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Carson-Newman holds 2017 Winter Commencement

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President J. Randall O'Brien presents 1971 alumna Mary Tibbets Brandes with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

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(Dec. 15, 2017)– Carson-Newman University awarded degrees to some 140 graduates during its 2017 Winter Commencement. 

During the ceremony, Florida State Senator Jeff Brandes delivered the commencement address. The St. Petersburg native and 1999 C-N alumnus 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 received Carson-Newman’s Outstanding Young Alumnus Award in 2015.

During the ceremony the speaker's mother, Mary Tibbets Brandes, was presented an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. The 1971 alumna has committed her life to supporting 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," said University President J. Randall O’Brien. "The Brandes family has a long association with our university and the Carson-Newman family is proud to claim them as our own."

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