More than 450 students were honored in Cleveland State Community College’s Spring and Summer 2020 Virtual Commencement Ceremony Friday night. Graduates, friends, family, as well as staff and faculty of the college, watched along online on the college’s special Graduation Website hosting the event.
In addition to those honored in this unique event for Cleveland State, three special individuals were recognized for their dedication and hard work during the ceremony.
Nehemias Perez Santiago was selected as the 2020 Distinguished Graduate. Mark Wilson was selected as the Distinguished Staff Member and Donna Brogdon was selected as the Distinguished Faculty Member.
The Distinguished Graduate award is given each year to the graduating student who, in the opinion of the college faculty and staff, has contributed the most to the advancement and betterment of the college.
Mr. Perez first enrolled at CSCC as a full-time student in the fall of 2018. According to his nomination form, he was nominated for his “integrity, sense of community, commitment to diversity, his loyalty and devotion to his country, as well as the Cleveland State Community at large.” The sense of community he creates and promotes can be seen in his service to the Boys and Girls club, service to New Student Orientation (NSO) - Social Science leadership, and Peer Mentoring.
Mr. Perez has volunteered many hours to the children at the Boys and Girls Club through genuine interest in their psychosocial development and general well-being. He would go beyond the expected duties of his role as leader of the NSO Social Sciences division. He was always prepared to share with new students his experiences in class, with faculty, participating in clubs
on campus, and promoting CSCC's embracing of diversity.
In addition, he shows leadership by serving as President of the Diversity Club. He united the Criminal Justice Program and the Diversity Club to prepare and serve food at a local homeless shelter through collaboration with Communidad de Esperanza. He extended the Diversity Club to McMinn County by finding the first President of the Diversity Club at the Athens Center. To illustrate his care for the diversity of CSCC, he worked with the representatives to advocate for equity and inclusion on campus. He participated in promoting and participating in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. march while holding the banner to lead the march. He also serves part-time as a security officer at the CSCC main campus.
Other students nominated for this award include Britnay Gore, Abigail Flores, Samantha Benavides and Reedhi Bamnelkar.
The Distinguished Staff award is presented each year to an individual who has performed meritorious service to Cleveland State—above and beyond the expectations of the job. This award is open to any CSCC employee other than those classified as Executive, Administrator or Faculty.
Mark Wilson began his career at Cleveland State over 27 years ago. He was originally hired in Student Services, and he then took a position as a faculty member for a short time, but later returned to Student Services where he is currently employed as the Director of Counseling and Career Services. Wilson has taken pride in every job or role he has had at the college. He is dedicated to the college and demonstrates that fully when asked to take on additional responsibility.
Through a restructuring in the Student Services Division, he was asked to take on responsibility for supervising the Testing Center, a position that had a full-time Director running it; without reservation or question, he stepped up when the Students Services Division needed him and took on the additional responsibility. The same thing happened when the person over Veteran’s Services retired and the position would not be filled immediately. He stepped in and took on additional responsibility to make sure those students got the services they needed.
In addition to numerous campus committees, he is also respected in his community and involved in many charitable activities. He is a Tennessee Promise mentor and member of the Cleveland Area Interagency Council. He is also an active member of Georgetown Baptist Church where he teaches Sunday School and he and his wife, Melissa, help with Vacation Bible School each summer.
According to his nomination, “He performs all aspects of his work with excellence, integrity, and a positive attitude and is an outstanding representative of the college.”
Other staff members nominated for this award include Chris Mowery, Kelli Roach, Suzanne Ratcliff and Sindy Reynolds.
The Distinguished Faculty Award is given each year to a member of the Cleveland State faculty in recognition of meritorious service to the college and community.
Donna Brogdon began her teaching career with Cleveland State serving as an adjunct professor for 19 years, but she joined the business department as a full-time instructor nine years ago. She has been promoted through the years and received her status as a tenured, associate professor in 2017.
According to her nomination, “Donna has made significant contributions to the business department through her development of numerous courses, mentoring of adjuncts and new instructors, and the design of the A.A.S. Business curriculum for both the Pathways Project and Tennessee Valley Early College (TVEC).”
