In-Person Graduation Ceremonies Held at Vol State

The Vol State in-person graduation ceremonies were held with protocols to meet CDC safety guidelines.

UPPER CUMBERLAND – Volunteer State Community College held two graduation ceremonies Saturday in order to provide social distancing for the graduates. The morning and afternoon ceremonies were attended by hundreds of students. Graduation was limited to the graduates and officiants from the college. Family and friends were able to watch the event live online. Last spring, graduation was an entirely virtual event. Ninety-two of the graduates this year are from the Upper Cumberland campuses in Livingston and Cookeville.

The college announced two Outstanding Graduates this semester: Aysha Patel of Gallatin and Andrea Cope of Nashville. It was a late continuation of college for Cope, who is the mother of two. “I went when I was 19 and made dumb choices and flunked out after a year. I was a stay-at-home mom for more than a decade. I got divorced and realized I needed job skills.” She came to Vol State using the TN Reconnect tuition-free program for adult students. Cope will graduate with an associate of arts degree in history from Vol State and a new direction in her life. “I’m thrilled that this is the path I am on. I just didn’t know I could do it.”

Patel is a Sumner County Middle College student, one of 22 this year. She will graduate with an associate of science degree from Vol State. Then, in two weeks, she will be the Senior Speaker at the Middle College High School graduation, where she will receive her high school diploma. Her next steps are set, as well. She will be attending the University of Alabama in Birmingham for undergraduate work in neuroscience. She said that Vol State classes gave her a passion for exploring the inner workings of the brain.

“We did this project in psychology about the brain. We chose a part of the brain and had to figure out how that part connected with the overall structure of the brain. It’s interesting that we know so little about the brain, considering it does so much for our body. I want to be part of researching and learning more about the brain.”

Outstanding graduates for the academic divisions were also announced at the ceremony. They included: Grace Maupin of White House for Business and Technology; Lydia Love of Springfield for Health Sciences; Daniel Castillo of Nashville for Humanities; Andrea Cope of Nashville for Social Science and Education; and Andrew Agee of Gainesboro for Math and Science.

Wife and husband, Heather and Geary Searcy, both graduated from the Health Information Management program.

2020 graduates were invited to attend the in-person ceremony and 44 took part. There are 788 students eligible for graduation this spring. Twenty-five of those students are veterans. 226 students utilized TN Reconnect and 305 were TN Promise recipients. Students from 14 different birth countries are graduating this year.

Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, Evelyn Hill, Class of 2000, gave the alumni speech. Randy Boyd, president of the University of Tennessee, delivered the commencement address. He told three short stories about his life experiences and then summed up the lessons he learned: “Success begins with yes. Believe in serendipity. Always dream big. Congratulations graduates.”

For pictures from Spring Graduation 2021 visit

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