By: Sean McCully and Will Fisher, News Editor and Senior Staff Writer
After hundreds of hours of work and education, more than 1,000 students were awarded their degrees at the 87th Commencement Ceremony at APSU.
The ceremony took place in the university’s Dunn Center on Friday, May 6, at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
In the morning ceremony, graduates from the Colleges of Graduate Studies, Arts and Letters, Science and Mathematics and School of Technology and Public Management were awarded their degrees while the afternoon ceremony awarded degrees to graduates from the Colleges of Behavioral and Health Sciences, Business and Martha Dickerson Eriksson College of Education.
After the ceremony, many friends and family members waited outside the Dunn Center expectantly for their graduate to make their way out, including graduate Megan Barron and her parents Mark and Kim Gasaway.
Barron said her parents helped her through her college career, which included her giving birth to her daughter, Evelynn, while her husband, Slade, was deployed.
“They were just here for me every step of the way,” Barron said adorned in graduation cords and stoles while cradling a cooing Evelynn.
Mr. Gasaway said his daughter showed a large amount of dedication while getting her degree.
“What she did wasn’t easy,” Mr. Gasaway said. “She had a baby on a Friday and classes on Monday night. That shows some discipline and dedication.”
Barron said her professors also helped motivate her to get her degree and they assisted her during her time as a graduate assistant.
“I really like it here. I just like being here,” Barron said. “It was never work being here as a graduate assistant. We’re like a little family.”
Barron said she wanted to teach with her newly-awarded master’s degree in sports wellness and leadership.
Noah Taggart was also among the crowd of newly minted graduates.
Taggart graduated magna cum laude from the College of Arts and Letters with a bachelor’s in music with a concentration in education.
Taggart said moments like his last Governor’s Own Marching Band performance in addition to his first and last wind ensemble performances will stay with him well beyond his college days.
“In my first wind ensemble concert, I was so scared,” Taggart said. “I was a freshman. I made it on as a freshman which is a big deal.
“I had to fight with all these upperclassmen. It was awesome.”
Before he departed to start his professional career, Taggart had some advice to give to the incoming fall freshman class.
“Don’t take 22 hours in one semester, that was rough,” Taggart said laughing. “Get your core classes done early and don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Taggart hopes to start a career teaching music in a high school.
“I’m really excited to get a job and change the lives of high school students,” he said.
In addition to conferring degrees, the university also recognized 22 of its ROTC cadets, giving them the U.S. Army Oath of Office.
President of the philanthropic Ayers Foundation Janet Ayers gave the commencement address for the graduating class after an introduction from President Alisa White and 2016-17 Student Government Association President Will Roberts.