Four years ago, Khanh Tran came to the U.S. from Vietnam to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration in management. This past weekend, she joined hundreds of peers in graduating from the University of North Georgia (UNG).
"I am confident that the education you have received at UNG will serve you well," said USG Chancellor Hank Huckaby during the 2 p.m. commencement ceremony on May 7, which honored graduates of UNG's College of Education. "Teaching is a noble calling, and all of you have responded to the call to serve. Never lose the sense of wonder and curiosity that brought you to UNG. If you want happiness for a year, help yourself. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help others. And be certain to thank those who have positive impact and influence on your life."
To view a list of those earning degrees and certificates for spring 2016 semester, please visit http://ung.meritpages.com/achievements/University-of-North-Georgia-announces-spring-2016-graduates/58836.
Tran said a variety of experiences during her four years at UNG helped her lay a foundation for the future she wants.
"At first everything here was a whole new world, and I really struggled with the language," Tran said. "But I was able to get involved with the campus and activities, all of which helped me improve my English skills and get experience I can use in the workplace. My second year at UNG, I started working in the student center, and in July 2015 I began applying to several businesses; Walgreens offered me a job as a sales associate."
Having worked at the location for nearly a year, Tran is now a shift leader, and will enter the company's management training program in July. She wants to gain more experience before eventually moving up to corporate. She said much of her activity at UNG prepared her for the job, including three years in the International Student Association, mentoring high school students through Junior Achievement of North Georgia, and four years with Enactus, a student organization at UNG that strives to make the world a better place by applying an entrepreneurial attitude to community service.
"It was really amazing to see how much effort Enactus puts into community and campus; sometimes it felt like a full-time job," Tran said. "But those opportunities — especially study abroad — helped me see how lucky I am to be able to work hard and raise my own standard of living. Between those experiences and mentoring students from Chestatee High School and Gainesville High School, I gained a lot of experience in leading others."
Tran's parents were initially denied a visa to visit for her graduation, but a second application in April was approved, and they were able to see their daughter cross the stage on UNG's Gainesville Campus.
"We are here to honor you with the richest tradition in the academic community — a commencement ceremony," UNG President Bonita Jacobs said before conferring degrees. "We all know what it took for you to reach this moment. Our graduates are known for their civic engagement and service. We know that, as graduates of UNG, you will add meaning and value to the lives of those around you. Our hopes and dreams are with you. Congratulations on this important milestone."
Guest speakers at each ceremony spoke to students about the opportunities and challenges that await them. The speakers included: Huckaby; state Rep. Lee Hawkins; state Sen. Butch Miller; Martha Zoller, state policy director for U.S. Sen David Perdue; and Dr. Holly Carpenter, alumna and former faculty member.
Separate commissioning ceremonies were held May 6-7 for members of the Corps of Cadets entering the armed forces as second lieutenants. Individual commissioning ceremonies for 49 cadets recognized their service and leadership, and formally marked their entry into the U.S. Armed Forces.