Hutchison Alumna Serves as UT Knoxville Commencement Speaker

Hutchison alumna Dr. Kelly Rodney Arnold ’96 had the honor of serving as the commencement speaker for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College of Arts and Sciences ceremony in May 2024.
Dr. Kelly Rodney Arnold ’96, a Class of 2000 UT alumna, called delivering the commencement speech the “honor and invitation of a lifetime.” Dr. Arnold is the founder and medical director of Clínica Médicos, a medical clinic modeled after global mission hospitals, whose goal is to make quality healthcare accessible to Chattanooga’s Latino community. She also serves as a United States Civil Surgeon and has an active role as an associate professor within the Department of Family Medicine at UT College of Medicine/Erlanger.

Below is an excerpt from her speech:
“We are the culmination of the days between the cracks, those inside or laid in front of us, but the unglamorous moments, the failed attempts, the tired days - school rejections, broken love, the family cracks – you name it,” she said. “I create solutions that help people through the times when things break – bones, organs, hearts, the mind. We try to put them back together, even when they cannot be put back as one. The more pieces we pick up, either our own or those of others, the more compassionate we become… Some of you will reach a point in life where you are strong enough to not only pick up your own pieces but to pick those up for someone else, like the friend who sweeps up the glass in the mess. If you can feel the beauty of carrying someone else’s trouble, who is weaker, poorer, or more afraid, service might become a decided way of the heart and not an obligation.”

You can watch the full commencement speech here. This also is a true example of how the friendships made at Hutchison bring joy for years to come as Heather Holcomb Stemmler ’96 and Hutchison Athletics Director Caroline Schaefer ’08, who was Dr. Arnold’s flower girl, traveled to Knoxville to see Dr. Arnold deliver her speech. How special!

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