Gordon State College Celebrates Fall 2022 Graduates With its Commencement Ceremonies

By Karolina Philmon, GSC Marketing Manager

On Friday, Dec. 16, Gordon State College held its fall commencement in-person at the Student Activity and Recreation Center (SARC) on the Barnesville campus.

The day consisted of two commencement ceremonies split between three schools with a total of 236 graduates and 249 total degrees recognized for their baccalaureate and associate. The School of Business, Liberal Arts, and Social Sciences (BLASS) began at 9 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 1 p.m.

“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. Fall 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 50 baccalaureate degrees and a total of 76 associate degrees with an overall total of 126-degree graduates. Keynote speaker included Joseph W. Evans, a retired chairman of State Bank Financial Corporation and State Bank and Trust Company (SB&T) since Jan. 1, 2019 concurrent with State Bank’s merger with Cadence Bancorporation. He had previously served as chief executive officer of State Bank Financial Corporation and SB&T, which he co-founded in 2009. Evans continues to serve on the Cadence Bank board of directors.

Prior to founding State Bank, Evans was chairman, president and chief executive officer of Flag Financial Corporation from 2002 until its acquisition by RBC Centura Bank in 2006. He previously served as president and chief executive officer of Bank Corporation of Georgia from 1984 until it was acquired in 1997 by Century South Banks, Inc., and later as president and CEO of Century South Banks, Inc. until it was acquired in 2001 by BB&T.

In 2018, Evans was the recipient of the American Banker Lifetime Achievement Award. He serves on the board of directors of Southern Trust Insurance Company and is a member of

Rotary Club of Atlanta and the Buckhead Coalition, which he has previously served as its Chair. A native of Smarr, Georgia; Evans holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial management from Georgia Tech, serves on and previously chaired the Board of Trustees of the Georgia Tech Foundation and the Advisory Board of the Scheller College of Business. He also is a former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association.

Evans shared a poem titled “Blind Men and an Elephant” by John Godfrey Saxe that encouraged readers to develop perspective awareness in which individuals hold a unique view of the world based on their personal experience, language and culture.

“Despite our individual limitations and differences, it is possible for people to collaborate and work together with our equally blind neighbors. I think that being intentional about diversity is a key to seeing the elephant clearer,” Evans said. “The tenacity you have showed to get here will serve you well wherever you go.”

At the afternoon ceremony, The School of EMAS presented a total number of 6 baccalaureate degrees and a total of 27 associate degrees with an overall total of 33-degree graduates. The School of NHNS presented a total of 26 baccalaureate degrees and a total of 64 associate degrees with an overall total of 90-degree graduates.

Thirteen graduates were presented with multiple degrees.

Dr. J. Ardovini, GSC provost and vice president of academic and student affairs said the institution has given the graduates the “outline for the next chapter” in their lives.

“We have also given you the EDGE. Use it wisely. Use it to guide you. Use it to follow your fear, and the fear of not reaching your fullest potential,” Ardovini said. “Highlanders have boundless potential. But do not be afraid. You are not alone because you are a Highlander graduate now. We know what you can be. Now go turn the world on its ear and achieve. Highlanders Forward!”

Keynote speaker for the second ceremony included Pike County School District Superintendent since June of 2005, Dr. Michael Duncan. He is currently one of Georgia’s longest continuously serving school superintendents and co-designer of the Georgia Deeper Learning Network. Duncan is the recipient of numerous recognitions including 2021 Georgia Superintendent of the Year, recipient of the 2018 Georgia School Superintendents Association’s Bill Barr Leadership Award, and the Georgia School Superintendents President’s Award in 2012. Duncan is a conference speaker and consultant with an emphasis on deeper learning transformation and strategic visioning.

“Today you will have received a winning lottery ticket,” Duncan said. “This ticket you’ve achieved could be worth as much as $1.2 million. That is the average difference in lifetime

income that you will have because you are here taking part in this commencement. For some of you, it could be as much as $3 million in lifetime earnings.”

After commencement ceremonies concluded, the Nursing Pinning Ceremony took place for the Fall 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.