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Florida State Senator and 1999 alumnus Jeff Brandes to address December graduates, Dec. 15

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(Dec. 1, 2017) – Carson-Newman University will hold its Winter Commencement ceremony on Friday, Dec. 15. The 2 p.m. ceremony will be held in the University's Holt Fieldhouse. You may view the ceremony live online here: cn.edu/live

Florida State Senator Jeff Brandes will deliver the commencement address. The St. Petersburg native was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2010 and earned a reputation for innovative approaches in education, job creation and transportation matters. He was elected to the state senate in 2012 and was reelected in 2016. Brandes joined the U.S. Army shortly after high school and served in the U.S. Army Reserves until 2007. Brandes is a 1999 Carson-Newman graduate. In the decade following his graduation, he served as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, went to work in the family lumber business and built a successful career in investment real estate. In 2015, Brandes received Carson-Newman’s Outstanding Young Alumnus Award.

During the commencement ceremony, Carson-Newman will present the speaker's mother, Mary Tibbets Brandes, with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Mary is a 1971 graduate of Carson-Newman and has committed her life to Christ-centered education. After earning her bachelor’s degree, Mary was the first teacher hired at Northside Christian School in St. Petersburg, Florida. She eventually became the school's principal and the head of the school.  Mary and her husband Russ are long-time supporters of both Carson-Newman and The King’s Academy in Seymour where Mary’s mother, Polly Enix, attended school. Mary was recently named recipient of the Chester James Award, an honor presented by the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg.

"I couldn’t be more pleased to have Jeff Brandes as our commencement speaker and to present an honorary doctorate to Mary Brandes. The Brandes family has a long association with our university and the Carson-Newman family is proud to claim them as our own," said University President J. Randall O’Brien.

Founded in 1851, Carson-Newman is a Christian liberal arts university located in Jefferson City, Tennessee, among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. The University has over 2,500 students and offers 50 undergraduate majors, as well as associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees.

For media inquiries, visit the University Relations page.

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