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The Walters State Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor the college bestows on former students. The award is given to alumni who have demonstrated outstanding service in their profession and/or community and have brought honor and distinction to Walters State.

To become eligible for the Distinguished Alumni Award, nominees must have attended Walters State for at least 30 hours; contributed to their profession beyond normal expectations; received professional awards and recognition; contributed to the vision and values of Walters State; and displayed an enduring commitment to the betterment of mankind through volunteerism or professional service.

Nominate a Distinguished Alumni

Distinguished Alumni 2019

Ricky B. Atchley

To protect and serve – these words are etched into the minds and hearts of all law enforcement and public safety individuals. Without question or hesitation, these words prevail in their actions both on and off duty.

For our 2019 Walters State Distinguished Alumni Award winner, the words protect and serve only begin to scratch the surface on what he has provided over a lifetime of service. Mr. Ricky B. Atchley has also served as a leader in his field, an experienced teacher for those with open minds, a faithful supporter of higher education, and an inspiration to his friends, family, colleagues, and community.

Mr. Atchley was born and raised in Sevier County. After graduating from high school, he served in the United States Army from 1976-1979, in which he earned the Army Commendation Medal and Good Conduct Medal.

Pursuing his passion for public safety, he joined the reserve division of the Sevierville Police Department in 1982, and transferred to full time in 1986.

That year, Mr. Atchley also attended the Walters State Police Academy and proudly became the first graduate of the first class of the newly formed Academy. He continued his education at Walters State and graduated cum laude with an Associates of Applied Science degree in Public Safety and Law Enforcement.

In the Fall of 1987, he moved to the Pigeon Forge Police Department, where he served on its traffic division, patrol division, and as a school resource officer through his recent retirement on Aug. 4, 2019.

Mr. Atchley was instrumental to his coworkers and his community in his 32 years with the Pigeon Forge Police Department. He served as the commander of the police department’s honor guard, a firearms instructor, a field training officer where he trained 38 men and women, and eventually helped to supervise the field training evaluation program under the direction of another first class Walters State Police Academy graduate, Rod Carr. Mr. Atchley is also proud of his leadership with Moral Kombat, a program to assist and train troubled teens that have started down the wrong path.

He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Leslie, for 41 years and is a member of First Baptist Church in Sevierville.

Mr. Atchley has epitomized professionalism in his 37 years of law enforcement service. He serves as a pillar of inspiration to past, present, and future law enforcement officers and continues to demonstrate class, integrity, and the heart to always protect and serve.

He was honored with the Walters State 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement.

Distinguished Alumni 2018

Rodney Atkins

Rodney Atkins

After more than two decades in country music, it's hard to imagine that Tennessee native Rodney Atkins could still treasure the difficult moments and the arduous process of creating a song from the ground up. But he's just the kind of artist who loves the roots as much as the tree. With six No. 1 hits under his belt, four studio LP's and over 13 million units sold, Atkins is more invested than ever in making honest, authentic records that tell a story and showcase his unique place in the world, which is exactly what he does on his forthcoming fifth LP, due out on Curb Records later this year.

Atkins, who was born in Knoxville and raised in Clairborne County, Tennessee, attended Walters State Community College as a baseball player before moving to Nashville to make his musical dreams come true. Known for his numerous hits including chart-topping tracks "Take A Back Road,” “It’s America,” “Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy),” “These Are My People,” “Watching You” and “If You’re Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)," Atkins was Country Aircheck’s second-most played artist of the decade and his Platinum-selling 2006 single, "Watching You," was named the Number One Song of the Decade overall.

Atkins’ forthcoming album is a sonic progression that will excite and captivate both new fans and ones who have been on the ride all along. And that road, for Atkins, has been an enviable one. He has achieved nine career Gold, Platinum and Multi-Platinum RIAA certifications to date, and his last studio LP, Take A Back Road (produced by Ted Hewitt), yielded his sixth career No. 1 hit and fastest-rising single to date with the title track. Atkins made a powerful return to country music with “Caught Up In The Country,” the lead single off his new album. The song features the Fisk Jubilee Singers of Nashville’s Fisk University, a historic group whose vocal prowess is credited as the origin of Music City’s nickname.

