Crystal Serrato with family members

Early childhood education major Crystal Serrato and her family after the ceremony. Serrato spoke on behalf of the graduates during the ceremony, held today at the Infinite Energy Center Arena in Duluth.

Georgia Gwinnett College awarded 455 bachelor’s degrees during its fall commencement ceremony, held today at the Infinite Energy Center Arena in Duluth, Ga. Attended by about 3,000 people, it was the college’s largest fall commencement ceremony to date. As of today, GGC has more than 4,000 alumni.

The ceremony included the graduation of 24 students comprising the second half of the college’s charter nursing class. GGC’s first 23 nursing alumni graduated in May.  

Also recognized were two graduates who had been ROTC cadets and who received their formal commissions in a separate ceremony earlier this morning. Second Lieutenant Roberto T. Cerqueira, a criminal justice major from Dacula will report for U.S. Army Active Duty in the Adjutant General Corps with Branch Detail Infantry. Second Lieutenant Adrian R. Brown, an information technology major from Lawrenceville, will serve in the U.S. Army Reserves in the Signal Corps.

Technology entrepreneur Sanjay Parekh delivered the keynote address. The founder of several businesses himself, he serves as associate director of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s CREATE-X program, which has helped students launch 42 startups. 

Parekh’s distinctions include being named a Technology Pioneer with the World Economic Forum, one of MIT Technology Review’s top young innovators, an American Marshall Memorial Fellow, one of the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s "40 Under 40" and a member of Leadership Atlanta. A Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Parekh serves on the Board of Visitors for Emory University, and is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Parekh has also served on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.
Parekh reflected on his experiences and shared four key lessons for success – one of which was perseverance, of which he said, “You don’t fail until you decide you’re going to quit.” He also shared thoughts about fear, luck and having fun.

“Life is short,” Parekh said, advising the graduates that if they find themselves doing something with which they are not having fun, “move on.”

He also told the graduates not to be satisfied with the way things are. 

“Go out and change the world.”

Speaking on behalf of the graduating class was Crystal Serrato, an early childhood education major from Winder. Originally concerned about the challenges of college, Serrato committed herself to achieving her dreams and graduated with honors. She also held positions of leadership in student organizations and served as a student ambassador, a role in which she hosted prospective students and their families for campus visits. 

Her hard work toward achieving academic excellence was rewarded with invitations to join the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society for education majors and the National Society of Leadership and Success.

“I did struggle in the beginning, but the difficult times made me the strong person I am today, and my confidence grew with each semester,” Serrato said, citing her family’s love and support, and her professors and mentors who motivated and inspired her. 

“The road that lies ahead won’t be easy,” Serrato said to her fellow graduates. “But let us greet each new problem with confidence, knowing that we have already achieved great heights and are equipped with the necessary tools to tackle our futures. Let us continue to believe in ourselves so that we may reach our goals and fulfill our dreams. Let us be the best we can be.”

Georgia Gwinnett College’s fall 2016 enrollment is 12,052. Its deadline for fall 2017 applications is May 1, 2017. For more information, visit www.ggc.edu.

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