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Photo: Walter Geiger

Crowds throng Gordon graduation ceremony

A huge crowd was on hand on Lambdin Green Friday morning for graduation exercises at Gordon State College. The rain held off and only a slight drizzle fell during the celebration presided over by GSC president Dr. Don Green.

Madison Walker (above) presented the commencement address to her fellow grads. She plans to teach in Monroe County starting this fall.

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Honored were more than 250 graduates from The School of Business, Liberal Arts, and Social Sciences (BLASS); The School of Nursing, Health, and Natural Sciences (NHNS); and The School of Education, Mathematics, and Applied Sciences (EMAS).

“Graduates, congratulations! You’ve achieved something only a fraction of people do,” said Dr. Donald J. Green, GSC president. “Today, we celebrate your college degree. Well done, you did it! Your degree will propel your career and expand your earning potential. Your education enriches your life and nurtures your family tree for generations to come. Chase your dreams and inspire others to do the same.”

In total, 284 baccalaureate and associate degrees were awarded to graduates from across the region. This year’s graduation ceremony saw a 21.8% increase in graduates compared to the 224 graduates at the spring commencement of 2023. Pres. Green highlighted several who have defied the odds to reach this milestone. He mentioned that this year is “especially poignant” with two separate mother-and-child graduates.

Among those recognized were the mother-daughter duo Pam Harbin from Lamar County and Sydney R. Moore from Spalding County. Harbin has strong ties to Gordon, as her father attended Gordon Military College in the 1950s. She completed her Bachelor of Science in nursing and now serves as a home nurse. Moore initially joined Highlander Nation to play softball and soccer but graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary liberal arts. Her plans include pursuing a master’s in occupational therapy.

Additional stories shared included Samuel Balty and his mother, Amy Balty, from Henry County, both graduating with their Bachelor of Science in nursing; Edwin Cordero, Sr. from Henry County, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in management and administration; and Charles E. Jones from Clayton County, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in elementary and special education.

The School of BLASS presented a total number of 47 baccalaureate degrees and a total of 69 associate degrees with an overall total of 116-degree graduates. The School of EMAS presented a total number of 60 baccalaureate degrees and a total of 30 associate degrees with an overall total of 90-degree graduates. The School of NHNS presented a total of 72 baccalaureate degrees and a total of 6 associate degrees with an overall total of 78-degree graduates.

Eleven graduates were presented with multiple degrees.

Madison Walker, GSC spring 2024 class representative from Upson County and Bachelor of Science in elementary and special education graduate, addressed the degree candidates.

“As we graduate from college and step into the world, we are filled with dreams, aspirations, and endless opportunities. It is in embracing the unknown that we truly discover the magic of life,” Walker said. “Now is the time to go where you feel led. As we embark on the next chapter of our lives, let us carry the torch of kindness wherever we go.”

Two additional ceremonies followed commencement, starting with the presentation of the Book and Bell to the spring 2024 EMAS graduates. This traditional ceremony dates to the 19th century. Each GSC education graduate received a school bell and a McGuffey’s Reader, the two tools most used by teachers from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century.

Following Book and Bell, spring 2023 NHNS graduates were honored in a separate Pinning Ceremony marking their official entrance into the nursing profession. Historians trace the tradition of the nursing pin back to the Crusades of the 12th century, and in the 1860s, Florence Nightingale adopted the practice of presenting a medal of excellence to her hardest working nursing graduates. By 1916, it became standard in the United States to award each nursing graduate with a pin during a special ceremony.

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