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MTSU Daniels Veterans Center arranges special cere...

MTSU Daniels Veterans Center arranges special ceremony for graduating senior’s family

At the patriotic mural outside MTSU's Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, Dr. Deb Sells, left, vice president of student affairs, President Sidney A. McPhee and Daniels Center Director Hilary Miller, right, congratulate fall 2022 graduate Brad Trotter, center left, and his parents, Chaz and Wendy Trotter after a special commencement ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 7. Brad Trotter, a political science major, will graduate at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, with his class in the official fall 2022 commencement ceremony in Murphy Center. Chaz Trotter, a U.S. Navy veteran, has Lou Gehrig’s disease and will watch the event on the university’s True Blue TV, and Wendy Trotter will attend with more family members. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Brad Trotter graduates from Middle Tennessee State University this weekend in Murphy Center. He wanted his father, Chaz, a U.S. Navy veteran with Lou Gehrig’s disease — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS — to attend the ceremony in person on his special day.

Though circumstances prevented that goal on Saturday, Dec. 10, the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center and its director, Dr, Hilary Miller, found a solution: Bring commencement to the Murfreesboro, Tennessee, family. 

Deb Sells, left, Middle Tennessee State University vice president of Student Affairs and vice provost for Enrollment and Academic Services, helps adjust the stoles being worn by fall 2022 graduate Brad Trotter on Wednesday, Dec. 7, in the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center inside Keathley University Center. Looking on in the background are Wendy Trotter, left, and Daniels Center Director Hilary Miller. The Daniels Center hosted a small celebration for the Trotter family since Chaz Trotter, Brad’s father and a U.S. Navy veteran, will not attend commencement and, instead, watch the commencement ceremony on the university’s livestream channel on True Blue TV. Chaz Trotter was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2019. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)
Dr. Deb Sells, left, MTSU’s vice president of student affairs and vice provost for enrollment and academic services, helps adjust fall 2022 graduate Brad Trotter’s commencement stoles on Wednesday, Dec. 7, in the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center inside the Keathley University Center. Looking on in the background are Trotter’s mother, Wendy Trotter, seated at left, and Daniels Center Director Hilary Miller. The Daniels Center hosted a small celebration for the Trotter family because Brad’s father, Chaz Trotter, a U.S. Navy veteran, will not attend the university’s fall commencement on Saturday, Dec. 10, and will instead watch the ceremony on the university’s livestream channel on True Blue TV. Chaz Trotter was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2019. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Wearing their academic regalia, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Dr. Deb Sells, vice president of student affairs, joined Miller and Brad Trotter, an aspiring attorney who will graduate summa cum laude with a degree in political science with a pre-law concentration, for a gathering at the Daniels Center in the Keathley University Center.

Looking on were proud parents Chaz and Wendy Trotter. Wendy Trotter noted that the Daniels Center “really went all out to make sure we had a special ceremony here that Chaz could take part in.”

At the patriotic mural outside MTSU's Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, Dr. Deb Sells, left, vice president of student affairs, President Sidney A. McPhee and Daniels Center Director Hilary Miller, right, congratulate fall 2022 graduate Brad Trotter, center left, and his parents, Chaz and Wendy Trotter after a special commencement ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 7. Brad Trotter, a political science major, will graduate at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, with his class in the official fall 2022 commencement ceremony in Murphy Center. Chaz Trotter, a U.S. Navy veteran, has Lou Gehrig’s disease and will watch the event on the university’s True Blue TV, and Wendy Trotter will attend with more family members. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)
At the patriotic mural outside MTSU’s Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, Dr. Deb Sells, left, vice president of student affairs, President Sidney A. McPhee and Daniels Center Director Hilary Miller, right, congratulate fall 2022 graduate Brad Trotter, center left, and his parents, Chaz and Wendy Trotter, after a special commencement ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 7. Brad Trotter, a political science major with a pre-law concentration, will graduate at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, with his class in the official fall 2022 commencement ceremony in Murphy Center. Chaz Trotter, a U.S. Navy veteran, has Lou Gehrig’s disease and will watch the event on the university’s True Blue TV, and Wendy Trotter will attend with more family members. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

The center’s mission is to provide transition services for veterans and their families as they return to civilian life after military service, but those services can expand to include anyone — in this case, a dependent — with a need.

