The University of North Georgia awarded degrees to more than 1,000 graduates participating in commencement ceremonies held May 9-10, including a special ceremony held between playoff softball games in Dahlonega.
Due to a regional softball tournament, the university held a short ceremony for three senior softball players Saturday at UNG's Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium. UNG's softball team earned the top seed and hosted the 2014 NCAA Division II regional tournament during the weekend. The NCAA appearance is the seventh in a row for the Nighthawks and marks the fifth time in six seasons the team has hosted an NCAA regional tournament. The players receiving degrees were: Karlie Hope Gillam of Dahlonega, Georgia, Bachelor of Science in physical education; Sarah Elizabeth Johnson of Powder Springs, Georgia, Bachelor of Science in psychology; and Mary Kay "Katie" Garrett of Statham, Georgia, Bachelor of Business Administration in management.
Cadets repeat the oaths of their earlier commissioning ceremonies.
This semester, UNG conferred a total of 1,445 degrees, including 603 associate, 718 bachelor's degrees, and 124 graduate degrees. UNG also awarded 10 one-year certificates for work in specialty areas. Additionally, 33 graduating members of the Corps of Cadets took oaths as second lieutenants in the National Guard or U.S. Army; commissioning ceremonies also were held separately on May 9.
"We are here to honor you with the richest tradition of the academic community… a commencement ceremony, celebrating the completion of your degree and the beginning of your professional lives. Congratulations on this milestone in your life," UNG President Bonita Jacobs told graduates. "I want you to know that we take tremendous pride in your accomplishments. We are confident that, as graduates of UNG, you will add value and meaning to the lives of others around you."
Dreams of a career in medicine brought Vicki Otaño to UNG from Argentina four years ago. Graduating magna cum laude and being accepted into medical school at the University of Kansas brings her closer to that goal. She plans to focus in pediatrics or obstetrics.
"Earning my degree in my second language challenged me to study harder and longer to be competitive with my American peers," Otaño said. "UNG has taught me many important values that I will treasure for the rest of my life, including leadership, community, teamwork, strong ethics, and the value of hard work."
|A graduate and her family after the ceremony.|
Also entering medical school is Dahlonega native Jarred Ricketts, who began his college education on UNG's Gainesville Campus and transferred to the Dahlonega Campus to complete his degree. He graduated summa cum laude and has been accepted into the physician's assistant (PA) program at Emory University. Ricketts juggled school, a family and working at Northeast Georgia Medical Center as a cardiothoracic surgical technologist.
"I want to be a PA because they can function in the role of a doctor in many cases, but they also deal with fewer issues in things such as office space and staffing," Ricketts said. "I would like to return to Northeast Georgia Medical Center to work as a PA in cardiothoracic surgery."
Speakers at the ceremonies included Will Schofield, superintendent of Hall County Schools; Dr. Ben Mathes, president of Rivers of the World; and Vicki Davis, a founding member of WomenSource.
"We become what we think about; what you think about yourself is the key to a successful life," Davis told graduates. "Are you ready to conquer the world?"
Each graduate was also honored with an achievement badge on their personal Merit webpage.