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Two Tusculum College students spend semester in Ireland

Posted on 21 October 2016 by

Two Tusculum College students are well into their fall semester, but not at the Greeneville campus. Instead, Haylee Reed and Kristen Wiggins are taking classes at universities in Ireland.

Reed, a senior biology major from Winchester, is attending the University of Ulster in Colerain, Ireland, and Wiggins, a sophomore history major from Johnson City, is attending Queens University in Belfast, Ireland, through the Irish-American Scholars Program supported by Tusculum College.

The Irish-American Scholars Program is designed to promote an understanding of Northern Ireland culture and religion.

Kristen Wiggins

“I’ve always wanted to study abroad and I love to travel and see new cultures,” said Wiggins. “I went to Barcelona a year ago with Tusculum College, and it was amazing. Ronda Gentry recommended me to the Irish-American Scholars Program, which is why I went to Ireland.”

She added that her month in Ireland has been the best of her life. “The Irish people are phenomenally nice and Belfast, even though it’s a city, is quiet and feels like home. Queens University is absolutely amazing, and I’m seriously considering coming back for graduate school now. The academic side of being here is much less intimidating than I initially thought and easy to adjust to.”

She said she would highly recommend the program to anyone interested in study abroad. “It gives you the opportunity to go on so many adventures and branch outside of your comfort zone like you wouldn’t at home. I never knew adjusting to living in a different country could be so easy.”

Wiggins is blogging about her experience at

Reed reported that her courses are going very well so far and there is always much to do in Northern Ireland. “If my classes don’t keep me busy then my weekend trips around the rest of the U.K. sure do,” she said. “My courses here include a lot of hands-on learning and field excursions to many historical places in Northern Ireland like the Giant’s Causeway. There are also many cultural events always happening at and around campus so it’s a very encompassing place to be.”

She agreed that study abroad is an exceptional opportunity. “I truly love the opportunity I’ve gotten to study abroad here, and I encourage anyone else to give study abroad the chance, if not to Northern Ireland, then somewhere else just as amazing, if that is possible. It’s just great craic!” (“Craic” is Irish slang for a great time.)

Studying abroad offers Tusculum students the ability to experience a culture and educational system outside their own, according to Rev. Dr. Ronda Gentry, director of the Center for Civic Advancement at Tusculum College.

“In an increasingly global society it is important for Tusculum students to be aware of and have experience with other cultures and know how to work with and relate to diverse groups. Employers are seeking students who not only have global awareness but global experience. By studying abroad our students are better prepared professionally for their future. Further, our students learn more about themselves, their chosen field of study, and the global community. I highly encourage students to study abroad, as they will not only be better prepared for the work-force, but they will be better engaged and informed world citizens.”

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Tusculum College offering enrollment opportunity for registered nurses in family nurse practitioner master’s degree program

Posted on 17 October 2016 by

Tusculum College is now offering an RN to MSN track for registered nurses interested in pursuing an advanced degree in the Master of Science in nursing program.

According to Dr. Lois Ewen, dean of nursing, health sciences and human services, the Master of Science in Nursing degree prepares graduate advanced practice registered nurses as quality providers to meet healthcare needs of individuals, families and populations in surrounding communities.

“The MSN is the professional degree that prepares nurse practitioners to meet the dynamic and identified healthcare needs of local, regional and global societies,” said Dr. Ewen.

Upon completion of the accelerated Masters of Science in Nursing Program, graduates are eligible to sit for certification in the chosen specialty area.

Dr. Linda Garrett, assistant dean of nursing, health sciences and human services and chair of graduate nursing, the MSN program has experienced faculty that provide mentorship and support to students.

“The emphasis of the program is on use of evidence-based knowledge and skills to lead the healthcare team, encourage health promotion, diagnose and treat acute and chronic illness and evaluate the plan of care. However, critical thinking and decision-making skills are also emphasized and upon completion of the program, the student is prepared for doctoral level study in nursing.

“Nurse practitioners provide primary care across the lifespan to people of all ages with simple to complex illnesses. We have the same privileges that family physicians have, such as prescribing medications,” said Dr. Garrett.

