UPIKE kicks off new academic year with Opening Convocation Ceremony

On Thursday, September 2, the University of Pikeville (UPIKE) officially proclaimed the start of its 132nd academic year with the 2021 Opening Convocation Ceremony. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this annual event was live-streamed on UPIKE’s official Facebook page, allowing students, faculty, staff and community members to join the celebration virtually.

Pike County Public Health Director and 1992 alum Tammy M. Riley delivered the keynote address. From her experience as a first-generation college student, she challenged students to dream big and follow three guiding principles in life to achieve their goals. These are passion, planning and persistence.

“Find something you are passionate about. Plan for success, and most of all, be persistent. Don’t be afraid to reach beyond your comfort zone when setting your goals,” Riley advised. “You can push yourself further than you ever imagined possible, but you first must be willing to experience discomfort and overcome the anxiety that always comes with the unknown. It is through our willingness to experience discomfort that we achieve goals we never imagined for ourselves.”

Riley also discussed how she used these same principles to tackle the enormous challenge of her new position as health director during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was passionate about my new position, and when the demands put upon me by the spread of this unforeseen virus seemed like too much, I immediately set my goals higher, and I began to plan for how I was going to keep the people of Pike County aware of what was happening and inform them of how they could best keep themselves safe,” said Riley. “I made a plan with the help of many community leaders and professionals in public health, and I remain persistent to this day about slowing the spread of COVID-19.”

Following the keynote address, UPIKE President Burton J. Webb, Ph.D., presented Riley with the Baird Family Service Award. The award was instituted in 2018 to honor those who have devoted their lives to the service of others.

“Today, we present this award to Mrs. Tammy Riley, who continues to make a remarkable impact on the lives of others through her steadfast service, both to the university, to the region and all of humanity,” said Webb. “Tammy, I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have on speed dial than you. Thank you so much for what you’ve done for this institution.”

Riley is a Pike County native and has spent her professional life committed to the betterment of the region. In addition to Riley’s service on numerous boards and committees, she has devoted the previous two years of her career to the health and safety of the community in the wake of the pandemic plaguing the nation.