A global pandemic couldn’t stop these Pellissippi State Community College students from graduating.

The 520 fall graduates and 266 summer graduates will welcome back some normalcy next week, as Pellissippi State holds its first indoor Commencement since fall 2019.

Pellissippi State’s Commencement will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10, at Thompson-Boling Arena, 1600 Philip Fulmer Ave., Knoxville. The ceremony will be live streamed as well for those who are unable to attend in person. The link will be posted on the College’s homepage by the start of the event.

“It is always a joy to celebrate the success of our graduating students, even more so this fall as we recognize those who persisted and persevered in the face of great challenge,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “They should be as proud of themselves as we are of them.”

Commencement speaker Christy Pittman, who is pictured above and is graduating with her Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design Technology, returned to Pellissippi State more than 20 years after she first enrolled fresh out of high school. She was in her third semester when COVID-19 hit and classes switched to virtual formats.

“As students, each of us had to decide to either withdraw and wait for a return to ‘normal’ or to remain committed,” she said. “COVID robbed us of our normalcy, our jobs and our stability, and we grieved those losses. Exhausted and determined, we confronted our circumstances and overcame obstacles. This class did not quit.”

Pittman has been accepted into East Tennessee State University’s 2+2 program that will allow her to finish her bachelor’s degree in Interior Architecture on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus. But first she looks forward to graduating from Pellissippi State with not only her fellow Interior Design students, but with all the students whose college journeys were impacted by COVID-19.

“Wherever our paths lead us, we began collectively at Pellissippi State during a global pandemic,” she said. “This is not the end, but a continuance of our extraordinary story. This class did not quit, and I’m proud to be a part of that.”

All graduates and guests at Commencement are strongly encouraged wear masks and maintain social distancing during the ceremony. Ample seating will be available for distancing.

Graduates and guests also are encouraged to familiarize themselves with Thompson-Boling Arena’s strict clear bag and metal detector policies.

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