On Saturday, May 6, the 43rd Bainbridge State College commencement was held at the Student Wellness Center, with 150 graduates marching and approximately 333 degrees being conferred.
“Pomp and Circumstance” was played by members of the Tallahassee Pipe Band as the graduates entered the gymnasium.
The 2017 mace bearer and parade marshal was Kathleen Ketterer, associate professor of marketing and management for the School of Health Sciences and Professional Studies (HSPS) at Bainbridge State College.
The National Anthem was sung by graduate Shelby Lane.
Halima Monds, the Student Government Association vice-president, spoke on behalf of the students. Monds is a 16-year old “Move on When Ready” student from Cairo. While attending BSC, she has been active in Student Life and the Campus Activities Board (CAB).
She received her associate of arts degree during the ceremony and plans to attend Spellman College in the fall.
Monds charged her fellow graduates to embrace opportunities, recognize people matter and confront their fears.
“I challenge you all to embrace every moment that allows you to move closer to greatness,” said Monds. “Remember to treat people with kindness and respect. And above all treat people with the understanding that nobody’s perfect because the person you initially doubted may one day be the next CEO, doctor or lawyer.”
She concluded with her challenge to “confront fears,” as evidence of what they have already accomplished.
“You have arrived to this exact moment on this exact day as evidence of your ability to overcome fear and to put your best efforts toward success,” said Monds.
One tradition of Bainbridge State College’s graduation ceremony is the inclusion of a faculty speaker in the program.
The Bainbridge State College faculty is at the core of helping the institution accomplish its mission, while working to help the students achieve their goals.
Charles Avery, instructor and program coordinator for the EMS program, spoke on behalf of the faculty while serving as this year’s commencement speaker.
Annually, the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) hosts the Rick Perkins Award for Excellence in Technical Instruction honoring technical education’s most outstanding instructors.
This year for the first time in BSC history, Avery placed not only as a regional finalist, but also as the first runner-up Rick Perkins Award Winner for the state.
He relayed his story to the graduates and audience — and left them with words of encouragement to achieve their dreams.
“Overcoming barriers is a fact of life,” he began. “I tell my kids life is not fair and sometimes you’re going to get dealt a losing hand — but ‘go fish’ and keep pulling cards until you win.”
He stressed to the graduates that their learning was not over, even though they were receiving degrees, by quoting Henry Ford:
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80,” he said. “Anyone who keeps learning stays young.
“Today we celebrate your accomplishments — knowing that this is only one step in your journey of success,” Avery concluded. “As you grow, learn and become successful, you will have hardships and failures, but know you can overcome anything.”
Dr. Michael Kirkland recognized the faculty for their efforts in assisting the students and being an asset to Bainbridge State.
“You are not only experts in your fields, but you also take pride in helping each individual student achieve his or her goals,” he said. “You understand that there is much more to an education than learning the facts in a textbook. Thank you for your dedication to educating the whole person and helping each student strengthen his or her talents, while overcoming challenges.”
There were 83 graduates who obtained the title of honor graduate. In order to graduate with honors, students must maintain a minimum B-plus grade point average at Bainbridge State College.
The 2017 Outstanding Graduate was April Perkins of Whigham.
Dr. Stuart Rayfield concluded the program with conferring the degrees and welcoming the graduates to the Bainbridge State College Alumni Association.
“I hope that you will visit the college often and that, as circumstances permit, you will support the Foundation so that others will be able to similarly pursue and achieve their dreams,” she said.