Joe Stout figures he has spent about half his life trying to earn a bachelor’s degree.
On Saturday, Aug. 6, he will earn his MTSU degree in liberal studies with a concentration in management training. On Aug. 3, MTSU honored the U.S. Army veteran and nine other student veterans and presented them with special stoles they can wear with their caps and gowns at commencement in Murphy Center.
MTSU’s leadership honored 10 of the 28 summer 2016 graduating student veterans during the fifth Graduating Veterans Stole Ceremony, recognizing their “commitment, recognition and appreciation,” said Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives. The university conducts the stole ceremony each semester a few days before commencement.
“In order to graduate and it be done and then to be with fellow veterans that we’ve all kind of shared the same fox hole or whatever you might want to call it, it just means a lot to be able to be there with fellow brothers and sisters in arms,” said Stout, 50, a resident of Brush Creek, Tennessee, in Smith County.
Stout thanked his professors “for teaching an old dog some new tricks,” his academic advisers for “making sure he got things done right,” the university in general and the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center inside Keathley University Center.
University President Sidney A. McPhee, interim Provost Mark Byrnes and Huber, who had a nearly 40-year career in the U.S. Army, shared remarks.
Among those attending the event were Many Bears Grinder, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs commissioner; Edna MacDonald, director of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Nashville regional benefit office; Suzanne Jené, Tennessee Valley Healthcare System interim health system director; and Mike Krause, new Tennessee Higher Education Commission director.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)