Scene Around Town: 2,034


2,034 .. That’s the number of undergrads who donned their caps and gowns at MTSU’s graduation ceremonies this weekend. According to Gina Fann of, the ceremonies were an ideal way to kick off life after college:

MTSU’s spring Class of 2016 undergraduates had a perfect day to start the rest of their lives Saturday, May 7, armed with new university degrees and words of inspiration from Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and HBO executive Kary Antholis.
“Your GPA is not a tattoo you’ll wear for the rest of your life,” Barry, the first woman and the first Metro Council member elected Nashville mayor, told the Class of 2016 morning graduates in Murphy Center. “It’s not the sum of who you are.
“As one MTSU graduate on my staff said, ‘You can never learn less; you can only learn more.’ Experience as much as you can. Read. Listen to music. Travel. Go to movies, plays and art galleries. Meet people. Stretch your imagination, and extend your sense of what’s possible.” Antholis, president of HBO Miniseries and Cinemas Programming, reminded graduates at the afternoon ceremony that while they have many more accomplishments ahead, they should also keep in mind those who helped them reach their goals.
Explaining that his Oscar-winning documentary on Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein, “One Survivor Remembers,” had its impetus in his own mother’s family’s horror in Greece at the hands of the Nazis, Antholis recalled Mrs. Klein’s beautiful, gracious words that night and their impact since. (You can see Mrs. Klein’s speech at
“You do earn success with hard work and self-reliance, but you also will be served by remaining mindful of the people who’ve helped you along the way,” Antholis said.
“As you go forward and build your lives, enjoy success and endure setbacks, please know that you will always be well-served by honoring the voices, values and love of those who have supported you and made sacrifices for you.”
A total of 2,034 undergraduates received their degrees on the breezy spring Saturday. The morning event included students from the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, the Jones College of Business, the College of Education, and the College of Media and Entertainment. The afternoon ceremony featured students in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, College of Liberal Arts, and the University College.
Tennessee State Historian Carroll Van West, a longtime MTSU professor and director of the university’s Center for Historic Preservation, addressed the university’s first separate ceremony May 6, where 349 received their doctorate, master’s and education specialist degrees. You can learn more about that event at
New MTSU graduate Kara Lane’s aspirations don’t take her far from home or heart. The Beech Grove, Tennessee, resident, who grew up on a beef cattle farm, earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science with an eye toward becoming a veterinarian. “I’ve just always had a love and passion for animals,” said Lane, who’s applying to the University of Tennessee, Mississippi State and the University of Virginia in her quest to open a practice for animals of all kinds. “I’ve always been interested in animal surgery. When I was younger, one of my dogs got sick and I just … felt helpless. They say that (small animal practice) is where the money is, but it’s not about the money for me. It’s about helping the animals.”
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee encouraged that sort of perspective in his address to the graduates.
“You’ll become part of the distinguished history of this institution,” he said. “We make up more than just an academic community; we are a family.”
New graduate Alison Todd, 21, of Murfreesboro represents the fourth generation of her family’s affiliation with MTSU. A cum laude graduate with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and minors in French and Spanish from the College of Liberal Arts and the University Honors College, Todd played in the Band of Blue, was president of the Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity and worked in multiple campus offices.
“This is a culmination of a lot of hard work and time teachers have given me. It is a big deal — everything I ever worked for,” said Todd, who will spend the summer at an archaeological field school in Romania, Greece and England, then take a year off in a volunteer reading/speaking English role before attending graduate school to study forensic anthropology.
You can see photos from the day’s events at A PDF copy of the complete spring 2016 commencement program, which includes all the graduates’ names and degrees, is available at

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