the techniques they’ve learned in lab this semester to create agar art, also known as microbial art.

You can see this agar art displayed on the Strawberry Plains Campus, in a hall on the main level of the building.

Agar art is an active learning tool that presents the microbial community in an interesting way, explained microbiology instructor Zainab Ahmed, who is a microbiologist and virologist.

Students created artwork using agar – a gel-like substance used to grow bacteria in Petri dishes – as a canvas and bacteria as the paint. The kind of agar and bacteria used determines the color of the artwork students produced.

“The pigments are colorful evidence of bacteria’s morphology in their real habitat,” Ahmed noted. “This illustrates the beauty of these microorganisms in nature.”

The agar art was created solely on the Strawberry Plains Campus this semester, offered as extra credit in lab time outside of class. Microbiology students on any of Pellissippi State’s campuses were welcome to participate.

“Students all like it,” Ahmed said. “Some have asked to come back and participate again the next semester we offer it, and I have met with a high school biology teacher in Blount County who would like for us to promote Agar art for high school students in the future.”

This was the third time Ahmed has offered her microbiology students the opportunity to create agar art, but it’s the first time Strawberry Plains Campus Dean Mike North has invited Ahmed to display the students’ artwork on campus.

“I thought it was the coolest thing that was done with the outcome of the Agar art,” North said. “I love filling up the campus with art, and when it’s contributions from students, that’s even better. I want to support them. It’s educational, and it looks really really cool.”

Photos of the Petri dishes show everything from Christmas trees to a lizard to a map of North and South America – all formed by bacteria grown in the Strawberry Plains Campus microbiology lab.

“Students had the option of what they wanted to draw – they could use a stencil or choose something from the internet and draw it freehand,” Ahmed explained. “We have heard from other instructors and students that they like this agar art.”

Ahmed and microbiology technician Katherine Fullerton prepared the agar and cultured the bacteria, but students took it from there.

The bacteria students could choose to use produced pigments of red, blue, orange and green. While red, blue and orange pigments occur naturally in bacteria, some bacteria that appear white or tan on other agar present as green when grown on a different kind of agar.

Students also could choose how to transfer the bacteria to their Petri dishes – using a wire loop that had to be fired in a Bunsen burner, a toothpick or a fine paintbrush.

“This is a good opportunity for our microbiology students to use all the different tools in the lab and to feel free to experiment,” Ahmed said. “They get to use all the knowledge they’ve learned earlier in the semester, from lab safety to how to incubate the bacteria, and they get to see chemical reactions and how colonies of bacteria can change color.”

Ahmed’s agar art project was supported this semester by a grant from Pellissippi State’s Instructional Development Committee, which allowed Ahmed to purchase more agar and new bacteria. The grant will cover another semester of agar art, but Ahmed said she may wait until fall 2020 to offer the opportunity again, as it would give microbiology students a chance to enter their agar art into an international competition sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology.

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

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Pellissippi State boasts record number of graduates this fall

Four spring 2019 grads at Pellissippi State commencement
Four spring 2019 Pellissippi State graduates take time to pose for a photo before Commencement.

Pellissippi State Community College will graduate a record number of students this month, with 580 graduates and at least 450 expected to walk in the Dec. 13 Commencement ceremony at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The number of December graduates has grown by more than 100, noted Manager of Records Terri L. Strader. Pellissippi State graduated 477 students in December 2018.

“We have summer graduates participating in December’s Commencement as well, and we had a record number of summer graduates, too,” Strader added. “In summer 2018, we had 217 graduates, and this summer we had 262.”

Commencement will begin at 7 p.m. Thompson-Boling adheres to a strict bag policy that everyone attending the ceremony should read before heading to the ceremony.

Assistant Professor Tracy Rees, winner of the Roger Crowe Excellence in Teaching Award for 2019, will be the Commencement speaker. She will address graduates about the role self-care plays in success, encouraging them to take care of themselves and to exercise their minds in new ways.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, call 865.539.7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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