There was much to celebrate on Saturday, May 7, for 262 individuals who received degrees during Tusculum College’s spring commencement ceremony.
Ninety-six students earned Bachelor of Science degrees in organizational management and 129 earned Bachelor of Arts degrees. In addition 37 earned Master of Arts degrees.
Walking with this spring’s graduates were representatives of the Tusculum College Class of 1961 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. Nancy B. Moody, president of Tusculum College.
The new graduates were addressed by Moody, who recognized the commencement ceremony as “an occasion of celebration and completion.” Adding, “Each of you have made sacrifices, adjustments and also made tough decisions. This is a testament to your own efforts and also to your persistence. Today is your reward. Be proud of yourself and your accomplishments.”
Simon Holzapfel, a sports management major from Nuremburg, Germany, addressed the crowd as a representative of the Residential College program. Holzapfel has been accepted to the graduate program at Eastern Kentucky University.
He told the group, “I am deeply indebted to some of the faculty members. Each one of them has taught me valuable lessons, may it be through classroom lectures or outside of the classroom. Many have pushed me beyond my comfort zone and by doing so extended it.”
In particularly he singled out Dr. Kirpal Mahal, professor of physical education.
“He has taught me so much about the physical education and sports science professions, about people and about life in general that I don’t know anymore what I have learned from him. I have absorbed countless hours of conversation, mentoring, and counseling with him to the point where I cannot tell the difference anymore between what I already knew and what he has taught me,” said Holzapfel.
Robin Moore of Gatlinburg spoke on behalf of the college’s Graduate and Professional Studies education program. Moore talked about finishing her degree and the confidence it has instilled in her that was not there before.
“I know that, without this experience, I would still doubt myself. I would still see that academic misfit that just never quite could make it in school. Instead, I can look back upon my life’s experiences and know that they have made me the person I am today,” she said.
Amanda Bunch of Knoxville spoke on behalf of the Graduate and Professional Studies program in Organizational Management.
She told her fellow graduates, “I want you to look back on all of your hard work and dedication and use all these skills to tackle any challenges you may face in the future. You now know you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.”
Clyde Shumate of Johnson City spoke on behalf of the master’s of education program. He spoke to his peers in the teaching profession, encouraging them to always do what’s best for their students.
“Doing what’s best requires teachers to plan, evaluate, teach and engage the students in the learning process. This takes hard work from both sides and many children will resist hard work, which is why we must motivate them. Every day teachers are in a battle to engage every child, to educate and graduate them as productive, responsible citizens. That’s the goal-that all will graduate and become successful.”
Representing the master’s program in Organizational Management for the Graduate and Professional Studies program was Belinda Kenny of Friendsville. Kenny talked about the difficulty of returning for her master’s degree 23 years after completing her bachelor’s degree.
“My family has endured a dirty house, uncooked dinners, limited time for family events, and even a little testiness as I attended class every Wednesday night in Morristown for one and a half years,” she said.
“Being an adult learner in a graduate program has taught me about commitment, faith and determination. It has taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to do as long as I commit to doing my best and working hard…as long as I keep my eyes on my goal and not the pressures of the day…as long as I believed that the God who got me in this mess would get me out of it.”
Also speaking was Mark Stokes, director of religious life, church and community relations. Stokes presented a sermon titled, “Simple Words.” He encouraged the graduates to use thank you notes to express their thanks to everyone in their life that has made an impact.
“Especially on this day,” he said, “You know there have been many who have assisted you. Use simple words to express your thanks.”
In addition to the presentation of the undergraduate and graduate degrees, two faculty awards were presented.
Receiving the Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership award for the Residential College was Jane Sandusky, assistant professor of athletic training. Receiving the award for the Graduate and Professional Studies program was Dr. Stella Schramm, professor of management.
Also on the program was a presentation by the graduating class from the Residential College. Marci Moore, a business education major from Parrotsville, presented a check for $500 to Dr. Moody on behalf of the Senior Class Gift Committee. The money was raised to pay for the new entrance signs at the Gilland and Shiloh road entrances to campus.