Dr. Debra Sells, vice president of student affairs and vice provost for enrollment and academic services
Dr. Debra Sells
Dr. Hilary Miller, director, Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center
Dr. Hilary Miller

“We’re excited they contacted us when they had a special need for graduation and that they are willing to share their story, so that others know that if they have a nontraditional need, they can contact the Daniels Center to clear the way,” said Miller, who provided a double chocolate cake for the special occasion.

McPhee congratulated Brad Trotter when they met inside the Daniels Center, then the president presented him with a diploma and posed for other photographs in the hallway.

“Oh, this is just what we come to work every day for, to have these kinds of moments with students and their families,” said Sells, who also serves as vice provost for enrollment and academic services. “It means a lot. Makes all our work worthwhile.”

As Middle Tennessee State University Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center Director Hilary Miller, right, slices cake for the special occasion, Wendy Trotter, left, takes a selfie with her son, Brad Trotter, as his father, Chaz, takes in the moment in the Daniels Center in the Keathley University Center Wednesday, Dec. 7. U.S. Navy veteran Chaz Trotter was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2019. Miller organized a special event attended by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Deb Sells, vice president of Student Affairs, to celebrate Brad Trotter’s pending graduation since his father would not be able to attend the Saturday, Dec. 10, ceremony. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)
As Dr. Hilary Miller, right, director of MTSU’s Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, slices cake for the special occasion, Wendy Trotter, left, takes a selfie with her son, Brad Trotter, and his father, Chaz, takes in the moment in the Daniels Center inside the Keathley University Center Wednesday, Dec. 7. U.S. Navy veteran Chaz Trotter was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2019. Since he won’t be able to attend the university’s Saturday, Dec. 10, commencement ceremony with his son, Miller organized a special ceremony attended by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Dr. Deb Sells, vice president of student affairs, to celebrate Brad Trotter’s upcoming graduation. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Hard work and dedication paid off for Brad Trotter, 23, who achieved Eagle Scout status in 2017 and plans to take his Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, again in 2023 with Daniels Center guidance.

“I never left points on the table, never left assignments unfinished, I attended every class religiously,” he said of reaching graduation. “I just wanted to be on top of things.”

From home at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Chaz Trotter, who spent almost three decades in the Navy as an enlisted submariner and nurse and later worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs, will watch his son graduate on the university’s livestream channel on True Blue TV.

Wendy Trotter, along with her parents, Harold and Kathie Fortner of St. Mary’s, Georgia, and an aunt, Sarah Ferrell of Wrightsville, Georgia, will attend the Murphy Center ceremony, which also airs on the university’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

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

Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee, right, congratulates and awards an MTSU diploma to fall 2022 graduate Brad Trotter on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the patriotic mural outside the the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center inside Keathley University Center. The Daniels Center invited McPhee and Deb Sells, vice president of Student Affairs, to celebrate the occasion with the Trotter family. Chaz Trotter, Brad’s father and a U.S. Navy veteran, was diagnosed with ALS in 2019. A political science (pre-law concentration) major, Brad Trotter will graduate at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, in Murphy Center. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, right, congratulates and presents a university diploma to fall 2022 graduate Brad Trotter on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the patriotic mural outside the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center inside the Keathley University Center. The Daniels Center invited McPhee and Dr. Deb Sells, vice president of student affairs, to celebrate the occasion with the Trotter family. Brad’s father, Chaz Trotter, a U.S. Navy veteran, has Lou Gehrig’s disease and won’t be able to attend his son’s formal commencement ceremony in person. A political science major with a pre-law concentration, Brad Trotter will graduate at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, in Murphy Center. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)


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