For Michael McMahon, it’s the next step in a higher education journey that began 19 years and 361 days ago. For hundreds of fellow graduates, it’s an opportunity to become what they want to be.
McMahon and more than 740 other students were awarded degrees from the University of North Georgia (UNG) during the 2013 fall semester. The university held four commencement ceremonies – two in Gainesville and two in Dahlonega – to recognize the graduates. Additionally, 14 graduating cadets commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army and Georgia National Guard.
|UNG President Bonita Jacobs speaks to graduates,
faculty members and guests at one of four ceremonies
held Dec. 14 and 15.
"I want you to know that we take tremendous pride in your accomplishments. We recognize what it took to get to this moment, and all of us are proud of you and optimistic about your future," UNG President Bonita Jacobs said. "We are dedicated to helping you reach your full potential, realize your goals and dreams, and assume positions of leadership in your communities, in our state, and across our nation. These accolades are for you, because you have earned them. We are confident that, as graduates of UNG, you will add value and meaning to the lives of others."
McMahon originally earned an associate degree in business, and then served in the U.S. Army for 15 years. After leaving the service, he set his sights on working in human resources. However, he began to feel that he would need more education to achieve his goal.
“I realized I needed to come back to further my education,” McMahon said. “My associate degree had taken me as far as it could, and I knew that to get where I wanted to be, I would need a bachelor’s.”
Nearly 20 years later, McMahon strode across the stage to receive his degree and begin a new chapter in his professional career.
Speakers at the ceremonies included U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, former Georgia Sen. Jane Hemmer, and James McCoy, president and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce. Hemmer and McCoy spoke at the Gainesville Campus ceremonies on Saturday. Collins, a 1988 graduate of the university, and McCoy, who currently is pursuing a Cottrell MBA at UNG, spoke on Sunday at the Dahlonega Campus ceremonies.
"Graduates, when I sat where you do 25 years ago, I didn't think I'd get to come back and go to the bookstore, much less stand before you speaking," Collins said. "The University of North Georgia has given you the tools to start, not to finish. It's given you the tools to dream, not to quit dreaming. Take what you've been given, and go out and change the world."
This semester, the university awarded nearly 750 degrees, including 365 associate, 336 bachelor's degrees, and 28 graduate degrees. UNG also awarded 17 certificates for graduates’ work in specialty areas.
The university’s spring commencements, which have many more graduates, will be held at Free Chapel, located at 3001 McEver Road, in Gainesville. The 3,000-seat facility will enable graduates at the larger ceremonies to continue having up to eight guests each. There will be four ceremonies:
- College of Education – Friday, May 9, 10 a.m.
- College of Arts & Letters – Friday, May 9, 2 p.m.
- College of Health Sciences & Professions – Saturday, May 10, 10 a.m.
- College of Sciences & Mathematics, Mike Cottrell College of Business – Saturday, May 10, 2 p.m.
For more information about the spring 2014 commencement ceremonies, visit the commencement website.