Family and friends of Northeast State Community College’s Class of 2012 cheered as the graduates entered the Mountain States Health Alliance Athletic Center at East Tennessee State University Tuesday night to receive their degrees and certificates.
More than 1,000 degrees and certificates were awarded, including five academic certificates, 89 technical certificates, 388 associate of applied science degrees, 36 associate of arts degrees, 31 associate of science in teaching degrees and 457 associate of science degrees.
Erikka Shuttle said she went to Northeast State because she wanted to stay close to her home in Bristol, but always knew she wanted to do something in the medical field.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” she said. “I didn’t want to be a nurse, so I just kind of followed somebody in dental assisting and went with it.”
Shuttle said she took classes at the main campus for the required prerequisites and is in the process of completing her dental assisting degree at the Kingsport branch campus, where she will officially finish at the end of the summer semester.
“It was a good experience, a lot of one-on-one professors,” Shuttle said.
Joseph Slonaker said he was always fiddling around and working on things while growing up, so when he heard about Eastman Chemical Co. offering co-op mechanic’s positions, he decided to look into the electromechanical pre-engineering program at Northeast State.
“I thought that was right up my alley,” he said. “Northeast had the co-op and everything with them, so I just came in and did the program. It turned out to be pretty good.”
Slonaker said the class sizes were fairly small, and that he felt as though people at Northeast wanted him to succeed.
“Everybody was very concerned with my education. They wanted to make sure, you know, that I had everything I need to further my education,” he said.
He is scheduled to complete his co-op with Eastman in June and will become a permanent employee with the company working as a mechanic.
“It’s amazing, especially in this economy and everything. It’s a blessing from God just to have a job,” Slonaker said.
Another graduate that will be working with Eastman after graduation is Amy Stacy-Litz.
Stacy-Litz said she is somewhat of a non-traditional college student having waited 20 years before going back to school.
“I was a little intimidated, so I thought I’ll go try Northeast State first and I was pleasantly surprised. It was great,” she said.
Finishing up a two year degree in office administration technology, she said she was fortunate enough to have an internship at Eastman during her program and has now been hired as a full-time staffing assistant.
Stacy-Litz said her time at Northeast has been a great experience.
“The schedules are flexible, because you know, I have a husband and a 6-year-old, so I try to find a time that I could be at school and be at home too,” she said. “It was good as far as the classes being available when I needed them.”
Dr. Janice H. Gilliam, president of Northeast State Community College, gave the opening remarks to graduates and recognized J. Allen Hurley as the recipient of the Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy, as well as introduced state Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, as this year’s commencement speaker.