More than 300 students were graduated Saturday morning during the winter commencement at Tusculum College. Ceremonies began at 11 a.m. in the Pioneer Arena located in the Niswonger Commons. Drew Miles and Sudipa Shrestha presented brief student addresses on behalf of the graduating class.
Miles, a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management major from Knoxville, discussed the Graduate and Professional Studies program approach and the type of students, mostly working adults, who take advantage of it, as he did. For such students, mixing academic life with their family and professional lives is an “amazing balancing act,” Miles said. He noted that the GPS program “sets students up to be successful.” He challenged everyone present to find and congratulate a graduate before leaving the campus on Saturday, including graduates they do now know personally.
Shrestha, a senior Business Administration major with a concentration in accounting, recounted her own history of personal drive for academic success, including starting school at at 3-and-a-half in her native Nepal. “I was the happiest when I was in school … since then my passion to learn has never lessened,” she said. She talked of the unexpected nature of her life experiences, including “traveling 7,000 miles” to attend Tusculum College, and her expectation of soon entering the international business world in New York. She said that Tusculum has given her the “lessons of courage, moral integrity and diplomacy.”
Also addressing the audience was Interim President Dr. Russell Nichols, who discussed the diversity of the graduating class and the fact that each member will “take Tusculum College with you wherever you go the rest of your life.” He wished for them the “good fortune to earn,” and expressed hope that they would find it in themselves to “return” from the fruits of their successes by supporting good causes throughout their lives.
The baccalaureate sermon, entitled “The Fine Art of Failure” was presented by Campus Chaplain Dr. Stephen R. Weisz. He emphasized the capacity of failure to teach life lessons, noting that Thomas Edison, the famed inventor, declared he had more failures than successes in life, but today is remembered as a successful person. Edison’s philosophy was to apply the lessons learned in failure to move forward into success, Weisz said.
Conferring the degrees was Dr. Nichols and Dr. Kimberly K. Estep, provost and academic vice president.
Two bagpipers, Jon Shell and Ben Pollard, led the commencement processional, as is traditional at Tusculum College. Organist James Winfree provided musical accompaniment, with vocal music led by Jill Jones of the Tusculum College staff.