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Governor Haslam makes good on promise to Cleveland State students

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Cleveland State Community College
Gov. Haslam delivers Commencement address at Cleveland State Community College

Not many graduates can say they remember the speaker at their college graduation, but students at Cleveland State Community College just might. Governor Bill Haslam delivered the keynote address during CSCC’s commencement ceremony on Saturday. The ceremony marked the end of Cleveland State’s 50th anniversary year.

Under Haslam’s leadership, Tennessee is the first state in the nation to offer high school graduates two years of community or technical college free of tuition and fees. According to CSCC President Dr. Bill Seymour, Haslam made good on his “Cleveland State promise” referring to Haslam’s visit to the school two years ago when he greeted students attending under the Tennessee Promise program on their first day of classes. Haslam promised then he would be back to speak at their graduation. 

Haslam also addressed the non-traditional students in the class. “We want you to know how excited we are that you made this decision. We’re so inspired by what you have done, we decided to take Tennessee Promise and expand it so that now in Tennessee, no matter what age you are starting this fall, you can come back to school absolutely free of charge.”

At one point during the ceremony, Seymour asked that all the Tennessee Promise students come to the front for a special picture with the governor. He later presented Governor Haslam with a signed copy of former CSCC administrator’s book, Cleveland State Community College: The First Fifty Years, 1967-2017.  

“There is a verse in Proverbs that says as iron sharpen iron, so one man sharpens another,” stated Haslam. “Life is really hard. You are going to need people around you to encourage you and sometimes, correct you.” 

He continued, “Thirty years from now, when you are at someone else’s graduation, you will be thinking, ‘I learned how to work hard at Cleveland State, and it has been fruitful for me all of my life.”’Three special awards were given out during the ceremony. Dr. Victoria Bryan was awarded Distinguished Faculty Member; Dr. Robert Brandon was awarded Distinguished Staff Member; and Haley Hodgson was awarded Distinguished Student.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Ball Photography