On Thursday, May 10, 2018, in the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) at Bainbridge Student Wellness Center Gymnasium, 125 graduates received the last Bainbridge State College diplomas to ever be awarded.
Macebearer and parade marshal was Dr. Ray Chambers, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and charter faculty member. He led administration, faculty, and the graduates into the gymnasium for the ceremony.
Dr. David Bridges, ABAC President, welcomed family and friends to the ceremony. Traci Hall served as the student speaker. She was recognized as the top student in the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Management program as well as a non-traditional student.
After eight years, working full time, and raising three children, Hall returned to college. She commended her fellow graduates on a job well done and followed up with a motivational quote by Mario Andretti:
“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goals and commitment to excellence that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”
Hall also told the graduates that their desire, commitment, and motivation may all differ, but she knew they all have the traits necessary to be successful in life because of where they are now as graduates.
Dr. David Nelson, Professor of History, served as the faculty speaker.
He commented that this particular graduation was especially bittersweet due to the transition the college was undergoing; however, he saw great things in the College’s future as it was evolving for the benefit of the region.
“I hope you graduates will take what you learned and use it to help you not only in a job-related decision, but decisions in life,” he said. “Someday you all will become a parent of your own and with your knowledge, you will help impact the future of Bainbridge.”
The commencement speaker was Dan Ponder, Mayor of Donalsonville, Publisher of the Donalsonville News, and President of Ponder Enterprises, Inc.
He spoke to the graduates about “constantly striving to learn new things.”
Ponder said, “I would have been so bored and unfulfilled if I had simply hung up my degree on the wall after graduation and patted myself on the back. Instead, I continued to forge a path and never stop learning new things.”
In closing, Ponder gave the graduates the same advice he gave his daughters when they graduated:
“First, don’t be in a hurry. It’s not important to know anything and everything, as long as you believe you are moving in the right direction for your life. Second, remember your roots. Look to your left and right. Remember the people you are sitting next to,” continued Ponder. “Third, cherish your family. Nurture the bond you have with your family because it can withstand what life throws. Fourth, make new friends and never take those friendships for granted. Fifth, believe in something greater than yourself. Get involved in a charity. If you make the difference in the life of one person, you make a difference in the world.”
Dr. Jerry Baker, ABAC Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, concluded the rest of the ceremony by presenting the graduates with their diplomas and presenting the final Class of 2018 for Bainbridge State College and the first class for ABAC at Bainbridge.