Gordon State College Hosts 2nd Annual First-Year Finish Celebration

By Karolina Philmon, GSC Marketing Manager

On Thursday, April 21, Gordon State College hosted its second annual First-Year Finish celebration at the GSC Student Center Auditorium.

The event honored the freshman class for its perseverance and success during the 2021-2022 academic year. It also recognized the substantial developmental transition of students making it through the first year of college.

GSC Professor of English, Dr. Stephen A. Raynie opened the celebration with a welcome.

“You’re on a threshold of a great journey,” Raynie said. “You’ll discover work that awakens a deep passion, and when you do that, you’ll feel blessed beyond measure.”

Raynie then introduced GSC President, Dr. Kirk A. Nooks, to the podium for his words of wisdom.

“That second year, your sophomore year is a very important time for you because this milestone means that you made it,” Nooks said. “I told you [at New Student Orientation] if you took the advice from the experts, if you allowed them to rework certain aspects of your electrical system or your plumbing system, that you would be stronger at the end.”

President Nooks continued his speech by stating he was a first-generation college graduate and experienced challenges along the way.

“With my parent’s support, along with the support from the institution’s entrusted faculty and staff, I was able to complete my undergraduate degree,” Nooks said. “There were bumps along the way, but using the Power of WE, and the relationships I’ve gained, I found my way. You have opportunities that your parents and supporters didn’t have. And that’s what’s special about today. You are making good on the opportunities.”

Presentation of certificates by school followed with Dr. Jane Marie McKinney, GSC interim coordinator of the business and public service department, filling in for Dr. Barry Kicklighter with the School of Business, Liberal Arts, and Social Sciences; Dr. Joseph Jones with the School of Education, Math, and Applied Sciences; and Dr. Victor Vilchiz with the School of Nursing, Health, and Natural Sciences.

GSC Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. C. Jeffery Knighton, took the podium after certificates were presented to talk of The Highlander EDGE- Engaged Leaders, Dedicated Scholars, Gifted Communicators and Ethical Leaders.

“The value of a college education goes much deeper than career preparation. It’s about preparation for life,” Knighton said. “In your journey so far you have been exposed to new perspectives and new value systems. Your faculty members and advisors empowered you to deal with a changing world filled with complexity and diversity. In other words, they have been helping you to develop The Highlander EDGE.”

Kierra Cooper-Williams, GSC ‘21-‘22 student government association president, concluded the event by sharing words of encouragement on keeping on the course while Dr. Raynie wrapped it up with a few closing statements.

A reception followed the celebration. Students and their families took pictures with Dr. Nooks, their deans and faculty members.

“The students have a special and unique contribution to Highlander Nation,” Nooks said. “Their gift to us is what makes them standout in their own way.”