Graduation, 2012 Edition

This past weekend, my institution sent its Class of 2012 across the stage. Since my department is housed in Enrollment Management, we were called upon to assist with the commencement. I love commencement, but then again, I enjoy ceremony. It was hot, but that’s beside the point. So, in honor of the occasion, I thought I would take a bit of a walk down memory lane. After that, I’m going to talk about some of my friends who graduated this year. 

I didn’t have a graduation from high school. I didn’t see the point. I had already started attending classes at the tech school (yeah, I went to a tech school) full time. I also started attending Georgia Military College before the graduation from the tech school, so I didn’t bother with the graduation from there.

So, my first graduation was in June of 2006 from GMC. It was a rather small class, the next to last one to actually graduate inside the gym instead of on the parade.

Receiving my AS - General Studies from Col. Anderson

Me (SGA President) with the Regimental Commander of the Cadet Corps. The two highest ranked students.

Well, from GMC I went on to Georgia College. My undergraduate commencement was my first experience with an outdoor graduation. It was HOT. But, I was so excited I really didn’t care. I finished a semester with 21 credit hours and I survived that, the heat wasn’t going to stand in my way.

With my parents after receiving my BA - Political Science

This is one of my favorite pictures from after the ceremony. Claire and I had been students together, then she graduated and started teaching (becoming Ms. Sanders). I was then her Grad Assistant while I was in grad school. Now, following my return to GC as staff, we have now co-taught a course and are scheduled to do so again in the fall..

My respite from classes was short lived following my undergraduate commencement. I had to take a couple classes over the summer to actually graduate. So, my diploma was awarded on Friday, August 8, 2008. The following Monday, I began one of the largest undertakings of my life. I began graduate study. I didn’t have to go far, I stayed in the same department pursuing a Master of Public Administration. That graduation came a few years later, and today is the second anniversary of that occasion.

This was my gang during grad school: Mike, Justin (now works for GMC), Cathy (who you'll see again in a minute), Haly (works at GC), and me.

Me, with one of my mentors. He taught as an adjunct at GMC, then went on to get his PhD at MS State. He is currently at Eastern Kentucky. We've worked on several projects together.

This was my other crew during grad school. David, Justin, and as the waitstaff at Velvet Elvis tells us apart, "The Daniel with the accent."

After all of this, a reasonable person might assume I would take a break from commencements for a while. But, I have always been far from sane and reasonable. So, after becoming an adjunct instructor at GMC, I volunteered to walk in their graduation ceremony as faculty. It also “happened” that my best friend growing up received Distinguished Graduate.

Sgt. Josh Rogers and I at the GMC Graduation in 2011. GMC allows students to wear their military uniforms instead of the robes if they desire.

And that brings us to this year. I worked the Georgia College Graduate Commence. This year, we graduated a record number of students. Five hundred sixty-nine students were recognized for completion of their programs. But, today, I want to mention a specific three.

Cathy Stephens was the one poking her head through the middle of the four graduates in the picture earlier. She sat in front of me during my very first class at Georgia College. We have grown to be very close friends, and co-workers. She graduated with her BA, started working for the school, and then followed me into grad school. I was very happy to be able to be there as she was hooded. She completed her Master of Public Administration

Source: Joyce Reeves

Yes, it was hot, but it had also rained in between those two pictures. Anyway, Justin Reeves is another great friend who completed the MPA program. He is a fellow former SGA senator, master wordsmith, my brief replacement as graduate assistant, uber-nerd, conference roommate, and two time coauthor. But more than that, he is a great friend. He completed his Master of Public Administration.

I didn't get a picture with her at graduation (SORRY!) but this is a headshot I had.

Kristen Whitworth and I met in one of the oddest possible ways. If you really want to know, ask me sometime and I’ll tell you in person. Anyway, we became great friends. She (and Cathy) are really great about actually speaking what I’m thinking, which is a great trait for a traditionally reserved guy to have in his friends. Beyond that, we bonded over a mutual love for obscure, old musicals – namely, 1776. She graduated with a Master in Music Education.

These are the ones I know the best. But, congratulations to everyone who walked across the stage last weekend, and this entire graduation season. It is a tremendous accomplishment. Cherish these memories. They will stick with you.

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