GGC graduates more than 170

Dr. Jann L. Joseph handing diploma to Courtney Williams

Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) awarded 176 bachelor’s degrees at its summer commencement ceremony, held today at the Infinite Energy Center Arena in Duluth. The college now has more than 7,000 alumni.

The ceremony included the college’s first paralegal certifications, earned by political science majors Immanuel Dowling and Ibeth Gutierrez.

This was the first commencement ceremony officiated by GGC’s new president, Dr. Jann L. Joseph, who began working at the college July 1. 

Joseph, a first-generation college graduate herself, told the graduates to “soak in” the moment of their achievement and its importance.

“You’re going to return to this moment time and time again because it represents something so significant that you did and it’s going to give you the resilience to do even more. You won’t remember everything else that happened, but you’re going to remember how this felt,” she said. “Absorb it. Enjoy it. Build on it.”

She also encouraged the class of 2019 to be life-long learners and to believe in themselves, even if life takes them in unexpected directions.

“Understand how strong you are, because I know you are stronger than you believe. You have within you what it takes to turn your aspirations – your dreams – into realities,” Joseph said. “Do not be afraid to reach, and reach far.”

Courtney Williams, a DeKalb County native, spoke on behalf of her fellow graduates. She described how she had to overcome many doubts and fears to take “leaps of faith” to find and fulfill her purpose. 

Williams’ academic journey took a detour when she left GGC as a sophomore to pursue a cosmetology career. However, once she completed her training and began working in that field, she realized that she wanted to own her own salons. Determined to realize this new dream, she returned to GGC to complete her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in management. 

“GGC made my fears irrelevant and helped me turn my leaps of faith into a lifestyle,” she said. 

Today, in addition to her cosmetology business, Williams is a social media influencer within the natural hair community and has started a second business devoted to providing training, networking and other resources to support people of faith seeking to achieve their own purpose. 
    
She encouraged her classmates to continue striving for their own dreams and work to overcome obstacles. 

“When that opportunity comes that you’ve been praying for, take it. When you’re not ready, get ready. When that door closes, build your own. When they say ‘No,’ cultivate your own ‘Yes.’ When you’re tired, don’t give up. Take a break,” Williams said. “It’s okay to be afraid.  It’s okay to be unsure.  But it’s not okay to give up on your purpose or dreams.”

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