Fall 2020 Commencement
Friday, Dec. 11, at 4 p.m. EST
Fall 2020 Commencement
Friday, Dec. 11, at 4 p.m. EST
For many graduates, commencement is the ultimate celebration of one of the most significant accomplishments of their lifetimes. This is our second virtual ceremony, and we have worked hard to provide a memorable commencement experience for our fall 2020 graduates. You have been determined and resilient in order to reach this stage in your academic career. We are proud to honor your achievement.
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A video of the virtual Fall 2020 Commencement will be made available on this page shortly before 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 11. If you do not see this video by 4 p.m., please refresh this page in your browser.
Friday, Dec. 11, 2020
WBTV News Anchor
Bachelor of Science in communication arts with a concentration in broadcasting
After graduating from App State in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in communication arts with a concentration in broadcasting, John Carter began working as a news assistant at Charlotte’s WBTV. From 1979–89, Carter worked as a general assignment reporter, consumer reporter, Western Bureau Chief/reporter, news producer/consumer producer and news producer/managing editor. He was also host of the WBTV show “Carolina Camera,” traveling across North and South Carolina as a feature reporter.
Over the next seven years, Carter formed his own video production business and opened a comic book shop in Lincolnton. He was elected to the North Carolina Senate, representing the state’s 25th District, and served as a public information specialist for Mecklenburg County. He returned to WBTV in 1996 to anchor its morning news show and later, “WBTV News at Noon”.
A survivor of prostate cancer — the No. 1 cancer in U.S. men — Carter routinely shares informative news and feature reports about the disease and works closely with the American Cancer Society to share its message about the life-saving importance of early cancer detection.
Carter has received numerous awards and honors for his video and journalistic work. He is also a 1992 recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian award.
BSBA in computer information systems, December 2020
Wendell Addy is graduating from App State as 2020’s top computer information systems (CIS) student in the Walker College of Business. The 4.0 GPA senior, who was born in Liberia, holds an associate degree from Wake Technical Community College and will earn his Bachelor of Science in business administration in computer information systems in December.
Since transferring to App State in summer 2019, Addy’s success as a Mountaineer has been on a fast track: In addition to the scholarship he received for the top CIS honor, Addy was awarded merit-based scholarships when he was accepted to App State and, in the 2019–20 academic year, he earned a spot on the Chancellor’s List — awarded to full-time students with a GPA of 3.85 or higher. He was also inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, a national honor society for business students.
After engaging in three virtual internships this summer, Addy secured a job offer from Citrix Systems Inc., a multinational computer software company. After he graduates, he will serve as a technical analyst at the company’s Fort Lauderdale, Florida, headquarters.
“Being able to live out my dreams — I will attribute that to App State,” he said.
MPA, public management, December 2020
Jennifer McCracken, who is among the Hickory cohort of students in App State Online’s MPA distance education program, will earn her Master of Public Administration with a concentration in public management.
McCracken serves as health director of Catawba County Public Health (CCPH), a position she has held since mid-March, when the county announced its first case of COVID-19. A registered nurse, McCracken joined CCPH in 1998 and was named the department’s assistant director in 2016 before being named interim director in 2019.
She said her pursuit of App State’s MPA has exposed her to broader areas of government and provided her with advanced knowledge in finance, budgeting, health policy, personnel administration and program evaluation — knowledge she can apply directly in her current role to reimagine local public health both during and in the aftermath of the pandemic.
“The relationships I have built while at App State are some of my most valuable,” McCracken said. “I not only have lifelong colleagues but lifelong friends.”
McCracken holds a Bachelor of Science in nursing and a certificate in public health leadership from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Bachelor of Music (B.M.) in music education–general music education (K–12)
B.M. in music education–choral music education (K–12)
B.M. in music performance–voice
Hayes School of Music (HSOM) senior Samantha Latino, of Charlotte, will graduate from App State in December with Latin honors, receiving her Bachelor of Music (B.M.) in music education–general music education (K–12), B.M. in music education–choral music education (K–12) and B.M. in music performance–voice.
Latino chose to attend App State after participating in the university’s Cannon Music Camp for three summers. “The camp allowed me an inside look on what being a music student at App State would be like, in addition to getting to know App State’s faculty, campus and culture,” she said.
While at App State, she has been involved with HSOM’s Chamber Singers and University Singers choirs, as well as the Knitting and Crocheting Club. She has also represented vocal performance students as a member of HSOM’s Student Advisory Board.
After graduating, Latino aims to teach music in North Carolina at the elementary level. She is also considering pursuing a future master’s degree in vocal performance.
Latino is a recipient of the Joe and Anna Phelps Music Scholarship and the Mariam Cannon Hayes Endowment for Music Excellence Scholarship.
Award-winning country music artist Luke Combs will join App State in celebrating the Class of 2020 by performing the university’s alma mater. Combs, who attended App state from 2008–12, was recently honored as Male Vocalist of the Year at the 54th Annual Country Music Association Awards. His most recent album — “What You See Ain’t Always What You Get” — was named the 2020 CMA Awards Album of the Year.
Beaver College of Health Sciences
College of Arts and Sciences
College of Fine and Applied Arts
Hayes School of Music
Reich College of Education
Walker College of Business
The Appalachian State University mace is carried by a senior faculty member in all academic processions. Traditionally, the mace bearer precedes the chancellor of an institution, both upon entering and leaving a ceremony. The mace serves as a symbol of authority just as it did during the Middle Ages, when a mace bearer accompanied an official taking office or opening court.
The App State mace symbolizes the university’s mountain heritage, the rustic location and the sophistication of an emerging, national leader in higher education. Its design, as a walking stick with a base constructed of roughhewn log and finished molding, is appropriate to the natural environment of the area. At the top of the mace is a soaring, red-tailed hawk native to the area. The hawk symbolizes power, authority, as well as the empowerment of education. The talons are grasping a sphere containing two quartz crystals. The first crystal represents the global nature of the university, its educational programs, alumni and students. The second quartz crystal within the sphere is a reproduction of Grandfather Mountain.
The letters ASU reliefed within the pine cone are crafted in black enamel and are gold plated. The various bands represent the flora and fauna native to the area. The black walnut, one of the strongest of woods, was used to symbolize the staying power of the university.
The mace was constructed by Carolina Bronze, of Asheville. Fittingly, two App State students and an App State graduate were involved in the production. It was commissioned by the Appalachian State University Alumni Association in 1994.
Appalachian has never canceled a commencement — not even for the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918–19 or during World War II. In May, we launched our first virtual commencement with great success. With the available technology that is allowing us to continue our mission of teaching, research and service, we are determined to offer another memorable celebration in December for those who wish to participate.
The name of each candidate who registered for Fall 2020 Commencement by Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 5 p.m. will be read and displayed in the recording. Prior to the virtual ceremony, graduates will have picked up — at a scheduled time — a commencement packet that includes a diploma cover and other items to commemorate this achievement. Packets have been mailed to students who were unable to pick up a packet in person.
A sincere thank-you to the many people who worked on App State’s virtual Fall 2020 Commencement, and special thanks to John Carter ’79 and to Luke Combs for performing and contributing the use of the university’s alma mater.