Savannah graduate is GGC's 8000th student

One of 3,600 first-time students at rapidly growing college

As an honor student, Tyquan Smalls of Savannah had a number of colleges from which he could choose as he considered his academic career. A 2011 graduate of Herschell V. Jenkins High School, he sought a college with an information technology program that would enable him to pursue his dream of designing computers, televisions and other visual technologies.

One of 3,600 first-time students at rapidly growing college

As an honor student, Tyquan Smalls of Savannah had a number of colleges from which he could choose as he considered his academic career. A 2011 graduate of Herschell V. Jenkins High School, he sought a college with an information technology program that would enable him to pursue his dream of designing computers, televisions and other visual technologies.

Earlier this year, Smalls attended an Open House program at Georgia Gwinnett College, and the experience helped him make his choice to become a Grizzly.

“The college was new and accredited, and it had the program I wanted,” Smalls said. “I had a great time at the Open House. The campus and the people were nice, so I decided to apply to GGC.”

When Smalls registered for classes on Aug. 5, he became the college’s 8,000th student for the 2011-12 academic year, representing another milestone in the history of the rapidly expanding institution. He joins an explosion of more than 3,600 first-time students.

To serve the larger student body and continue providing the personal mentorship that is the college’s hallmark, GGC has hired more than 180 new full-time and part-time faculty. Smalls and his classmates will meet members of the faculty at the college’s Aug. 16, “March Through the Arch,” event, which symbolizes the students’ entry into their academic careers.

“Before students enter the classrooms, we want them to connect with the faculty, to know that their professors are committed to student success,” says Acting Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Lois C. Richardson. “After they walk through the arch, faculty will greet each student.”

Smalls will be among the first students to benefit from the college’s new instructional laboratory facility, which includes a computational sciences laboratory, as well as laboratories for biology and physics courses. His classmates will be the first freshman class to have choices of five minors that have been recently added to the college’s 12 degree programs and 40 areas of study.

In his first year as a Grizzly, Smalls also will see the opening of the college’s first intramural athletics fields and the construction of its first intercollegiate athletics facilities. By the time he graduates, GGC could be among the largest institutions within the University System of Georgia, with enrollment above 15,000 students.

Smalls is one of a growing number of GGC students from outside of the Gwinnett area. He recently moved into the GGC student residence halls and immediately began meeting his fellow students and learning his way around.

“I’m very excited about going to college, particularly this college,” he said. “I’m looking forward to learning and having fun.”

To help students like Smalls acclimate themselves to college life, the Office of Student Affairs will hold its annual Grizzly Days, a week of fun and informational activities that encourages students to embrace the GGC community. Among other activities, there will be a scavenger hunt in the library, cookout in the dining commons and a Back-to-School Bash in the newly unveiled Student Center.

“We’re very excited about opening the doors of the new Student Center for our first incoming class,” said Coordinator of Student Involvement Joe Hutto of the 81,000-square-foot facility that the college opened in January of 2011. “We’re holding an open house on Aug. 18 where there will be something for everyone – arcade games, food, music and lots of surprises. The building is named after them. We want them to use it throughout their time at GGC.”

That sounds great to Smalls.

“I want to get involved in student activities, and I’m excited to find out what is available,” Smalls said.  His family is equally excited about his college experience.

“We are all so extremely proud of Tyquan,” said his grandmother, Mary Smalls, who relocated with the rest of the family from Manhattan, New York, to her native Savannah six years ago. “He has always been an exceptional student and we know he will continue to excel.”

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