For Immediate Release - Southwest Tennessee Community College

Date: May 11, 2011

The Southwest Class of 2011 Challenged to "Have a Plan" to "Change the World"

Amidst a sea of black regalia, glad hearts and hopeful spirits soared as family and love ones awaited the pronouncement of their names, signaling their turn to walk across the stage to receive that piece of paper proclaiming "I did it!” More than 1,700 graduates marching to the traditional Pomp and Circumstance were encouraged to "Have a Plan" by Commencement Speaker Joseph DeVivo and to "Change the World" by Student Speaker Tinisia Branch during the Southwest Tennessee Community College 2011 Commencement Ceremony on May 7, at the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, MS.

Southwest President Nathan L. Essex welcomed family members and friends and applauded the outstanding efforts and accomplishments of graduates. Among them was Jacqueline Bain, awarded a Dietetic Technician Degree 30 years after an earlier, unsuccessful attempt to go to college when she graduated from high school. Bain was privileged to graduate concurrently with her daughter, Kristen, who earned an Associate of Science degree in teaching.

Also recognized for overcoming tremendous odds was Robert Hunt, who bravely served his country in the U.S. armed forces from 1995 to 2007. Hunt was discharged due to an injury he sustained while deployed in Iraq. Matriculating through Southwest, Hunt served as vice president of the International Studies and Veterans clubs and held membership with the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, graduating with a 3.79 GPA. All graduating members of the armed forces were commended.

Other students President Essex commended were those who had dually enrolled in high school and Southwest. John McDaniel earned both an Associate of Arts degree in general education while also earning a high school diploma. Ariel Anderson, Lindsay Avis, Callie Goldsby, Josue Medrano, and Kristin Harris were awarded technical certificates in electrical electronics fundamentals as well as high school diplomas.

Powerful business leader, Joseph DeVivo, asked the question "Do you have a plan?" in his address to the Southwest Graduating Class of 2011. DeVivo detailed the events of his life, both disappointing and rewarding that led to his current position as President of Smith & Nephew Orthopaedics. He culminated his message with ten pieces of advice from his personal experiences: (1) Listen to your inner voice, (2) Find your passion, (3) Be dependable, (4) Put your company first and your career second, (5) Try to learn every day, (6) Take on the company's largest problems, (7) Include your family in your work, (8) Focus on the job you have, not on the job you want, (9) Don't worry, and (10) Live to be debt free. He also added "Give back to your community."

Eloquent and commanding, Southwest Student Speaker Tinisia Branch, a sociology major, encouraged her classmates to think of their diplomas, as she once heard Tom Brokaw, former TV journalist and NBC anchor, say – "tickets to 'change the world.'" Branch remarked, "Each and every one of us has the opportunity to change the world. …Graduates of 2011 take your tickets and change the world!" Branch served as President of the Honors Academy and Services Learning Club.


Photo caption: Southwest Tennessee Community College Class of 2011

Photo caption: Commencement Speaker Joseph DeVivo

For more information contact: Brenda J. Rayner, (901) 333-4247,, Farris Bldg., Room 1002, 5983 Macon Cove, Memphis, TN 38134