Commencement celebrations springing up around Tech

Graduating senior Erin Higgins gets visit and a goodie bag from Jennifer Shank, the dean of the College of Fine Arts.The postponement of commencement services at Tennessee Tech has not kept many faculty and students from creating celebrations of their own.

Several larger colleges and departments have been honoring graduating seniors on Zoom or Youtube live. In the College of Fine Arts, the dean, Jennifer Shank, went the extra mile to make her 38 graduating seniors feel special.

Shank traveled more than 1,800 miles across the state of Tennessee during an 8-day period to visit each graduate.

“I honestly could not imagine not seeing them one last time,” said Shank about the seniors. “I usually have the privilege of greeting them on stage during commencement and giving them a hug or shaking their hand and it just about killed me that I couldn’t do something for them. I was trying to think of something that would allow us to celebrate them and also recognize how hard they have worked.”

Shank, dressed in her graduation regalia, hit the road. She visited the home of each graduate, dropping off a yard sign, goodie bag and a graduation card. She also posed for pictures while practicing social distancing.

“It’s been wonderful,” said Shank. “Selfishly, it has been such an uplift for me. I hope it has been for them as well. I’m really lucky to get to do this. I realize that if I had a bigger college, this wouldn’t be possible.”

Shank shared her celebrations around the state on social media. Once the word got out as to what she was doing and where she was going, students welcomed her by wearing their regalia and having family there to share in the special moment.

“It’s a joy to congratulate them on the incredibly hard work they have done and to get to see them in their own environment and get to enjoy the beautiful state on the road,” said Shank. “Parents and extended family have been extremely grateful. They have also said that it is a reflection of the Tech spirit and why they sent their son or daughter to Tech in the first place.”

Since Tech commencement has only been postponed and not canceled, there is till going to be a celebration of sorts on the day commencement would have been held. A live video celebration is scheduled at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 9, the day which commencement was slated to happen. The video includes messages to graduates from campus and community members as well as videos from the graduates themselves. There is also a message from a very popular special guest.

The video can be viewed on the Tech website at

Graduating senior Erin Higgins gets visit and a goodie bag from Jennifer Shank, the dean of the College of Fine Arts.

The College of Education held a zoom commencement celebration for some of their students.


Return to News Room