A high school counselor who spent the past 14 years introducing students to opportunities that awaited them at Pellissippi State Community College is now using that experience to develop financial resources that increase and enhance quality education and training at the college.
Anna B. Graham of Maryville has joined the Pellissippi State Foundation as director of annual giving and scholarships. She previously served as college and career counselor for Hardin Valley Academy, working with the high school’s 2,000 students to develop plans for college and career pathways.
“For my career as a school counselor, I’ve been a mile away from the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, so I started diving in deep to understand all the programs Pellissippi State offers so that I could help students make the best decision,” Graham said.
“I worked closely with (dual enrollment specialist) Spencer Joy. I’d call (manager of recruitment services) Sarah Davis to come do a presentation, to help students with FAFSAs, to get them ready for advising.
“I wanted our students to graduate high school, come to Pellissippi State and already be familiar with the people, with the processes and with the website. I was selling them on Pellissippi State before I came here.”
Graham believes her experience working with high school students makes her uniquely qualified to help build the Foundation’s financial resources.
“Because I’ve been working firsthand with students, I know what students need, and I can talk to donors about that,” she said. “I have been on the hunt for resources for our students because I know that Tennessee Promise won’t cover the full cost of college.”
While Tennessee Promise pays whatever tuition is leftover for new high school graduates after all federal and state financial aid is applied, Graham knows students need help covering other college expenses, from computers and other technology to gasoline to get to campus.
Graham sees building relationships as central to her new role with the Pellissippi State Foundation, and she’s up to the challenge, immediately attending events to introduce herself to Pellissippi State alumni, community partners and friends.
“I’m energized by meeting people and getting to know them because I’ve always been a relationship person,” Graham said. “I want to get out there and tell our story, but I also want to hear their Pellissippi State stories. This region has a heck of a lot to owe to Pellissippi State for its role in economic development. Where would this community be without Pellissippi State?”
Prior to her career as a college and career counselor, Graham worked in fundraising roles with Sewanee: The University of the South and Maryville College, where she served first as director of annual giving and later as director of campaigns and development. Graham also spent three years as vice president for philanthropy and public relations for Asbury Inc. in Maryville.
“The Pellissippi State Foundation is fortunate to have Anna Graham on our team,” said Aneisa Rolen, executive director of the Foundation. “She has the perfect combination of experience as a fundraising professional and as a college and career counselor. I look forward to watching our scholarships and annual giving grow through her leadership.”
Lesli Bales-Sherrod does marketing and writing for Pellissippi State Community College.