Columbia State Holds 2017 Spring Commencement

C-State PLS Breakfast
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2017 President's Leadership Society graduates. 

(COLUMBIA, Tenn. – May 6, 2017) - - - Columbia State Community College celebrated 323 degree and certificate candidates in the Webster Athletic Center Saturday, May 6 as they crossed the stage during the spring 2017 commencement ceremonies.

Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president, opened the ceremonies by welcoming graduates, faculty, staff, family, friends and guests, thanking them for celebrating the accomplishments of the students. 

“Today is a special day,” Smith said. “It is a day of recognition these graduates set a goal and accomplished it – a day we honor the culmination of your work as a Columbia State student, which gives rise to your future. ”

Dr. Margaret D. Smith, executive vice president – provost then recognized the Distinguished Faculty Award winner, Brittany Seybert, assistant professor of English.

President Smith followed with a presentation of the President’s Medal winner, Dr. Glenn Hudson, associate professor of mathematics.

Both were recently recognized at Columbia State’s annual Employee Honors and Awards Convocation.

Maury County native, Caitlyn McNabb, delivered the commencement address at the 10 a.m. ceremony for students earning Associate of Applied Science degrees and technical certificates.

McNabb commended graduates on their excellence and congratulated them on their academic achievements. Encouraging the graduates to recognize that education is a privilege, McNabb challenged each graduate to learn something new every day.

“We all work together in this world,” McNabb said. “We all have something to offer. Every one of you has a purpose, and if you have not found yours yet, do not fret.”

Closing the morning ceremony, the alumni induction of the new graduates was presented by Marissa Dunkin, clinical coordinator and assistant professor of radiologic technology.

Destiny Seaton, also a Maury County native, presented the 2 p.m. commencement address for students earning Associate of Arts, Associates of Fine Arts, Associate of Science in Teaching and Associate of Science degrees.

Seaton encouraged graduates to achieve their goals and to help others along the way.

“In order for our generation to truly be successful, we must live with a purpose of ensuring that once we reach our highest peaks in life, others can do so as well,” Seaton said.

In her address, Seaton spoke of her past and how she overcame a whirlwind of challenges. She urged the graduates to overcome their shortcomings and avoid the easy path through life.

Before conferring degrees, Smith recognized the 16 President’s Leadership Society graduates for their participation in the program that focuses on helping students develop and apply their unique leadership skills.

“We established the President’s Leadership Society in the spring of 2011, based on the belief that leadership is inherent to our lives and that we all have leadership roles,” Smith said. “PLS is open to all students at Columbia State and requires only their commitment to involvement for learning, participation and helping others.”

During the course of the program, students attend retreats, enjoy exposure to the arts, participate in workshops and campus life, develop civic understanding, and give back to the community through volunteerism. Today, there are more than 200 PLS members.

Closing the afternoon ceremony, the alumni induction of the new graduates was presented by Shane Hall, instructor of English and active Columbia State alum.

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Before the commencement ceremonies, Smith held a reception for the President’s Leadership Society graduates.

“This program is designed to give students the opportunity to explore new concepts and experience different areas outside of their own major,” Smith said. “PLS also encourages and helps students build and maintain relationships, which are essential to success.” 

PLS is a free leadership training program focused on developing a student’s unique leadership skills from their first semester through graduation. The program focuses on participation in college-sponsored programs that promote educational attainment, career choices, volunteerism and civic responsibility.

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Primm Springs resident, Caitlyn McNabb, earned her Associate of Science degree in pre-health professions and plans on continuing her education at Middle Tennessee State University. McNabb was a member of the Student Government Association, Phi Theta Kappa, Sigma Kappa Delta and is a President’s Leadership Society graduate. McNabb is the 2017 recipient of the Carolyn Allred/Lewis Moore Outstanding Student Award, has been selected to receive a NASA STEM scholarship and was a semifinalist for the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. McNabb said that Columbia State fostered the perfect balance between higher education, affordable tuition and being close to family – she considers Columbia State a second home.