What lies ahead in 2018 for Rodney Atkins will be more than just new music and a new record. It will be about watching his newborn baby grow – his wife and musical partner Rose recently gave birth to their son, Ryder – and being a father to his teenager, Elijah, as well. And it will be about playing music for his fans, about continuing his avid support for the military and for always staying connected to what keeps him caught up in the country, cherishing every single second.

Atkins was honored with the Walters State 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award for Meritorious Achievement.

Neil Price

Neil Price

Neil Price graduated from Walters State in 2000 with an Associates of Arts degree in general studies with an emphasis in broadcasting. He took his passion for sports and broadcasting and has flourished in his career.

Price, a lifetime native of Russellville, began his work in the broadcasting field at WCRK-AM in Morristown at the age of 15. He began his career as the play-by-play announcer for Morristown East High School football, basketball, and baseball. Price founded the Senators Network at Walters State during his time as a student, which provided play-by-play for the college’s sports. He meticulously honed his craft and love for broadcasting while at Walters State.

He continued his education and broadcasting career at Middle Tennessee State University where he handled public address duties, as well as play-by-play for several Blue Raiders teams and graduated with a BS degree in Mass Communications. After college, he joined the University of Kentucky as the Voice of Kentucky Baseball and Women’s Basketball on the Big Blue Sports Network, where he worked for 12 years.

Price joined Mississippi State University in 2017 and is currently the Voice of the Bulldogs football and men’s basketball teams, where he does the play-by-play and hosts the coaches’ radio show. He continues to stay in touch with the Walters State athletic department and supports Senator Athletics.

Price was honored with the Walters State 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award for Meritorious Achievement.

Distinguished Alumni 2017

Bo Bradford

Bo Bradford

Bo is a self-taught artist from Morristown. He began painting in watercolor several years after becoming paralyzed from a diving accident in 1979. Bo has named his art teachers as “trial and error,” and says he has learned from each painting. To enhance his artistic skill, he earned his associate’s of science degree in drafting and design at Walters State in 1993. Much of Bo’s art is inspired by the countryside around Hamblen County, where he has lived for most of his life. In fact, one of his paintings was chosen last year to represent Hamblen County in the Tennessee Museum in Nashville. Through sharing his creations on canvass, Bo continues to inspire the people of this community and region.

It is a privilege to present Bo Bradford with the Walters State Distinguished Alumni Achievement in the Arts Award.

George Angelos

George Angelos

George is a native of Greece. He came to the United States in 1969 at the age of 23 looking to build a brighter future. He lived in Knoxville and Johnson City before settling in Morristown in 1973, when he became owner and operator of the Little Dutch Restaurant, which has become an iconic fixture of downtown Morristown. He graduated from Walters State in 1976 with his associate’s degree in business. His community involvement includes active participation in the Kiwanis club, Downtown Partnership, The Boy’s and Girl’s Club and the Chamber of Commerce. In addition to nourishing this community with great food and providing a backdrop for so many memories and traditions associated with his family business, George has long been recognized for his leadership and community involvement.

It is a privilege to present George Angelos with the Walters State Distinguished Alumni in Professional Achievement Award.

Distinguished Alumni 2016

Marcella Jane Carter Buis

Marcella Jane Carter Buis

Buis graduated from Walters State in 1984 with an associate of science degree in horticulture. A gourd artist since 1990, her journey in that medium includes being named the Kummba Festival Feature Artist. She began her career as an artist after experimenting with some decorated gourds she purchased at a yard sale. She refers to her gourd carvings as AfroLachian art because it blends the different heritages of her bloodline: Appalachian, African-American and American Indian. Her works have been exhibited in many local and regional galleries and museums, and she was one of 10 artists commissioned in 2003 to create a sculpture from one-ton slabs of marble as part of the Dogwood Arts Festival. Jane has been active in the Beck Cultural Center, Oakridge Art Center, Chattanooga Diversity Festival, the Walters State Black History project and many other art projects, festivals, and museums. Her art is displayed in eight states and three countries. Jane was honored by The Osborne Foundation and was a member of From Africa to Appalachia. She is a member of Toney’s Chapel Church, Lowland, where she serves as Sunday school superintendent, facilitator of the women’s department, president of the usher ministry and a member of the adult choir.

