Bryan Announces the 2023 Commencement Speakers

Commencement student

Bryan College’s spring commencement ceremony will include three speakers this year. Each speaker represents a group we will be honoring during the ceremony: our Golden Graduates who are returning to the Hill fifty years after their graduation in 1973, our residential graduates, and our online graduates. We are excited to hear from each of our speakers as we celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates. 

Larry Puckett

Larry Puckett – Golden Grad Speaker

Lawrence ‘Larry’ Howard Puckett is a distinguished member of the class of 1973. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in History, Larry went on to earn his Juris Doctor from Memphis State University, now known as the University of Memphis. During his time at Bryan College, he was an outstanding student, and served as the President of the Student Body, one of the Student Commencement Speakers in 1973.

Throughout his career, Larry has been committed to public service and community involvement. He served as a Tennessee Circuit Court Judge in the 10th Judicial District, which comprises Bradley, Polk, McMinn, and Monroe Counties. Additionally, he authored pattern jury instructions for use by trial judges in civil cases throughout Tennessee as a member of the Tennessee Civil Pattern Jury Instruction Committee of Tennessee Judicial Conference for 23 years. Larry has also been a dedicated member of the Bryan College community. He served as a trustee for 30 years and is now a Trustee Emeritus. He and his wife, Patty Baker Puckett, who graduated from Bryan College in 1975, have grown children and six grandchildren. Larry and Patty have been actively involved in their local church, Broad Street United Methodist Church, and various charitable organizations in Cleveland, Tennessee, including Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland, the Good Samaritan Medical Clinic, Behavioral Research Institute, Salvation Army, and the American Red Cross. 

Larry’s commitment to service, his accomplishments in the legal field, and his dedication to his alma mater make him a model for Bryan College graduates to follow. His service to the community and his devotion to the values of Bryan College embodies the spirit of what it means to be a Golden Graduate.

Grayson Whaley

Grayson Whaley – Residential Graduate Speaker

Grayson Alexander Whaley is an alumnus of Forrest High School in Chapel Hill, Tennessee, where he developed a passion for history and education. He then came to Bryan College, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in History focusing on Secondary Education. He received a four-year baseball scholarship and is a pitcher for the Bryan College baseball team. He is also recognized for his academic excellence, having been named to the Dean’s and President’s lists. Grayson is the son of Gene and Crystal Whaley and has four siblings: Grant Whaley, Joshua Lowery, Melynda Bond, and Jessica Warren. 

In addition to his athletic achievements, Grayson is actively involved in his community, leading a discipleship group and serving as the play-by-play broadcaster for the Men’s and Women’s Basketball and Baseball teams. He was also the recipient of several scholarships and awards, including the Lee Rickman Scholarship and the Wealth and Justice Scholarship. 

Grayson has ambitious plans for his future including pursuing a Master’s degree in Christian Leadership at Bryan College, getting engaged and married to Hannah Burt, and exploring career opportunities in teaching, coaching, and sports broadcasting. With his impressive academic and athletic achievements, commitment to service, and dedication to his future goals. Grayson Alexander Whaley is an inspiration to his fellow graduates. 

Emily Parson

Emily Parson – BC Online Graduate Speaker

Emily Jane-Marie Parson is a graduate of Meigs County High School in Decatur, Tennessee. Emily also completed her Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees with Bryan College Online. Emily’s unwavering determination and dedication have earned her the prestigious Master of Business Administration from Bryan College. 

A recipient of the Difference Maker scholarship, Emily continually pursued academic excellence as seen in her commitment to education. Emily has also been a proud wife to Ronald Parson, Jr., and a devoted mother to her five children, Ethyn, Kaidence, Kampbell, Ronald (III), and Race. Emily’s passion for her family and creating lasting memories with them has been her priority beyond all other activities. 

Following graduation, Emily plans to pursue her doctorate in Business, reflecting her aspirations for continuous learning and growth. 

Commencement will be held on Saturday, May 6th at 9:30 AM.

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