32 Basically Blount 2018 The importance of lifelong learn- ing has never been greater as advances in technology continu- ally alter the job market. While the traditional path to an advanced degree or its equiva- lent works for some, others find that time and other demands require a different approach. To keep pace, programs for professional development and workplace opportunities like those directed by Pellissippi State Community College are an invalu- able resource. For many, they simply fit. “I’m a huge believer in the importance of being a lifelong learner,” says Teri Brahams, direc- tor of the college’s Economic and Workforce Development pro- gram. “It’s important to be learn- ing something new all the time.” Pellissippi offers a number of associate degrees for those whom a more traditional route works best. It’s those with years of experience in a particular field, individuals whose commitments preclude the traditional route, where programs like Economic and Workforce Development shine. “We try to look at that ex- perience and see if you can be exempt from certain classes,” Bra- hams says. “You could have been a welder, so why would we now make you take an introduction to welding class?” Economic and Workforce Development works with com- panies to design training courses for new hires. Online courses are a plus for adult students with family and other commitments. The school’s Accelerated Pathway Cohorts program, complete with shorter semesters and longer classes, can reduce the time normally required for an associ- ate degree by half. The combined effort has led to a 33 percent increase in Pellissippi State’s adult enrollment. “Many students in the Ac- celerated Pathway program are interested in pursuing a degree,” Brahams says. “We’re trying to shorten that time to get that degree.” Pellissippi, with five campuses including the one in Blount County, is working for both stu- dents and businesses. Enrollment for 2017 reflected an increase of more than10 percent over last year, with the number of students up across all five campuses. Pellis- sippi State has been the largest community college in Tennessee since 2015. When the college launched Reconnect Now, a last-dollar scholarship for qualified adult Pellissippi Programs STRESSLIFELONGLEARNING READYTOLEARN Thomas and Melody Smith are part of Pellissippi’s Reconnect Now program.