Buis was honored with the Walters State 2016 Distinguished Alumni for Achievement in the Arts Award.

George Clemmer Jr.

George L. Clemmer Jr.

Clemmer graduated from Walters State in 1982 with an associate of science degree in agriculture. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Tennessee. In addition to serving as a Greene County commissioner and being a family farmer, George has worked as a claims representative with Tennessee Farmers Insurance Companies since 2001. For 36 years, Clemmer also has hosted on his family farm — a 650-acre cow/calf operation with 100 cows — Walters State’s animal management class. He is past president of the WSCC Ag Alumni Club and was a student in the inaugural agriculture class.

Clemmer was honored with the Walters State 2016 Distinguished Alumni for Community and/or Volunteer Service Award.

Staci Fish Higgins

Staci Fish Higgins

Higgins of Hixon is a 1999 graduate of Walters State with an associate’s degree in general education. She went on to graduate from Carson-Newman University in 2001 with a bachelor of arts degree. She completed the Blount Memorial Nursing Program in Maryville in 2003 to become a licensed practical nurse and is working toward a master’s degree in K-6 education at Bethel College. Staci served as assistant softball coach at Carson-Newman University in 2005-06 and has served as clinical research coordinator for University Surgical Associates since 2008. After a standout softball career at Maryville High School from 1994-97, she played softball for two years at Walters State, earning All State Team and All Conference Team awards from the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association, while ranking 5th in batting nationally with a community college batting average of .586. As a softball player at Carson-Newman from 1999-2001, she was named to the South Atlantic Conference first-team 3B All Conference Team, breaking five single-season batting and scoring records.

Higgins was honored with the Walters State 2016 Distinguished Alumni in Athletic Achievement Award.

Senator Steve Southerland

Senator Steve Southerland

Sen. Southerland attended Walters State in the1970’s and majored in general studies. A Republican state senator, he was first elected to the Tennessee Senate in 2002, assuming office in January 2003 during the 103rd General Assembly. Representing the 1st district, which encompasses Cocke, Greene, Hamblen and part of Sevier counties, he is Deputy Speaker of the Senate. He is chairman of the Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and serves on the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, the Senate Transportation and Safety committee and the Joint Fiscal Review Committee.

Southerland serves as chaplain of the Senate Republican Caucus and is a member of the Financial Services Standing Committee of the National Conference on State Legislatures. He has received legislator of the year awards from the Tennessee Development Districts, the Tennessee Forestry Association, and the East Tennessee Development District, along with similar recognitions from several other organizations. A retired mortgage broker, Southerland is a member of the Morristown Area Chamber of commerce, the Rotary Club of Morristown, and Buffalo Trail Baptist Church.

Sen. Southerland was honored with the Walters State 2016 Distinguished Alumni in Civic Achievement Award.

Distinguished Alumni 2015

Jimmy Dunn

The Honorable James (Jimmy) Dunn

Jimmy has had a long and distinguished career in the military, public safety field and the legal profession. Prior to attending Walters State, he served our nation in the U.S. Army as a member of the 30th Military Police Battalion. Following his military service, he worked in the private sector for several years before attending Walters State. A 1976 graduate of Walters State’s criminal justice program, Jimmy transferred to East Tennessee State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English, with a minor in criminal justice. He would go on to receive his doctor of jurisprudence from the Nashville School of Law and pass the Tennessee Bar and the Federal Bar of the Middle District of Tennessee in 1986. Jimmy’s public-safety service includes 10 years in the Tennessee Highway Patrol and a position as an instructor at the Tennessee Law Enforcement training Academy in Donelson. He practiced law for three years in Nashville prior to becoming an assistant district attorney from 1990 to 2006. For the past nine years, he has served as the District Attorney General for the 4th Judicial District, which includes Cocke, Sevier, Grainger and Jefferson counties. He is a member of the Tennessee Public Safety Coalition, the Tennessee Sheriffs Association, and the Tennessee District Attorney Generals Association. Jimmy’s community service includes serving as a past president for the Boys and Girls Club of Newport, the Kiwanis Club ofNewport, and the Cocke County Bar Association.

