GGC grads have stories to tell and dreams to follow
Strategic growth once again positioned Georgia Gwinnett College to reach another important milestone in its institutional history. The fall semester graduating class of almost 300 brings the total number of Grizzly alumni to more than 2,200. Today’s ceremony held at the Gwinnett Arena was attended by more than 2,000 people.
As Angelo F. Cifuentes of Lawrenceville crossed the stage at the Gwinnett Arena this morning he was introduced as the 2000th graduate of GGC. A member of Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society in Business, Management and Administration, he graduated cum laude.
Cifuentes said that his “biggest challenge has been to work night shift for four years while attending school and finding time to spare with my son with special needs, teenage daughter and my wife, who has been my moral support throughout all these years.”
As an adult learner, his journey to this point has included many twists and turns but by no means is this the finish line for Cifuentes. He dreams of starting his own stock exchange business and working on his master’s degree in business administration.
Speaking on behalf of the graduating seniors, political science major Chehrazad Mounaji shared her story, which began as a child in Morocco. She has a dream of one day following in her late father’s footsteps as an American diplomat by building her own career in international relations.
Her path to GGC was unusual. At only 17, she came to the U.S. to learn English, learn the culture and learn how to select and enroll in a college. After spending a year in Montana on an exchange program, she moved to the Atlanta area and in 2010, she enrolled in GGC. An excellent representative of her class, she served as a student leader, made time to volunteer in the local community and studied abroad in Paris.
During her speech, Mounaji referenced the words of Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” She then challenged the graduates by saying, “Class of 2014, we have the power to change the world!”
Georgia Congressman Rob Woodall (R-7th District) presented the ceremony’s keynote address. No stranger to GGC, Woodall has given generously of his time to serve as a guest lecturer for GGC political science students, who truly benefit from his real-world perspectives.
“We are particularly grateful to have Congressman Woodall with us today to inspire and encourage our graduates as they complete this chapter of their lives and head out to begin another,” said GGC President Stas Preczewski during his introductory comments. “I appreciate the fact that he takes advantage of the learning opportunities that exist in the political process and am reminded that he took time out election night of 2012 to come out to GGC’s election night party to talk with our students and watch election night returns with them.”
“You guys are rock stars,” said Woodall to the graduates as he began his remarks. “We built the buildings and you have built the traditions that make GGC real.”
Woodall extended the following to the graduates, “I wish the four pillars of GGC upon you in abundance – scholarship, leadership, service and creativity – as you take the next step toward living the American dream.”
This commencement also marks another important milestone for the college, which today graduated its first international students – foreign students who came to the United States to attend college. These students and their majors are: Njikang Enang of Cameroon – exercise science, Jose Figueroa of Guatemala – business administration, Leo Hernandez of Mexico – information technology, Juan Matute Fellheimer of Argentina - psychology and Andres Molano of Colombia – business administration.