Applications for enrollment in the program are currently available with classes beginning in January for nurses with associates degrees. Nurses with a bachelor’s degree who are interested in the program may apply now as well, with a start date of August 2017.

Individuals with interest in attending the family nurse practitioner program should contact the nursing department at or 423-636-7430 for more information.


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Tusculum College student retention rates highest in 10 years

Posted on 14 October 2016 by

With official 2016-17 enrollment numbers recorded in September, Tusculum College official have announced that student retention numbers are the highest in 10 years for the college’s residential program.

According to Lisa Johnson, associate vice president for academic affairs, student success and engagement, this year’s retention rate was recorded at 68 percent, 9.1 percent over the previous year, and beating the previous high of 62 percent in 2014.

Student retention is defined as the percentage of first-time, full-time undergraduate students who enter during a fall term and re-enroll the following fall term.

“Tusculum College is committed to supporting student growth in and outside the classroom,” said Dr. Johnson. “As reflected in our mission statement, our intention is to promote intellectual and social growth along with full preparation for professional life. Our commitment is to provide all necessary resources for authentic learning, persistence to graduation and readiness of our graduates to participate in their professional and civic spheres.”

A big part of this effort was the implementation of the college’s new Individual Health through Community Wellness program, called S.P.I.E.S. (social, physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual). A full schedule of weekly S.P.I.E.S. events have been implemented, which are held each Wednesday to address issues pertaining to S.P.I.E.S. health and wellness. According to Dr. Johnson, these events are interactive and include full engagement of faculty and staff and have been exceptionally well received by students.

Additionally, a peer mentoring program was implemented by Tusculum College’s Student Support Services department that provides peer mentors for students in both the residential and Graduate and Professional Studies programs. SSS staff are currently pursuing national certification for these programs.

Dr. Johnson added that the college’s Tutoring Center has experienced significant growth in utilization of services over previous years. The Nelson Learning Resources Program operated by the Tutoring Center provides students with textbooks for loan. “These services have been a key factor in the retention of several students.  The Nelson Learning Resources Project experiences have increased utilization each year.”


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David Massengill wins full tuition scholarship to Tusculum College in “Finish Strong” essay competition

Posted on 14 October 2016 by

David Massengill of Knoxville was the winner of a full tuition scholarship to Tusculum College in the “Finish Strong” essay competition.  Winners and finalists were announced on Thursday, Oct. 13, at Tusculum College’s Knoxville Regional Center.

“We are pleased to announce the winner and to welcome him to the Tusculum College family,” said Dr. Lisa Johnson, associate vice president for student success and assistant professor of education. “The Tusculum College Finish Strong Scholarship Giveaway recognizes the hard work and sacrifices our adult students put forth when returning to school to finish their degree.”

Massengill expressed his gratitude at the award and thanked his family for their encouragement for him to follow his dreams. “Teaching kids has always been something I have done well, but I’ve never done it in an official capacity. It’s time for me to go toward that calling,” he said.

First runner up and finalists were also announced and received recognition. First runner up was Crystal Boatman of Morristown. Finalists were Valerie Fritts of Maryville, Crystal Bontrager of Newport and Samantha Taylor of Dandridge.

“Tusculum has always been committed to providing education to the community in meaningful ways. As the first in the region to offer accredited adult-oriented degree programs, we furthered our commitment to making lifelong education possible for those living in the communities we serve,” said Dr. Johnson.

“Balancing work, family and school can be challenging, and our adult students put in a great deal of time, effort, heart and soul to fulfill their dream of a college degree. This Scholarship Giveaway is a great opportunity for the Tusculum community to honor these Pioneers who go the extra mile to further the future of their families.”

“While it is our extreme pleasure to be able to offer this scholarship to the winner, it was not easy to choose one from the five worthy finalists. We hope that each of you will continue to seek out ways to attain your degree because you all exhibit qualities key to succeeding: perseverance, strong work ethic and an unwavering commitment to your goal,” said Dr. Johnson.

