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Speakers exhort 1,841 joyful MTSU fall grads to sh...

Speakers exhort 1,841 joyful MTSU fall grads to share success [+VIDEO]

MTSU’s newest alumni are already successful, guest speakers agreed Dec. 12 at the university’s fall 2015 commencement ceremonies, by earning university degrees, and now those new degrees can help the 1,841 graduates create success for others.

Judge Donna S. Davenport

Judge Donna S. Davenport

During dual ceremonies that turned unusually joyful — and even a little rambunctious at times — in Murphy Center, Judge Donna Scott Davenport and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker encouraged the graduates to use their unique gifts wisely.

“Each one of you here today, you’re already a success,” said morning ceremony speaker Davenport, an MTSU alumna who serves as Rutherford County Juvenile Court judge. “Guys, you are walking across this stage, out Murphy Center, with proof of that success.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker

“But I dare you, each one, to dream the greatest dreams and seek the highest goals that will build the brightest tomorrows that your future can have. There’s no limit to what you can do. Your success and what you can achieve, the possibilities, are endless, as long as you believe that you can.”

Afternoon speaker Corker, joking that the exuberance in Murphy Center was “the most I’ve ever seen at one of these ceremonies,” said the day’s excitement should translate into excitement for the future, too.

“Here’s what I would say to you: Give back,” the former Chattanooga mayor said after encouraging graduates to master skills to become “absolutely indispensable” and “have a bold vision” for their work.

“There’s nothing that makes one feel more whole in life … than giving of yourself to make someone else’s life better. … I promise it’ll make your life so much more meaningful.”

The afternoon ceremony had extra excitement as well as poignancy as senior Rachel Ruppe, who fought her way back from a near-fatal auto accident, and state Rep. Mike Sparks received their degrees and the university presented a posthumous bachelor’s degree to the parents of senior Jacob Murr.

Murr, a Kingston, Tennessee, resident who would have received his public relations degree from the College of Media and Entertainment, died earlier this semester after a traffic accident.

You can learn more about Ruppe’s and Sparks’ accomplishments at http://ow.ly/VOfmj and http://ow.ly/VOfj6, respectively.

Noting that commencement is “the single most important event at this university,” President Sidney A. McPhee reminded the new graduates of the role the day will play in their lives.

“Although you may feel that the long journey is over, those of us at MTSU see this … as just the beginning of greater things to come,” he said.

Geoff Wheaton

Geoff Wheaton

Geosciences graduate Geoff Wheaton, who earned a 3.65 GPA in his geographic information systems and remote sensing concentration, echoed the president’s sentiment, explaining that he felt “excited and bittersweet” as he entered Murphy Center for the morning ceremony.

“I don’t know how it’s going to feel, being out in the real world and not coming to MTSU,” said Wheaton. “I will take it day by day, work with what I’ve got and see where it takes me. It’ll take me to good places, hopefully.”

Nearly 20 family members and friends were in Murphy Center to see Wheaton graduate. A student worker in the James E. Walker Library for four years, he’s also been performing geospatial work as part of his four years in the Tennessee Air National Guard and initially plans to be a base honor guard member.

Christina Chavez

Christina Chavez

Liberal studies graduate Christina Chavez said she did most of her homework after her children, Naomi, 8, and Eli, 5, went to bed, but sometimes they watched her work. Chavez took two of her final classes online, which is a major help to nontraditional older students taking classes in MTSU’s University College.

“You really have to stay on top of yourself when you take online classes, and sometimes I would fall short on that,” Chavez said, “but I like being able to do things at my own pace, especially with the kids.”

Chavez, who received her degree in the afternoon event, is undecided about pursuing a career as a teacher or a nurse, but she said she’s definitely thinking about going to graduate school.

“I never thought about how hard it was,” she said. “I just knew I had to do it.”

MTSU’s Registrar’s Office reported that 1,577 of the 1,841 students receiving degrees are undergraduates and 264 are graduate students, including 251 master’s candidates, four education-specialist degree recipients and nine doctoral candidates. Twenty-one undergrads received undergraduate certificates, and three graduate students received graduate certificates.

Graduation information — including links to maps and driving directions to Murphy Center, cap-and-gown information, official photographs and contacts for the Registrar’s Office — is available anytime at www.mtsunews.com/graduation-info.

