SGSC awards first bachelor’s degrees; graduates encouraged to discover their future
Over 140 members of the Class of 2014 at South Georgia State College were encouraged to discover the future that is before them, thanks to inspiring and creative remarks from two well-known keynote speakers.
Dr. Dennis Blanton, assistant professor of anthropology at James Madison University and an alumnus of the former South Georgia College, challenged the graduates to find their passion and use it to inspire others. Blanton delivered his remarks during the May 7 ceremony on the Douglas Campus.
“My homework assignment to you is to search out that personal passion and act upon it,” Blanton told the graduates. “If you can do that, everything else will fall into a healthy perspective. Don’t be selfish with your passion. Use it to inspire others.”
A native of Alma, Ga., Blanton’s “personal quest” was to become an archaeologist. Upon arriving at the former South Georgia College, Blanton said his initial experiences on campus motivated him to pursue his ultimate passion and make the decisions necessary to be successful in the future.
“When I came to campus from Alma, Ga., I was as dumb as the rocks I dig up,” he said. “On one level, it was frightening to come to that realization. (It took) just one day in a class with my professors and some of the more worldly students to recognize my giant deficit of wisdom and basic knowledge. But it was also exhilarating, because I got it. Changing these shortcomings became a welcomed challenge.”
During his time as a student, Blanton told Chris Trowell, a retired history, anthropology, and geography teacher at the former South Georgia College, of his plans to pursue a four-year degree in anthropology. Trowell challenged Blanton not to stop there, but to continue his education so that his ultimate goal could be realized.
“(Mr.) Trowell told me a B.A. in anthropology would get me nothing but a phone call, and that I could not end my education there,” said Blanton. “That made me a little weak in the knees. It also served a valuable purpose, because the process of educating myself still hasn’t ended. I challenge you (the graduates) to build on these valuable years at SGSC by becoming wise by deciding well and embracing your passion.”
Following Blanton’s remarks, degrees were conferred upon the graduates, which included the first cohort of 24 students to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing.
SGSC President Dr. Virginia Carson recognized seven retired Douglas Campus faculty and staff during the ceremony with Emeriti designations. Those honored included Peggy Clemons, Associate Professor of Nursing Emerita; Wanda Lloyd, Vice President for Business Affairs Emerita; Dr. Lori Seward, Professor of Speech and Theater Emerita; Scott Sims, Assistant Professor of Health and Physical Education and Head Baseball Coach Emeritus; Dr. Leonard Steverson, Associate Professor of Sociology Emeritus; Dr. Doug Tarver, Professor of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Emeritus; and Dr. George Wingblade, Director of Physical Plant Emeritus.
Other recognitions during the Douglas Campus ceremony included the retirements of Dr. Randy Braswell, interim director of enrollment services, and Melissa Peacock, LPN-RN coordinator and associate professor of nursing. Braswell served the University System of Georgia for 32 years, and the Douglas Campus for 16 years, while Peacock served both the Douglas and Waycross Campuses for 24 years. Frankie Snow, learning services coordinator in the Division of Natural Sciences, Physical Education, and Mathematics, was recognized for his selection as the recipient of the 2014 Crabtree Award from the Society of American Archaeology.
Dr. Scott Thigpen, dean of SGSC’s School of Nursing and an alumnus of both the former Waycross College and South Georgia College, addressed the Waycross Campus graduates May 9 with a mixture of serious thoughts and creative humor.
“There are some important things you need to know about life,” Thigpen told the graduates. “Life happens very fast, and there’s no dress rehearsal. You need to surround yourself with people that are going to help you succeed. There are a lot of people that don’t want you to succeed. One of my friends told me, ‘Let your haters be your motivators.’”
Thigpen said his parents were the primary source of motivation for him and his brother who, together, have a total of eight academic degrees.
“Mama and daddy instilled in me and my brother the importance of education. They are two of the brightest people I know,” he said. “If it had not been for their hard work, we would not have been able to achieve what we were able to achieve.”
Life has a “final exam,” Thigpen said, and he encouraged the graduates to consider the exam’s three components.
“I’m very proud of you for your achievements, and I’ll leave you with a final exam called life – where I’m at, where I’m going, and how I’m going to get there,” he said.
At the end of Thigpen’s address, he encouraged the graduates and audience to dance at their seats to the popular song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.
Howard Potts, associate professor of history/political science, and Sandy Keeler, assistant professor of history, were also recognized during the ceremony for their respective retirements. Potts served the Waycross Campus for 20 years while Keeler had 10 years of service.
FIRST PHOTO: Seven retired faculty and staff from South Georgia State College’s Douglas Campus were honored during the May 7 commencement ceremony with Emeriti designations. (L-R): Dr. George Wingblade, Director of Physical Plant Emeritus; Dr. Doug Tarver, Professor of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Emeritus; Scott Sims, Assistant Professor of Health and Physical Education and Head Baseball Coach Emeritus; Wanda Lloyd, Vice President for Business Affairs Emerita; SGSC President Dr. Virginia Carson; and Dr. Lori Seward, Professor of Speech and Theater Emerita. (Not pictured): Peggy Clemons, Associate Professor of Nursing Emerita; and Dr. Leonard Steverson, Associate Professor of Sociology Emeritus.
SECOND PHOTO: Dr. Dennis Blanton, assistant professor of anthropology at James Madison University, delivered the commencement address May 7 on SGSC’s Douglas Campus.
THIRD PHOTO: Dr. Scott Thigpen, dean of SGSC’s School of Nursing, delivered the commencement address May 9 on SGSC’s Waycross Campus.
FOURTH PHOTO: Led by SGSC President Dr. Virginia Carson (at podium), graduates of SGSC’s Waycross Campus showed appreciation for the support of their family and friends during the May 9 Waycross Campus commencement.