Students of many ages and backgrounds shared a moment of accomplishment on Saturday as they celebrated graduation at Volunteer State Community College. They were joined by hundreds of family members and friends at the Pickel Field House on the Gallatin campus for the commencement ceremony. Adult students are a big part of the Vol State family and they often face even more hurdles on the road to that college degree. Keonya Milam of Gallatin was honored as the Outstanding Spring Graduate. The thirty-one year-old mother of two has overcome many challenges.
“I didn’t know I had dyscalculia. It’s like dyslexia, but with numbers,” said Milam. “I knew I struggled in math, but I never let it get me down. I just worked around it. I made an A in Algebra thanks to LaDonna Yarborough at Vol State.”
With new found confidence, Milam used her math skills to help other students as a Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leader. SI Leaders are students with a strong grade in a class, who then lead extra work sessions in later semesters of the class. “I’ve helped so many people as an SI. Not to brag, but it feels great to have someone tell me that I helped them get an A,” Milam said. “One thing I love about Vol State is all of the self-help options, between the Learning Commons for help with math homework, Tutor.com for help with a paper late at night, to Supplemental Instruction. With all of that you have no reason to not succeed. Don’t be ashamed to say you don’t know something.”
“She is a force on this campus who drives other students, faculty, and organizations to push for academic excellence and enhance the community here at Vol State,” said instructor of Chemistry, Chrysa Malosh.
Graduate Jimmy Edge of White House returned to college after twenty-five years, only to have his chosen institution, ITT Technical Institute, go out of business. “We heard they were shutting down,” he said. “We weren’t able to finish. The next thing we know we can’t get into the building. The doors were locked. It just hit us like a ton of bricks.”
Vol State heard about the situation and touched base with local ITT faculty members, and through them, the students. The Business and Technology Division at Vol State had programs that appealed to many of the ITT students. “Dean Anderson and her team really worked with us well, getting the ITT students in and navigating the waters here. I chose CIT (Computer Information Technology) in programming.” Edge said walking the stage will be sweeter for all of the challenges he faced. “It’s a major accomplishment. At forty-six years-old, it’s a tough thing to work and get a college degree. There’s a lot of sacrifice and study you have to do. It will be worth it.”
Shirlene Campbell, class of 1993, gave the alumni speech. David Gregory, former chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, gave the commencement address. The Vol State Spring 2018 graduating class has 781 students eligible to earn their degree. That includes 288 Tennessee Promise students and twenty-four veterans. Eleven Sumner County Middle College High School students are eligible to receive a Vol State degree and a high school diploma this semester. For pictures from Spring Graduation 2018 visit www.facebook.com/volstate.