Aimee Copeland

Georgia Gwinnett College’s May 12 commencement ceremony will feature a keynote address by Aimee Copeland.

She will address the more than 400 GGC students who will receive their bachelor’s degrees in the ceremony, which will be held at 10 a.m. on the college’s main lawn.

Copeland gained national attention four years ago for her brave battle with necrotizing fasciitis – also known as flesh-eating bacteria – following an accident on a zip line in the Little Tallapoosa River. 

The infection almost killed her, and amputation of her extremities was required to save her life. Despite this, Copeland refused to let her circumstances put limits on her. With an inspirational spirit and enthusiasm, she completed a master’s degree from the University of West Georgia in humanistic psychology and is now pursuing a second master’s degree from Valdosta State University in social work. 



Her goal is to start her own practice specializing in wilderness therapy for people with disabilities.

“I am blessed to have the capacity to share my experience with others and have a chance to improve the quality of someone else’s life.” Copeland said. 

This ceremony includes several “firsts” for Georgia Gwinnett, including its first class of bachelor-degreed nursing students and its first chemistry major. Four U.S. Army ROTC cadets will be commissioned as part of the event, including GGC’s first two female cadets.

Georgia Gwinnett College is a four-year, accredited liberal arts college that provides access to targeted baccalaureate level degrees that meet the economic development needs of the growing and diverse population of Gwinnett County and the northeast Atlanta metropolitan region. GGC opened its doors in August 2006 as the nation’s first four-year public college founded in the 21st century, and the first four-year public college founded in Georgia in more than 100 years. Georgia Gwinnett produces contributing citizens and future leaders for Georgia and the nation. Its graduates are inspired to contribute to their local, state, national and international communities and are prepared to anticipate and respond effectively to an uncertain and changing world. Visit Georgia Gwinnett College’s Web site at