More than 250 individuals received degrees during Tusculum College's winter commencement ceremony on Saturday, including the presentation of an honorary doctorate to a humanitarian and friend of the college, Stan Brock.
In all, 136 students earned bachelor of science degrees and 74 earned bachelor of arts degrees. In addition, 56 earned master of arts degrees.
Also receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters was Stan Brock, who is perhaps best known for his appearances on the "Wild Kingdom" television series.
An adventurer and author, Brock grew up in Wales and has adventured throughout his life across the globe.
With the Amazon rain forest for a classroom and Wapishana Indians for teachers, Brock became a world-renowned authority on wildlife conservation and management, a news release from the college stated.
He became a research associate of the Royal Ontario Museum with the distinguished honor of having discovered a new species of bat.
Brock now devotes all his time -- completely without pay -- to directing the operations of Remote Area Medical. RAM runs about 25 clinics a year, serving hundreds of patients at a time in areas where access to medical care is limited.
He was introduced by renowned Kingsport pulmonologist and RAM volunteer Dr. Joe Frank Smiddy who said, "Because of his tireless devotion to the well-being of others, every year, tens of thousands of impoverished people and their animals receive medical treatment or surgery, dental work, vision care and veterinary service. He is a selfless, caring and dynamic leader whose only criteria for taking a team to a tiny Appalachian mountain town or a South American Indian village is simply that they need him."
Brock expressed his appreciation and talked about his adventures and his work at RAM.
The new graduates were addressed by Tusculum President Dr. Nancy B. Moody, who recognized the commencement ceremony as "an occasion of celebration and completion.
"Each of you have made sacrifices, adjustments and also made tough decisions along the way. You have worked hard and have earned the right to walk across this stage. This is a testament to your own efforts and to your persistence. Today is your reward," Moody said.
Jessica Britton, an education major from Greeneville, addressed the crowd as a representative of the residential college program.
She told the group, "My hope for you is that you do indeed frame the well-deserved diploma that you receive today. I hope you provide it a place in your home where you can be reminded daily that you are a product of success. However, each time you walk past it, I hope that you are filled with the desire to do more."
Cheri Kelley, of Morristown, spoke on behalf of the college's Graduate and Professional Studies education program. Kelley talked about the impact finishing her college degree has made in her life.
Marci Moore, a 2011 undergraduate from Tusculum College and a resident of Greeneville spoke on behalf of the Graduate and Professional Studies master's degree program.
She told her fellow graduates, "I encourage you as a new graduate to take your fresh ideas and opinions and run with them. You have come to school to learn new practices and new knowledge. Take what you have learned, combine that with a little common sense and make the world a new place with your ideas."
Lillian Burchnell of Greeneville spoke on behalf of the Graduate and Professional Studies program. She spoke about returning to higher education after raising her family and building a career.
ONCE IN A BLUE MOON
Also speaking was Mark Stokes, director of religious life, church and community relations at Tusculum College.
Stokes presented a sermon titled, "Once in a Blue Moon."
Stokes told the story of astronaut Buzz Aldrin and the little-known story of Aldrin conducting communion on the moon.
Aldrin ended radio communication and there, on the silent surface of the moon, 250,000 miles from home, he read a verse from the Gospel of John, and he took communion.
Stokes said, "It reminded me that for the fruit of God to ripen in our lives, we have to recognize the journey involved in getting there. That journey takes time, diligence, patience, hard work and God's cultivation to produce a vine that is mature, productive and successful."