MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Dreams came true for at least 1,892 people at MTSU Saturday, Dec. 10, as they accepted their hard-earned graduate and undergraduate degrees inside Murphy Center at the university’s fall 2016 commencement ceremonies.
“We’re here to honor your accomplishments and your successes,” U.S. Rep. Diane Black told the newly minted graduates in the morning commencement ceremony. “Now that you’ve fulfilled this dream, a dream you’ve looked for for a long time, I want you to dream bigger. … You’ve received some of the best training around, and now it’s time for you to go out and build something beautiful.”
Black, a resident of Gallatin, Tennessee, who represents the state’s 6th District in Congress, joined afternoon commencement speaker Jeff Davidson, an MTSU alumnus and Rutherford County deputy mayor, in congratulating the graduates.
Davidson, citing entrepreneur Warren Buffett’s qualifications for an ideal employee — integrity, intelligence and energy — urged them to maintain their integrity above all.
“Class of 2016, you have the intelligence. You will receive a diploma indicating that achievement,” said Davidson, an Eagleville, Tennessee, resident who’s also a retired U.S. Army colonel and was appointed deputy mayor in April 2013.
“Your energy should be reflected in your perseverance: three strikes and you’re not necessarily out. And remember, whatever mistakes, whatever bad luck, whatever failure may come your way, your personal integrity is in your hands and your hands only. Nobody can take it away from you except for you.”
Kingston, Tennessee, native and biology major Amanda Uhls is already on track to help Tennessee. Graduating cum laude in just 3 1/2 years, Uhls received her degree in the morning ceremony, then watched as Cory Uhls, her husband of six months, received his audio production degree in the afternoon commencement.
She begins work Jan. 9 as a microbiologist for the Tennessee Department of Health in Nashville.
“It’s kind of scary because I’m not going to be in school for the first time ever, but it’s nice to have a job,” said Uhls, 21. “I have a lot of friends still waiting to hear about job opportunities. It doesn’t feel real. It’ll kick in after everybody else comes back to school in January.”
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee noted that 70 percent of all MTSU’s graduates stay in Tennessee. “We don’t export talent,” McPhee said. “This is just the beginning of greater things to come.”
At least one new MTSU graduate may venture outside the United States, however, if he’s accepted in January as a Fulbright scholar. Joey Kennedy of Murfreesboro, who’s majored in Spanish and international relations, said he’d like to use that international honor to work as an English teaching assistant in the South American nation of Ecuador, then earn dual law and MBA degrees and seek an automotive career in international business with a focus in Latin America.
He attributed his success to his MTSU professors and mentors.
“The faculty helped challenge me academically through strenuous course material,” said Kennedy. “The staff were also key to my success at MTSU by providing advice and guidance when I needed it the most.”
The MTSU Registrar’s Office reported that 1,622 of the 1,892 students who received degrees Dec. 10 are undergraduates and 270 are graduate students, including 251 master’s candidates, six education-specialist degree recipients and 13 doctoral candidates. Twenty students received undergraduate certificates, and one student received a graduate certificate.
You can see more photos from the fall 2016 commencement ceremonies at http://www.facebook.com/pg/mtsublueraiders/photos. The full commencement program PDF is available at http://ow.ly/UNTA3070fiG.
MTSU graduation information is always available at http://www.mtsunews.com/graduation-info.