Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats


Spring is the time for graduations throughout Appalachia and beyond. In my county of Cherokee, I can think of 7 graduation ceremonies which occur every year-some folks would have you think nothing as inspiring and uplifting as graduations ever happen in Appalachia. I had the great fortune of attending a graduation last week.

Larry Kernea, a boy, actually a large man, raised just over the mountain in Moccasin Creek gave the welcoming address. Below is a quote from his speech that seemed especially meaningful to me.

You deserve for people to look at you as individuals. Your accomplishments are great. Tonight is a night to pause and celebrate and then continue on this magnificant journey that you’ve taken yourself on. I look forward to what you’ll accomplish for each of us in this community. A rising tide lifts all boats and we’re sending out 250 more people who are going to make these mountains a stronger better place to live and I look forward to sharing these mountains with you.


Larry’s words seeped their way deep into my mind-deep into my heart-because within his words was me.

Me because I’ve earned the accomplishments he spoke of over the last 2 years; me because these mountains are my home and I too will share them with the accomplishments of my fellow students; me because Larry’s father, Harold, walked these mountains with Pap when they were both boys-a friendship that lasted into adulthood until Harold went on; me because both Larry and I, like our fathers, have prospered here in the Appalachian mountains not in a monetary sense but in living a life that is worth living sense-another thing some people doubt ever happens in Appalachia.

Appalachia = a rising tide that lifts all boats.


p.s. In case you’re wondering-I graduated with: an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Computer Information Systems and an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Internet Technologies. And boy am I glad the homework is over!

Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.



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  • Reply
    Dennis M Morgan
    July 2, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    Congratulations. I am glad you majored in what you did. You sure are good communicating using a computer. Thank you for what you do.

    Dennis Morgan

  • Reply
    Dan McCarter
    January 3, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I missed this post when it came out in May. I am very happy for you. I know how you feel I graduated from College the year I turned 50. And I marched with all the kids what a thrill
    I am very happy for you

  • Reply
    RB Redmond
    May 16, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    What a great accomplishment!!! I am so blessed for you.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    May 16, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Congratulations, Tipper! You are amazing in every way. So happy to be acquainted with you through the Blind Pig. God Bless you.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    May 16, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Way to go! It’s not easy to go back to school with all of the adult responsibilities we have.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    May 15, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Congrats, Tipper! I am so proud and happy for you! I love what you said about prospering in our mountains. I’ll take a satisfied mind over a big bank account every day-Now take a deep breath & get some sleep, please.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    God Bless you Dear,keep up the great work. Jean

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    May 15, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    Congratulations! Great accomplishment.
    PS: when do you sleep?

  • Reply
    Dave Tabler
    May 15, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    What a sweet victory for you! Getting a college degree as an older student is much more challenging, but ultimately more rewarding — unlike going to college straight out of high school, you’re there not because your parents told you to go, or because your friends are all going, but because you want to be there. The intent is much stronger and clearer than it is for many (most?) 18 year olds!

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    May 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Congratulations!! I know your family is proud. Great picture.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    WOW Tipper!! CONGRATULATIONS!! I know what hard work and dedication it took for you to accomplish not one, but two Associate degrees. And a 3.9 GPA and honors to boot! We are very proud of you and are so fortunate to be a part of the BP family!WELL DONE!!

  • Reply
    Charles Fletcher
    May 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    After reading all the praise and cognations comments above I can’t think of anything to add other than than I am happy to have become a part of your adopted family thru the Blind Pig and your Dad. Keep going forward. We never get to old to learn. Not even me at the age of 91.
    Charles Fletcher

  • Reply
    Paulette Tonielli
    May 15, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Congratulations, Tipper – you are an inspiration!

  • Reply
    Paul Certo
    May 15, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Congratulations, Tipper! Between homework, running a household,and raising children, you must have been hard pressed for time. Take a break, if can, you’ve earned it!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Congratulations Tipper! I think that’s the happiest smile I ever saw on any grad’s face! Is that an honors tassel I see?

  • Reply
    Phyllis S
    May 15, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Beautiful photo & congratulations!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 15, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Miss Cindy–Thanks for sharing the details of Tipper’s grades, GPA, honors recognition, etc. I suspected something along this line, even though I also realized she’s far too modest to mention her sterling accomplishments. Talk about a cherry atop an academic sundae, her grades are precisely that.
    I think all of the “regulars” here take pride in Tipper’s accomplishments, and they are doubly noteworthy given the fact that they came alongside motherhood, family duties, a duly executed daily blog, and a bunch more.
    True sons and daughters of the mountains have never been afraid of hard work, and Tipper is an exemplar of this wonderful Appalachian trait.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    May 15, 2013 at 10:30 am

    That smile tells it all! When Miss
    Cindy wrote to tell me how Proud
    she was of her Tipper, she also let
    me know that your mom was there for
    the Graduation. Just knowing this
    made my reading glasses fog up.
    I’m so proud of You! Another gentle
    Breeze from the Foothills of the
    Smokies, our girl of Appalachia.

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    May 15, 2013 at 10:20 am

    All the best to a most wonderful and deserving friend! I really like the “tide” quote; all of Larry’s address is masterful. He appears to be one of those rare people that gets it right. You continue amaze us with all you do. Congratulations,
    Rooney and Marolyn Floyd

  • Reply
    Glynda P. Chambers
    May 15, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Congratulations Tipper!

  • Reply
    Susan C
    May 15, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Congratulations, Tipper! So happy for you and your family. You are such an inspiration for so many of us. We love your blog and all that we’ve learned from you here. You are an amazing lady!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    May 15, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Congratulations Tipper! When do you find time to sleep? Your family and your community are very blessed to have you. The Blind Pig has become part of my daily routine after stumbling upon it some time ago. You have made me think and remember things that are ingrained in my being but sometimes forgotten. You also help me to remember to be proud of my Appalachian heritage. Thanks for all you do!

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    May 15, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Oh, Happy Day…Congratulations!
    I love your picture! If I had been there I would have given you a great big hug. I know your family is proud. Just wonderful!
    Have a great day!
    Thanks Tipper for all you do and have done for all of us!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 15, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Tipper, it was with great pride that I watched you walk across that stage and receive your diploma with a 3.9 GPA and the Honors Society.
    It has been a great wonder to me to watch you work full time, go to school full time, and certainly a full time family, your blog, and your greenhouse/garden!
    Ethelene, the Blog came first then school later.
    Folks, she made one B, that’s all, everything else was A’s.
    If I sound proud it is because I am. If I sound happy for Tipper, it’s because I am.
    My son sure knew how to pick a wife and mother for his children, and he has supported her every step of the way.
    If I were to pick one word for this it would be ‘continuity’ the continuity of Appalachia and her children!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Congratulations to a job well done! You should be very proud of all you have accomplished and will probably accomplish. What a wonderful day it is!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Congratulations Tipper! Appalachia is lucky to have you 🙂

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 15, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Fantastic Tipper Way to GO

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    May 15, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Congratulations! 🙂

  • Reply
    May 15, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Congratulations! I especially appreciated Jim Casada’s comment: “there is no graduation day in the school of life” – but as a working Mom/Student, you already knew that – perhaps the best lesson for any student.
    Enjoy the rising tide.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    May 15, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Congratulations Tipper! An awesome accomplishment.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Can you please tell us how you find the time to do all you do? Larry is right, your accomplishments are great. Congratulations!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2013 at 8:10 am

    You are awesome! Congratulations!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    May 15, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Well done!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2013 at 8:04 am

    So proud for you — Much love my friend

  • Reply
    Bob and Inez Jones
    May 15, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Congratulations Tipper!I very much admire a lady who decides later in life to go back to school. I’m sure your family and all your readers are very proud of you, but the best must be your own sense of accomplishment.God bless-