Dunn was honored with the Walters State 2015 Distinguished Alumni in Civic Achievement Award.

Sharon Hayes

Sharon K. Hayes

Sharon graduated from Walters State in 1979 with a degree in business management. She transferred to Carson-Newman University, where she received a degree in business administration with a minor in psychology. After graduating from college, she owned and operated Property and Casualty Insurance Agency and the Optimus Health Club and Physical Therapy. Since 2007, she has served as the coordinator of Volunteer Services at Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System. Sharon is extremely active in supporting this community through volunteer work and civic organizations. She has served on the following boards: Keep America Beautiful; Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce; and the Hamblen County Senior Citizens Board of Directors. Sharon was the first chairperson of the Hamblen/Jefferson Arthritis Foundation Walk to raise awareness and funds for arthritis and was president of the Jefferson County Rotary Club, which named her a “Paul Harris Fellow.”

Hayes was honored with the Walters State 2015 Distinguished Alumni in Community and/or Volunteer Service Award.

David Helton

David L. Helton

David is a 1975 graduate of Walters State, with a degree in business. He transferred to ETSU and earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and surveying. From 1978 to 1982, he worked at the TVA as a surveyor. Since 1986, David has been the President/CEO of East Tennessee Investments/Subway, with eight Subway locations. He is a major supporter of Walters State and has been named to the college’s President’s Trust. His community service includes serving as honorary chair of the 12th Annual Heart Gala for Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System, of which he is also a committee member. He is on the board of directors for the Hearts of Christians Children’s Ministry – Belize Central America; director of disaster relief for Granger Baptist Association; volunteers for Baptist Builders and is the director of the Jackie Long Memorial 5K. And in his spare time, he operates a 50-acre beef cattle farm.

Helton was honored with the Walters State 2015 Distinguished Alumni in Professional Achievement Award.

Joanie Mungro-Pitts

Joanie D. Mungro-Pitts

Joanie graduated from Walters State in 1998 with an associate of science, general degree. She transferred to Clemson University, where she earned a degree in speech and communications, with a minor in sociology. Since graduating from college, she has worked as a Pre-K teacher for the past 14 years. Joanie is among the most outstanding basketball players to ever wear a Lady Senators uniform. She was the first Lady Senator to be named a two-time All-American, and the first two-time state MVP. And she is the all-time leading scorer for the Lady Senators. After her record-breaking career at Walters State, Joanie signed a full athletics scholarship with Clemson University, where she received the Annie Tribble Leadership Award for her contributions on the court as a Lady Tiger.

Mungro-Pitts was honored with the Walters State 2015 Distinguished Alumni in Athletic Achievement Award.

Distinguished Alumni 2014

Sheriff Ronald L. Seals

Sheriff Ronald (Ron) L. Seals

After graduating from Walters State in 1976 with an associate's degree in criminal justice, Seals was hired by the Pigeon Forge Police Department. He quickly moved up the ranks to become Assistant Chief of Police. He returned to the Sevier County Sheriff's Office in 1979. In 2007, he was appointed sheriff of Sevier County and a year later he was officially elected by the citizens of Sevier County.

As sheriff, he provides leadership for over 100 employees working in detective, patrol, dispatch, records and warrants and administrative offices and divisions. In recognition of his outstanding service, he was named the Tennessee Sheriff's Association Sheriff of the Year in 2012. He is a member of numerous community and law enforcement organizations, including the Police Benevolent Association and the Sevier County Ruritan Club. In addition to attending Walters State, he received law enforcement training at the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy in Donelson.

Seals was honored with the Walters State 2014 Distinguished Alumni in Civic Achievement Award.

