Gordon State College Celebrates Spring 2023 Graduates

By Karolina Philmon, GSC Marketing Manager

On Friday, May 19, Gordon State College held its spring commencement in-person on the Barnesville campus Lambdin Green with special musical performances by Middle Georgia State University (MGA) Chamber Choir.

The day consisted of an 8:30 a.m. commencement ceremony that celebrated graduates from The School of Business, Liberal Arts, and Social Sciences (BLASS); The School of Nursing, Health, and Natural Sciences (NHNS); and The School of Education, Mathematics, and Applied Sciences (EMAS). The morning celebration had a total of 240 graduates and 246 total degrees recognized for their baccalaureate and associate.

“Our graduating Highlanders represent this morning’s ceremony as a culmination of hard work that continued the legacy of family members who attended this wonderful institution. For some Highlanders, this milestone occasion represented success and the breakdown of a generational paragon that made them the first in their family, like myself, to attend or graduate from college,” said GSC President, Dr. Kirk A. Nooks. “Our graduating Highlanders came face-to-face with a global pandemic, looked it in the eye, and let it know that they’ll do what Highlanders do in the face of a challenge; move forward. Today’s milestone symbolized that these graduates can navigate through the fragile and unpredictable period, rise above tribulations and do it with a growth mindset.”

The School of BLASS presented a total number of 47 baccalaureate degrees and a total of 54 associate degrees with an overall total of 101-degree graduates. The School of EMAS presented a total number of 41 baccalaureate degrees and a total of 25 associate degrees with an overall total of 66-degree graduates. The School of NHNS presented a total of 72 baccalaureate degrees and a total of 7 associate degrees with an overall total of 79-degree graduates.

Six graduates were presented with multiple degrees.

“One thing I urge you to believe in is the people around you. Believe not only in yourself, but find the people who believe in you,” said Eric Edmonson, GSC class of 2023 representative, during his invocation speech. “Graduates of Gordon State, find those that will burn the ships and charge head first with you. While it’s possible to go at life on your own; it takes friendships, family, and love for one another to truly carry us through.”

Keynote speaker included T. Dallas Smith, founder and chief executive officer at T. Dallas Smith & Company where he leads all new business development initiatives and oversees all brokerage affairs related to the company by providing chief liaison services to key clients. Smith began his commercial real estate career in 1982 at Atlanta Air Center Realty under the guidance of Thomas W. Tift as a leasing and management representative for the portfolio. In 1989, he became the first African-American broker at Cushman & Wakefield of Georgia. His affiliation with the company opened doors for many minority brokers.

In 1995, Smith pioneered the brokerage division for H.J. Russell & Company, an African-American owned construction and management firm. He served as vice president of the Brokerage Division. Smith led the company initiative of acquiring forty parcels of real estate, a full city block in the intercity of Atlanta resulting in a mixture of office, retail, and multifamily developments now valued at over $20 million. In 2006, with the blessing of the late Herman Russell, Smith opened T. Dallas Smith & Company where he specialized in tenant representation. T. Dallas Smith & Company has led projects across the country with metrics exceeding more than seven million square feet of commercial property leasing and acquisitions and five thousand acres of land purchases. Since its inception, the team has grown exponentially and successfully led transactions totaling over $15 billion in aggregate value.

“What’s important is not what other people think of you, but rather it’s what you think of yourself. At the end of the day, be your own cheerleader,” Smith said. “What you say to yourself every day is going to be the thing that lasts with you. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best that ‘small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events, but great minds discuss ideas.’”

Smith, a Georgia State University alumnus, is Chair of the Real Estate Committee at his alma mater. He also serves on the boards of the Council for Quality Growth and Atlanta Commercial Board of REALTORS. He has been awarded numerous honors including Atlanta Most Admired CEO in 2017, Atlanta Commercial Board of REALTORS’ Realtor of the Year in 2018, and Empire Board of Realists Broker of the Year in 2018. Smith will serve as an at-large member of the Board of Regents.

Two additional ceremonies took place after the morning’s celebration concluded. The first being the presentation of the Book and Bell at 11 a.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.

At 1 p.m., at the GSC Student Activity and Recreation Center (SARC), the Nursing Pinning Ceremony took place for the spring 2023 graduates of the Bachelor of Science in nursing program. 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.