Graduate speakers in Tusculum’s afternoon commencement ceremony were left, Rick Monroe of Knoxville and right, Tyler Bright of Limestone.
GREENEVILLE — More than 270 individuals graduated from Tusculum College during winter commencement ceremonies held at the college on Saturday.
Of the 276 grads to cross the stage, 76 students earned Bachelor of Science degrees and 119 earned Bachelor of Arts degrees. In addition, 81 graduates earned Master of Arts degrees.
The first graduates of Tusculum’s new MBA program were conferred degrees in the afternoon ceremony.
The graduates were addressed by Tusculum President Nancy B. Moody, who recognized the hard work of the path to graduation, saying “you have made a commitment and stuck with it to the point that you have forever changed the direction of your life for the better.”
“I am confident that you learned to think critically, not to accept at face value everything you read, hear, or see," she added. "You demonstrated your ability to debate ideas and to see both sides of an argument before making judgment. These are a few of the qualities of an educated person.
“May you be fortunate enough to earn in the years ahead, and may you be wise enough to return some of your blessings to those who aspire to follow in your footsteps.”
The afternoon commencement opened with local entrepreneur Scott Niswonger addressing the students.
Niswonger is the chairman of Landair Transport, Inc. and is chairman emeritus of Forward Air Corporation. In addition, Niswonger is an alumnus of the college, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration in 1987 and then a Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2006. He also serves as a member of the Tusculum College Board of Trustees.
Niswonger talked about his motto, “Learn, Earn and Return.”
“The learning is what we continue to do every day," he told graduates. "It does not end with your graduation today. It’s just beginning. As Louis Pasteur once said, ‘Change favors the prepared mind.’ Being informed and educated is a major part of your preparedness.
“The second part of this concept is earning. Earning money is what we do to provide for ourselves and loved ones needs. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to earn money, but money in itself or simply striving to attain material possessions should not be your driving motivation.
“The third element, return, means you have the responsibility to return a portion of your time, talents and resources to help your church, community, state, nation and alma mater. Just being educated isn’t enough. You have to be a good citizen.”
Four student speakers addressed the graduates, including Robin Barnett of Talbott, who received a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Barnett spoke about the challenges of going to college after an extended period of time after high school. “I think I knew deep down that I could be more,” she said. “Even though I was thrilled with my life with my kids, I felt like I would end up stuck and in turn short changing my children as well as myself by not finding something that would make me whole.”
Also speaking at the morning ceremony was Amanda McCamey, graduating with a Master of Arts in Teaching. McCamey is from Knoxville and prior to her enrollment in the Graduate and Professional Studies Program was a stay-at-home mother.
“Everything seemed to fall into place from there. Still, there existed some hesitancy on my part. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back to school, it was a huge commitment for me at the time. And if the thought of going back to school wasn’t scary enough, I was selecting a totally different career path,” McCamey told her fellow graduates. “It was definitely one of those moments when you find yourself at a crossroads. And, sometimes in this type of decision dilemma you simply need to be courageous and take a risk.”
In the afternoon ceremony, student speakers included Tyler L. Bright of Limestone and Rick Monroe of Knoxville.
Bright, a junior majoring in mathematics in the residential program, is a member of the Honors Program, and he is a member of the Tusculum College marching, concert and jazz bands. Monroe received an MBA and previously received his bachelor’s degree in organizational management in 2000 from Tusculum.
Bright provided advice about future achievement by citing examples from his own college career.
“I wanted to get involved at Tusculum College and become immersed in what it had to offer,” he said. “What resulted was Tusculum seeming like a home away from home.”
Monroe spoke of dropping out of high school and the perception on education it gave him.
“It was at this time I received one of those life lessons that developed one of my philosophies for life, that being – success happens when preparation meets opportunity," he said. "I felt I had missed out on a golden opportunity because I didn’t have a diploma. From that point on, I made a commitment to make sure that wouldn’t happen again.”
Mark Stokes, director of religious life, church and community relations at Tusculum College, presented a sermon titled, “Learn Something New.” He addressed life-long learning and the awareness of what is still left to learn. He told them never to think they know so much that they no longer need God’s guidance.
“College was never meant to teach you everything you need to know. It merely equips you," he said. "An education is meant to give you all the mental tools you need to dig out the deep treasures of life. But, you must do the digging.”