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South College Nashville Physician Assistant master’s program celebrates first graduation

December 21, 2021

The inaugural class of the South College Master of Health Science in Physician Assistant Studies program officially graduated on Dec. 18, and several students earned academic and service honors.

South College, a multi-campus institution founded in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1882, offers 80-plus programs and concentrations taught at seven physical campuses, including Nashville, and online.

“We are so proud of these 29 graduates who have completed a rigorous program and are equipped to take the next steps in their healthcare journey,” said South College Nashville Campus President Nick South.  “South College offers programs in relevant fields to help students and communities thrive, and this cohort will serve in Tennessee and beyond in various fields such as surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, private practice, internal medicine and psychiatry. We wish them the best and are glad to be a part of their career story.”

One such story is from Nashville graduate Quang Huy Tran, who became the first in his family to complete high school and earn degrees in college and graduate school.

“I started learning English 10 years ago and immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam with my family in 2019,” Huy Tran said. “South College believed in me, and I learned to overcome. I want to help others do the same.”

The commencement ceremony, held at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, included an address by guest speaker Dr. Eric Carlson, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Knoxville, who serves as an advisor for the Nashville Physician Assistant program.

Among those honored in the ceremony included:

  • Sam Huntsman, class president; Matt Cyphers, vice president; and Kara Powers and Maggie Connelly, presenters at Tennessee Academy of Physician Assistants (TAPA) 44th Annual FallFest: All inducted into Pi Alpha, the national honor society for physician assistants. Inductees have maintained a minimum GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and demonstrated excellence in research, publishing, community/professional service or leadership activities.
  • Jacob Alhashimi: Community Service Award, which is presented to a student who exemplifies the spirit of selfless giving in both professional and personal lives.
  • Kristen Anders, social outreach chair of the Physician Assistant Student Society: PA Student Society Service Award, which is newly created to honor an officer in the society who has great character and contributions.
  • Sam Huntsman: Student of the Year Award, which is awarded by student vote to a classmate who demonstrates good citizenship and makes positive contributions to both the school and community.

“This program is so demanding and competitive, and these students have persevered and thrived,” said Jeffrey Peacock, who serves as program director for the South College School of Physician Assistant Studies. “It is a source of pride to see this group graduate and to know that our third class just started this fall with double the number of students. I look forward to seeing the great things this class will continue to do.”

For more information about South College Nashville, please call 629-802-3000 or visit

About South College
South College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award degrees at the doctorate, educational specialist, master’s, baccalaureate, and associate levels, as well as certificates. Questions about the accreditation of South College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA, 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (