Alma Mater, written by student-faculty team, to premiere at commencement

When Georgia Gwinnett College’s Alma Mater is performed publicly for the first time at the June 2 commencement ceremony, one graduating senior will be listening more closely than the others. Brittany Dertz, a psychology major from Gwinnett County, co-wrote the GGC Alma Mater’s lyrics in partnership with Alvina Atkinson, associate professor of mathematics.

When Georgia Gwinnett College’s Alma Mater is performed publicly for the first time at the June 2 commencement ceremony, one graduating senior will be listening more closely than the others. Brittany Dertz, a psychology major from Gwinnett County, co-wrote the GGC Alma Mater’s lyrics in partnership with Alvina Atkinson, associate professor of mathematics.

Known as one of the most active and enthusiastic students at GGC, Dertz is often referred to as the college’s “biggest cheerleader.” She has participated in many campus events, initiatives and organizations. Because she sang in her high school choir and has always enjoyed music, she was especially interested in serving on the college’s alma mater committee, which was charged with generating a student-centered alma mater for the young college.

The committee developed a process through which students could submit lyrics for one of two tunes composed by Thomas Young, retired associate professor of English, or a melody of their own. The student body would then vote for their favorite submission through the college’s Web site.

“Alvina and I decided to give it a try,” Dertz said. “We looked at the GGC mission and vision statements for inspiration and just went from there.” The team used one of Young’s melodies and spent about five hours on the project, she said. Their lyrics were later chosen to be presented to the student body as one of two final choices, and ultimately won the vote.

Dertz said her distinction as a GGC Alma Mater lyricist was particularly meaningful.

“This is a huge honor. What a great way to end my four-year college career at GGC,” said Dertz. “To be immortalized this way, after all I’ve been through and experienced here in the college’s first few years, is an excellent legacy for me to leave behind.”

Dertz’s immediate plans after graduation are to marry and start a family. She eventually wants to go to graduate school, possibly pursuing an advanced degree in developmental psychology.

A recording of the GGC Alma Mater will soon be available at www.ggc.edu.

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