In his winning essay, Massengill wrote about how he would like to earn a teaching degree and put skills he has developed throughout his lifetime to use in the classroom.

Currently a small business owner with a photography business, Massengill has spent numerous hours coaching, as well as teaching budding photographers. He also sees a path to serving others through education.

“I think the most life-changing thing I do with this degree is to use it to change multiple other lives. If I can share my knowledge and experiences with others, I can hopefully send them down a more straightforward and successful path than my own. And there’s no measuring system for that,” wrote Massengill in his winning essay.

Massengill will begin taking classes toward his degree in the upcoming spring semester in the interdisciplinary studies (education, K-5) program.

“Getting people back to school to finish their degrees is life changing, said Dr. Johnson. “Through this essay contest, we learned individual stories of our students and hope to be able to share them with others who wish to follow in their footsteps.”

The grand prize package consists of a tuition-paid scholarship to one of Tusculum College’s degree-completion programs which can be redeemed at any of the Knoxville, Morristown or Greeneville locations and can be applied to pay all of the regular tuition charges for an undergraduate degree-completion program in business administration, management, interdisciplinary studies (education, K-5) and psychology, behavioral health concentration.

For more information on Tusculum’s degree programs or financial aid, contact the Tusculum College Admissions Office at 888.488.7285.


David Massengill, center, was the winner of a full tuition scholarship to Tusculum College after his essay was selected among the many entries submitted. Presenting the award were left, Dr. Lisa Johnson, and far right, Steve Gehret.


Finalists in the Finish Strong scholarship competition were from left, David Massengill, Crystal Boatman, Samantha Taylor, Crystal Bontrager and Valerie Fritts.


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Baileyton Middle School Students Visit Paul E. Hayden Educational Wetland

Posted on 13 October 2016 by

More than 30 sixth grade students from Baileyton Middle School visited the Paul E. Hayden Educational Wetland on the Tusculum College campus in September for a morning of hands-on activities led by Middle Nolichucky Watershed Alliance educators and volunteers.

Students rotated through five half hour sessions learning about several different aspects of wetlands. Several activities were taken from Project WET Wonders of Wetlands curriculum and all activities align with state and national science standards. Students learned about different types of wetlands, plants and animals that thrive in wetlands, how to test the pH and Dissolved Oxygen of water, how to determine energy needs of wetland animals and were introduced to the concept of bioaccumulation.

Thanks goes to the Tennessee Division of Forestry for providing additional tents for the students. Two more school groups are scheduled to visit the wetland next Spring. If you are interested in having a group to the wetland, please contact the Middle Nolichucky Watershed Alliance at

Students learn about wetland functions

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Katie Tassell named senior enrollment representative at Tusculum College

Posted on 12 October 2016 by

Katie Tassell has been promoted to senior enrollment representative at Tusculum College. She will assume her new duties on Nov. 1.

Tassell joined Tusculum College in December 2015. Her office is located in Virginia Hall on the Greeneville campus and she oversees recruitment for the Upper East Tennessee area.

Katie Tassell

A 2010 graduate of Tusculum, Tassell is also the owner of KFit, LLC, located in Greeneville. KFit is an in-home personal training business. During her time at Tusculum, she was a member of the Tusculum College cross country team.

“We are excited to announce Katie as our senior enrollment representative,” said Lindsey Seal, director of GPS enrollment.

“Katie is a team player, goes above and beyond what is expected of her every time and truly believes in Tusculum’s mission. She is a great asset to Tusculum and is always at the ready to assist working adults who want to complete or begin their college undergraduate degree or those who are ready to begin their master’s degree program.”

For more information on Tusculum College enrollment and admissions, call 888-488-7285.


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Haints and Boogers – A Frightful Good Time!

Posted on 10 October 2016 by

Bats are fluttering in the windows and ghosts eerily float through the air. The Thomas J. Garland Library at Tusculum College is all decked out for the college’s annual “Haints and Boogers” program.

