Tech commencement will be a first for Smith County family

COOKEVILLE — Tristan Pope is about to do something no one in his family has ever done before — graduate from college.

The 21-year-old Smith County native will be one of more than 1,300 Tennessee Tech students who will be celebrating commencement on Friday, May 7, at Tucker Stadium.

“My family is tickled to death,” said Pope, who is earning a degree in agriculture education.

“Both of my grandmothers — one is 81 and the other is 80 — are going to get their hair done the day before graduation so they can come.”

A resident of Brush Creek, Pope says he had two choices when he graduated from high school. He could go to work or go to college.

“Growing up, especially in Smith County, you see people stay at home and work in the factory,” said Pope. “My dad works in the factory, and he is on night-shift and has been for 26 years. He told me to get an education so I wouldn’t have to work night-shift at a factory.”

When it came time to choose a college, Pope says he chose Tech because it was close and he was impressed with the agriculture program.

“I could drive back and forth as a commuter,” said Pope. “I had visited with the department of Ag when I was in high school through FFA, and I was able to develop a relationship with some of the professors and that’s what got me to Tech.”

At Tech, Pope made the most of his college experience. He is a president’s ambassador and has been involved in Student Government Association, Future Farmers of America and the Baptist College Ministry.

“With student government, I’ve gotten to do so many things with the provost on her advisory committee,” said Pope. “One of my favorite things to do at Tech is sit on the front porch at Oakley Hall in the rocking chairs or just sit on the plaza and enjoy the nice weather and talk to people.”

Pope will be talking mostly to middle school students this fall. He has already secured a job teaching agriculture in Watertown. He looks to form relationships at his new job, just like he did at Tech.

“I have so enjoyed my time at Tech,” said Pope. “It’s large enough to take care of what you need, but small enough that you are also a person who can form relationships with others.”

Pope will be celebrating commencement during the 2 p.m. ceremony with his fellow students from the College of Agriculture & Human Ecology. Students from the College of Graduate Studies, Business, Engineering and Fine Arts will also have their degrees confirmed at that time.

At the 9 a.m. ceremony, students from the College of Graduate Studies, Arts & Sciences, Education, Interdisciplinary Studies and the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing will celebrate their commencement.

For more information on the Spring 2021 commencement, go to

To view the ceremonies on Friday, go to: for the 9 a.m. service and for the 2 p.m. service.

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