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Graduates toss their caps after a commencement ceremony in Thompson-Boling Arena.

This spring more than 5,400 students turned their tassels and became Vols for Life as they graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Families, friends and mentors gathered in Thompson-Boling Arena to celebrate the graduates’ accomplishments over three days and 11 commencement ceremonies.

At the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences ceremony on Thursday, May 18, speaker Brianna Mason Broady (’17, ’18) encouraged graduates to work toward their goals even in the face of adversity.

“The path to achieving your goals is not an easy one,” said Broady. “It requires hard work, dedication and perseverance. It may involve setbacks, failures and disappointments. Remember this: It is in those moments that we often learn the most about ourselves and our capabilities.”

Ryan McGee (’93) spoke to graduates of the College of Communication and Information on Friday, May 19. He inspired graduates to reflect on their support systems as they begin the next chapters of their lives.

“No matter what your upbringing, background or size of your support group, when you finally hang that diploma on your wall, make sure you pause and think about all the people who helped you get to that moment, to the floor of this arena right here,” said McGee.

Additional commencement ceremonies were held with other speakers:

  • Herbert College of Agriculture: Keith Carver (’95, ’09), senior vice chancellor and senior vice president of the UT Institute of Agriculture
  • College of Architecture and Design: R. Michael Hendrix (’94), global design director of IDEO
  • College of Arts and Sciences: Chad Goldman (’93), distinguished alumnus and philanthropist
  • Haslam College of Business: Shelly Sun (’92), CEO and founder of BrightStar Care
  • Tickle College of Engineering: Hash Hashemian (’77), president and chief executive officer of Analysis and Measurement Services Corporation
  • College of Law: Sharon Lee (’75, ’78), Tennessee Supreme Court justice
  • College of Social Work: Patrick Angelaccio, BSSW student, and Victoria Abigail Powell, MSSW student
  • College of Veterinary Medicine: Andrew Cushing, clinical associate professor of zoo animal medicine
  • Graduate Hooding: Amie Sankoh, PhD graduate in biochemistry

This spring’s graduating class included 304 first-generation college students, 435 honors students and 113 international students. Seventeen Air Force ROTC cadets and 15 Army ROTC cadets were commissioned. Additionally, 69 graduates earned the gold service medallion by each completing at least 225 hours of community service during their time at UT.

Take a look at some of the highlights from the ceremonies.


Maggie Palmer (865-974-3993,