Jim Clabron

Jim W. Claborn

Claborn, a noted historian, actually made history here at Walters State as one of 56 students to graduate in the college's first commencement in 1972. After earning his associate's degree, he transferred to the University of Tennessee, where he graduated in 1975. That same year, he began teaching at Meadowview Middle School, where he taught social studies for 27 years. Throughout his teaching career, Jim received several Teacher of the Year Awards and was a 2001 Finalist for Tennessee's Teacher of the Year Award. In addition to his teaching service, Jim has distinguished himself as one of the region's most respected and entertaining historians, storytellers and writers. He has served as president of the Hamblen County Historical Society and has been featured on WBIR's Heartland Series. Currently, Jim is a columnist for The Citizen Tribune, plays Davy Crockett at the Davy Crockett Tavern Museum, and entertains audiences as a member of the "Talk is Cheap Tour" which also features Bill Landry, Sam Venable, and Elizabeth Rose. Jim has also served this country as a veteran of the Vietnam War.

Claborn was honored with the Walters State 2014 Distinguished Alumni in Community and/or Volunteer Service Award.

Dr. Patricia P. Ketterman

Dr. Patricia (Patti) P. Ketterman

After earning an associate's degree in nursing from Walters State in 1977, Ketterman completed her bachelor's degree in nursing at East Tennessee State University in 1987. She also earned a master's degree in public health from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a doctorate in nursing science from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. Patti is a licensed registered nurse, a licensed nursing home administrator and is board certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Nursing Executive. She served as the director of nursing at Baptist Hospital of Cocke County from 1986 to 2006. From 2006 to 2011, she was the Hospital CEO and Nursing Home Administrator of Newport Medical Center. She has also worked for Covenant Health System and Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center as Director of Nursing and is currently the Chief Nursing Officer and Director of Nursing for LeConte Medical Center in Sevierville. She has also served as the president of the Cocke County Board of Health since 2010 and served on the Cocke County Emergency 911 Board of Directors from 2003 to 2011.

Ketterman was honored with the 2014 Distinguished Alumni in Professional Achievement Award.

Dr. Shelly R. Shaw

Dr. Shelly R. Shaw

Shaw received an associate's degree from Walters State in 1992 and continued her education at East Tennessee State University. In 1997, she graduated third in her class from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis. She also received the college's Top Clinician Award, the Excellence in Ocular Disease and Basic Sciences Award, and the Sunsoft Contact Lens Achievement Award. After earning her doctor of optometry, Shelly began her practice at the Greeneville Eye Clinic. In 2005, she became a partner of East View Eye Care, P.C. in Greeneville, where she currently works. She is a member of the Tennessee Optometric Association, the American Optometric Association, and is the past vice president of the Northeast Tennessee Optometric Society. In addition to her professional accomplishments, Shelly is also actively involved in her community. She was a member of the Greene County Leadership Class of 2000 and is member of the Rotary Club and Greene County Young Farmers.

Shaw was honored with the 2014 Distinguished Alumni in Professional Achievement Award.

George F. Seaver

George (Joey) F. Seaver

Seaver has the distinction of being one of the top pitchers on Walters State's first baseball team to earn a berth to the World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado in 1984. That same year, he also earned his associate's degree from Walters State. He transferred to the University of Tennessee, where he pitched for the Vols baseball team and graduated in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in sociology. Joey was drafted four times as an amateur baseball player and pitched professionally in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system. His attention shifted from playing to coaching when he became Carson Newman University's pitching coach. After earning his master's degree and 10 years at Carson Newman, he returned to Walters State as Assistant Coordinator of High School Relations and Assistant Baseball Coach. He would help lead the Senators baseball program to five World Series, including a national championship in 2006. During his career, over 30 pitchers that Joey coached were drafted by major league baseball teams. In 2013, he served briefly as the head coach for the Senators baseball team before accepting his current position as the pitching coach for the Arizona League Texas Rangers.

Seaver was honored with the 2014 Distinguished Alumni in Athletic Achievement Award.

