News and Information
Degrees awarded to students injured in accident
Tarleton State University
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 16, 2011
FORT WORTH—It was a traditional commencement ceremony, and then it was not. As usual, there were a few tears and sniffles, much smiling and applause. But most of all, there was a sense that life was being celebrated.
In the trauma unit at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital here on Friday, Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio awarded bachelor’s degrees to Shelby Thiebaud and Colt Price, Tarleton students who were severely injured in a Dec. 4 automobile accident on U.S. 377 and remain hospitalized.
The two had been scheduled to graduate Dec. 17.
Also injured in the wreck was Shelby’s brother, Tarleton student Kody Thiebaud, who also remains hospitalized. Shelby and Kody’s father is Lt. Col. Daniel Thiebaud, executive officer of Tarleton’s ROTC program.
With dozens of family and friends filling the hospital room and spilling into the hallway, Shelby sat in a wheelchair beside Colt, in a hospital bed. Both wore the traditional graduation cap and gown. A purple Tarleton Texans blanket covered Colt.
“It’s my distinct honor and privilege to award these degrees,” said Dottavio, dressed in full academic regalia. “Both students have distinguished themselves academically as well as outside the classroom,” he said, citing Shelby’s work with TREAT, a Tarleton program that uses horseback riding as a form of therapy, and Colt’s leadership in intramural sports.
As with other graduation ceremonies, professors from the colleges from which the two graduated presented the candidates to the president. Dr. George Mollick and Dr. David Snyder represented the College of Science and Technology and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, respectively.
Shelby, from Dublin, Texas, received her B.S. in animal industries while Colt, from Santo, Texas, received a B.S. in industrial technology.
“Be bold, be courageous, be determined even as you move forward in your recovery, wear purple, be proud of Tarleton,” Dottavio told Shelby and Colt. He reminded the new graduates of the Tarleton saying, “The Gates Are Always Open,” and said he looked forward to seeing them walk through those gates again.
Rusty Jergins, vice president of student life, presented Thiebaud and Price with the traditional block T Tarleton lapel pins.
“Commencement is the most important event in the life of a university,” Dottavio said before the ceremony. “I’m honored to be part of their life’s history.”
Shelby Thiebaud, who suffered a fractured pelvis among other injuries, smiled, giggled and told stories before and after the ceremony. With a missing front tooth, she laughingly told a photographer, “You’re going to put teeth in the picture, right?”
“They told me not to wiggle but I’m just so excited right now,” she added.
Shelby, 20, graduated after only two-and-a-half years at Tarleton. She and Colt have been dating for two years, and her family said she pushed herself academically so that she and Colt could graduate at the same time. Friday’s ceremony was only the second time they’d seen each other since the accident.
Colt, 22, who suffered a spinal cord injury, endured two surgeries and breathes through a tracheal tube, whispered to his mother, Carol, that the day was “pretty special, pretty awesome.”
“These fine surgeons put him back together, but God is the true healer,” said Colt’s father, Rod Price.
Having the graduation ceremony at the hospital, said Lt. Col. Thiebaud, “exemplifies what the Tarleton spirit really is, and Dr. Dottavio’s leadership in building the sense of family we have at Tarleton. It’s really more than just words.”
Tarleton State University
A member of The Texas A&M University System
Contact: Joe Michael Feist