First Lady Sandra Deal, GGC Commencement Speaker
Georgia’s First Lady, Sandra Deal, will be the keynote speaker for Georgia Gwinnett College’s summer commencement ceremony. About 150 students will receive bachelor’s degrees at the event.
The daughter of educators, Deal has dedicated her life to encouraging childhood education. As a Georgia public school teacher, she taught for more than 15 years, and retired as a sixth grade middle school teacher in Hall County.
Deal has furthered those efforts in her role as Georgia’s First Lady, and promoting literacy has been one of her top priorities. As part of her “Read Across Georgia” tour, Deal has visited and read in all 159 counties and 181 school districts to encourage student reading, and is believed to be the state’s only First Lady to do so. To date, she has visited more than 630 schools in Georgia, encouraging students to love reading and to become “life-long learners.” Like her husband, Governor Nathan Deal, the First Lady believes a good education is the key to future success.
Community service and volunteering also is a top focus for the First Lady. To that end, Mrs. Deal launched “With a Servant’s Heart” in 2011. What began as a statewide day of service quickly grew into regular participation in community service programs and volunteer events across Georgia.
The First Lady serves as chairwoman of the Georgia Children’s Cabinet, which coordinates policies and resources to improve outcomes for children and families. Among other issues, she provides leadership on child welfare and juvenile justice issues in Georgia. Nationally, she serves as a Scholastic Reading Ambassador and a national representative for the annual “We Give Books: Read for the Record” campaign by Jumpstart.
Mrs. Deal grew up in Gainesville and graduated from Georgia College & State University, where she is a member of the board of trustees. The Deals have been married for 49 years and have four children and six grandchildren. They are members of First Baptist Church in Gainesville.
In September 2015, the First Lady launched her book, Memories of the Mansion, with the help of two history professors at Kennesaw State University, Drs. Catherine Lewis and Jennifer Dickey. The book is elaborately illustrated and focuses on the stories and experiences of Georgia’s first families. Mrs. Deal says that she hopes that this book will help ensure preservation of Georgia’s rich history.