Student learns perseverance and value of self at Georgia Gwinnett College
By Justin Madden
Before attending Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC), Natan Mallory was the shy kid in class. In high school, he preferred not to talk unless he was called upon by a teacher or approached by a student.
Seeing his time at GGC as a transformative opportunity, all of that changed for Mallory. Little by little, class by class and life lesson by life lesson, Mallory gained confidence, found success and learned how to be himself at GGC.
“When I first got to GGC, I wanted to change who I was to become ... someone who I thought others wanted to talk to and be associated with both as a student and a friend,” said Mallory. “However, I discovered that in addition to being exhausting and uncomfortable, trying to be someone other than who I am wasn’t working.”
It wasn’t until later during his time at GGC when Mallory learned that the best method to connect with others was by being his authentic self, a lesson shared and encouraged by friends and fellow students.
“Once I gained the confidence to be myself, I started getting more opportunities to do things like attend and speak at conferences, become a resident advisor and travel to Atlanta to speak on GGC’s behalf,” he said.
Notably, through his newfound confidence, Natan also served the GGC community by working as a student engagement specialist at the Student Center. He also spoke about GGC’s Momentum Year initiative at the September 2019 University System of Georgia Board of Regents meeting and represented the student body in welcoming President Jann Joseph to the college.
In addition to overcoming his shyness, Mallory had financial and logistical obstacles to overcome as well.
“Both of my parents worked and I didn’t have a car, so I had to take Uber or Lyft to class,” said Mallory, who lives in Lawrenceville. “In addition to being a logistical challenge, it also was an added financial cost.”
Mallory noted that his path to success was achieved directly through his heavy involvement at GCC.
“Whether it was through a job on campus that allowed me to pay for school and housing or opportunities to gain experience and knowledge through extracurricular activities, GGC was there for me. My whole time at GGC is a success story. They gave me everything I needed to succeed,” said Mallory. “Once you get involved, GGC won’t let you down. I am a testament that there is an infinite number of ways to succeed. You just have to get started.”
One other challenge Mallory overcame was going to school during a pandemic.
“Going to school during the pandemic taught me how to buckle down and push myself. I had to reach my goal no matter what and not give up,” said Mallory. “I am also extremely thankful for the way GGC handled the situation. The small class sizes and accessibility to professors was a huge advantage. It proved even more so that there is only everything to gain at GGC.”
Mallory is one of more than 800 classmates who will be honored at GGC’s virtual commencement, scheduled for 10 a.m., Aug. 8. The ceremony can be viewed at www.ggc.edu/commencement.