Georgia Gwinnett College graduates more than 600

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Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) awarded bachelor’s degrees to more than 600 graduates, its largest class to date, during its spring semester commencement ceremony, held today at the Infinite Energy Arena. 

Dr. Mary Beth Walker, officiating over her only commencement ceremony as interim president, reflected on her brief tenure at GGC. 

“I have learned so much about what makes GGC a truly special place,” she said. “And I don’t mean the beautiful campus, the extraordinary learning facilities and the outstanding academic programs – I’m referring to what gives GGC its spirit.” 

Walker noted the faculty and staff’s dedication to student success and innovation. She expressed appreciation for the support of the state legislature, the University System of Georgia and community members.

“Working together this provides a learning community uniquely committed to creating an excellent educational experience for scholars from all walks of life,” Walker said. “But to me, what stands out more than anything else is that at GGC, we do not define ourselves by who we exclude.” 

Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, presented the keynote address, and echoed Walker’s sentiment.

“I admire Georgia Gwinnett College’s dedication to diversity and excellence,” Young said. She remarked that the graduates’ experiences within GGC’s diverse community will bring great value to their careers.

“Inclusiveness is part of the secret sauce behind Atlanta’s success,” she said. Young also commented on the value of the graduates’ education and encouraged them to be engaged citizens. 

“Education creates opportunity and with education comes responsibility,” she said.

Caitlin Vickery spoke on behalf of the graduates. The Gwinnett native graduated with honors in psychology with a cognitive/neuroscience concentration and a minor in information technology, and plans to obtain a doctorate.

Initially intimidated about going to college, Vickery said she “fell in love” with GGC’s small classrooms, its supportive faculty and staff, and how the school fostered her “sense of wonderlust” – a desire for knowledge she said will stay with her for life. 

She shared a story about turning down an offer to enter a doctorate program because she realized it was not right for her. 

“It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but the research wasn’t what I truly wanted to pursue,” she said. “It was tempting to tell myself, ‘Oh, I could grow to love it,’ but that is no way to approach the rest of your life.”

She encouraged her classmates to never settle, but to walk away toward the “something else” that is right for them. 

Graduates were cheered by friends and family as they crossed the commencement stage to receive their degrees. After having a photo taken with Young, each graduate was welcomed into the GGC Alumni Association by alumni who presented them with a commemorative pin. After today’s ceremony, the college now has almost 7,000 alumni.

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