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Spring 2017 graduate and Columbia resident, Destiny Seaton, earned her Associate of Science degree in mass communication and plans on continuing her education at MTSU. Eventually, she wants earn a master’s degree in mass communication and environmental sciences. Seaton, a third-generation Columbia State student, served as a senator in the Columbia State Student Government Association, served on the Campus Tree Advisory Committee, worked as an on-campus tutor, was selected for the 2017 All-Tennessee Academic Team, was named a 2017 New Century Scholar and is a President’s Leadership Society graduate.

triston martin
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Spring 2017 graduate and member of the Student Government Association, Triston Martin, earned his Associate of Science degree in mathematics and will be transferring to Tennessee Technological University to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Martin said that his favorite thing about Columbia State is the friendly faculty and staff. Martin currently resides in Lawrenceburg.

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Summertown resident, Kayla Wall, earned her Associate of Science degree in business administration, and was actively involved while attending Columbia State. She was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, TRiO and Sigma Kappa Delta. Wall plans to attend University of North Alabama to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Wall chose Columbia State after her great experience as a dual enrollment student. Her favorite thing about Columbia State is the welcoming faculty and staff.

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Franklin resident, Vincent Grabbe, earned a general transfer Associate of Science degree. Grabbe is a President’s Leadership Society graduate. He has been involved with Phi Theta Kappa, Sigma Kappa Delta, Charger Activity Programming Board and volunteered with STEM GiRLS. Grabbe plans to transfer to Tennessee Technological University to earn his bachelor’s degree in engineering. Grabbe said that his favorite thing about Columbia State is that it offers an affordable education that gives students tools to succeed in the real world.

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Spring Hill (Williamson) resident, Kelsie Wessels, is the fifth sibling in her family to graduate from Columbia State. Wessels earned a general transfer Associate of Science degree, and is a graduate of President’s Leadership Society. In addition, she has been involved with Phi Theta Kappa, the Student Government Association and Sigma Kappa Delta. Wessels plans to transfer to Middle Tennesee State University to earn a bachelor’s degree in leisure, sports and tourism. Wessels said that she would recommend Columbia State to others because of the safe environment the college provides for students to learn and connect with peers. (Pictured, left to right): Brian Wessels, Kristen Wessels, Kelsie Wessels, Kaili Wessels and Kara Wessels.

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Pulaski resident and President’s Leadership Society graduate, Tyra Brown, earned an Associate of Science degree in exercise science. Brown plans to transfer to the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga to earn a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. Brown said that her favorite thing about Columbia State is the variety of activities and clubs on campus.

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Columbia resident, Kayla Monet Boardman, earned an Associate of Science degree in nutrition. Boardman is a President’s Leadership Society graduate. In addition, she was a member of the STEM club, Phi Theta Kappa and the Charger Activity Programming Board. Boardman plans to continue her education at Tennessee Technological University to earn bachelor’s degrees in nutrition and biochemistry. Boardman said that Columbia State is a great place to start and that her favorite thing about Columbia State is the investment in students from advisers, faculty and staff.

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Centerville resident, Darby Simpson, earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in radiologic technology. Simpson was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Lambda Nu, the American Society of Radiologic Technologists and the Tennessee Society of Radiologic Technologists. Simpson plans to go straight into the workforce and will begin her career at Cool Springs Imaging.

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Chapel Hill resident, TiAnna Cotton, earned an Associate of Fine Arts degree in music. Cotton has received awards for both music and academic excellence. Cotton said that her favorite thing about Columbia State was the atmosphere and the memories that she has made at the college, specifically the time that she spent with her professors, performing in the choir and studying music.

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Hampshire resident, Andrew Morrow, earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in respiratory care. Morrow was a member of the Respiratory Care Club. He said that his favorite thing about Columbia State was the low student to professor ratio. Morrow plans to transfer to East Tennessee State University to study cardiopulmonary science

abdul aleryani
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Franklin resident, Abdul Aleryani, earned a general transfer Associate of Science degree. Aleryani is the third sibling in his family to graduate from Columbia State – he said that his favorite thing about Columbia State is the close relationship between faculty and students. Aleryani plans to transfer to Middle Tennessee State University to study biochemistry.

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Lewisburg resident, Megan Hollingsworth, earned an Associate of Science degree in business administration. Hollingsworth is a dual enrollment student and is currently a senior at Marshall County High School – she will graduate with her high school diploma later this month. Megan plans to transfer to Middle Tennessee State University to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

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, one of the largest higher education systems in the nation. For more information, please visit www.ColumbiaState.edu.

Tennessee’s Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less. We offer associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs and transfer pathways to four-year degrees. For more information, please visit us online at tncommunitycolleges.org.

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