Spring 2019 graduation at Volunteer State Community College brought hundreds of students, family members, and friends to the Pickel Field House on the Gallatin campus Saturday. Among them were adults who were the first to graduate using the TN Reconnect tuition-free college program. There are 95 TN Reconnect students eligible to graduate this spring with degrees or technical certificates. Holly King of Gallatin is graduating with an Associate of Science in Teaching degree. “I was a single mom with two kids, so I couldn’t go back. TN Reconnect helped me to be able to afford college. My hope is to teach first or second grade.”
Students from 18 different birth countries are graduating this year. One of them is Elijah Avery, originally from South Africa and now from Lebanon. He was named Outstanding Spring 2019 Graduate for his academic work and extracurricular achievements. He found success with the Vol State Speech and Debate Team, winning a number of awards in regional and state tournaments. It culminated recently in a national competition at the Novice National Parliamentary Debate Tournament in Ohio. Avery, and teammate Danielle Salvato, won first place in Novice Parliamentary Debate. Avery also won four other awards at the competition. He calls his time with the Speech and Debate Team a highlight of his Vol State experience. “I feel like Vol State has given me the opportunity to educate myself both academically and mentally, or psychologically, I suppose, and the Speech and Debate Team was a great plus.”
Samuel Griffin is one of 12 students eligible to graduate from the Mechatronics program with an associate of applied science degree. Griffin already has industry experience with Tutco Incorporated in Cookeville. “It started as a paid internship and turned into a part-time position. I’m part of the team now.” He is set to continue his education in Mechanical Engineering at Tennessee Tech in the fall.
Alumnus of the year, Bill Sinks, gave the alumni speech and Secretary of State Tre Hargett delivered the commencement address. The Vol State Spring 2019 graduating class has 805 students eligible to earn their degree. That includes 345 Tennessee Promise students and 25 veterans. Twenty-three Sumner County Middle College High School students are eligible to receive a Vol State degree and a high school diploma this year. For pictures from Spring Graduation 2019 visit www.facebook.com/volstate.