You can see more photos from the fall 2015 commencement ceremonies at www.facebook.com/mtsublueraiders.

— MTSU News and Media Relations (news@mtsu.edu)

A pair of prospective MTSU graduates make their way to Murphy Center Saturday, Dec. 12, in unseasonably warm weather to join the fall 2015 commencement morning ceremony in Murphy Center. MTSU presented degrees to 1,841 students in dual ceremonies. (MTSU photo by GradImages.com)

A pair of prospective MTSU graduates make their way to Murphy Center Saturday, Dec. 12, in unseasonably warm weather to join the fall 2015 commencement morning ceremony in Murphy Center. The university conferred degrees on 1,841 students in dual ceremonies. (MTSU photo by GradImages.com)

An MTSU aerospace graduate shares the special thank-you note he's added to his mortarboard before the fall 2015 commencement morning ceremony in Murphy Center. MTSU presented degrees to 1,841 students in dual ceremonies. (MTSU photo by GradImages.com)

An MTSU aerospace graduate shares the special thank-you note he’s added to his mortarboard before the fall 2015 commencement morning ceremony in Murphy Center. (MTSU photo by GradImages.com)

Prospective graduates at MTSU's fall 2015 commencement file into Hale Arena inside Murphy Center Saturday, Dec. 12, for the morning ceremony. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

Prospective graduates at MTSU’s fall 2015 commencement file into Hale Arena inside Murphy Center Saturday, Dec. 12, for the morning ceremony. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

Joyful prospective MTSU graduates recognize loved ones in the audience as they file into Murphy Center for the fall 2015 morning commencement ceremony Saturday, Dec. 12. (MTSU photo by GradImages.com)

Prospective MTSU graduates recognize loved ones in the audience as they file into Murphy Center for the fall 2015 morning commencement ceremony Saturday, Dec. 12. (MTSU photo by GradImages.com)

Two newly minted MTSU graduates can't contain their joy as they leave the stage, degrees in hand, at Murphy Center Saturday, Dec. 12, during the university's fall 2015 commencement ceremony. The university presented degrees to 1,841 students in dual ceremonies. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Two newly minted MTSU graduates can’t contain their joy as they leave the stage, degrees in hand, at Murphy Center Saturday, Dec. 12, during the university’s fall 2015 morning commencement ceremony.  (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Prospective graduates sing the National Anthem at MTSU's fall 2015 commencement ceremony inside Murphy Center Saturday, Dec. 12.(MTSU photo by GradImages.com)

Prospective graduates sing the National Anthem at MTSU’s fall 2015 commencement ceremony inside Murphy Center Saturday, Dec. 12.(MTSU photo by GradImages.com)

An MTSU student concentrates on adjusting her smiling fellow graduate's stole as the two prepare for the fall 2015 afternoon ceremony in Murphy Center Saturday, Dec. 12. (MTSU photo by GradImages.com)

An MTSU student concentrates on adjusting her smiling fellow graduate’s stole as the two prepare for the fall 2015 afternoon ceremony in Murphy Center Saturday, Dec. 12. (MTSU photo by GradImages.com)

MTSU students scan the crowd at Murphy Center Saturday, Dec. 12, as their loved ones shout encouragement during the university's fall 2015 afternoon commencement ceremony. (MTSU photo by GradImages.com)

MTSU students scan the crowd at Murphy Center Saturday, Dec. 12, as their loved ones shout encouragement during the university’s fall 2015 afternoon commencement ceremony. (MTSU photo by GradImages.com)

A joyful MTSU graduate holds up her degree to celebrate at the university's fall 2015 afternoon commencement ceremony Saturday, Dec. 12, in Murphy Center. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

A joyful MTSU graduate holds up her degree to celebrate at the university’s fall 2015 afternoon commencement ceremony Saturday, Dec. 12, in Murphy Center. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Newly minted MTSU graduates listen as joyful audience members shout encouragement during the fall 2015 afternoon commencement ceremony in Murphy Center. (MTSU photo by GradImages.com)

Newly minted MTSU graduates listen as joyful audience members shout encouragement during the fall 2015 afternoon commencement ceremony Saturday, Dec. 12, in Murphy Center. (MTSU photo by GradImages.com)


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