May 18, 2011


Record Number of Graduates in Annual Ceremony

The largest graduating class in the history of Northeast Alabama Community College was honored May 13, 2011 in a ceremony held at the Northeast Alabama Agri-Business Center in Rainsville. In all, two hundred and fifty-four Northeast students received their associate degrees in a ceremony attended by an estimated 4,500 guests.

“Our focus is to see students succeed in their goals,” stated Dr. David Campbell, NACC President. “Graduating from Northeast is certainly a milestone for us and for these students.”

Tennessee Valley Authority President/CEO Tom Kilgore was the commencement speaker for the ceremony. Kilgore, a native of Sand Mountain, encouraged the graduates to make the best possible use of their time. Among many thoughts expressed during his speech, Kilgore stressed how important dependability is as a trait in anyone’s personal and professional life. Kilgore told the graduates that even though they were finishing college, they would face many more “exams” in their lives and to always be prepared for what lay ahead. On a personal note, Kilgore told how growing up in the area, his father one summer had let him work a part of their farm land and keep the profits. Kilgore said that he used the money to buy a new set of encyclopedias that he used to further educate himself before entering college.  Click to watch video of speech

As President/CEO of TVA, Kilgore manages an agency with more than 12,000 employees and he oversees all operations of the organization, including power production, resource management, river navigation, and economic development. Kilgore’s wife, Myra, also a native of Sand Mountain, attended the NACC ceremony. During the ceremony, Campbell praised Kilgore and TVA workers in their tireless efforts to restore power throughout the Tennessee Valley following the storms. Campbell stated that as the leader of TVA Kilgore was “the one who made this (power restoration) happen.” Campbell noted that Kilgore is an outstanding example of the character of the people from the Northeast area and what they can achieve.

Mary Scott Hunter, Alabama State Board of Education Representative from the Eighth District, also spoke to the graduates. Hunter praised the graduates for their efforts in completing their degrees and encouraged them in all future endeavors. Campbell noted that Hunter had brought a relief team to the Rainsville area following the storms.

During the ceremony NACC Dean of Students Tonie Niblett paid tribute to two current and four former Northeast students who lost their lives in the April 27th tornadoes in the state. Two of the former and one of the current Northeast students were killed in the tornado in Tuscaloosa during the storms. Dean Niblett led those in attendance at graduation in silent prayer in remembrance and honor of the students.

As a part of the graduation ceremony, the college conducted a non-perishable food drive assisting those in need as a result of the devastation from the tornadoes. The items were donated in recognition of the NACC 2011 Graduating Class. NACC Presidential Hosts collected the donated items.

NACC Student Government President Laura Kerby represented the 2011 Class during the ceremony. Other students honored included Marvin Standekar, President’s Cup and All-Alabama Academic Team, and Gwendolyn J. Allison-Wooten, All-Alabama Academic Team. Other students were recognized for their academic achievement as they were awarded their degrees during the ceremony.

Michael Bearden posthumously was awarded the Charles M. Pendley Founder’s Chair Most Outstanding Faculty Member Award for 2010-2011. Bearden’s wife Tammy accepted the Award for him. Bearden taught mathematics and physics at the college for nine years. He passed away from a prolonged illness in March of 2011. In presenting the Award, Lora Mae Davis, Chair of the Founder’s Chair Committee, stated that Bearden possessed all the traits that are reflected in the Award and that he was greatly admired and respected by all who knew him. The award is financially supported by the Board of Directors of the NACC Foundation.

Included among the graduates were fifty-nine NACC nursing students who completed their academic degrees at the college. Many students who graduated will join the workforce or transfer on to complete baccalaureate degrees at colleges and universities. The nursing students also went through a Pinning Ceremony on the NACC campus earlier in the day.

“Our graduation was inspirational and reflective at the same time,” Campbell stated. “I want to compliment our staff for so conducting an event of this size and intensity with such professionalism. Graduation was a very memorable evening for us all.”

Two large screens flanked the stage to give full view of the proceedings to all guests. Here, TVA CEO Tom Kilgore delivers the commencement address.

The Northeast Alabama Agri-Business Center accommodated approximately 4,500 guests in addition to [L-R] the NACC chorus, graduates, and faculty.