C-STATE FIRST-EVER DECEMBER GRADUATION HIGHLIGHTS STUDENT, SPEAKER

Saturday, Dec. 17 at 10 a.m.

(COLUMBIA, Tenn. – Dec. 12, 2011) - - - For the first time in 45 years, Columbia State Community College will hold a December commencement. The ceremony is scheduled to take place in the W.J. “Billy” Webster Athletic Center beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17.
 
With more than 260 December graduates, approximately half will march in the actual ceremony marking the completion of the degree programs. Janet Smith, Ph.D., president of Columbia State Community College, said the decision to hold a full commencement ceremony in December is designed to honor and recognize these students as they move on with career and further academic goals.
 
“Completing a degree is a tremendous achievement and it should be celebrated,” said Smith. “Our students are moving on from us armed with tools and life skills to meet the challenges of today’s workplaces and many are recognizing the value of continuing their studies at other universities.”
 
James Thomas is a good example of what students plan for their next steps after graduation. The busy Student Government Association president plans to attend Austin Peay State University beginning in January, majoring in biology and geology to add to his Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice and general studies degrees from Columbia State.
 
“A lot of people look at me when I tell them the degree combination, but my real plan is to combine my Columbia State and APSU studies to be ready for a master’s degree in forensic science,” Thomas said.
 
Thomas lights up as he talks about his dream of becoming a crime scene investigator. He credits his choice of beginning in a community college setting with a close proximity to his parents’ home as being the right beginning for this Columbia resident.
 
“Columbia State gave me the ability to explore majors. I guess I changed my major five or six times before I realized my passion in the field of criminal justice,” Thomas said. “It may have taken me a while, but programs like, the student support group, TRiO, and being inducted into the President’s Leadership Society gave me the ability to connect with leadership around the campus and opened opportunities for me to develop my own leadership skills.”
 
The Commencement Address to the graduates will be given by House Speaker Beth Harwell. As a young graduate student Speaker Harwell worked for the Tennessee Board of Regents, the governing body of Columbia State. In her address Speaker Harwell is expected to emphasize the state’s need for a well-prepared workforce with a strong commitment to community service and leadership.
 
Columbia State is a two-year college, serving a nine-county area in southern Middle Tennessee with locations in Columbia, Franklin, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg and Clifton. As Tennessee’s first community college, Columbia State is committed to increasing access and enhancing diversity at all five campuses. Columbia State is a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, the sixth largest higher education system in the nation. For more information, please visit www.columbiastate.edu.
 
 
 
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