COOKEVILLE – Higher education has been important to Mike Krause – both of them.
In serving as co-commencement speakers on Saturday, Mike Krause, Sr., and his son, Mike Krause, spoke about the importance of education during two commencement ceremonies on Saturday at Tennessee Tech.
The elder Krause earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Tech in 1992. He also served in the Navy and Navy Air Reserves a total of 26 years.
“My degree from Tennessee Tech opened up doors to opportunities and enabled me to have a rewarding and fulfilling career. However, those are not the most important things that Tennessee Tech enabled,” said Krause, Sr. “Tennessee Tech inspired me to be a life-long learner. It enabled me to set an example for my son, and in my humble and unbiased opinion, I believe that has had a pretty favorable outcome.”
The youngest Krause is the Executive Director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation. Before taking on that role, he served as the founding executive director of the Tennessee Promise and Drive to 55, where he coordinated the launch of the nation’s first free community college program and other programs focused on increasing state higher education attainment.
“I would urge you, as you think about the next chapter of your story, to think long and hard about the ways in which you can give back to this region, especially in rural areas,” said Krause.
“There are health care struggles that many of you will attack from the front line. There is, more than anything, the challenge of generational poverty. And the solution to that is education. Our future teachers graduating today are taking a spot in the trenches, to make a difference in the lives of our kids and this region’s future.”
Krause joked about some of the new graduates jetting off to the big city for job opportunities. But he also encouraged them to stay close and make a difference, locally.
I hope you will consider what role you can play, and that for those who are open, you will consider a vocation that makes life on the Cumberland Plateau better. They need you in Celina, and Sparta, and Gainesboro and Livingston. I hope you’ll go there and show them the impact a Tennessee Tech graduate can make.”
Before conferring the degrees of future alumni, Tech President Phil Oldham gave a shout out to Tech alum Jake Hoot, a finalist on The Voice, who played football and earned a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.
Hoot is one of four finalists vying to win the prestigious singing show airing on NBC.
Degrees were awarded to 1,112 women and men who came to Tech from 74 counties throughout Tennessee, in addition to 18 other states and 20 other countries. Students earning undergraduate degrees represented 41 fields of study and those receiving graduate degrees represented 24 fields of study.
“You are set to get a great return on investment because you have what the world wants and desperately needs and that is talent and tenacity,” said Oldham. “You have clearly demonstrated those high value characteristics that are embodied within the degree you received today. You are and forever will be bold, fearless and confident.”