The event will be held on Thursday, Oct. 27, and will explore the question, “Why do we tell ghost stories?” Beginning at 6 p.m., in the lobby of the library, the lights will dim upon costumed librarians and staff as they tell a wide selection of ghost stories from Tusculum’s campus and the surrounding areas.

“Haints and Boogers” is a fun, family-friendly event that should last approximately one hour. Refreshments will be served following the program. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Kathy Hipps, library director, at

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Dr. Jason Pierce named vice president of academic affairs

Dr. Jason Pierce named vice president of academic affairs

Posted on 06 October 2016 by

Dr. Jason Pierce has been named vice president of academic affairs for Tusculum College effective January 2, 2017.  Dr. Pierce replaces Dr. Ron May who announced his retirement in April.

Dr. Pierce comes to Tusculum from Mars Hill University, where he has served most recently as interim vice president for academic affairs and enrollment management.

“Dr. Pierce’s exemplary record of achievement as a teacher, a scholar, an academic administrator and advocate for higher education will ensure that Tusculum College realizes its full potential in the years ahead. I look forward to having Dr. Pierce join the Tusculum College Family,” said Dr. Nancy B. Moody, president of Tusculum College

Dr. Jason Pierce (Photo courtesy of Mars Hill University)

As chief academic officer, Dr. Pierce will be responsible for the academic integrity of the institution, for all programs and administrative offices related to the academic enterprise, and — in consultation with faculty, officers, and trustees — for long-range academic strategic planning, resource allocation and the implementation of new academic programs.

In his career, Dr. Pierce has served in both academic and administrative roles at Mars Hill University, serving as assistant and associate vice president for academic affairs, chief information officer, SACSCOC accreditation liaison and as director of institutional effectiveness.  He has served as chair of the division of humanities, as chair of the department of English and as webmaster. He also taught English as an assistant and an associate professor.

Dr. Pierce earned his doctorate in English from the University of South Carolina. He also holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Maine and a Master of Letters in Scottish literature from the University of Saint Andrews, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maine.

He is widely published academically and has presented nationally on a variety of topics, including programs to support first-year student persistence and models for college Honors programs.

Dr. Pierce has been married to Dr. Joanna Tapp Pierce, a faculty member at Mars Hill, for seventeen years. They have two sons.


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Professional assistance in filling out FAFSA to be offered by Tusculum College in sessions at local high schools in October

Posted on 29 September 2016 by

Filling out the necessary financial forms for college can be challenging, and sessions are planned this month to provide assistance to high school students and their parents with this important step in preparing for higher education.

A series of “FAFSA Frenzy” programs have been scheduled by Tusculum College to help families find answers to their questions about the financial aid process as well as receive assistance with completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) forms that are required as a first step in the process to receive financial aid, including the Tennessee Promise program.

In past years the FAFSA dates have been in January, however, this year the FAFSA may be completed beginning October 1. According to the Federal Student Aid website the reason for the change was to align application and college decision cycles with federal aid. This is to allow students and parents to have more time to evaluate colleges, explore options and apply for all potential financial aid before the national decision deadline of May 1. Sessions are scheduled at each of the local high schools in Greene County.

Professionals from Tusculum College’s Financial Aid staff will provide their professional assistance at each of these “FAFSA Frenzy” events as a community service. The events are open to all high school students, not only those who may be interested in attending Tusculum.

Sessions will be held at all five high schools in Greene County:  Monday, Oct. 17 at Chuckey-Doak High School from 3-6 p.m.; Tuesday, Oct. 18 at North Greene High School from 3-6 p.m.; Monday, Oct. 24 at West Greene High School from 3-6 p.m.; Tuesday, Oct. 25 at South Greene High School from 3-6 p.m.; and Thursday, Oct. 27 at Greeneville High School from 5-7 p.m.

The events will have a “drop in” format, and students and their families are welcome to come by anytime during the scheduled period to receive assistance.

“Students and parents who are not familiar with the process can find the FAFSA and other financial forms puzzling, and we are looking forward to offering our assistance to these families,” said Melissa Ripley, executive director of enrollment management operations and traditional admission at the college. “Tusculum College is pleased to be able to provide this service to our community and share our expertise with students and their parents as they prepare for this important step in their lives no matter what school they choose to attend”.

