Northeast State Community College celebrated the Class of 2013 on May 14, awarding 1,247 degrees and certificates at commencement exercises. This is the largest class ever graduated by the College.
The event was held at the Mountain States Health Alliance Athletics Center on the East Tennessee State University campus.
Northeast State awarded 6 academic certificates, 389 technical certificates, 334 associate of applied science degrees, 24 associate of arts degrees, 25 associate of science in teaching degrees, and 469 associate of science degrees. A total of 129 students graduated cum laude (3.6 – 3.74 GPA), 66 received magna cum laude distinction (3.75 – 3.89 GPA), and 74 students were summa cum laude (3.9 – 4.0 GPA) graduates.
Newt Raff, chair of the Board, First Tennessee Bank, Northeast Tennessee Region, delivered the commencement address. Raff was the founding chair of Northeast State’s Foundation.
“It’s a great day and great to celebrate your success. I have certainly enjoyed celebrating others’ success my whole career … so it’s great to be here” Raff said. “Northeast State has changed my life just like I know it’s changing your life and will continue to change your life for the better.”
Northeast State President Dr. Janice Gilliam noted that Raff was named recipient of the Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy for 2013. The award is based on criteria of generous giving of time and resources to TBR institutions and ethical leadership, philanthropy, civic responsibility, and integrity.
Raff started his career with First Tennessee Bank in 1976 as an operations officer. He quickly moved up the ranking, serving in various roles and capacities. In 1985, he accepted the role of regional president for First Tennessee Bank in Kingsport and Bristol, where he doubled the bank’s size from $85 million in 1986 to $177 million in 1989.
In 1992, Raff was promoted to chair and CEO of First Tennessee Bank Northeast Tennessee and initiated and closed the purchase of Home Federal, an $840 million savings in loan. In 1997, he was selected as one of the top 25 CEO’s in the region and he was awarded Executive of the Year at the Greater Tri-Cities Business Awards in 1998.
East Tennessee State University honored him as an Honorary Alumnus in 2005 and in 2009 Raff was inducted into the ETSU College and Business and Technology Hall of Fame and awarded the Excellence in Business Award.
During commencement ceremonies, Gilliam recognized the College’s Outstanding Student Award recipient and Distinguished Staff Award recipients.
Elizabeth Ross earned the Outstanding Student Award. She holds membership in the College’s Alpha Iota Chi chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, the Northeast State Scholars Foundation, and the President’s All-Academic Team. She graduated summa cum laude with an associate of science degree in Speech Communication.
Ross recently earned the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Transfer Scholarship – an award that honors the best community college students in the nation. The program – the largest private scholarship for community college transfer students in the country – provides up to $30,000 per year for up to three years to students who are nominated by their schools based on a number of factors including academic excellence, and financial need.
In 2013, the Foundation received 769 nominations from 377 community colleges in 45 states and the District of Columbia. A highly selective scholarship, Ross was one of only 73 recipients receiving the award.
David Lewis earned the College’s Distinguished Support Staff Member Award. Lewis provides support services around campus and takes on the challenging job of lab assistant with the Sciences Department.
Sandra Gardner received the Distinguished Administrative/Professional Staff Member Award. She is an academic advisor with the Student Success Center providing guidance and learning resources for students.
Jim Kelly was honored with the Distinguished Faculty Member Award. He is an associate professor of history and humanities at Northeast State. Kelly also chairs the College’s Cultural Activities Committee that brings educational and entertaining speakers to campus each year.