When graduates of the Bainbridge State College Class of 2014 walk across the stage on Saturday, May 10, some of them may recount how many semesters or even years it took them to finish their degrees.
For many of the Bainbridge State graduates, studying sometimes had to take a secondary role to work and family obligations. But there is one graduate in the College’s 40-year history when then-College President Edward Mobley stopped the commencement program and told the guests how this one student crammed two years’ of college into 13 years.
Vic Pemberton started taking classes at Bainbridge Junior College in 1979. Between those years, Pemberton worked as a mechanic for Amoco Fabrics and Fibers, then started to work for Pepsi Bottling Company as a route salesman and was vice president for sales and marketing for Pepsi under the late Max Langston and Sammy Gray in 1992. In 1989, Gray, Pemberton and Langston formed a partnership that to this day is the very successful Pepi Food Services Inc.
“I will never forget walking across the stage during the 1992 graduation; Dr. Mobley, who was also my neighbor, stopped the whole thing and said, ‘I have got to tell you, this guy crammed two years of college into 13 years,’” said Pemberton, who chuckled about his college tenure. “But during that time, I was raising a family, building a career with Pepsi and building Pepi at the same time.”
When Pemberton started his Bainbridge State career, he was working nights at Amoco Fabrics and Fibers and going to college classes until about noon. In November 1981, he was laid off from Amoco. Six months later, he started working for Pepsi.
“What was cool about Bainbridge State College was when I needed something, I was able to go, find the education, find the resources and get what I needed,” Pemberton said. When the local bottling plant was adding a computer system in 1983, Pemberton went to Bainbridge State to learn more about computers.
Pemberton earned an Associate in Arts degree with a concentration in business. But he also took several technical courses such as computers.
“I probably could have had three majors with only a few more classes because I would take a class that I was interested in or what I needed to take,” Pemberton said.
Today, Pemberton is the owner of a business that now employees approximately 125 people, including all three of his children, his mother and his wife. Pepi, while still maintaining a branch in Bainbridge, Ga., expanded and moved its headquarter in 2011 to Dothan, Ala., located on 12 acres of land with a 50,000-square-foot state-of-the-art office, production kitchen and warehouse.
“The Pepi Companies is uniquely designed to customize your convenient refreshment solutions. Whether it’s vending, coffee, catering, dining center or our new micro markets and café coffee shops – we custom design refreshment for southwest Georgia, southeast Alabama and northwest Florida.” Pemberton said.
“Bainbridge State College has always been a great experience for me, ” Pemberton said. “I met some great people and learned a lot. Nothing but smiles as I think back on Bainbridge State College. Thank you.”
Bainbridge State College’s commencement
Bainbridge State College’s commencement is Saturday, May 10, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Student Wellness Center.
Bainbridge State College President Richard Carvajal will give some of the history of the College and recognize the College’s first two graduates, Melvin “Tuffy” Nussbaum and Terry F. Prince, as well as some of the charter faculty members.
Georgia State Sen. Dean Burke, R-Bainbridge, will give the commencement address.