Students and parents are asked to bring their 2015 tax returns if available to the event.

FAFSA forms are used to determine eligibility for federal and state funds such as Pell grants, Stafford loans, PLUS loans work-study programs and the Tennessee Promise program, and must be completed each academic year for which a student wishes to seek aid.

Students and parents are encouraged to apply for financial aid as soon as possible. The deadline for the Tennessee Student Assistance Award is March 1 for 2017. Tusculum’s Financial Aid Office recommends that students apply as quickly as possible to assure that their applications will be considered for aid types that typically become limited or exhausted long before school begins in August.

For more information about FAFSA Frenzy, please contact Ripley at 636-7374 or or contact one of the Financial Aid counselors at 636-7377 or


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Tusculum named to Presidential Honor Roll for Community Service for tenth time

Tusculum named to Presidential Honor Roll for Community Service for tenth time

Posted on 26 September 2016 by

Tusculum College has been honored by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education with a place on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the tenth year in a row. This year, Tusculum received an additional recognition: Honor Roll with Distinction, for the first time since 2007.

The designation recognizes colleges and universities for exemplary service efforts and service to America’s communities.

Tusculum College was selected for the Honor Roll for its work in education, hunger, homelessness, environmental stewardship, economic empowerment and youth development in the East Tennessee region. Students have worked with Rural Resources, Greene County Habitat for Humanity, the Greeneville and Greene County school systems, the Boys and Girls Club, Opportunity House, the United Way of Greene County, the Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park and many other groups.

“Since 1794 Tusculum College has desired to teach its students to serve their communities and to develop strong values that included service to humankind,” said Tusculum College President Nancy B. Moody.

According to Dr. Ronda Gentry, director of the Tusculum College Center for Civic Advancement, 172,301.5 hours were recorded by members of the Tusculum College community during 2015. This included community service through service learning courses, the Bonner Leader program, student athletes, Nettie McCormick Fowler Service Day, Upward Bound and many other groups associated with Tusculum College.

“The vast majority of our service hours are contributed by our students,” said Dr. Gentry. “However, the idea of service and giving back to the community is prevalent among everyone associated with the college.”

Dr. Gentry added that the hours recorded for 2015 were contributed by 2,644 volunteers.

“We calculate the average value of an hour of service at $23.07 per hour, making our contribution in 2015 a total value to the community of $3,974,995.60.

Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement. Honorees for the award were chosen based on a series of selection factors including scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.

The Honor Roll is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, in collaboration with the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll is presented during the annual conference of the American Council on Education.

The complete list of schools recognized is at


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Finish Strong teaser 2016-03 (1)

Deadline approaching for Finish Strong tuition-paid scholarship competition at Tusculum College

Posted on 26 September 2016 by

The deadline to apply for a full tuition scholarship to Tusculum College is approaching. The Finish Strong Scholarship Giveaway closes on Friday, Sept. 30.

“We don’t want anyone to miss this great opportunity to complete their undergraduate degree through one of our Graduate and Professional Studies programs with a tuition-paid scholarship,” said Lindsey Seal, director of Graduate and Professional Studies enrollment at Tusculum College. “The Tusculum College Finish Strong Scholarship Giveaway recognizes the hard work and sacrifices our adult students put forth when returning to school to finish their degree.”

This is the second year Tusculum College has offered the competition. This year’s winner will be able to start their program Spring 2017. Advanced registration dates have been scheduled for November 10 in Greeneville, November 16 in Morristown and December 1 in Knoxville.

“Getting people back to school to finish their degrees is life changing,” said Seal. “Through this essay contest, we learn the individual stories of our students and are able to share them with others who wish to follow in their footsteps. The bonus is that one lucky participant will receive a full tuition scholarship as a prize.”

The winner of last year’s Finish Strong contest was Aimee Teffeteller of Maryville. Teffeteller is enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program and plans to major in education. “Winning the Finish Strong scholarship has been such a blessing,” said Teffeteller.  “It has enabled me to finish my degree without the financial burden that comes with continuing one’s education.  I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity.”

