Speaker at Tusculum University graduation highlights the influence one person can have on another; president confers 87 degrees during ceremony

GREENEVILLETusculum University’s summer graduation speaker told his audience that everyone impacts and influences others, and he encouraged his classmates and others in attendance to use those moments in the right way.

Eric Jones speaks during the graduation ceremony.

“We must devote our time, planning, effort, energy, preparation and much more in hopes of benefiting another,” Eric Jones said in his remarks at the Pioneer Park ceremony, held Saturday, Aug. 14. “The best part is that we all have the same opportunity to do this – to maybe change a life.“

Jones, who earned a Master of Arts in organizational training and performance management, was one of 87 graduates for the summer commencement. Fifty-five of the graduates received master’s degrees, and the rest earned bachelor’s and associate degrees.

As he spoke, Jones reflected on his life and the way many people have changed its trajectory for the better. He said he included his 4.0 grade point average for his graduate program studies in his biography that appeared in the commencement program as a way to honor everyone who helped him attain his master’s degree.

These teachers, supervisors, ministers and family members have taught him valuable lessons that have guided him through the years. These lessons include the fun of learning, the importance of caring for the whole student instead of just that person’s academic performance, the value of thinking critically and challenging one’s own biases and the knowledge that salvation is in scripture alone. He commended Dr. Jeff Burleson, coordinator of Tusculum’s organizational training and performance management program, for teaching him the beneficial impact of recognizing another person’s hard work.

Jones said these individuals and the lessons they have taught have kept the many personal failings he has experienced in his life from defining him. He referred to all of them as teachers, even though some of them were not in that profession.

Dr. Scott Hummel, left, Tusculum’s president, congratulates a graduate.

“No matter what your plans are next, no matter what degree you have been awarded, no matter what profession you are pursuing, you have the opportunity to impact the environment and people around you,” Jones said. “My simple answer and encouragement is to be a teacher. Be a teacher because you might change a life forever. I stand before you today as a testament to that very real possibility.”

Like the 2020 summer graduation, having commencement in August enabled those who completed their academic requirements at this time of year to celebrate their achievement now instead of having to wait until the fall graduation in December. Dr. Scott Hummel, Tusculum’s president, said he relished the opportunity to give these graduates their turn in the spotlight.

“These outstanding graduates have performed stellar academic work, and we are pleased to have equipped them to be career-ready professionals,” Dr. Hummel said. “Using their God-given talents and the knowledge they gained from our expert professors, they will be assets to their employers and the communities they serve. We look forward to witnessing their accomplishments and seeing them demonstrate the value of a Tusculum education as alumni.”

In addition to the MAOT, degrees Dr. Hummel conferred during graduation were:

Graduates prepare to participate in commencement.

“We are honored to have been a significant part of these graduates’ academic journeys and commend these students for their perseverance,” said Dr. Tricia Hunsader, Tusculum’s provost and vice president of academic affairs. “Our faculty members have dedicated their time to giving them the foundation and principles to succeed, and we are confident those lessons will yield impressive results. The future is bright for these graduates with the education they received from Tusculum University.”