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The Project GRAD Knoxville Board has voted to promote Vrondelia (Ronni) Chandler as the designee to secede retiring executive director Jerry Hodges effective November 1. Chandler joined GRAD at its inception in 2001 after more than 20 years on staff at Pellissippi State Community College and has served GRAD as program director and associate executive director. She is a native of Knoxville and a graduate of Austin East High School, Pellissippi State and Tusculum College. GRAD is an acronym that means “Graduation Really Achieves Dreams.” The organization works to increase the number of innercity students graduating from both high school and higher education.
The 2014 Annual Scholars Celebration Dinner was another success.
We were honored to have Tearsa Smith and Bo Williams (WATE TV anchors) to emcee the program this and they were dynamic as they kept the crowd entertained and energized.
A number is scholars who have successfully graduated from college participated in the program this year. It was great to have these scholars return to Project GRAD and give back by serving on the program in some capacity or by imparting wisdom by sharing their testimony with them. Shawn Hatmaker (Class of 2007 GRAD Scholar, Austin East Magnet High School) shared wise advice with the graduating seniors as he talked about the difference the Project GRAD continues to make in his life even following graduation from college. Shawn graduated from Tennessee State University in 2011 with a degree in Political Science and a focus on international relations and terrorist studies. He is presently working for Representative Timothy Hill as an Executive Assistant and is working to be certified in ministry as a Pastor. Other scholars on program were Jonathan Blair (Class of 2008 Fulton High School) and Christie Banks (Class of 2007, Fulton High School).
There’s always suspense surrounding the person selected to receive the “Caught Doing Right For Kids” Award each year. The award recipient this year was equally surprised and very deserving of the honor. Rosalyn Tillman was the award winner this year and she was caught completely by surprised but was also very happy to receive the award that recognized her for service to kids and for always being caught doing what’s right for kids. Dean Tillman (as she is affectionately known) has been the Dean/Principal of the Summer Institute at Pellissippi State since it began and is responsible for the success of the program.
Cody and Kensey Zimmerman closed the program with a beautiful musical selection. Kensey is a Class of 2007 GRAD scholar from Fulton High School. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies in 2011 from the University of Tennessee. In 2013 she graduated with a Master’s in Communication and Information with a concentration in Communication Studies from the University of Tennessee also.
There were 140 Scholars in this graduating class that met all qualifications of the GRAD scholarship and will be attending colleges/universities in several states this fall. Congratulations Class of 2014 Scholarship Recipients.
Photos of the dinner wp-content/gallery/2014-scholars-celebration-dinner
Desmond Humphrey passed Boards and has opened his own firm in Atlanta: Humphrey Law and Associates!
From Linked In:
“Desmond is a native of Knoxville, TN but currently resides in Atlanta, GA with his beautiful wife and adorable puppy. Desmond attended Lee University in Cleveland Tennessee, where he majored in Religion with a minor in Political Science. After his tenure at Lee University he attended the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science.
With his thirst for knowledge at an all-time high, Desmond decided to pursue his childhood dream of becoming an Attorney. In December 2013 Desmond graduated from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School with a Juris Doctorate Degree in Law.
With God as an ever present force in his life since the age of 8 years old when he was called into the ministry, he has made it his life’s goal to serve God, and the people of God in spirit and in truth. In July 2011 Desmond became a licensed minister to preach the Gospel. Whether he is standing before a judge trying a case, or before a church congregation preaching, God will be glorified through his works.”
The University of Tennessee held a press conference this afternoon where Chancellor Jimmy Cheek announced that UT is renewing its commitment to Project GRAD Summer Institutes and will provide $150,000 each year for the next five years. Chancellor Cheek explained how Project GRAD aligns with the University and the state’s goal of increasing the number of Tennesseans with postsecondary degrees and that Project GRAD helps make the college experience more accessible to students from under-represented groups.
Two Project GRAD scholars also spoke to the media as they shared information about their Project GRAD experience and the impact on their life as a result of being a Project GRAD scholar. Christie Banks spoke first and shared how Project GRAD staff assisted her with the college application process and make her comfortable when she went to college. Christie is a Class 2007 Fulton graduate and Class of 2011 UT graduate who presently works in the Admissions Department at the University of Tennessee. Jonathan Blair also spoke to the media and stated how his involvement with Project GRAD helped lay a foundation for his future path and how Project GRAD Knoxville gives students the motivation to find resources they may need.
Read more in the media release here: