Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) awarded more than 200 bachelor’s degrees during today’s summer commencement ceremony held in the Infinite Energy Center Arena. This is the college’s largest summer graduating class to date.
Family and friends joined GGC faculty and staff as they celebrated the accomplishments of this semester’s graduates, proudly ushering them into the next phase of their lives.
Born in an under-resourced area of West Virginia to a coal miner and a stay-at-home mother, psychology major Janie Durham did not think that college would be possible for her. “I never actually thought I would be a college graduate,” she said. “This college gave me a chance. I started GGC with a low GPA, but today I’m graduating with honors and this fall I will begin working on my master’s degree at UGA.”
During her graduate reflections speech, Durham expressed feelings of helplessness growing up believing that the adults in her life didn’t think she “would amount to much.” After barely graduating from high school, she went on to get a job and start college, though short-lived at the time. Eventually, she persevered, enrolling at GGC with the encouragement of her husband and brother.
“The Grizzly community – its students, faculty, and staff – became my family. We may have different backgrounds, cultures and national origins, but the way we embrace each other is nothing short of surreal,” she reflected.
The keynote address was delivered by Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer. First elected to the Georgia State Senate in 2002, he represents portions of Gwinnett and Fulton counties in Senate District 48.
“Georgia Gwinnett taught you how to thrive in every circumstance. A liberal arts education teaches you how to think, how to learn, how to see things as a whole, how to collaborate and how to work with others,” said Shafer. “The degree you earned today is a rightly source of pride but it is not the end of your story. Learning is a lifelong occupation.”
The ceremony was streamed live on the internet.