TCAT Morristown President Jerry Young congratulates a graduate during Thursday’s ceremony.
One hundred and 74 students graduated from the Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Morristown Thursday night and many of them walked across the stage a final time, looking forward to the next step in their lives.
Jerry Patton, president emeritus of TCAT-Morristown, spoke to the graduates during the graduation ceremony, held at the Walters State Great Smoky Mountains Expo Center.
He told the graduates he knew he needed to do three things: be positive, give advice and inspire.
“We want you to be successful,” Patton said.
Patton spoke about one of his heroes, Prime Minister Winston Churchill. He talked about how Churchill knew the only way to win World War II was for the United States to enter into it and bring its vast resources.
But, he said Churchill also knew the U.S. wouldn’t enter the war without depleting every other option first.
Patton told the students that it is easy for people to try everything to avoid confronting their problems. He said for students to be the opposite.
“I encourage you to not exhaust all possibilities before doing the right thing,” he said.
Patton himself served three years as president of TCAT-Morristown before retiring a year and a half ago. He also had served as president of TCAT-Elizabethton for nine years.
The TCAT colleges serve more than 30,000 students statewide and the Morristown campus is the fifth largest in the state.
“The most important people are sitting on my right,” he said. “They are the instructors.”
Young said 77 percent of students graduate TCAT and 95 percent of those graduates end up in a job in their field.
He said he also wanted to talk about his “favorite number,” which is zero.
“Zero is the amount of debt these graduates leave with tonight,” he said.
Students walked across the stage and picked up diplomas. At the very end, nursing students went through a pinning ceremony.
“Plant your garden and decorate your own soul without waiting for others to bring you flowers,” he said.