Nearly 300 receive degrees Saturday at Tusculum College

Posted on 08 May 2017 by srichey@tusculum.edu

Graduating from Tusculum College during spring commencement were 292 individuals in two ceremonies held on Saturday, May. 6.

On Saturday 102 students earned Bachelor of Science degrees and 157 earned Bachelor of Arts degrees. In addition 19 graduates earned Master of Arts degrees and 11 received Master of Business Administration degrees. Three students earned Associate of Arts degrees.

Walking with this spring’s graduates were seven representatives of the Tusculum College Class of 1967 who are celebrating their 50th anniversary year. Representatives walked in the procession, clothed in golden caps and gowns and were recognized during the ceremony by Dr. Moody.

The new graduates were addressed by Tusculum President Nancy B. Moody, who recognized the hard work of the path to graduation, saying “Commencement is an occasion of celebration and completion. It is a culmination event for the graduates.” Adding, “Today is a testament to your efforts, to your persistence. Each of you made sacrifices, made adjustments and made some tough decisions along the way.”

She told the group, that while there was no doubt they were thinking about the many people in their lives who have stood by them on this journey, that graduation day was a moment to celebrate the completion of a goal they had worked hard to attain. “Relish the victory that you claim today.”

The Golden Pioneers, represented by Robert Ken Conner and the Class of 2017, represented by Carrie Rose of Knoxville, presented a check to Dr. Moody for $2,685.08 as a gift to the college to be used to endow the Tusculum First Scholarship.

The new graduates were addressed by Alan Levine, president and CEO of Mountain States Health Alliance. With 20 years of hospital operations experience, Levine has served as CEO of hospitals and health systems from rural north Florida to the fifth-largest public not-for-profit health system in the nation.

Speaker Alan Levine

In his comments, he shared with the graduates in both ceremonies the choice they have in front of them. There are two possible futures, he said, one of integrity and faith; hard work and joy, or one of hopelessness and pain; anger and darkness. “You will be propelled into the future by what binds you, not by what separates you,” he said. He encouraged the graduates to put to use the qualities of a Tusculum graduate that include civic responsibility, practical wisdom and a passion for life-long learning.

“Don’t be discouraged by the negative,” he advised, and “be who you are and like who you are.” He added that it is good to be ambitious and achieve success, but “never forget where you came from. In order to be great, you must first be good.”

Speaking at the morning ceremony were Brittany Vang Moua and Jonathan Spicher.

Moua chose Tusculum because it offered her the flexible schedule necessary to maintain a balance with family, work and school. She is a technology manager at Oak Ridge Associated Universities and received her MBA degree on Saturday.  She is married to Sean Moua and they have four children.

Moua’s path to her MBA was a difficult one, compounded with a diagnosis of cancer half-way through the program. She told the graduates that there was a time when she questioned if finishing her degree was where she should be focusing her energies, but it was important to her and she wanted to be there on this day to graduate alongside her sister, Tia, also receiving her MBA.

“There were three keys to how I did it,” she said, “Passion, a supportive network and my faith. You can do anything you set your mind to.” She also announced that she was now not only finishing her degree program, but was also cancer-free.

Spicher, this year’s recipient of the President’s Award, has a 4.0 cumulative grade point average. He was named the Men’s Soccer Scholar Athlete of the Year for 2016 by the South Atlantic Conference and has been named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America team for a two consecutive years. Spicher was also named as the inaugural recipient of the SAC Men’s Soccer Elite 18 Award for having the highest GPA at the final site of the 2016 Men’s Soccer Championship.

Spicher talked about remembering the good times, but also recognizing that it was the challenging times that led to growth. “Anyone is the blacksmith of his own life,” he quoted from a German saying of his childhood. “Education is not received. It is achieved. Celebrate that you have successfully overcome those challenges in your lives. Whatever is next – it will be a continuation of your education. Face the challenges. They show you what it means to be a Pioneer.”

Speaking during the afternoon ceremony was Jamie Arnold. Arnold received an associate degree in early childhood education from Northeast State Community College prior to enrolling in the K – 6 education program at Tusculum. While at Tusculum she discovered her love of teaching middle grades and sought an additional middle school teaching endorsement.  Following her graduation today, she plans on pursuing a master’s degree in education at Tusculum.

Arnold spoke about being inspired by her professors and discovering her passion for teaching. “There are always challenges and obstacles in life. Make the choice to persevere, and know the biggest challenges often lie within ourselves.” She added that success is always possible if one keeps moving forward.

Also during the ceremony, members of the Tusculum College faculty were recognized. Receiving the Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership award for the Residential College was Dr. Troy Goodale. Receiving the award for the Graduate and Professional Studies program was Dr. Michael Dillon and Dr. Peggy Goodson-Rochelle.

2017 Golden Pioneers with Dr. Nancy B. Moody

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