APSU's University College celebrates inaugural graduating class
Clarksville, TN (08/07/2023) — Austin Peay State University (APSU) celebrated a historic milestone as the inaugural class of its University College, consisting of approximately 155 graduates, crossed the Dunn Center stage on Aug. 4 during summer commencement.
The University College was officially established on Aug. 1 and houses areas within Austin Peay that are outside of an academic college, including general studies and associate degree programs. Its goal is to help students transition into higher education and set them up for success.
"The University College proactively engages in structuring initiatives, thoughtfully designed programming and degree opportunities to ensure the success of our students from admissions through graduation and beyond," said Dr. Loretta Griffy, dean of APSU's University College. "It was a great honor for me to present the graduates of our University College to President [Mike] Licari during APSU's commencement ceremony. We celebrate their achievements and are confident in their ability to thrive as they continue their education journeys and professional careers."
Kinsley Andrews, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in general studies, overcame many obstacles to reach the milestone of commencement. She started at APSU through the Middle College program in high school and enrolled in 2019 as a broadcast major, but the COVID-19 pandemic nearly led her to drop out.
"COVID-19 happened shortly after I started college, and I struggled with online school," she said. "That put me in a stressful position where I didn't know where I stood at college, and I started to think college wasn't right for me that I was never going to get a bachelor's degree."
However, Andrews got back on track when in-person classes resumed and recently learned she had enough credits for a multi-disciplinary general studies degree.
"It feels great," she said. "I'm the first one out of all my siblings to graduate from college, and my mom is a single parent, so she didn't graduate with her degree until she was in her late 30s. I'm just happy to make my family proud, and it's been a big relief."
Graduating also further motivated Andrews to finish her broadcasting degree, with only eight credit hours remaining. She plans to finish those classes while working as a social media manager, sales representative and content creator for LOCAL Clarksville.
Specialist Mekele Chambers, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), is another University College graduate with a bachelor's degree in general studies. She started at APSU in 2022 and said the University played a crucial role in helping her balance her military and academic obligations.
"I definitely think my time at APSU has prepared me for the career field I'd like to enter," said Chambers, who opted for a health concentration. "I'll be pursuing my master's in public health at Pennsylvania State University starting Aug. 21, and eventually, I plan to go to nursing school to become a nurse anesthetist."
Chambers said she was excited to graduate and start working toward her goal, adding that a master's in public health will also allow her to gain administrative experience.
"I've had two jobs in the healthcare field, and for me, it's the thrill of helping someone feel better," she said. "I worked on labor and delivery, and the epidurals are given to patients by nurse anesthetists. They enjoy what they do, they're always available to talk and that's definitely a career path that I want to take."
Chambers also encouraged other service members to contact their commanding officers about going to college and thanked her leadership for supporting her path to graduation.
"Nowadays in the military, there seems to be a big shift toward getting any kind of education done," she said. "Whether it's a couple of credits, an associate degree or a bachelor's, it gives you something to have after the Army if you choose to get out."
For more information about APSU's University College, call 931-221-6200.