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Alumna, NASA Exec to Deliver Commencement Address
December 6, 2012

Walters State Community College will confer 693 associate degrees and technical certificates at its 43rd Commencement Ceremony, which begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 14. The ceremony will be held in the “Z” Buda Assembly Hall and Gymnasium, inside the Dr. Jack E. Campbell College Center on the Morristown Campus.

The Commencement ceremony will be video-streamed live here. The video will begin shortly before the ceremony starts at 7 p.m. EST.

The commencement speaker will be a Walters State alumna: Vicki Elsbernd, a science manager for NASA in Washington, D.C.

Elsbernd graduated from Walters State in 1974 and went on to earn degrees from Tennessee Tech and the University of Tennessee. She works in the heliophysics division of NASA, where she has been responsible for 20 flight missions. Her involvement extends to many projects, including the space station, the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment and solar exploration. Prior to joining NASA, Elsbernd worked with the Tennessee Valley Authority and private firms, giving her over 30 years of engineering experience. 

She has received numerous individual and group performance awards, including the Goddard Space Flight Center’s Outstanding Leadership Award, the Mission to Planet Earth Director’s Award and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. In 2011, she was honored as a Walters State Distinguished Alumna.

This marks Walters State’s second December commencement. The ceremony was added last year to accommodate the growing number of students who complete their degrees during fall semester. 
This class is slated to receive 318 associate degrees, 257 academic certificates and 118 technical certificates.
Among degrees, 143 Associate of Applied Science degrees will be conferred. This degree allows students to directly enter the workforce in many in-demand fields. The most popular major among recipients this commencement is nursing, with 61 graduates. Other popular majors include law enforcement, engineering technology, culinary arts, paralegal studies and business administration.
Walters State will confer 166 Associate of Science degrees. Students earning this degree usually plan on transferring to a four-year college or university. The general studies major accounts for 95 of these degrees. Other popular majors include psychology, business, elementary education, history, and criminal justice. Six students will receive Associate of Arts degrees. These also prepare students to transfer and majors include mass communications, music education, English and art education. 
Ten students will receive the Associate of Science in Teaching. This degree transfers to four-year universities as the first two years of a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. 
Academic certificates are given in general education and also prepare students to transfer.
Technical certificates prepare individuals to enter the workforce. The majority of these certificates go to 80 graduates of Walters State’s Basic Law Enforcement Academy. Other popular certificates this semester are culinary arts, paramedic and emergency medical technician.

In the photo: Vicki Elsbernd