MTSU history professor Pippa Holloway
Above photos by MTSU's J. Intintoli
(MURFREESBORO) MTSU's 817 new graduates are perfectly positioned to be advocates for public education, a longtime university professor said Saturday, Aug. 10, because they're its successful products.
"We can't take our system of public education for granted, so please, be advocates throughout your lives for our great American system of public education, from kindergarten onwards," MTSU history professor Pippa Holloway said during the university's summer 2019 commencement ceremony in Murphy Center.
"Public education offers people from diverse backgrounds opportunities for success ... to reach their full potential. An education at MTSU is not cheap, but because it's a publicly supported institution, it's an amazing bargain compared to private universities.
"MTSU drives economic growth across the region in our state because a university education helps you solve social problems; contribute to technological advances; be innovators, thinkers and leaders. Education makes you more informed when you vote, better able to understand your responsibilities as a citizen, and better able to hold our elected leaders accountable."
Holloway, an MTSU professor since 1999, has served in MTSU's Faculty Senate since 2016 and completed her tenure as president Saturday.
Biology major Clinton Warren of Tullahoma, Tennessee, who studied leaf-cutter ants in Costa Rica this summer during an experiential learning course in tropical biology, is already aiming for his next success story: graduate school at MTSU and a master's degree.
Warren graduated summa cum laude from MTSU and with distinction from the University Honors College, earning a perfect 4.0 GPA after transferring from Motlow State Community College as an Honors Transfer Fellow in 2017. His mother, Tina Shang, was one of the original honors transfer group in 2013, and his sister, Heather Mangrum, is a 2018 MTSU alumna.
At MTSU, Warren worked in the Office of Student Success as a supplemental instructor, helping students in anatomy and physiology classes for more than a year, This fall, he plans to continue conducting his scientific research, serve as a graduate teaching assistant and tutor students in general physiology.
"It feels like only yesterday that I doubted myself capable of succeeding in academia, but through hard work, determination and the incredible support of family, faculty, staff and a few special classmates, I am now moving on to a graduate program with goals to pursue a career in academia," Warren said.
"My advice to those who are in the midst of earning their degrees: Keep working hard, interact with your faculty, staff and classmates frequently and explore the concepts and topics that spark passion and interest within you. These simple things can make a world of difference in your college experience and leave you with a better sense of preparedness following your graduation."
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee commended the new Class of 2019 graduates for reaching this critical milestone and thanked them for choosing the Murfreesboro university to accomplish it.
"We are extremely grateful and honored that you entrusted us with something so important as your education," he said. "We're confident in your preparation to take on new and exciting challenges, and we look forward to seeing the far-reaching impact of what you've learned during your studies at this university."
The university is celebrating its inclusion in the new Princeton Review list of America's best colleges, announced last week and praising MTSU as "a hidden gem" and "a go-to choice for ... a quality and affordable education."
Holloway told the audience that an affordable education is the catalyst for her family's success. She's the daughter of immigrants who joined countless other Americans in the nation's public schools, ultimately becoming scientists and ensuring that she, too, received a thorough public-school education.
"You're here because, like me, a lot of people gave you a gift," she told the students. "Some were people you know, most importantly your family, who may have helped pay for your education, and your loved ones who supported you through it, but many of the people who brought us all here today aren't here, and they aren't people we know.
"Please think about how you can use your education to make the lives of all the people of the state better, no matter who they are, because all the residents of Tennessee have contributed to your education and helped enable your success."
Students from MTSU's nine colleges -- Graduate Studies, Basic and Applied Sciences, Behavioral and Health Sciences, the Jones College of Business, the College of Education, Liberal Arts, Media and Entertainment, the University College and the University Honors College -- received their degrees during the summer ceremony. A program listing each of the 603 undergrads and 214 graduate students is available at http://ow.ly/6s3y30pgKoY