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The University of Tennessee

College Access and Persistence Services - CAPS Outreach Center

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Welcome to the College Access and Persistence Services (CAPS) Outreach Center

CAPS VPC group

Veterans' Pre-College (VPC) Program

The Veterans' Pre-College (VPC) program supports veterans while pursuing their educational, career, personal, and social goals. VPC provides intensive basic skills development, short-term remedial courses, and intensive individualized tutoring to help veterans successfully transition to post secondary education. Academic subjects covered in the instructional component include math, algebra, pre-calculus, lab sciences, English, writing skills, literature, and personal computer literacy. The program also advises veterans on career selection, postsecondary selection and application processes, financial aid and application procedures, and college life adjustments. In addition, the project staff assists veterans in learning how to secure support from available resources such as the Veterans Administration, veterans associations, and various state and local agencies that serve veterans.


VPC accepts applications from military veterans (except those dishonorably discharged) who are residents of one of the counties in the service area (see above), who come from low-income, first-generation households, and who demonstrate an academic need for services. Participants are encouraged to enroll and succeed in a postsecondary education and to participate in scheduled project activities.

Through the Years

As a military veteran, Dr. Ernest W. Brewer observed that there were no programs to prepare military veterans from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter postsecondary education institutions. Like him, many veterans came from poor backgrounds and went directly into the military after completing high school. Once they completed their tour of duty, most had little or no knowledge about how to apply to a postsecondary institution, how to receive financial aid, or how to use their GI benefits. In fact, many veterans were academically unprepared to meet the requirements of college-level courses.

In 1989, Dr. Brewer wrote the first VPC three-year grant, which was funded to serve 120 military veterans each year. He immediately hired Joel Coates as the project director, a military veteran who had just completed his graduate program at UT Knoxville.

Vicky Johnson-CutshallVicky Johnson-Cutshall currently serves as the director. Since 1989, the program has served more than 2,500 veterans in East Tennessee.



Service Area

The VPC program serves military veterans in the following Tennessee counties: Blount, Campbell, Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Roane, Sevier, Morgan, Scott, and Union.

Former Students

Dustin HicksDustin Hicks graduated from UT Knoxville following his participation in the VPC Program. After graduation, Dustin began working for the Center for Literacy Studies at UT Knoxville, where he also enrolled in a graduate program. He now works in Washington, D.C.

Sharon J. Stevens is a 1991 VPC Program graduate. She graduated cum laude at UT Knoxville and now serves as a state victim/witness coordinator with the Attorney General's office.

Mark KlinkenburgMark Klinkenburg served in the US Navy as a fast-attack submarine nuclear reactor operator for six years. After participating in the VPC Program, Mark attended UT Knoxville, graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in 1996. He then earned a law degree at the University of Missouri's Kansas City School of Law. He now works as an attorney in Kansas City.

Dr. Ernest W. Brewer
Professor and
PI/TRIO Director

Vicky Johnson
Project Director

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CAPS Outreach Center
1914 Andy Holt Avenue
25 HPER Building
Knoxville, TN 37996
Phone: (865) 974-4466

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