Gordon State College Celebrates Spring 2022 Graduates With Its Commencement Ceremonies

By Karolina Philmon, GSC Marketing Manager

On Friday, May 13, Gordon State College held its spring commencement in-person on the Barnesville campus Lambdin Green for the first time since 2019.

The day consisted of two commencement ceremonies split between three schools with a total of 252 graduates and 264 total degrees recognized for their baccalaureate and associates. The School of Business, Liberal Arts, and Social Sciences (BLASS) began at 8:30 a.m. while The School of Nursing, Health, and Natural Sciences (NHNS) along with The School of Education, Mathematics, and Applied Sciences (EMAS) took place at noon.

“We celebrate our Highlanders today on an impeccable milestone. These women and men of Highlander Nation can apply the knowledge they have gained at Gordon State College with a positive and profound impact on the community,” said GSC President Dr. Kirk A. Nooks. “The time and work these graduates have endured here has prepared them to do things they never thought possible. They have persevered through significant challenges under difficult circumstances for the past two years. Yet, they succeeded! Spring graduates of 2022, you represent inspiring evidence of the wisdom you achieved, and the full meaning of Highlanders, Forward!”

During the morning ceremony, The School of BLASS presented a total number of 58 baccalaureate degrees and a total of 76 associate degrees with an overall total of 134-degree graduates. Keynote speaker included Tiffney T. Laing, a former college educator and the founder of Bevy & Dave; an award-winning multimedia educational company changing the narrative of Black history and building leaders. Bevy & Dave empowers families and educators with access to fun and inspiring global Black history learning tools, including toys, games, books, original animation short films and other activities for pre-school-elementary age children.

Laing’s unconventional work has been recognized among industry peers and featured in local, national and international media including Good Morning America, MSNBC, Voice of America, Daily Mail TV, Newsweek and more.

At the noon ceremony, The School of EMAS presented a total number of 47 baccalaureate degrees and a total of 10 associate degrees with an overall total of 57-degree graduates. The School of NHNS presented a total of 55 baccalaureate degrees and a total of 18 associate degrees with an overall total of 73-degree graduates.

Twelve graduates were presented with multiple degrees.

“It was so exciting to have commencement back on campus on Lambdin Green, said GSC Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. C. Jeffery Knighton. “It was a beautiful day! As our graduates are now going out in the world with the ‘Highlander EDGE,’ I want them to all know how proud I am of them.”

Keynote speaker for the second ceremony included 2019 Georgia Superintendent of the Year by the Georgia School Superintendents Association (GSSA), Dr. Curtis Jones. A Barnesville native, Jones is an educator with more than 20 years of experience. He began his career in education as a JROTC instructor with the Griffin-Spalding County School System in Griffin. He became a high school principal and then advanced to assistant superintendent, then superintendent before coming to Bibb County School District in April of 2015. Jones developed the Bibb County School District’s strategic plan, “Victory in Our Schools.” In 2017, under Jones’ leadership, the district received Georgia’s College Board Linking Award for having more than 80% of juniors and seniors utilizing Khan Academy for SAT preparation. The District also received the 2018 Digital School District Survey Award for Large Student Population Districts category, and its Board of Education has been twice-named a Distinguished Board by the Georgia School Boards Association.

After commencement ceremonies concluded, two additional ceremonies took place. The first being the presentation of the Book and Bell at 2 p.m. at the GSC Fine Arts Auditorium for all education graduates from The School of EMAS. This traditional ceremony dates back to the 19th century. Each GSC education graduate received a school bell and a McGuffey’s Reader, the two tools most used by teachers from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century.

“Teaching is tough and emotional. The children don’t need saving as I once thought. They need love, support, and humor. We’ve prepared you to be amazing teachers. You’re going to be phenomenal. We’re so very proud of each of you and the great things to come and all the ‘teachers of the year’ sitting here. There’s nothing more amazing then the small moments of ‘wonderful’ that you’re going to experience as a teacher,” said GSC Dean of School of Education Joseph R. Jones.

At 3:15 p.m., at the GSC Student Activity and Recreation Center (SARC), the Nursing Pinning Ceremony took place for the spring 2022 graduates of The School of NHNS. Historians trace the tradition of the nursing pin back to the Crusades of the 12th century when group of knights tended to and cared for injured crusaders. In the 1860s, Florence Nightingale was honored with the Red Cross of St. George for her selfless care of the injured soldiers during the Crimean War. She believed in recognition and prompted the idea of presenting a medal of excellence to her hardest working nursing graduates. By 1916, it became standard in the United States to award each nursing graduate with a pin during a special ceremony.