Espinosa named Outstanding Fall Graduate

Outstanding graduate Cesar Espinosa of Cookeville with his parents, Taurino and Rosalba Espinosa.

COOKEVILLE – Hundreds of students, family, and well-wishers came to Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin Saturday as the school held its fall commencement. Cesar Espinosa of Cookeville was named Outstanding Fall Graduate at the ceremony.

Faculty nominators cited Espinosa’s dedication in tutoring fellow students in math and science as one reason for the award.  Leukemia and three subsequent bouts of serious E. coli infections has given Espinosa quite a bit of insight into the world of medicine. Despite the challenges, he has maintained a near perfect GPA while attending Vol State at the Cookeville Higher Education Campus (CHEC). Now recovered, he wants to be one of the health care workers making a difference.

“I had this urge to be a nurse, like all of those who helped me,” Espinosa said. “I want to get to know my patients and let them know I’ve been in their shoes.”

It wasn’t just his own illness that provided the insight.

“I had a younger cousin who also had leukemia,” added Espinosa. “I saw the care and patience those nurses had with my six-year old cousin. That opened my eyes to the opportunity.”

Espinosa is applying to the Tennessee Tech University Nursing Program. He hopes one day to work in pediatric oncology.

Espinosa was one of 801 students eligible to graduate this year from Vol State. Those graduates represent 24 different countries of birth.

Kenyatta Lovett, gave the commencement address, shown here with Jerry Faulkner, Vol State president.

Kenyatta Lovett, executive director of the educational nonprofit Complete Tennessee, gave the commencement address.

“This is a worthy commitment that you have made and a great accomplishment for you,” said Lovett. “It matters that you take the next step forward on your path.

“You learned resilience when you filled out that first college paperwork and when you took that first college class. You had resilience to take that first exam. Resiliency can be contagious. I ask that you reach out to the students you know who have not completed their degree to encourage them to come back.”

For more pictures from graduation, visit

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