Two GGC students first to earn double major, degree

J. Blair Sanders and Katheryn Nikolich

Blair Sanders of Duluth and Katheryn Nikolich of Lawrenceville pause for a photo following rehearsal for today’s commencement ceremony at GGC. Sanders earned the college’s first double-degree and Nikolich earned the college’s first double-major. 

J. Blair Sanders of Duluth and Katheryn Nikolich of Lawrenceville made history at Georgia Gwinnett College during today’s commencement ceremony when they received a double degree and double major.
 
Sanders, 24, earned a bachelor’s of science in information technology, with a concentration in software development. She also received a bachelor’s of art in English, with a concentration in writing and rhetoric. 
 
Nikolich, 52, earned two bachelor’s of art degrees, one in history with a western civilization concentration and the other in political science with an American government concentration.
 
Double majors are two of the same degree – in Nikolich’s case, two bachelor’s of art. A double degree is both a bachelor’s of art and a bachelor’s of science, as Sanders achieved. 
 
“I initially came to GGC to earn an IT degree,” Sanders said. “However, I realized my passion for media half way through the program and knew that an English degree would make me more marketable, so I decided to keep both majors and incorporate them.”
 
A cancer survivor, Sanders came to GGC after being home-schooled. She said she felt it opened leadership opportunities that she likely would not have found elsewhere.  
 
“I was the shy kid coming into GGC, and the environment here gave me the courage to start my own club, join the Student Government Association (SGA) and grow into a leader,” she said. While at GGC, Sanders was an intern for the Gwinnett Daily Post. She also launched Students 4 Christ, a campus ministry, and was its president for four years.  She was a senator and treasurer of SGA and served as a member of several clubs including Creative Collective, English Club and Future Film Makers.  
 
Sanders is currently seeking a position in journalism or web content writing.
 
Nikolich entered GGC in 2009 intending to study history, but after taking an American government course led by Dr. Keiley-Listermann, her interest in political science grew. 
 
“Since political decisions have serious consequences on events and states, studying the how and why allows for a fuller understanding of history,” Nikolich said. “Being a non-traditional student, I have had to work around family and other commitments, but once I began this academic journey, I decided to continue until I reached my goal with the support of my family, friends and professors at GGC.” 
 
Nikolich has three children and her youngest will graduate from high school one week after she graduates from GGC. Her father flew from Oregon to celebrate her graduation milestone. 
 
Nikolich attributes GGC with providing many exceptional educational growth opportunities through its “open door policy.” Through its programming, she was able to attend six professional conferences which expanded her network and allowed her to make connections with political leaders to expand her research.
 
“The faculty at GGC is top-notch, with most possessing a PhD or discipline-appropriate terminal degree,” Nikolich said. “The professors have proven to be incredible mentors who are there to foster students’ interest.”
 
While at GGC, Nikolich was president of the history club, the political science club and the quiz bowl team. She was vice president of Pi Sigma Alpha, recording secretary for the Golden Key International Honour Society and received many honors, including a $5000 Golden Key Undergraduate Achievement scholarship.
 
“At GGC there is a holistic understanding of education, and the students rise to the challenge and take the initiative to meet or exceed expectations,” said Dr. Keiley-Listermann. “Katheryn approaches the discipline of history as an opportunity to solve public policy issues and balances that with academic work, leadership and community engagement.”
 
Post-graduation, Nikolich plans to pursue master’s and doctorate degrees, with the goal of teaching at the collegiate level.
 
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