Northeast State readies for record graduation

Rick Wagner • Feb 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — “Pomp and Circumstance” may play a little longer than before come spring commencement at a local community college.

That’s because a rush on caps and gowns is coming to Northeast State Technical Community College in May.

A record 907 students filed applications to graduate this spring, an increase of more than 200 compared to applications submitted in 2008, according to a news release from the college.

“We have experienced a tremendous increase in graduation applications from last year, and it is a result of several items,” Billy Benton, Northeast State registrar, said in the release. “We no longer have a graduation fee. We initiated a Graduate Now campaign for alumni and traditional students, and students want a degree or certificate from Northeast State.”

Northeast State eliminated the $25 graduation fee for students this year with approval from the Tennessee Board of Regents.

The Admissions Office reported 667 graduation applications were submitted by students completing degree requirements in the upcoming spring and summer semesters.

The office received 176 applications from students who completed degree requirements last fall plus additional applications from students completing all required courses to graduate during the 2007 and 2008 summer terms.

Upcoming graduates’ top three majors are the university parallel track, health-related professions — with concentrations of surgical technology, medical laboratory technology, dental assisting, cardiovascular technology and EMT-paramedic — and industrial technology. The applicants include approximately 290 students who will graduate with honors.

Northeast State will also graduate its first class of nursing students this spring. The nursing division reported 31 students will earn their associate of applied science degree two years after entering the program.

Northeast State had 670 total graduates in spring 2008. School officials said the higher graduation numbers also suggest that Northeast State’s commitment to student retention is bearing fruit, with more people opting to graduate.

The college’s spring commencement will be held May 12 at 7 p.m. in Memorial Center on the campus of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City.

Graduates will have an opportunity to pick up caps and gowns, order invitations and class rings, and meet with members of the Alumni Office, Financial Aid, Career and Employment Services, Transfer Advising, Institutional Advancement and others at the “Grad Finale” event from 1 to 5 p.m. March 23 in the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts on the Blountville campus.

“We are excited to be graduating a record number of students this year because it shows the tremendous accomplishments of our students and the growth of Northeast State,” Benton said. “The increase shows the importance of earning an associate degree or certificate in order to enter the work force or transfer to a four-year institution.”

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