Columbia State Holds Spring 2019 Commencement

PLS 2019
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(Sitting, left to right): Ximena Leon (Lewisburg); Tia Lammert Miller, Columbia State student development coordinator; and Kristyn Kephart (Lawrenceburg). (First row, left to right): Katelyn Prince (Columbia); Hannah Rohling (Lawrenceburg); Hayley Hendrix (Leoma); Jaleigha Scribner (Columbia); Heather Gauthier (Summertown); Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president; Yolanda R. Campbell (Nashville); and Savana Tucker (Bell Buckle). (Second Row, left to right): Will Meacham (Chapel Hill); Amanda Judice (Spring Hill); Reagan Clayborne (Columbia); Justin Boshers (Ethridge); Ethan Pierret (Franklin); and David Donnelly (Columbia).

(COLUMBIA, Tenn. – May 4, 2019) - - -Columbia State Community College celebrated 344degree and certificate candidates as they crossed the stage in front of family and friends during the commencement ceremonies in the Webster Athletic Center Saturday, May 4.

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 day of celebration of accomplishments,” Smith said. “It is a day of recognition and transition. These candidates set a goal and accomplished it, a lofty and sometimes hard fought one, but a goal accomplished.”

Dr. Mary Lou D’Allegro, vice president for academic affairs, then recognized the Distinguished Faculty Award winner,LaTasha Stenson, associate professor of English. 

President Smith followed with a presentation of the President’s Medal winner, Dr. Christa Martin, assistant to the president for access and diversity. 

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

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

Curley challenged the class of 2019 to test their limits and to do something against the norm. He encouraged each student to decide how they will travel down their path.

“Will you be a follower or a world changer?” Curley said. “The future ultimately depends on how we choose to influence and impact it.”

Closing the morning ceremony, the alumni induction of the new graduates was presented by Nancy Hopper, Columbia State alumna and program director and associate professor of radiologic technology, along with Kasey Jo Turner, spring 2019 graduate.

Will Meacham, Marshall 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.

Meacham encouraged his peers to empower themselves and take the experiences they have gained at Columbia State with them as they transition into the next chapter of their lives.

“Know you are capable to do anything you set your heart on,” Meacham said. “You can be more than you expect. You need to empower yourself to do it. Saying ‘I am capable’ can be the push that sets everything into motion to create the change you want to see in yourself.”

Before conferring degrees, Smith recognized the 15 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 222 PLS members.

Closing the afternoon ceremony, the alumni induction of the new graduates was presented by Dr. Sandra Serkownek, Columbia State alumna and professor of business and technology, along with Heather Gauthier, spring 2019 graduate.

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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.

W Meacham
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Spring 2019 graduate and Chapel Hill resident, Will Meacham, earned an Associate of Science degree in mechanical engineering and plans to continue his education at Tennessee Technological University. Meacham, a President’s Leadership Society and Tennessee Promise graduate, was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, the All-Tennessee Academic Team and is the recipient of the Carolyn Allred/Lewis Moore Outstanding Student Award. In addition, he servedas a tutor in the Teaching and Learning Center and has been involved in several Columbia State projects including STEM GiRLS, Science Olympiad, Veterans History Project and PTK food drives. Meacham is a second-generation Columbia State graduate and recommends the college because of the helpful and caring faculty. 

S Curley
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Spring 2019 graduate and Fairview resident, Stephen Curley, earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in computer information technology with a concentration in programming and plans to continue his education at Middle Tennessee State University. During his time at Columbia State, the Tennessee Promise graduate interned at Acadia Healthcare in Franklin and was the president of the Revive Club. He also volunteers in his community through his church and a nonprofit organization called “One Generation Away” that works to eliminate hunger in the U.S.

H Gauthier
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Summertown resident, Heather Gauthier, earned an Associate of Fine Arts degree in music and plans to continue her education at Austin Peay State University. Gauthier is a President’s Leadership Society and Tennessee Promise graduate and is the recipient of the Music Award, the Leadership Award for the Columbia Campus and the Columbia State SOAR Award. She has been a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Sigma Kappa Delta National English Honor Society, Campus Tree Advisory Committee, Charger Game Club, Charger Activity Board, Cinema Society, Columbia State Choir, Columbia State Performance Ensemble and the Middle Tennessee Community Band. Gauthier said her favorite thing about Columbia State is the friendly and helpful faculty, staff and students that she has met during the past two years. 

J Scribner
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Spring 2019 graduate and Columbia resident, Jaleigha Scribner, earned a university parallel Associate of Science degree. Scribner is a TRiO and President’s Leadership Society graduate and plans to continue her education at Middle Tennessee State University. Scribner said that she chose Columbia State because the programs seamlessly transfer to a university.

X Leon
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Spring 2019 graduate and Lewisburg resident, Ximena Leon, earned an Associate of Science degree in pre-health professions and plans to continue her education at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. Leon is a President’s Leadership Society and Tennessee Promise graduate and the recipient of the English and Introduction to Biology Research Awards. In addition, she was a nominee for the Carolyn Allred/Lewis Moore Outstanding Student Award.Leon was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, served as secretary for the STEM club and was a participant in the Columbia State undergraduate research program. “My two years at Columbia State have been the best years of my life and I owe a lot of it to the amazing faculty that make up what Columbia State is,” Leon said. “I cannot express enough how thankful I am for the opportunities that Columbia State has given me.”

