MTSU’s newest graduates may be among the 1.6 million-plus students receiving college degrees across the United States this year, but they are much more than numbers, university leaders said Saturday.
Speaking at the university’s summer 2014 commencement ceremony inside Murphy Center, guest speaker Scott Boyd, the outgoing president of the MTSU Faculty Senate, assured the 872 graduating students that their goals, their challenges and their futures make them unique.
“You are part of that large number … and it could be easy to be lost in the crowd,” said professor Boyd, who also is head of the theatre design program in MTSU’s Department of Speech and Theatre. “You’ve worked very hard to make sure you’re sitting here at this moment. You established calculated goals to arrive at this point.
“You have empowered yourselves. … You proactively took your life in your own hands and achieved this. Don’t give your power away to anyone or anything.”
Of the 872 MTSU students celebrating Saturday, 651 are undergraduates and 221 are graduate students, including 201 master’s degree recipients, 13 education-specialist degree recipients and seven new doctoral degree-holders. One graduate student also received a graduate certificate.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee expressed his appreciation for the students’ dedication to themselves and to the university.
“We’re honored that you entrusted us with something so important as your education,” McPhee said. “We’re confident in your ability to take on far-reaching challenges. Most importantly, we hope you always remain ‘True Blue.’”
Graduate student Kandy Shemwell’s juggling act while earning her education specialist’s degree included marriage, motherhood and serving as assistant girls’ soccer and basketball coach and media specialist in the Coffee County Central High School library.
“I’m very excited about graduating with help from my family, friends, (educational) cohort group and professors, especially Dr. (Marvin) Peyton,” said Shemwell, 36, of Manchester, Tennessee. She earned her third degree from MTSU en route to pursuing her fourth — a doctorate in education from the College of Education.
“I’ve loved it,” she said of her graduate-level experience that involved MTSU professors coming to Manchester on weekends to teach to a group of students. “I love going on campus, but having the cohort helped tremendously. The small class size and working more one-on-one with the professors helped me. … I value my MTSU education.”
University Honors College senior David Hiller of Nashville, Tennessee, graduated with a 3.4 GPA with dual majors in physics in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences and psychology in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences.
“I wanted to explore as much as I could before going out in the world,” said Hiller, 25, explaining why he spent six years earning his degree. “MTSU’s a surprisingly good school. You end up with professors one-on-one, and they frankly teach you better. Overall, it has been very worthwhile and I have made lifelong friends.”
The ceremony also featured special honors for 11 MTSU retired faculty members with the designation of “Professor Emeritus.” One of those honored, Dr. Dwight Bullard of the Department of Business Communication and Entrepreneurship, has served MTSU for 48 years as a professor and associate dean of the Jones College of Business.
A complete program from the Aug. 9 commencement ceremony, including lists of all the graduates by college and details on each of the newly honored faculty emeriti, is available here.
— Gina E. Fann (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Randy Weiler (email@example.com)