Approximately 375 students of Bainbridge State College (BSC) marched into history Saturday, May 11.
It was the 39th graduation ceremony for BSC, but the 2013 graduates are the first class to earn their degrees under the institution’s new name, Bainbridge State College, which was approved by the Board of Regents earlier this year after they granted BSC four-year college status.
During the commencement ceremony, BSC President Richard Carvajal told the packed audience at the Student Wellness Center that the first ceremony of Bainbridge Junior College recognized two graduates and was held in a small office. Bainbridge Junior College later became Bainbridge College.
“Today marks the beginning of our 40th anniversary as an institution of higher learning in southwest Georgia, and we will celebrate that occasion by honoring 375 outstanding and well-deserved graduates,” Carvajal said. “When these ceremonies are over, I am pleased to tell you that there will be more than 5,000 Bainbridge State College alumni, and I congratulate our graduates on joining this wonderful group of difference-makers in our region.”
President Emeritus Edward Mobley, who was BSC’s founding president and served in that capacity for 25 years, served as the parade marshal carrying the mace, which was designed and built during his tenure and bears his name.
Chancellor delivers keynote
Henry “Hank” M. Huckaby, the chancellor of the University System Board of Regents, highlighted some notable commencement speeches, including a six-hour speech made in Greek and Latin at Harvard and two speeches that were each merely one paragraph.
But among the points Huckaby wanted to drive home was that the degrees the graduates earned didn’t mark the end of their education – only a milepost along the way.
“The world around us is changing rapidly, and the approaches and solutions that succeeded in the past can no longer be counted on to work in the future. So it is essential that you never stop learning,” Huckaby said.
The second consideration for the graduates is to use the knowledge and skills they gained at Bainbridge State College to discern and focus on the things that will give their life meaning and value, he said.
“Your goal should not be merely to ‘have more’ but to ‘be more’,” Huckaby said.
“When each one of you uses your education not only to serve your own best interests, but also to serve the best interests of your community, then you will help to transform your community,” Huckaby said.
Huckaby’s final point was to encourage the graduates to honor and sustain another balance point in their lives.
“Even as you immerse yourselves in your careers and in transforming your communities, balance those endeavors with time for your families and others you love,” Huckaby said. “Those close, personal ties are among the greatest treasures of life, and they will help to keep you grounded.”
Other commencement highlights
Kevin Cox was recognized as the 2013 Outstanding Graduate, who was one of three finalists nominated for the honor. Other finalists were Carlos Ford and Benjamin Henry The finalists all had one of the top 10 grade point averages in their class.
Cox, who earned an Associate in Arts in general studies, was nominated for the award by Dr. Dave Nelson and he received a medallion commemorating his achievement. Nelson described Cox as having the energy and academic achievement the award is designed to honor.
“Kevin took full interest in his studies, asked probing questions and always kept an open mind,” Dr. Nelson said.
Ford was described by Dean Joann Simpson as a leader in his class, among the first to participate in discussions and someone who encouraged his classmates to be successful.
Henry was nominated by Professor Barry Reynolds, who said: “The first time I had Ben as a student, I quickly identified him as a very good student who was dedicated to completing his goals.”
BSC students Melissa Murrell gave the invocation and Allyson Walker sang the National Anthem.
Doreen Poitevint, the Regent representing the 2nd Congressional District, and faculty speaker Dr. Eric Dueno welcomed and congratulated the graduates. BSC accounting assistant and recent recipient of a staff Meritorious Recognition Award, Sherry Copeland, introduced Student Government Association President Shakeitha Lynn.
Faculty Council Chair John Vanzo and Vice President for Academic Affairs Tonya Strickland presented the graduates prior to each one walking across the stage to receive their diplomas.
Dr. Carvajal noted that this graduation ceremony marks the beginning of the college’s 40th anniversary and during it BSC launched plans for a year-long celebration of its 40th anniversary. Planned events include a Founder’s Gala to be held on Oct. 5 featuring the Swingin’ Medallions, an art completion in area K-12 schools, BSC Week – a week-long celebration involving the campus and the community, and an alumni picnic and field day.
Bainbridge State College Mission Statement
Bainbridge State College, a state college of the University System of Georgia, provides an accessible, affordable, and excellent education for the diverse population of southwest Georgia and beyond through certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees, as well as through continuing education, adult education, and collaboration with other educational providers, resulting in life-long learning, economic development, and graduates empowered for success in a global society.