Pellissippi State Community College has recognized Kevin Fillers as its Distinguished Alumni Award winner for 2019.
Fillers, business manager at Innovative Design Inc., graduated from Pellissippi State in 2011 with an associate of science degree in management. He went on to earn a bachelor of science in business administration from the University of Tennessee in 2013.
College wasn’t always Fillers’ plan, however.
“I decided when I was 13 years old that it was going to be my dream to become a professional paintball player,” Fillers told Pellissippi State Alumni for a #WhereAreTheyNowWednesday post on social media. “When I graduated high school, I told my parents I wasn’t going to college and put all my energy into pursuing a paintball career, where I ended up going pro.”
It took Fillers only a couple of years on the paintball circuit, however, to realize professional paintball was not going to be a sustainable future, he said. Fillers started taking classes part time at Pellissippi State in 2006, when he was 21.
Going to school part time didn’t deter Fillers from giving it his all. In fact, Fillers was the recipient of multiple academic awards at Pellissippi State, including the 2011 ACBSP Student Leadership Award, which is given to the top business graduate each year.
After graduating from Pellissippi State, Fillers continued to receive academic recognition at UT, where he was named the Haslam College of Business’ Top Graduate in 2013 after completing his degree with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Innovative Design Inc. CEO Cindy Hollander noted this in nominating Fillers for Pellissippi State’s Distinguished Alumni Award this year.
“I think Kevin’s unconventional journey to get where he is today would be an excellent motivator for current students while clearly illustrating the transformative power of education, regardless of the path you took to get there or how long it takes you to finish,” Hollander wrote in her nomination of Fillers.
Fillers was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award at the college’s annual Alumni Luncheon. The award is given to an individual in recognition of significant professional achievement, service to the community and support of the college and the Pellissippi State Foundation.
On top of his job at Innovative Design Inc., Fillers has spent the past seven years helping local businesses through his firm, Fillers Consulting, which specializes in business process consulting and fractional chief financial officer services. Although he keeps a busy work schedule, Fillers still has found the time to serve as a tnAchieves mentor, a member of Pellissippi State’s Alumni Steering Committee, a guest speaker and judge for UT’s Vol Court Entrepreneurship Competition, and a Knoxville Chamber Ambassador.
Fillers also has spearheaded the development of Innovative Design Inc.’s outreach programs, including creating a partnership with Knox County Schools to develop a computer-aided design and 3D printing curriculum that will be rolled out across the county next year, as well as a STEM enrichment program specifically for Green Magnet Academy. Innovative Design Inc.’s other major outreach program focuses on Knoxville’s entrepreneurship community, with the firm donating engineering and design services for startup companies.
“Receiving this award has been an extremely humbling moment for me because I look back at Pellissippi State as the place that really changed the trajectory of my adult life,” Fillers said. “The education and support I received from the faculty gave me the foundation and confidence I needed to advance my academic and professional careers. Making the decision to take that first class at Pellissippi State is a decision I would make 100 out of 100 times again.”
For more information about Pellissippi State Alumni, visit www.pstcc.edu/alumni or call 865-539-7275.
Julia Wood is director of marketing and communications for Pellissippi State Community College.