At age 45, Penny Smith is ready to begin her new life. She received her associate degree in the Physical Therapist Assistant program at South College during graduation ceremonies on June 21. A truck driver for ten years, Smith decided three years ago she wanted to make a change. But halfway through her courses, she faced another change: Smith was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She had to take two quarters off for treatments and was finally able to return to finish her degree this spring.
“Crossing that stage to get my diploma was incredible,” said Smith. “Now I’m ready for whatever the future brings.”
Along with her diploma, Smith also received the Presidential Award, an honor given by South College to students who exceed normal expectations in a variety of areas including scholarship, leadership, and perseverance.
“Penny Smith exemplifies the leadership and dedication needed to make a real difference in our community,” said President Steve South. “She is living proof that dreams can be achieved and we are proud to be a part of her journey.”
Smith, who lives in the Rockford community, was one of 139 graduates eligible to participate in the annual ceremony at the Tennessee Theatre. The guest speaker was Bob Kesling, director of broadcasting at the University of Tennessee and the “Voice of the Vols.
Scholarship recipients are selected by a panel of college professors from across the Tennessee Valley.