S Tucker
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Spring 2019 graduate and Bell Buckle resident, Savana Tucker, earned an Associate of Science degree in philosophy and plans to transfer to Middle Tennessee State University. Tucker is a President’s Leadership Society and Tennessee Promise graduate and the recipient of the Philosophy and Peer Leader Awards. She was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Her favorite thing about Columbia State is the family-like community. 

I Morrissey 
Photo Caption: Spring 2019 graduate and Fairview resident, Isabella Morrissey, earned a university parallel Associate of Arts degree and plans to continue her education at Middle Tennessee State University. Morrissey was the president of the Storytellers’ Guild, editor-in- chief and secretary for the Media Club and a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and Sigma Kappa Delta National English Honor Society. Morrissey was a nominee for the Carolyn Allred/Lewis Moore Outstanding Student Award. “Columbia State changed me for the better,” Morrissey said. “I feel so grateful for my experiences here.”

K Wilson
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Spring 2019 graduate and Cornersville resident, Kennedy Wilson, earned an Associate of Science degree in mass communication and plans to continue her education at Middle Tennessee State University. Wilson is the recipient of the Mass Communication Award. The Tennessee Promise graduate was a member of the Cinema Society and was a student worker in media services. “Columbia State is its own small community,” Wilson said. “Any time I hit a roadblock or needed help there were ample resources and encouragement from faculty and staff to keep me going.” 

M Pukl
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Spring 2019 graduate and Fairview resident, Mario Pukl, earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in engineering systems technology and plans to continue his education at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechatronics engineering. Pukl is a dual enrollment student and is currently a senior at Fairview High School – he will graduate with a high school diploma later this month. This summer, Pukl plans on interning with APCOM, Inc in Franklin. 

Y Campbell
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Spring 2019 graduate and Nashville resident, Yolanda R. Campbell, earned an Associate of Science degree in mass communication and plans to continue her education at Middle Tennessee State University. Campbell is a President’s Leadership Society and Tennessee Reconnect graduate. She was a Peer Leader for the Williamson Campus and worked in the campus bookstore. Campbell has been an active volunteer in Middle Tennessee, giving her time to organizations such as the American Red Cross, Nashville Sports Council, Ladies Pro Golf Association, Men’s Pro Golf Association, Second Harvest Food Bank, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Columbia Muletown Music Fest and more. “I want Columbia State students to know that trying something new or different can lead to other positive opportunities,” Campbell said. “I urge all students, if they can, to give their time through volunteering.” 

D Donnelly
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Spring 2019 graduate and Columbia resident, David Donnelly, earned a university parallel Associate of Science degree and plans to continue his education at Carroll College in Montana to earn a bachelor’s degree in education. The U.S. veteran is a President’s Leadership Society and Tennessee Reconnect graduate, and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Sigma Kappa Delta National English Honor Society, the All-Tennessee Academic Team, PRISM, The Aggies club, Charger Game Club, Secular Student Alliance, Archery Club, Charger Activity Board and the Student Veterans Organization where he served as president and was one of the main coordinators of the Veterans History Project on campus. Donnelly had the opportunity to study abroad in Peru in 2018, and will study in the Galapagos Islands this summer. Donnelly’s two children have also graduated from Columbia State, and he said his favorite thing about the college is “the friendly faculty and staff willing to go the extra mile to see you succeed.”

B Brady
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Spring 2019 graduate and Murfreesboro resident, Brianna Brady, earned a university parallel Associate of Science degree and plans to transfer to Christian Brothers University in Memphis to continue her education in pre-medicine and play softball. During her time at Columbia State, the Tennessee Promise graduate was a member of the Columbia State softball team, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and Sigma Kappa Delta National English Honor Society. Brady recommends Columbia State to others. “Coming here for my first two years of college has had such a positive impact on my life,” Brady said. 

W Covington
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Spring 2019 graduate and Franklin resident, William Covington, earned a hospitality and tourism management technical certificate. Covington was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, was the recipient of the Hospitality and Tourism Management Award and was a nominee for the Carolyn Allred/Lewis Moore Outstanding Student Award. Outside of school, Covington was a member of the Prince Hall Freemasonry, attended Green Street Church of God, worked at the Embassy Suites in Franklin and was a radio show personality and host for several local stations. Covington recently lost an eight-year battle with cancer. During the commencement ceremony, Ken Daniel, Columbia State program director and instructor of hospitality and tourism, accepted Covington’s certificate on behalf of his family and friends. Earlier in the semester, Covington was asked what he would tell someone considering going to college: “If you have the opportunity to get a formal education, go for it,” Covington said. “If you’re going to do it, do it right and give 100 percent. When you’re given an opportunity to do something, don’t squander it.”

K Jacobs
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Spring 2019 graduate and Thompson’s Station resident, Katlyn Jacobs, earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in nursing and plans to transfer to Austin Peay State University. The Tennessee Promise graduate was a member of the Student Nurses’ Association, and plans to work at Centennial Medical Center in Nashville. She said her favorite thing about Columbia State is the nursing program, and that she would recommend the college to her family and friends.

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