More than 3,730 undergraduate and graduate students received degrees from the university last week. Thirteen ceremonies took place between Wednesday, May 8, and Saturday, May 11, and featured a wide variety of speakers imparting their wisdom to these newly-minted UT alumni. Tennessee Today has collected some of the words of wisdom shared by this year’s commencement speakers.
Spring Commencement 2013 News
The university awarded renowned journalist John Seigenthaler an honorary doctorate today at the College of Law’s commencement ceremony. This event was a highlight of a full week of ceremonies, which conclude Saturday. More than 3,730 undergraduate and graduate students are receiving degrees this week. The College of Law ceremony also featured Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, who provided the keynote address.
He knows that the only two graves on UT’s campus belong to dogs and that the most popular class on campus is the History of Rock n’ Roll. Robert “Taylor” Thomas knows dozens of fun facts about UT. Thomas, who graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences today, has learned many things at UT. But as a UT Ambassador, he has taught many things as well. Thomas has given more than 300 campus tours, setting what is believed to be a nationwide record for campus tours.
As he prepares to graduate from the College of Law, Carlos Yunsan says he feels like he’s come full circle. Growing up in Panama, he saw the lawlessness of dictator Manuel Noriega’s regime. And, he said, the fall of the dictatorship in 1989 is etched in his memory. “Coming to law school is, in a way, coming back to that and remembering that it’s important for a country to be ruled by law,” he said.
Despite threats of rain, more than 700 students attended Tuesday evening’s Aloha Oe ceremony at Ayres Hall, one of the university’s oldest graduation traditions. The farewell service invited graduating seniors to gather one last time before their separate commencement ceremonies to say goodbye to the university and pledge their loyalty to UT.
Working full time, being a full-time dad, and being a full-time student was more than a full plate for Luke Amos. But he made it, and today, thirty-two-year-old Amos graduates from UT with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies. “I was determined to get the degree because I realized it was the only path to a better life for me and my son,” he said.
While he was in the Marine Corps, Brandon Lawson spent two years serving President George W. Bush as crew chief on Marine One, the Black Hawk helicopter that transported the president to and from Air Force One, the presidential jet. After his honorable discharge from the military, Lawson enrolled at UT. On Friday, the twenty-seven-year-old graduates with a degree in logistics and international business.
When Andrea Sams graduates today, it will be more than a personal achievement. It will be a family tradition. She is the third generation of women in her family to earn their degrees from UT. Sams graduates from the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. Her grandmother graduated in 1953 with a master’s degree in family relations and child development. Her mother earned her bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising in 1983.
Jessica Wilson will have a special distinction when she graduates this week: She’s the first student to complete the College of Nursing’s honors program. In the past, she said, “it’s been difficult for nursing students to graduate with honors.” The rigor of the nursing curriculum kept them from finishing their honors requirements. This year, Sadie Hutson, associate professor of nursing, launched an honors program within the college. To graduate with honors, students must complete eight honors nursing courses and maintain a GPA of 3.5.
Meredith Schlandt thought having a college experience would never be possible for her until she came to UT. Through the FUTURE Postsecondary Education Program, she was able to audit nursing and public health courses and other classes of interest. Schlandt, 21, of Clinton, Tennessee, and seven other students with intellectual disabilities and autism have completed FUTURE and will earn a postsecondary certificate. They are the program’s first graduates.