Jerry L. Nichols

Jerry L. Nichols

As a Senators basketball player, Jerry was named a First-Team NJCAA All-American and TCCAA Player of the year both as a freshman and a sophomore. As a sophomore, he ranked ninth in the nation in scoring, averaging 21.6 points per game. After graduating from Walters State in 2004, Jerry continued his collegiate basketball career at Arkansas State University, where he led the team in 3-point shooting . After graduating from ASU with a bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, Jerry returned to Walters State to begin his coaching career, serving as Assistant Men's Basketball Coach. He also coached at Union College, where he earned his master's degree in Health and Physical Education, prior to being named Men's Head Basketball Coach and Athletic Director at Motlow State Community College. During his four-year tenure at Motlow, Jerry took his 2012-2013 team to the NJCAA National Basketball Tournament, had the TCCAA's highest graduation rate, and was twice named the TCCAA's Basketball Coach of the Year. In 2013, Jerry was hired as the men's basketball coach at Southwest Community College.

Nichols was honored with the 2014 Distinguished Alumni in Athletic Achievement Award.

Distinguished Alumni 2012

William H. Brittain

William (Bill) H. Brittain

Brittain attended Walters State in the mid-70's. Bill was also a WSCC employee and tennis coach. In 1994, the Hamblen County Commission appointed him County Trustee. He would be elected to four terms (16 years) as county trustee, and he was named by the Tennessee County Trustees Association as the 2005 Trustee of the Year. After 16 years as county trustee, he decided it was time for a change and ran for Hamblen County mayor in 2010. Since then, as mayor of Hamblen County, Bill has been working every day to make this community a better place to live.

Brittain was honored with the 2012 Distinguished Alumni in Civic Achievement Award.

Eddie Davis

Eddie R. Davis

Davis graduated from Walters State in 1985 with a degree in management technology. Eddie's career is defined by his dedication to helping others. For over 32 years, he served as the executive director for the Youth Emergency Shelter in Morristown, implemented in 1978. Under his supervision the shelter provided around-the-clock emergency care for over 12,500 children in crises situations. Eddie also serves as the Hamblen County Coroner, where he is confronted with the responsibility of notifying next of kin.

Davis was honored with the 2012 Distinguished Alumni in Civic Achievement Award.

Evonne Surber-Green

Evonne Surber-Green

Surber-Green graduated from Walters State in 2000 with an associate of science degree in human services. In her current position Evonne oversees programs and mobilizes volunteers to provide assistance to the elderly and individuals affected by natural disasters and poverty. As state director of AmeriCorp, she has provided leadership for programs that provide free home and health services to disabled seniors in 42 counties throughout Tennessee. She also organizes services that center around disaster relief, education, the environment, and health.

Surber-Green was honored with the 2012 Distinguished Alumni in Civic Achievement Award.

Randall Clark

Randall B. Clark

Clark received his associate of science in pre-engineering from Walters State in 1974. He currently serves as Vice President for Standards and Regulations for Emerging Zones in South America, Russia, Africa, India and the Middle East at Michelin North America Truck Tires. While his responsibilities at Michelin require him to travel throughout the world, he still finds time to volunteer in his community, including serving as president for the Carolina Youth Symphony. Randy is also the son of Walters State's first president, the late Dr. James Clark.

Clark was honored with the 2012 Distinguished Alumni in Professional Achievement Award.

Judge Michael Murphy

Judge Michael C. Murphy

Judge Murphy attended Walters State in the 70's. After earning his doctor of jurisprudence from the University of Memphis Law School in 1980, he began his career in law as a legal aid attorney for the first legal aid office in Morristown. He practiced as an Elder Law attorney for the East Tennessee Human Resource Agency. Judge Murphy would go on to establish his own law firm, which has been in practice for 32 years. From 1996 to 2000, he served as Morristown Municipal Court Judge and has served as Special Judge for the Hamblen County General Sessions Court.

Judge Murphy was presented the 2012 Distinguished Alumni in Professional Achievement Award.

