Stories @ TCAT

Press Release

TCAT Dickson Offers Digital Graphic Design Program At New Williamson Location

By Janine Wine

Communications and Marketing Coordinator

TCAT Dickson


FRANKLIN, TN - Williamson County residents looking to earn a diploma in Digital Graphic Design (DGD) now have a new resource at their fingertips. Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Dickson (TCAT Dickson) is offering the course in a brand-new facility located on Columbia State Community College’s Williamson Campus. Coupled with an instructor that brings more than 30 years of professional experience to the table, the program is sure to be a hit with those wanting to become graphic designers.

Instructor Lisa Tondino is excited about the new state-of-the-art space and is passionate about training students in the field she has loved and honed her skills in for more than three decades.

“The Digital Graphic Design program encompasses all different aspects of the design field,” Tondino said. Students enrolled in the program will learn Adobe Creative Suite which includes a focus on Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Adobe Premier for videography.

The TCAT Dickson program is unique to others in the field because it is skills-based and is a “Career in a Year” program. Some students can graduate with their diploma in hand in less than 12 months.

“My job is to find out what local employers need and then design our program where our students are fully skilled and ready to work in the community.” Tondino explained. “This is a true technical school. You are learning the technical skills of the industry, but art students tend to thrive because we are building out art skills too,” Tondino added.

“Another great thing about TCATs is the open entry and open exit aspect. In traditional colleges you would have three or four major starts dates within a calendar year. We have multiple dates nine months out of the year where students can start our program,” Tondino pointed out.

Tondino is proud of the space her program is in and she wants to show it off. She encourages students who are interested in taking Digital Graphic Design at the Williamson location to reach out to her and schedule a tour of the campus. More importantly than a tour, she encourages prospective students to come meet her.

“I want students to know they are being trained by someone who is relevant in the field and has a lot of training in the area. I want people to know you are being mentored by your instructor. Students in this program will have a lot of time with the instructor,” Tondino said.

Tondino earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Graphic Design from Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana. When she began her career in the graphic design industry it was a period of transitioning from old-school hands-on methods to modern technology, so Tondino enjoyed the best of both worlds. Her professional experience includes print industry, packaging, t-shirts, illustration, industrial web design, and she has an extensive portfolio of free-lance work. She has worked for large industries and small start-up companies alike and has the experience of being able to guide students who want to open their own free-lance businesses.

Tondino spent fifteen of her thirty plus years as a graphic designer working in Los Angeles, California. She also brings more than a decade of teaching experience to the table. “I’ve worked for a lot of recognizable national brands, and I’ve taught everything from drawing classes to chemistry labs.” she said.

The maximum number of students that can be enrolled in TCAT Dickson’s Digital Graphic Design Technology program is twenty. Student William Richardson began the program in May, and he is already working in Adobe Illustrator designing a t-shirt for a competition. “I love art, especially visual art. I have been drawing since I was an infant – pretty much my entire life. I wanted to go to trade school. I didn’t want the traditional college experience,” Richardson explained. I love creating visual art. It’s fun learning about original art and creating original pieces of art that I can put a copyright on,” he added.

TCATs across the state have an open entry open exit policy for most programs meaning as one student completes the program another can be admitted. Twenty students might be in twenty different areas in the curriculum at any one given time. The exception to this would be the healthcare career programs that maintain cohorts.

TCATs are also clock hour schools rather than credit hour schools. Students enrolled in TCAT programs will spend five days per week in their programs and six hours per day working through their curriculum. When students enroll in a program all their courses are outlined for them. They do not have to sign up for multiple classes all over campus on different days to complete their diplomas. Outside of clinicals for healthcare careers students, all other students work in the same classroom and lab space throughout the duration of their program.

The Digital Graphic Design program offers two certificates and one diploma. If students want to exit after earning their first or second credential they can, or they can elect to complete the entire program and earn a diploma. Additionally, students have the option to become Adobe certified in Photoshop and InDesign while they are enrolled.

Student Molly Cochran enrolled in the TCAT Dickson DGD program at the Williamson campus even though she holds degrees in advertising earned earlier in her higher education journey. “I came here to earn my professional certificates in the three main programs. I need to catch up with technology,” Cochran explained. “It’s (the program) fantastic, it’s an opportunity a lot of people don’t know about. The teacher is sensational. It’s a great way to stay up to date and take the next step,” Cochran added.

“It feels more like you are coming here to do your job every day. I encourage students to dress business casual when they come to class because you never know who might be walking in. Business contacts and employers are here almost every day to see the building. They notice students sitting in the classroom looking professional,” Tondino pointed out.

TCATs also have programmatic advisory committees which help steer the programs to keep the curriculum current and relevant to the needs of the employers in the area. Advisory committees are made up of business partners, entrepreneurs, vendors, and suppliers who work in graphic design or sell to graphic designers.

Another lesser-known fact is TCAT Dickson accepts financial aid and veterans benefits and many students graduate debt free.

“One of the most impressive aspects of the Digital Graphics Design Program is the state-of-the-art Mac lab. That shows we are taking this seriously,” Tondino said.

While Richardson enjoys the learning opportunities he has, the new space, and the cleanliness of the building, he has his sights set on the finish line. “It will be awesome to graduate and put my skills to use,” he said.

Anyone interested in touring the Digital Graphic Design program at the Williamson campus can reach out to Tondino at TCAT Dickson also offers Practical Nursing at the Williamson Campus. For additional information about Practical Nursing or any of TCAT Dickson’s other programs, visit the website at or call 615-441-6220.


TCAT Dickson is a Tennessee Board of Regents institution, is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education, and complies with non-discrimination laws: Title VI, Title IX, Section 504, and ADA. Located on Highway 46 in Dickson, the technical training college also has extension campuses in Clarksville, and Franklin. Additional information about the school is located at

William Richardson (seated) a TCAT Dickson – Williamson Campus student enrolled in the Digital Graphic Design Technology program works in the state-of-the-art Mac lab as instructor Lisa Tondino offers suggestions on the illustration he is creating for a t-shirt. Tondino has more than three decades of graphic design experience and is eager to help students learn the trade.

TCAT Dickson – Williamson Campus student William Richardson receives directions on t-shirt logo designing from instructor Lisa Tondino. Richardson started the program in May under the tutelage of Tondino, a thirty plus year veteran of the graphic design industry.