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College of Social Work Commencement

Graduate students are being recognized across the state this week as part of Graduate Education Week, designated as February 9–15, 2020, in a proclamation from Governor Bill Lee.

The proclamation cites graduate education’s positive economic impact on the state and the advancement of resources to the community and the public.

“The specialized training that comes from graduate education is life changing. It expands job opportunities, enhances knowledge and expertise, and provides a launchpad to become a leader not only in one’s field, but in one’s community and the world,” said Dixie L. Thompson, vice provost and dean of the Graduate School.

Classified as a public R1 doctoral university with very high research activity, UT plays an integral role in advancing graduate education. The Graduate School houses multiple nationally ranked programs and maintains a fruitful partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory. More than 6,000 graduate and professional students are currently enrolled at UT in more than 180 different graduate degree and certificate programs. The university’s graduate enrollment has maintained steady growth over the past four years, with the trend expected to continue.

The work of graduate students Cecile Gadson, Stian Romberg, and Lindy Westenhoff, for example, represents the wide-ranging contributions of UT’s graduate programs.

Cecile Gadson
Cecile Gadson

Gadson, a doctoral candidate studying counseling psychology from Columbia, South Carolina, is conducting a qualitative study on the experiences of black adolescent girls in high school and the microaggressions they face every day, specifically at the intersection of gender and race. Microaggressions are actions that subtly, both intentionally or unintentionally, express a biased or prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group. Gadson’s research can be applied to clinical work, inform policy changes, and help train educators in schools and youth agencies. Read more about her study.

Stian Romberg
Stian Romberg

Romberg, a graduate student studying mechanical engineering from Maryville, Tennessee, recently received recognition for his research in large-scale thermoset additive manufacturing. Romberg collaborated with the Polymer Materials Development team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility for the project. As he pursues his PhD, Romberg plans to study the manufacturing challenges and mechanical properties of large-scale cellular structures.
Read more about his research and accomplishments.

Lindy Westenhoff
Lindy Westenhoff

Westenhoff, a graduate student and teaching associate in geography from Reston, Virginia, is exploring how augmented reality (AR) can provide greater context to our physical world. AR technology uses GPS on a mobile device to determine the user’s location, and the device’s compass detects orientation. Westenhoff imagines a world where a user would be able to see something in the landscape and find information that is more engaging than text from a search engine. Read more about how the Tennessee Historical Commission and the popular mobile game Pokémon Go inspired her research.

As part of the week, the Graduate School will host multiple events to engage both undergraduate and graduate students.

On Wednesday, February 12, Grad School 101 will take place from 10:30 a.m. to noon in Student Union Room 362B. Representatives from the Graduate School, faculty, and graduate students will present information on the admissions process and provide an opportunity for current undergraduate and prospective students to ask questions about graduate education.

Thompson will be in the Graduate Commons on the first floor of Hodges Library, Room 131, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday to talk with graduate students and hand out cookies. The event, Cookies and Conversations, is an opportunity for graduate students to interact with the dean and talk about whatever is on their minds.

Also on Wednesday, the Graduate School will host Networking and Mentoring – Finding Your Match from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Student Union, room 262A. The professional development event is part of a series called Strategic Planning for Your Life. Graduate students will explore topics that include networking opportunities, building relationships with mentors, and establishing a supportive community.


Maddie Stephens (865-974-3993,