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UTHSC Students Grateful for In-Person Commencement Ceremonies May 7-19

UTHSC will host in-person Spring 2021 Commencement Ceremonies May 7-19.

Fourth-year dental student Tony Huynh is excited about the return of in-person commencement activities. “It has been a long really long time,” he said. “I am glad that we are able to manage the situation and move toward resuming our normal lives.”

Tony Huynh

Huynh will be among the 792 new health care professionals participating in UTHSC’s 2021 Spring Commencement Ceremonies from May 7-19. The events are the first in-person commencement ceremonies for UTHSC since the coronavirus pandemic began more than a year ago.

“We are excited to celebrate our graduating class by holding our first in-person commencement since 2019,” said Cindy Russell, PhD, interim vice chancellor of Academic, Faculty, and Student Affairs at UTHSC. “In the face of an unprecedented pandemic, these students persisted in their academic programs and demonstrated their determination and resiliency. We are excited for the contributions they will continue to make to the health and well-being of all people.”

For the ceremonies, UTHSC will be implementing COVID-19 protocols, including masks required for all attendees, social distancing, and hand sanitizer stations throughout each venue. Guests of graduates will sit together in assigned seats, but be 6 feet away from the next party. Students will also be seated individually with 6 feet of space between each of them. Additional COVID-19 guidelines are available for review on the university’s commencement website.

Yhazmyne Hawkins

UTHSC Chancellor Steve Schwab, MD, will confer all degrees. Graduation numbers are as follows: 119 in the College of Dentistry, 22 in the College of Graduate Health Sciences; 273 in the College of Health Professions,160 in the College of Medicine, 59 in the College of Nursing, and 159 in the College of Pharmacy.

Those receiving certificates include three in Clinical Investigation (College of Graduate Health Sciences), one in Health Informatics and Information Management (College of Health Professions), and four in Nuclear Pharmacy (College of Pharmacy).

Though not recognized during commencement, 172 second-year pharmacy students at UTHSC will receive a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences degree. Students are eligible to receive the bachelor’s degree after they successfully complete three semesters of the Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum. They will then continue pursuing their doctorate through the four-year program.

Yhazmyne Hawkins, a fourth-year pharmacy student at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, feels a mix of excitement and nervousness about graduating in person May 11. “Not nearly as many people that I would’ve hoped would be there will be, but some will be, and it means a lot to me,” she said.

Huynh applauds the College of Dentistry’s diligent efforts to keep its students on track during the pandemic. “The College of Dentistry faculty and staff worked strenuously to ensure that our educational experience wasn’t cut short,” he said. “I know several other dental schools weren’t able to help their students like UTHSC did.”


Spring 2021 Commencement Schedule 

Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology (College of Health Professions), May 7, 12 p.m.

UT Conference Center; 600 Henley Street, Knoxville.

Class Speakers: Madeline Richards (Audiology), Andrew Grimball (Speech Pathology)


College of Graduate Health Sciences: May 10, 11 a.m.

Hooding Ceremony

Schreier Auditorium, Wassell Randolph Student Alumni Center, 800 Madison Avenue, Memphis


College of Health Professions: May 11, 11 a.m.

Renasant Convention Center; 255 N. Main Street, Memphis.

Keynote Speaker: James Beem, MHA, MHIIM, (COHP ’17), managing director, J.D. Power Healthcare Intelligence


College of Pharmacy: May 11, 2 p.m.

Renasant Convention Center; 255 N. Main Street, Memphis.

Keynote Speaker: Ashlie Singletary, PharmD (COP ’01), director, Medical Affairs, Strategy and Execution, Merck & Co., Inc.


College of Nursing: May 19, 9 a.m.

Renasant Convention Center; 255 N. Main Street, Memphis

Keynote Speaker: Susan Cooper MSN, RN, FAAN, senior vice president/chief integration officer, Regional One Health


College of Medicine: May 19, 12 p.m.

Renasant Convention Center; 255 N. Main Street, Memphis

Keynote Speaker: Muthiah P. Muthiah, MD, associate professor,  Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine in the College of Medicine at UTHSC


College of Dentistry: May 19, 3 p.m.

Renasant Convention Center; 255 N. Main Street, Memphis

Keynote Speaker: Joe Safirstein, DDS, (COD ’99), assistant professor, Oregon Health and Science University School of Dentistry; president; UTHSC College of Dentistry Alumni Association