Graduation Day 2014

Vol State graduation 2014The forty-second annual commencement ceremony at Volunteer State Community College was held Saturday and it featured at least three sets of mothers and daughters graduating together, a fitting event for Mother’s Day weekend.
“It’s unbelievable. I was a high school dropout. I did not plan this far ahead,” said Lisa Napier of Hendersonville. “It’s amazing to be able to share this with my eldest daughter.”
“I’m so proud of my mom,” said daughter, Chelsea Newberry of Bethpage. “I’m excited to finally be here graduating. I’m so glad we’re going to graduate together.”
“We both get to cry,” said Napier.
Thousands of graduates, loved ones, friends and well-wishers filled the Pickel Field House for the ceremony. The 2013-2014 class has more than 1180 eligible graduates. More than 400 students participated in graduation. Thomas Clayborn of Liberty was named the Outstanding Graduate for 2014. Clayborn was also awarded the Sullivan Award for Outstanding Math and Science student. Dr. Idahlynn Karre of the Academy for Leadership and Development was the commencement speaker this year.
“Graduates, you are our heroes,” Karre said. “We come today to celebrate you and this journey you have been on.”
Vol State MaceThe 2014 commencement included a new ceremonial mace, which is an ornamental wood staff carried during special occasions. The previous mace used by the college was destroyed in the 2006 tornado that swept through campus, causing more than seven million dollars in damage. The new mace was designed by Franz Nuernberger of Gallatin, a former engineer at Cresent Fine Furniture in Gallatin. It incorporates a piece of walnut wood from the previous mace that was recovered during the tornado clean-up. The new mahogany mace was finished at the Cresent Fine Furniture Plant. It was carried by Vol State faculty speaker Scott McMillan as he led the administration into the Pickel Field House.
Vol State President, Dr. Jerry Faulkner, thanked Nuernberger for his work. “He’s done an amazing job of creating a beautiful emblem of the college for us to have for many years to come. It’s the start of a new tradition for the college.”
The ceremony was streamed live on the internet again this year and Dr. Faulkner took a moment to say hello to the family of graduate Khushbu Joshi, whom were watching the graduation in India.
Volunteer State Community College has more than 70 programs of study and offers two-year degrees, certificates and paths to university transfer. Continuing Education and Workforce Development extends the college mission to the entire community. For more information, visit

Pictured: The new mace being presented to the college. Left to right: Tommy Tomkins, College Foundation donor and former Cresent Fine Furniture CEO; Dr. Jerry Faulkner, Vol State president; and Franz Nuernberger, mace designer.