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    May 15, 2013 at 7:54 am

    After my first post, I read Jim Casada’s quote from Horace Kephart. That is a bit of wisdom that I will always remember. It is so true.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    May 15, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Congratulations, Tipper! College is hard work, but so worth it. I hope you achieve your dreams.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    May 15, 2013 at 7:40 am

    I concur with Bradley’s posting today, and congratulate you for your graduation! Now we begin to see what went on behind the scenes of this well-executed, laid out, planned, well-thought out, and continuing “Blind Pig & the Acorn” post! How glad we are, if it was initially a part of your “technologies” requirements, that we are the recipients of your hard work–resulting in our learning more about our Appalachian culture and our sheer enjoyment! Best wishes ahead! And I, too, was ‘taken’ with Larry Kernea’s quotation: “A rising tide that lifts all boats”…That statement has so many possibilities and hints about such potentialities! What a memorable graduation quotation! We’re proud of you, Tipper! Lovely picture, too–like the person in the picture! Congratulations, indeed!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Bless you, Tipper! I do not know how you did it, with family and all that you do. I know it was difficult to get all that done, but we have to compliment the Deerhunter and the girls also for supporting you through this. You seem as one who enjoyed the journey instead of complaining about the hardships.
    I am so glad you will use your knowledge right in your own area. So much of the time in this area the graduates go elsewhere to use their degrees. You are an excellent role model for your family!

  • Reply
    Darlene Debty Kimsey
    May 15, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Congratulations, Tipper! So proud for you and glad that Larry was your speaker. He’s one of my favorite people 🙂

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 15, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Tipper–Hearty congratulations. It’s good to know I have a fine source of information when my technology skills, which are pretty much non-existent, require some help.
    However, and this comes from a recovering university professor, I hope this won’t be the end of your formal educational endeavors but just another of many steps. You already hold an advanced degree, practically speaking, in mountain traditions and lore. Now, I think you need to contemplate formal studies for a bachelor’s degree (perhaps in Appalachian studies) as your next educational step. One thing is for sure, you would have a running head start. I imagine it’s possible to do most, if not all, such work on-line.
    Thinking along similar lines, there aren’t all that many areas where I find common ground with Horace Kephart. However, he was a superb woodsman and I particularly like his suggestion that “in the school of the woods, there is no graduation day.” I would widen it, in your case and that of any staunch son or daughter of the high country, to something along the line of “in the school of life, there is no graduation day.”
    Again, congratulations, and now you can take a short break and finish the separate, gargantuan task of seeing that those two youngsters are readying themselves, in every way possible, for college.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Carol Stuart
    May 15, 2013 at 7:27 am

    YOU GO GIRL!!!!!!!

  • Reply
    Will Dixon
    May 15, 2013 at 7:12 am

    Congratulations, hard work is always rewarded. You should be very proud!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 15, 2013 at 7:10 am

    Congratulations, Tipper! I’ve been seeing pictures around of you in your mortarboard and tassel. I’ve been waiting for the announcement. I am proud of you and your accomplishments and expect many more in the future!
    You have been lifting a lot of boats and a lot of spirits for a long time even without all those letters after your name.

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    May 15, 2013 at 6:40 am

    All I can say is “WOOOW”. “CONGRATULATIONS”,, as the young folks around here say “You go Girl”..

  • Reply
    May 15, 2013 at 6:22 am

    Congratulations Tipper! I was telling my wife that I didn’t really know what you had studied or what school you had graduated from. Was dying to know but didn’t want to pry but knew you would tell us when you were ready.
    In my imagination I had thought that maybe you had graduated Magna Cum Laude from The High Country School For Gifted Women and Super Moms of The Most Elite and Best! Seriously, Tipper, congratulations again. Now you are the best.

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