Graduation Commencement Ceremony

Spring 2023 Commencement

We are grateful to call you alumni and hope you will remain connected in many ways as you continue in your journeys.

Undergraduate Ceremony

Saturday, May 20
9 a.m.
Thompson-Boling Arena

Graduate Business & Online Programs
Hooding Ceremony

Wednesday, May 17
11 a.m.
Student Union Auditorium

Note: Live stream links will not function until the day and time of the event.

Undergraduate Commencement Speaker

Shelly Sun

Founder and CEO of BrightStar Group Holdings, Inc.

Shelly Sun is the founder and CEO of BrightStar Group Holdings, Inc., the parent company of BrightStar Care, BrightStar Senior Living and BrightStar Care Homes. BrightStar Care provides medical and non‑medical home health care and medical staffing services through a national network. BrightStar Senior Living and BrightStar Care Homes provide assisted living and memory care in a senior living community setting. Sun founded BrightStar Care in 2002 in the Chicagoland area and expanded it through franchising beginning in 2005. Today, BrightStar Care has more than 380 franchised and corporate-owned locations nationwide that employ 15,000 caregivers and 5,700 registered nurses overseeing the care and safety of each individual client. Over the last two decades, Sun has grown BrightStar Care from a local business to a nationally recognized brand that generates more than $650 million in annualized system‑wide revenue.

By focusing on quality, Sun has positioned the BrightStar Care brand as the premium provider of home care, evidenced by full Joint Commission accreditation of its network and third-party validation of superior outcomes. From commissioning major clinical and health care data studies to creating a franchise model built for longevity, writing her own franchising book and endowing a franchise certificate program at her alma mater, Sun has made major strides to propel her business and network forward. Sun and BrightStar Care were the focus of an episode of the popular CBS show “Undercover Boss” as the first franchise brand featured on the program. Harvard Business School has also featured two case studies on BrightStar Care’s expansion under Sun’s leadership. 

Sun is an innovative, forward-thinking trailblazer focused on driving promising results, building a strong, positive workplace culture and delivering the highest quality care by building a network of like-minded small business owners to activate BrightStar Care’s brand vision. Sun’s strategic mindset to innovate, create new opportunities and increase her brand’s market share drives brand growth and performance. Her tenacity and thought leadership have been nationally recognized as she was also named one of the top 25 highest-rated CEOs during the COVID-19 crisis by Glassdoor and named a 2023 Women of Distinction in the health care industry by McKnight’s Haymaker Media.

Under Sun’s leadership, BrightStar Care has consistently ranked among the fastest growing private companies in America by Inc. Magazine and has made Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 list for the last 13 years. BrightStar Care has also continuously ranked on Franchise Business Review’s Top Franchise list, the Franchise Times Top 400 list and was named a top Women-Centric business by Global Franchise Magazine. On the clinical side, BrightStar Care is the only national home care franchise to receive the Joint Commission’s Enterprise Champion for Quality award every year since the award’s inception more than a decade ago.

Graduate Hooding Ceremony Speaker

Janet McKinley

Former Bellsouth Chief Audit Executive

Janet McKinley has been an avid supporter of the University of Tennessee for over 40 years. With her devotion to multiple colleges and causes, McKinley exemplifies what it means to be a Vol.

McKinley earned her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from UT in 1980 and joined BellSouth Corporation after graduation. There, she held positions of increasing responsibility culminating in becoming chief audit executive, in which she implemented sweeping internal audit changes. McKinley received her Master of Accountancy from the University of Alabama-Birmingham in 1988, and she is also a certified internal auditor.

After retirement, McKinley dedicated herself to creating and funding initiatives to help others build foundations for success. She was the founding president of the BellSouth Women’s Networking Alliance and served as board chair for Girls Incorporated of Greater Atlanta. McKinley served on multiple boards and created a scholarship for women returning to school to complete their college education. A member of the Leadership Atlanta Class of 2005, she was also named the 2005 Canon Businesswoman of the Year, the 2006 Office Depot Woman of the Year and one of the 2009 Pathbuilders Achieva Top 20 Women of Achievement.

In her continuing commitment to UT, McKinley served on multiple boards and councils, including the UT System Foundation Board and UT System Development Council, where she served as chairwoman. She is a member of several university societies, including the 1914 Society and the Alliance of Women Philanthropists. McKinley received the UT Knoxville Alumni Service Award in 2014 and the Brenda G. Lawson Legacy of Leadership Award from the Women’s Alliance in 2016.

McKinley established many scholarships, including the Women in Business Scholarship for female student-athletes enrolled in the Haslam College of Business, the Auditing Excellence Scholarship in honor of her father and the McKinley Family MAcc Scholarship Endowment to recognize three generations of her family as UT accounting graduates. McKinley created the Grads to Golf program to encourage business students to play golf and understand its importance in business, as well as the Bob and Barbara McKinley Student Enrichment Endowment that focuses on experiential learning for Herbert College of Agriculture students.

Additional Questions

If you have additional questions please visit or email the contacts below.

Undergraduate Contact

Cindy Keyes

Graduate Contact

Michele Domkowski