Braxton Terry

F. Braxton Terry

Terry graduated from Walters State with his associate of science degree in 1990. He would go on to earn his bachelor's and doctor of jurisprudence degrees and pass the Tennessee Bar Exam in 1996. In just the past 16 years, he has become one of, if not the, leading products liability and personal injury attorneys in the state. At Walters State, Brack has provided invaluable service to the college as a past president of the foundation and a past member of the foundation's executive committee. He and his family have recently established the Charles R. Terry Athletic Scholarship Fund.

Terry was honored with the 2012 Distinguished Alumni in Professional Achievement Award.

Ryan Cabbage

Ryan W. Cabbage

Cabbage will always have the distinction of winning the first national championship for Walters State. As a member of the Senators golf team, Ryan won the NJCAA Individuals National Championship in 1995 and graduated that summer. That same year, he was named a NJCAA First Team All-American. Ryan continued his collegiate career in golf at Auburn University. After earning his bachelor's degree from Auburn, Ryan began his coaching career in golf in 1999 when he was hired as the assistant men's golf coach at Auburn. In 2011 he was named head men's golf coach at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte.

Ryan was presented with the 2012 Distinguished Alumni in Athletic Achievement Award.

Dr. Crystal R. Rice

Dr. Crystal R. Rice

Dr. Rice earned an associate's degree from Walters State in 1996. Currently, she is an associate professor of mathematics at the college. Crystal is dedicated to serving others and not just her students. The community organizations she supports are many, both in the community and at Walters State. She has served as the captain of the Walters State Relay for Life team and supervised the Kingswood Angel Tree program for the college. She also served for eleven years as the advisor for the college's Alpha Beta Iota chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, which is the national honor society for two-year colleges.

Dr. Rice was presented with the 2012 Distinguished Alumni in Community and/or Volunteer Service Award.

Distinguished Alumni 2011

Victoria H. Elsbernd

Victoria H. Elsbernd

Elsbernd graduated from Walters State in 1974 with an associate of science in pre-engineering. She is deputy director of the heliophysics division of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA. Working out of NASA's headquarters in Washington, D.C., she is responsible for the management of an on going mission to understand the sun and its effects on Earth and our solar system. She has supervised the design construction and launch of 26 spacecraft and six separate science missions.

Dr. Christopher W. Baker

Dr. Christopher (Chris) W. Baker

Baker graduated from Walters State in 1985 with an associate of science in general studies. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree from East Tennessee State University and both a master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee. He is a scholar, educator, author and community activist. He is one of the nation's leading experts on economic and social development in Appalachia.

Distinguished Alumni 2000

Arthur Bohanan

Arthur M. Bohanan

Bohanan graduated from Walters State in 1976 with an associate of science in criminal justice. He was an investigator for the Knoxville Police Department's Internet Crimes Against Children Regional Task Force team, conducting undercover operations and forensics examinations of computers, searching for information relating to child pornography and child exploitation. He is an international expert in fingerprinting, and his discovery of a process that allows investigators to recover fingerprints previously unobtainable on cadavers has been patented and adopted internationally by law enforcement agencies. He is known internationally for his contributions as a researcher, consultant and lecturer in the field of forensics.

Steve Watson

Steve O. Watson

Watson graduated from Walters State in 1974 with an associate of science in criminal justice. He earned a bachelor's degree from East Tennessee State University and a master's degree from the University of Tennessee. In 1988, he obtained a doctorate of jurisprudence from the Nashville School of Law. He has held many management positions with several state and federal law enforcement agencies and worked with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for 18 years.

Louise Dyer

Louise C. Dyer

Dyer has the distinction of earning two diplomas from Walters State. She received her associate of science in 1975 in child care technology and her associate of science in nursing in 1978. She has distinguished herself professionally as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Morristown-Hamblen Health Care Systems, where she worked for 23 years.

Judge Joyce Ward

Judge Joyce M. Ward

Ward graduated from Walters State in 1973 with an associate of science in general studies. She went on to earn both her bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Tennessee, where she also graduated with honors. After a year in private practice, she became the first woman to hold a judgeship in Hamblen County, and the third female judge in the state. In 1981 she returned to private practice and also served as assistant public defender for the third judicial district for four years. She has served as Hamblen County general sessions judge since 1996.