Peter Banks told the Summer/Fall 2016 graduating class that they will take much with them when they leave Gordon State College.
"You will leave behind a great and rich heritage of 164 years," he told graduates Friday morning. "In that time, this college has produced some of the most distinguished jurists, politicians, military leaders, teachers, nurses, medical professionals, business leaders and managers of commerce. I believe you have the knowledge and the trained minds to become a member of that distinguished group."
Banks is Mayor of Barnesville and an alumnus of Gordon Military High School class of 1956 and college, 1958.
"As a graduate, I know you have partaken of a rich store of knowledge, wisdom and the collective wisdom of a great and learned faculty. Yet, there is so much that cannot be given to you: The courage to always do the right thing as you see it; the will to never compromise what you know to be true, and the determination to know yourself and to live up to your best self," he said. "These things you must find for yourself, although this college has provided you the environment to learn the basics of human relations work and what is required of you to make it work. It may be easier to abandon such things, and believe me, you will often be tempted to do just that. Just remember to know and live up to your best self.
This graduating class was the largest in Gordon's history, according to President Max Burns.
One of those graduates was Maxwell Willis who graduates cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Human Services degree. He will begin work on a Master of Science in Applied Behavioral Analysis at Ball State University in Indiana in January.
He heard about Gordon from his wife, Amanda, a graduate of the GSC School of Nursing and practicing RN.
Emerson, a Navy veteran and father of two, said his instructors are a big part of his success.
"They were always there for me," he said. "They were always willing to help me out like when I petitioned for course overload so I could graduate earlier. I can't say enough good things about Dr. (Barry) Kicklighter and Dr. (Melinda) Hawley. I had Dr. (James) Awbrey three times and I like the way he teaches. He teaches case management by making you do case management."
Willis wants to eventually work with children and young adults dealing with autism.
After the graduation ceremony, forty-six graduates of the Fall nursing cohort received their pins in a candle light ceremony during which they also lit their Nightingale lamps.
In his address to the new nurses President Burns said he was proud of them and the nursing program.
"I am especially proud of you," he said. "You work hard and you persevere and overcome things that get in your way."
Thomas Goss addressed his fellow graduates noting how hard everyone has worked and how the nursing faculty always supports them.
He recalled how he was certain that he was going to fail a few semesters ago in pharmacology class finally breaking down and texting questions to Dr. Theresa Buchanan.
"I later learned that she was texting me back while riding on the back of a motorcycle," he said.