COLUMBIA, Tenn. June 25, 2021) – – – Columbia State Community College held a special ceremony to honor more than 40 2020-2021 graduates Friday, June 25. Many of the participants graduated during the height of the  pandemic and as a result, were unable to perform the traditional act of crossing the stage to symbolize the completion of degrees. This ceremony allowed those alumni to have this experience.
“Today is a celebration of accomplishments,” said Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president. “I, along with the faculty and staff, could not be more proud of this group and all they have achieved.”
In lieu of a traditional ceremony, students walked across the stage at the Circular Commons while their families observed from their vehicles at the fountain.
“These students did not get to have a traditional ceremony, so we wanted to do something special for them.”
Photo Caption (DSC_4219): Nashville resident, Aimee Sadler, earned an Associate of Science degree in sociology in spring 2020. Currently, Sadler serves as the education and research manager for People3, a diversity and inclusion firm in Nashville. Sadler was recently elected to the Nashville Launch Pad board. In the future, she plans on furthering her education in sociology and attending law school. Eventually, Sadler wants to open her own nonprofit and work on social and restorative justice with a focus on the LGBTQ community. “At Columbia State I knew I was a part of a community that cared about me.”
Photo Caption (DSC_4119): Columbia resident, Jenna St. Pierre, earned an Associate of Science degree in biology in spring 2020. St. Pierre, a second-generation Columbia State alumna and Tennessee Promise graduate, is currently enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University where she is majoring in anthropology. In the future, St. Pierre plans to relocate to Colorado where she will pursue a master’s degree and focus on South American archaeology. “Columbia State prepared me for my future. I learned so many life skills that I am carrying with me in both my academic and professional career.”

Photo Caption (DSC_4479): Williamson resident, Cristina Hooghkirk, earned an Associate of Arts degree in foreign language in spring 2020. Hooghkirk, a first-generation student, is currently enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University where she is studying foreign language. Hooghkirk is now a substitute teacher for Williamson County Schools. In the future, her goal is to become a middle or high school Spanish teacher. “When I left my family of origin in Italy to follow my heart in the states I would have never imagined I would have been where I am now,” she said. “Thanks to Tennessee Reconnect, I decided to return to school. I had worried about returning as a foreign, non-traditional student; however, after the first few days of class, all of my worries disappeared. At Columbia State, I built strong relationships and felt fulfilled and welcomed.”

Photo Caption (DSC_4192): Summertown resident, Joshua Burlison, earned a university parallel Associate of Arts degree in fall 2020. Burlison, a first-generation student and Tennessee Promise graduate, plans to continue his education at Global University in the fall. In the future, Burlison wants to pursue ministry work. “Columbia State comforted me and challenged me. I learned a multitude of things about time management, conflict resolution, communication, and overall, you get out what you put in – for that, I am eternally grateful.”

Photo Caption (DSC_4277): Lewisburg resident, Tracy Harris, earned an Associate of Science degree in mass communication in spring 2020. Harris, a first-generation student, is currently enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University where she is a journalism-visual communications major. Harris currently owns a small business in Lewisburg, which she is hoping to expand in the future. “The small classroom environment at Columbia State allowed for a level of interaction that was life-changing. My professors encouraged me and made me feel like I mattered. I learned to have self-confidence in my education and communication skills.”
Photo Caption (DSC_4360): Columbia resident, Corey Cummings, earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in administrative professional technology in spring 2020. Cummings, a U.S. veteran and first-generation student, is currently working as a business office receptionist/assistant business office manager for the Franklin Wellness and Rehabilitation Center. “Columbia State provided me the opportunity to create a better future and set an example for my son.”
Photo Caption (DSC_4336): Columbia resident, Richard Martin, earned an Associate of Science degree in exercise science in fall 2020. Martin is currently continuing his education and plans to pursue a career as a physical therapy assistant. “My favorite thing about Columbia State was the faculty and having the opportunity to meet new students from all over with different backgrounds.”