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The University of Tennessee

Spring 2009 Commencement

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Video Highlights: Father and Daughter Surprise Reunion


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A highlight of the commencement ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences included the reunion of graduate Jennifer Willis and her father, Timothy Willis, a U.S. Army staff sergeant. Jennifer, who last saw her father in November while he was on leave from his deployment to Afghanistan, was surprised by her father during the commencement ceremony as he walked out on stage. The two met in an embrace in front of a full crowd at Thompson-Boling Arena.

"Seeing your child graduate from college is one of those can't-miss moments and I'm overjoyed that I was able to see Jennifer walk across that stage in person," Sergeant Willis said. "I'm so thankful for all those involved that helped make today happen."

Video Highlights

Dolly Parton - Click to view video and read her address

Dolly Parton delivers the commencement address to the 2009 class from the College of Arts and Sciences

Sgt. Willis

A surprise reunion between a father and his daughter.

Click to see Dolly Parton perform Rocky Top

Gov. Bredesen introduces Dolly Parton, who takes the stage singing "Rocky Top"

Click to see Dolly Parton receive her honorary doctorate

UT awards Dolly Parton an honorary doctorate of humane and musical letters

Watch Dolly Parton perform 'Try'

Dolly Parton performs a special version of "Try" for UT's graduates