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MTSU salutes student veterans during seventh Stole...

MTSU salutes student veterans during seventh Stole Ceremony [+VIDEO]

MTSU student veteran Stephen White, right, and Sean Martin, transition manager for the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, pose for a keepsake photo April 19 in Cantrell Hall of the Tom H. Jackson Building during a Stole Ceremony recognizing veterans who are graduating from MTSU. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

With an eye toward the NFL Draft or signing as a free agent for a potential pro career, former MTSU football standout and U.S. Marine Steven Rhodes remained focused on the present.

Rhodes joined other student veterans, their families, other guests and MTSU administrators and staff during the seventh Graduating Veterans Stole Ceremony Wednesday, April 19, in the Tom H. Jackson Building’s Cantrell Hall.

The university recognized nearly 50 of 122 student veterans during the event who are planning to graduate Friday, May 5, in College of Graduate Studies ceremonies, or Saturday, May 6, in dual undergraduate commencement ceremonies.

Since May 2015, MTSU has honored its graduating student veterans with a formal ceremony, presenting them with special red stoles.

“This is a blessing to me and my family,” Rhodes said of the occasion. “This is special to be able to show other veterans they can earn their degree.”

At MTSU, he was a 6-foot-3, 253-pound honorable mention All-Conference USA defensive end, voted the Armed Forces Merit Award winner by the Football Writers Association of America, and carried a 3.2 GPA student in the classroom. He majored in organizational communication in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences.

David Moore, foreground, takes a photo of his stepson, MTSU student veteran Stephen White, right, and Sean Martin, transition manager for the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center April 19 in Cantrell Hall of the Tom H. Jackson Building during a Stole Ceremony recognizing veterans who are about to graduate from MTSU.

David Moore, foreground, takes a photo of his stepson, MTSU student veteran Stephen White, right, and Sean Martin, transition manager for the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center April 19 in Cantrell Hall of the Tom H. Jackson Building during the “Stole Ceremony” recognizing veterans who are graduating from MTSU. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

Raising a family with a wife Adrienne and sons Kameron, 6, and Devon, 4, playing football, studying and the rest of life’s opportunities, Rhodes, a Nashville native, said it had been challenging.

“My wife has helped out and I have had a great support system with parents helping,” he said, relieved “my school work is finished and I can’t wait to graduate.”

Rhodes and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, a big admirer of the athlete, exchanged a huge hug during the ceremony when all student veterans came forward to be recognized. He said he had “a great workout” for the Tennessee Titans and “is looking forward to the call, whether it’s the draft or free agency. I’ll be somewhere in a month.”

McPhee told the student veterans he looks forward “to greeting you and personally thank you in a few weeks at graduation.”

Many-Bears Grinder, commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services, attended the ceremony, as did other VA personnel, retired Brig. Gen. David Ogg (Class of 1978) and David Corlew with The Journey Home Project and longtime manager for country music legend Charlie Daniels, an avid supporter of the MTSU Veterans and Military Family Center that now bears his and his wife’s name.

For more on the assistance offered by the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, call 615-904-8347 or visit http://mtsu.edu/military/index.php.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

MTSU student veteran Michael Brzezicki, second, from left, is shown with MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left, interim Provost Mark Byrnes and Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives, April 19 during the spring Stole Ceremony in the Tom H. Jackson Building. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

MTSU student veteran Michael Brzezicki, second, from left, is shown with MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left, interim Provost Mark Byrnes and Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives, April 19 during the spring Stole Ceremony in the Tom H. Jackson Building.

The Journey Home Project’s David Corlew, left visits with Adrienne and Steven Rhodes and their sons, Kameron, 6, and Devon, 4, before the April 19 Graduating Veterans Stole Ceremony in Cantrell Hall of the Tom H. Jackson Building. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

The Journey Home Project’s David Corlew, left visits with Adrienne and Steven Rhodes and their sons, Kameron, 6, and Devon, 4, before the April 19 Graduating Veterans Stole Ceremony in Cantrell Hall of the Tom H. Jackson Building.


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