The Finish Strong Scholarship Giveaway is open to all legal U.S. residents age 18 or older with a valid Social Security number at the time of entry. The winner must submit the following:  an application for admission and be accepted to an undergraduate degree program at Tusculum College, an essay and official transcripts of all college level work from regionally accredited schools demonstrating a minimum of a 2.0 grade point average and the equivalent of 54 semester hours or an associate’s degree. Currently enrolled Tusculum College students are ineligible to win.

The required essay should describe how obtaining an undergraduate degree from Tusculum College will transform the entrant’s life.

There is no charge or fee to submit the essay or enter the contest. The essay submitted must contain between 250 and 500 words to be considered a valid entry. In addition to the required essay submission, entrants are encouraged to promote actively their participation in the Scholarship Contest via social media, using #finishstrong. Social media participation is not part of the criteria for eligibility or for judging the best essays.

One grand prize will be awarded. The grand prize package consists of a tuition-paid scholarship to one of Tusculum College’s undergraduate degree-completion programs which can be redeemed at any of the Knoxville, Morristown or Greeneville locations or used for an online program. The scholarship may be applied to pay all of the regular tuition charges for an undergraduate degree-completion program in business administration, management, interdisciplinary studies (education, K-5) and psychology,  behavioral health concentration.

Enrollment into one of the four undergraduate degree programs is subject to availability at the respective class location.  The winner is responsible for paying all other charges, fees and amounts payable by a student enrolled in the program and will not be eligible to receive any additional institutional-based scholarships.

The prize may be combined with other forms of financial aid available through Tusculum College.

To enter, the essay must be submitted in writing to the Tusculum College admissions office. Entrants may visit Tusculum College’s “Finish Strong Scholarship” website at to submit the online entry form.

The Finish Strong Scholarship Giveaway is provided by Tusculum College in partnership with Food City and WIVK-Radio. Both Food City and WIVK continue to promote the contest in the greater Knoxville area during the term of the event

A complete copy of the rules may be obtained at the Tusculum College Admissions Office, 60 Shiloh Road, P.O.  Box 5051, Greeneville, TN 37743, during normal operation hours, Monday through Friday, or by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to the above address.


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Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett to “Rock the Vote” with Tusculum College on Wednesday, Sept. 28

Posted on 21 September 2016 by

Helping students and the community get registered to vote is the goal of Tusculum College’s Rock the Vote event, scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 28 in the Pioneer Arena in Niswonger Commons. The event will feature keynote speaker Tre Hargett, Tennessee Secretary of State.

The event will be held from 1:30-3:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Secretary Hargett will also be available to answer questions about voter registration and Tusculum College will provide an opportunity for voter registration on site. Also during the event a mock vote will be held and plans are also to have interactive games on the democratic system.

Hargett was elected by the Tennessee General Assembly to serve as Tennessee’s 37th secretary of state in 2009 and reelected in 2013. He is the chief executive officer of the Department of State with oversight of more than 300 employees.

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

In order to help increase voter registration, turnout and awareness across Tennessee, Secretary Hargett launched the GoVoteTN campaign. Through this program, during the month of September, which is National Voter Registration Month, Tennesseans should have someone take a picture of them holding an “I’m registered to vote. Are you?” sign, then post it using the hashtag #GoVoteTN.

A flurry of posts is expected on Tuesday, Sept. 27 to celebrate National Voter Registration Day.

“This is a great educational opportunity for our students and our community,” said Courtney Washburn, program coordinator for the Center for Civic Advancement at Tusculum College. “We want to educate and also get people registered to vote, and this is an open, fun way to reach those goals.”

The Rock the Vote event is a project in support of Constitution Day and is supported by the Center for Civic Advancement, the Bonner Leader Program and Tusculum’s Service Learning program. Additionally, it is part of the S.P.I.E.S. initiative, a campus-wide Individual Wellness through Community Engagement initiative.

For more information, contact Courtney Washburn, program coordinator for the Center for Civic Advancement, at


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