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Austin Peay State University gets visit from Senator Marsha Blackburn, congratulates Military, Veteran graduates

 

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – On August 7th, 2019, Austin Peay State University (APSU) got a surprise visit from U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn to congratulate the University’s graduating military and veteran students.

U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn attends Austin Peay State University's Military and Veteran Graduate Recognition Ceremony. (APSU)

U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn attends Austin Peay State University’s Military and Veteran Graduate Recognition Ceremony. (APSU)

That evening, Austin Peay State University hosted its Summer 2019 Military and Veteran Graduate Recognition Ceremony and Coin Presentation, which honors the University’s graduating students who are either veterans, National Guard, reservists or active-duty military personnel.

APSU President Alisa White welcomed Blackburn to campus and invited her to speak to the graduating students.

“It’s an honor to congratulate you on reaching this milestone, and how wonderful that we have Austin Peay and that there are members of the staff and the team here that have been right where you’ve been, and they know what you’ve lived,” Blackburn, a member of the Senate’s Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees, said.

“They also know what you will be able to contribute in the days to come. And the fact that there is such a strong military program and a strong military alumni association is something that is truly unique”, stated Senator Blackburn.

Several state and local dignitaries attended the event. (APSU)

Several state and local dignitaries attended the event. (APSU)

“Austin Peay has worked very hard to make certain they are meeting the needs of not only our men and women in uniform and our veterans, but also their families. You’re joining quite a wonderful group. It is an honor to work on your behalf every single day,“ said Senator Blackburn.

Austin Peay State University is the state’s largest provider of higher education to military-affiliated students, with at least 2,659 enrolled students having a military connection in the fall of 2018. During Wednesday’s ceremony, the University honored 25 students, including three active-duty service members, preparing to graduate, but that is actually a smaller number when compared to APSU’s spring and winter commencement ceremonies.

“August commencement exercises are smaller, but if only one of you were graduating Friday, every one of these people would still be here,” White said, referring to the crowd of local and state leaders attending Wednesday’s ceremony.

In addition to Blackburn and her field director, John Clement, attendees included State Rep. Jason Hodges, Tennessee Veterans Affairs Commissioner Courtney Rogers, Deputy Commissioner Tilman Goins, Tennessee Veteran Outreach Coordinator Gregg Crawford, Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts and his wife, the Rev. Cynthia Pitts, General Sessions Judge Ken Goble, City Councilwoman Stacey Streetman, Montgomery County Commissioner Rashida Leverette, Montgomery County Commissioner Jason Knight, Montgomery County Chief of Staff Kyle Johnson, Montgomery County Veterans Organization Director Andrew Kester, and Jack Turner, civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army.

Dr. Beatrix Brockman presents an eagle she crafted to Jasmin Linares and retired Brig. Gen. Scott Brower. (APSU)

Dr. Beatrix Brockman presents an eagle she crafted to Jasmin Linares and retired Brig. Gen. Scott Brower. (APSU)

“They’re always here,” White said. “They know what a sacrifice you and your family have made already for our country. They also know about the fabulous training you received and the skills you developed during your service to our country. Now, coupled with your education, you’re going to be hitting the ground running if you haven’t already, joining a workforce that needs you.”

During the ceremony, Dr. Beatrix Brockman, APSU associate professor of German, delivered a special gift to the staff of Austin Peay’s Military Student Center (MSC). Brockman, a gifted artist, presented Jasmin Linares, MSC director, with a large wood eagle, carved from more than 90 pieces of wood. The MSC, which had more than 7,000 visitors last year, assists veterans and military students with the transition to college by serving as a clearinghouse of information. 

Finally, before each student received a red, white and blue graduation cord and one of the University’s special military coins, retired Brig. Gen. Scott Brower, APSU military adviser in residence, delivered the evening’s keynote address.

Brower, a U.S. Military Academy graduate and former deputy commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division, said there was a very good reason why the group of active-duty and veteran students seated before him deserved their own special ceremony.

“What makes this group different is that when they raised their right hand, they swore to defend this country and our ideals at the risk of their own lives on a daily basis, most likely on foreign soil, far away from their loved ones,” Brower said.

“That’s what makes this group different. The vast majority of these young men and women, they raised their hand while this nation was at war, and that’s incredibly humbling to me. To say, ‘here I am, send me,’ when you know that the stakes are so high, I view that as the epitome of selfless service. You should be commended for that. That’s why we here at Austin Peay chose to have a special ceremony for you,” stated Brower.


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