News Brief - 9/24/16 145 Students Walk Across Stage In Third Commencement NASHVILLE WGU Tennessee celebrated the academic achievements of 556 Tennesseans from 70 counties today, 43 percent of whom are the first in their family to earn a degree. A total of 145 graduates walked in the commencement ceremony held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville. “Many of these graduates probably thought this day would never come,” said Dr. Kimberly K. Estep, chancellor of WGU Tennessee. “Each of them has worked extremely hard, balancing work and family commitments and still making time to earn their degree. As part of Drive to 55, our goal is to help Tennesseans succeed. We are extremely proud of the achievements of these students.” Commencement speakers included four members of the graduating class and guest speaker Mark Cate, former chief of staff for Governor Haslam, and co-founder and president of the Stones River Group, a consulting firm. “WGU Tennessee has enhanced my life, opened doors that would have remained closed, and has given me the confidence to pursue a path that would have only been a dream two years ago,” said Joel Chappell, one of the commencement speakers and a member of the graduating class. “It has been one of the great experiences of my life.” Earlier this year, the state-endorsed, nonprofit online university celebrated its three-year anniversary. WGU Tennessee launched in 2013 as part of Governor Haslam’s Drive to 55 college completion initiative. Enrollment is expected to eclipse 3,000 students within months, and this year’s graduating class is the largest yet. WGU Tennessee enrolls students into its programs each month. Tuition is about $3,000 for a six-month term, during which students can complete an unlimited amount of coursework. Those interested in learning more can visit tennessee.wgu.edu.