BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Northeast State Community College (NESCC) hosted its spring commencement ceremony on Tuesday, celebrating the hard work of 793 graduates.

Graduates were honored across three different ceremonies, making Northeast State’s commencement an all-day celebration. Northeast State’s President Dr. Jeff McCord says these graduates will help grow the local economy as businesses deal with what he calls a talent crisis.

Northeast State graduates file in for spring 2023 commencement exercises. Photo provided by NESCC.

“We have not only a skills gap, not enough skills to fill the jobs we have, but a people gap,” McCord said. “Not enough people going into the workforce or participating in the economy, so when we graduate these graduates, they will be doing that in our region for our businesses and local enterprises.”

McCord went on to say that the sheer size of the spring graduating class shows the college has recovered well from the dip in enrollment seen during the pandemic.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee speaks at Northeast State Community College’s Spring 2023 commencement. Photo provided by NESCC

Gov. Bill Lee made a special appearance at the afternoon ceremony, speaking to the graduating class and their families about the necessity of skilled and educated people entering the regional workforce.

“Companies are moving here, people are moving here,” Gov. Lee said. “What that means is there’s a greater need for a workforce and for a highly trained and educated, skilled workforce. That’s what is happening here.”

Among the college-aged graduates were 72 local high school students who are dual-enrolled at Northeast along with their regular high school schedule. Of those, 33 earned a certificate while 39 students received an associate of science degree concurrently with their high school diplomas, according to NESCC.

Hundreds of students completed their degrees with distinction, according to Northeast State. The release states, “A total of 112 students graduated cum laude (GPA, 3.50-3.74); 76 magna cum laude (GPA, 3.75-3.89), and 83 students graduated summa cum laude (GPA, 3.89-4.0).”