100% of GGC alums are giving back to the college

Before they donned their black caps and gowns last June and accepted their sheepskin, the entire Georgia Gwinnett College graduating class of 2008 either pledged or contributed to the state’s newest institution’s Foundation. That’s pretty much unheard of – especially among new graduates in this tight economy.

Before they donned their black caps and gowns last June and accepted their sheepskin, the entire Georgia Gwinnett College graduating class of 2008 either pledged or contributed to the state’s newest institution’s Foundation. That’s pretty much unheard of – especially among new graduates in this tight economy.

The 17 graduates – the college’s first – didn’t even attend the school for the entire four years, it’s only been open since 2006, but they want to make a difference. They want to make it a tradition that every member of each graduating class gives something back to the college.

“I donated because I know it will help the school grow,” Vlad Cherchezan said from his native Romania, where he has returned to work in the construction business. “I want to look back and be proud of the college I graduated from. There are many wonderful people at GGC that have put a lot of time and effort in to help this institution grow and flourish and I wanted to have a contribution myself – although small, but still a contribution.”

A business major, Vlad said his degree wasn’t necessary to land the job he currently holds as an assistant project manager in his uncle’s construction company, but he said that many of the things he learned at GGC – particularly about international business and how things are done in Europe – have come in very handy. He adds that if everything goes well, his career should “skyrocket” in the next few years.

Vlad and his classmates have pledged a total of about $1,700 – averaging about $100 per student, although some contributed more, some less.

“It doesn’t matter how much they donated,” GGC Foundation President Gordon Harrison said. “What’s important is that they gave. That after all is said and done, they want to give back to Georgia Gwinnett College. They want to remain a part of who we are and what we are doing. That means a lot to the students who will come after them.”

Diana Wolf of Lawrenceville says that being a part of the first graduating class of GGC brings a sense of responsibility to both the institution and to future students.

“We’re the charter students,” she says. “By actively engaging in giving, we are helping to set the bar for future graduating students. I believe student involvement is essential to building an educational institution and my contribution, along with those of my fellow graduating classmates, helps pave the way in promoting and encouraging future students to participate and show pride and support in a worthy cause.”

A psychology major, Diana currently is looking for a job in the psychology/wellness field and continues to further her education by taking come online courses pertaining to the medical discipline.

She wants her donation to go toward scholarship or to programs to enhance student life on campus and would like to see GGC develop a program or support system to address academic honesty, college drinking, stress related issues and body image.

“I would like to see GGC succeed in becoming a contender for students from all over the United States and eventually internationally, as a viable choice in quality education,” she added.

Carrol Lewallen wants to see her contribution go toward a scholarship for a needy student.

“We wanted 100 percent of the new graduates to give [to the Foundation], Carrol said. “We want to challenge the graduates who come after us to do the same. We wanted to set a precedent.”

Lewallen, who lives in Duluth, returned to college to receive her bachelor’s degree in psychology after being out of school for more than a decade. After she was laid off from her job due to downsizing, she decided to renew her pledge to get that degree she always wanted. In fact, she continues to take classes at GGC even though she has her “sheepskin” because she believes in GGC and what it has to offer.

“I am very impressed with GGC and the level of education I received here.” She intends to seek her master’s degree and would like to work with the elderly or with a canine assistance program.

“I plan to continue to give to the Georgia Gwinnett Foundation and I hope that my fellow graduates will do the same,” she says.

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