Ms. Brogdon continues to teach one of the most diverse schedules of any faculty member in the division, teaching day, afternoon, evening, off-campus, distance learning, hybrid, online, TNeCampus, and accelerated courses. She effectively utilizes the dynamic classroom to enhance instruction and group activities in her courses.
In addition to numerous committees on campus, she also gives freely of her own time to local women’s organizations and other community events.
Chuck Barkley and Laurie Rowland were also nominated for the Distinguished Faculty Award.
In addition to the distinguished awards given out during commencement, several other students were honored during this time.
The first class of Tennessee Valley Early College (TVEC) graduated on Friday. The TVEC is a partnership between the college and local school systems designed to allow students to pursue an associate degree at the same time they are earning a high school diploma. Graduates of this program include Savannah Baker, Emily Brock, Madison Collins, Aaliyah Cranmer, Aaliyah Davis, Briza Dedicatoria, Makena DeLuca, Abigail Flores, Kristin Jump, Holly McDaniel, Riya Patel, Grayson Payne, Emily Rollins, Jannat Saeed, and Gianna Wright. All TVEC graduates received the University Parallel Associate of Science Degree.
Graduates of the Honors College at Cleveland State were also recognized for their degrees and special Capstone Projects they conducted during their enrollment in the college.
Reedhi Bamnelkar (Accounting AS)
Capstone Topic: Relationship Between Corporate Social Responsibility And Stock Prices
Rebecca Ann Bartlett (Art, Studio AA)
Capstone Topic: The Shade Society (a graphic novel project)
Christine Bebawy (Art, Studio AA), (University Parallel AS)
Capstone Topic: The Coptic Arts and Theology
William Brewer (Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries AS)
Capstone Topic: Culvert Remediation for Improved Salamander Habitat and Passage on Sina Branch, Ocoee District of the Cherokee National Forest
Jewelia Fox (Music AFA)
Capstone Topic: Can Everyone Sing? Trained and Untrained Voices
Arielle Gearhart (Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries AS)
Capstone Topic: Tennessee Dace Habitat Assessment
Katina Green (Art, Studio AA), (Sociology AS)
Capstone Topic: Lost, Forgotten, Thrown Away (Elders)
Zoe Grosskreutz (Agriculture-Animal Science AS)
Capstone Topic: Raw Milk: Our Rights Outweigh the Risks
Hannah Hall (Mass Communication AS)
Capstone Topic: The Bias Against Community College: A Short Film
Nathaniel Harrell (Pre-Health Professions AS)
Capstone Topic: Are Electronic Cigarettes Better than Combustion Cigarettes?
Bradley Hayes (Pre-Health Professions AS)
Capstone Topic: Animal Lives Matter: The Importance of Large Animal Vet
Rebeka Kinzer (Education AS)
Capstone Topic: People First, Business Next
Sadie Lane (Criminal Justice AS)
Capstone Topic: Human Trafficking within Tennessee
Ashi Patel (Allied Health Sciences AS)
Capstone Topic: Health Hazards of Consuming Contaminated Water
Emily Pritchett (Education AS)
Capstone Topic: Seizure Frequency and Music’s Impact on Epilepsy
Jannat Saeed (University Parallel AS)
Capstone Topic: Women In America: The Pink Tax and Other Legal Forms of Oppression
Tabitha Spresser (Psychology AS)
Capstone Topic: Factors That May Prevent Victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Low Income Areas from Seeking Therapy
Ashley Tate (University Parallel AS)
Capstone Topic: Doggy RX: Why Insurance Companies Should Include Service Animals as a Covered Benefit
David Tullock (Business Administration AS)
Capstone Topic: The Business of Running: Lifestyles, Equipment, and Technology
Jordan Wagers (Education AS)
Capstone Topic: Technologies That Increase Student Engagement
Lindsay Zamorano (Speech Communication AS)
Capstone Topic: Negative Effects of Technoference on Early Childhood Development and Parental Communication