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Commencement event speakers promise students wealth of perspective, experience

May 08, 2017

Following Saturday’s inaugural Spring Commencement Exercises by Tuskegee University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, commencement events continue this week and will culminate on Saturday May 12. Each of the week’s commencement events will provide graduates with additional perspectives of the career field they will soon enter, as well as inspire their post-graduate success.

Saturday’s spring commencement ceremony—the university’s 132nd—will begin at 10 a.m. in the Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James Arena, and will feature ESPN President and Disney Media Networks Co-Chairman John Skipper as the commencement speaker. Featured speakers at the university’s preceding commencement events include:

Dawn Davis, 2016-17 Alabama State Elementary Teacher of the Year
Fourth Grade Teacher, Montana Street Academic Magnet School, Dothan, Alabama
School of Education Induction Ceremony
Thursday, May 11, 7 p.m., Kellogg Conference Center Ballroom

Dawn Davis, a fourth-grade teacher at Montana Street Academic Magnet School in the Dothan City School System, was named the 2016-17 Alternate State Teacher of the Year in May 2016 by the Alabama State Department of Education. The first among her siblings to go to a four-year college, Davis, who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education from Troy University, has spent most of her 20-plus years as an educator teaching in the Dothan City School System. She believes that while she cannot change the many circumstances from which her students come, she can change where they are going in life. Davis aims to do so by providing a classroom environment where all children realize their worth and potential, which she accomplishes through planning, building a support team, encouraging risk-taking and utilizing her students’ natural curiosity.

The selection process for Alabama’s Teacher of the Year begins at the school system level. Each school system can nominate an elementary and secondary teacher at the district level. One elementary teacher and one secondary teacher are selected from each of the eight state Board of Education districts. A state selection committee selects four teachers from the 16 district finalists to be interviewed for the titles of Alabama Teacher of the Year and Alternate State Teacher of the Year.

The Hon. Charles Price, Municipal Court Judge (retired)
15th Judicial Circuit, Montgomery, Alabama
Baccalaureate Service
Friday, May 12, 10 a.m., Tuskegee University Chapel

Charles Price, a retired municipal court judge for the 15th Judicial Circuit based in Montgomery, Alabama, currently is the managing partner of the Price Group, senior advisor to City of Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, and a trustee on Tuskegee University’s Board of Trustees since 2009. Appointed a Montgomery County circuit judge by Gov. George Wallace in 1983, he served for 32 years before retiring in 2015. He began his legal career with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., before returning to Alabama to serve as an assistant attorney general. While serving in that capacity, he was appointed acting district attorney for Escambia County. He later became deputy district attorney for Montgomery County, and held that position until he entered private practice.

Prior to his legal career, Price served six years in the U.S. Army—three years with the Green Berets and three years with the 82nd Airborne Division. He continued his service in the U.S. Army Reserve, from which he retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

In addition to numerous legal accolades, Price is the recipient of the 1997 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and the 1988 Dr. Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award from the National Education Association. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of West Alabama and an honorary Doctor of Christian Humanities from the Global Evangelical Christian College and Seminary. Price holds a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Union University and a law degree from George Washington University.

Brigadier General Barbara Lynne Owens, Deputy Commanding General
U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Fort Knox, Kentucky
ROTC Commissioning Ceremony
Friday, May 12, 1 p.m., Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center Ballroom

Brig. Gen. Barbara Lynne Owens was commissioned in 1985 and began her military career with the 85th Division in Chicago, Illinois, where she was Squadron S-1 and then Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment (HHD) commander in Waukegan, Illinois. Upon entry into the Active Guard Reserve (AGR) program, Owens’ subsequent assignments included personnel management officer, 4013th U.S. Army Garrison Support Unit, Bossier City, Louisiana; chief, Human Resources Division and chief, Officer Branch, 90th Regional Readiness Command, North Little Rock, Arkansas. While assigned to the HQ, U.S. Army Reserve Command, Fort McPherson, Georgia, she served as the chief, Officer Management Branch; chief, Full-Time Support Branch; and G-1 executive officer.

Follow-on assignments included tours of duty as personnel integration officer and HHC commander, Human Resources Command-St. Louis, Missouri; Officer Personnel Management System Redesign Team, Army Human Resources Command-Alexandria, Virginia; chief, Officer Policy Branch, deputy Army chief of staff, G-1; and division chief, Full-Time Support Division, U.S. Army Reserve Command, Fort McPherson, Georgia. From 2010-11, Owens deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, where she served as the Army Reserve G-1 Theater liaison officer, Third Army. Her most recent assignment was as the U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) G-1, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Her awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with six oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal with six oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, and Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern Mississippi, a master’s degree in human resources from Webster University, and a master of strategic studies degree from the U.S. Army War College.

Fayron Epps ’00, Ph.D., RN, Assistant Professor
Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions, Georgia State University, Atlanta
Nursing & Allied Health Capping & Pinning Ceremony
Friday, May 12, 3 p.m., Tuskegee University Chapel

Dr. Fayron Epps, a 2000 Tuskegee University graduate with more than 15 years of nursing experience, currently serves as an assistant professor in Georgia State University’s Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions. In addition, she is an affiliate faculty member with the Gerontology Institute and an adjunct faculty member with the Louisiana State University Life Course and Aging Center.

After completing her BSN at Tuskegee in 2000, she earned an MSN in health care systems management from Loyola University and a Ph.D. in nursing from Southern University and A&M College. In 2015, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence. Active in multiple professional organizations, she also has shared her research findings in the area of evidence-based practices for promoting quality of life for African-Americans with dementia and their family caregivers in relevant journals and at professional conferences.

Steven L. Hill, ’90, Director of Communications and Security Technologies
Ships and Aviation Systems (SAS), Lockheed Martin, Washington, D.C.
Order of the Engineer Ceremony
Friday, May 12, 3 p.m., Logan Hall

As director of communication and security technology for Lockheed Martin’s Ships and Aviation line of business, Steven Hill maintains the organization’s strong history of program performance while growing the business internationally and maintaining relationships with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other key customers.

He joined Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in February 2002 as the director of engineering process and cost improvement, Missiles and Fire Control for Lockheed Martin Corporation's Electronic Systems. Since then, he has served in capacities that include deputy capture lead, program manager, and other corporate assignments. Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, Hill held significant leadership roles at United Technologies Corporation-Pratt & Whitney Division and Raytheon Aircraft Corporation.

He graduated from Tuskegee University in 1990 with bachelor’s of science degrees in aerospace science engineering and mechanical engineering, and earned an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management

Quinton Coates, Police Officer
City of Tuskegee, Tuskegee, Alabama
Social Work Pinning Ceremony
Friday, May 12, 6 p.m., Kenney Hall, Bioethics Auditorium

Quinton Coates is a police officer with the City of Tuskegee. A former Tuskegee University student-athlete and social work major, Coates brings a “hands-on” disposition to his work in law enforcement and his work with youth. He was instrumental in creating the community’s first girls’ fastpitch softball and volleyball programs. He also serves the community by facilitating local football and basketball programs. Coates is a member the Lewis Adams Chapter-67 Masonic Lodge and The Order of The Eastern Star Lewis Adams-Chapter 519.

Note: Biographical information gleaned from multiple sources, including the Alabama State Department of Education website, U.S. Army Human Resources Command website, and personally provided biographical documents.

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