The College System of Tennessee honored its outstanding students, faculty, staff and supporters of the year at the 4th annual Statewide Outstanding Achievement Awards (SOAR) celebration Wednesday night, March 30, in Nashville.
In addition to individual SOAR award winners, Walters State Community College won the Community College of the Year cup and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Elizabethton took home the Technical College of the Year honors..
The College System, governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents, is composed of the state’s public community and technical colleges. Launched in 2019, SOAR celebrates the colleges’ outstanding students, faculty, staff, colleges, advisors, benefactors, volunteers and partnerships.
After weeks of college- and regional-level judging that produced 18 finalists – and a final day of interviews and judging Tuesday – the 2022 individual award winners announced at the SOAR Awards Dinner are:
Finalists: Mitchell Grimm, Southwest Tennessee Community College, and Kearra Weiting, Nashville State Community College
Finalists: Amber Ray, TCAT Oneida, and Stephen Segerson, TCAT Crump
Finalists: Raquel Adams, Southwest Tennessee Community College, and Denise Penzkofer, Pellissippi State Community College
Finalists: Brent Cherry, TCAT Crump, and Lynn Rimmer, TCAT Knoxville
Finalists: Drema Bowers, Pellissippi State Community College, and Jennifer Townes, Southwest Tennessee Community College
Finalists: Cathleen Clark, TCAT Dickson, and Tim Smith, TCAT Jacksboro
Finalists: Mary Jo Johnson, Motlow State Community College, and Eric Morgan, Nashville State Community College
Each of the award winners received a SOAR trophy. All finalists received plaques at a Finalists Dinner Tuesday night commemorating their achievements. Walters State and TCAT Elizabethton took home engraved College Cups signifying their 2022 College of the Year awards.
Board of Regents Vice Chair Emily J. Reynolds, who presented the Student of the Year Awards, said students “come to our colleges with a thirst for knowledge and leave prepared to enter the workforce in a job vital to our state or to continue your education. Whatever path you choose, we love the fact that you often come back to your communities as future leaders.”
TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings welcomed all finalists from across the state and congratulated them for their achievements. “You are why we are gathered here tonight. Students are why we exist, why we do what we do every day,” she said. “I’m proud to be part of a public higher education system that is open to everyone who wants to study, work hard and learn. Whether your goal is to train for a career in a year or to continue your studies at a university, we are here for to help you achieve your dream.”
In a recorded video, Gov. Bill Lee offered his congratulations to all. “It’s an honor to celebrate each of Tennessee’s outstanding students, staff and faculty at community colleges and colleges of applied technology all across the state. Our community colleges and TCATs offer a variety of opportunities for Tennesseans and each of these finalists have stood out as leaders who have excelled in their communities. Thank you for all your dedication and congratulations.”
Other 2022 SOAR Awards presented were:
More than 300 students, faculty, staff, supporters, state legislators and other guests attended the SOAR Awards Dinner, presented by The Ayers Foundation, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Nashville Downtown.
Special guests included former Governor Winfield Dunn, who in 1972 signed into law the legislation creating the Tennessee Board of Regents system, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Other special guests included former TBR Chancellors Roy Nicks and David Gregory, and board members of the Foundation for the College System of Tennessee.
SOAR is made possible by the following benefactors:
Presenting Sponsor: The Ayers Foundation
Hospitality Sponsor: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee
SOAR Finalists Dinner Sponsor: D2L
Education Champions: AT&T Tennessee, Denark Construction, Follet
College Champions: BarberMcMurry Architects, HIP Hues, Milek Media, Orcutt | Winslow Architects
Friends of TBR: AllianceBernstein
The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.