Ten years after attempting to begin a career in film work in Atlanta, Kevin Eagleson became one of the first six students to graduate from the University of North Georgia (UNG) with a Bachelor of Science in film and digital media. The new degree was approved by the University System of Georgia in May 2015.
"Film work is difficult to break into, and I couldn't get the foothold I needed in Atlanta, but working in film has always just made sense for me," Eagleson said. "I decided to go back to school, and the new bachelor's degree was approved while I was already taking classes, so it worked out pretty well. The program has already opened a few doors for me while helping me to develop my personal style and build a network of contacts."
Since May, Eagleson has been getting steady work on feature films in Atlanta, including commercials, filmography for music videos, and pre-production for two short films that will be submitted to film festivals. He said his experience within UNG's program and caring and knowledgeable faculty have been instrumental in his progress. He also credits having an environment conducive to exploring and "making mistakes to learn from, as the first few years of filmmaking involves a lot of messing up."
Eagleson was one of some 775 graduates to participate in three commencement exercises held Dec. 11-12 on UNG's Gainesville and Dahlonega campuses.
"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. 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 sought to inspire and encourage the graduates, sharing with them advice that all said they wished they had been given after their own commencement ceremonies. The speakers included Lee D. Highsmith, executive director for Junior Achievement of North Georgia, Bill Hinds, co-creator of sports comic strip Tank McNamara, and Jameson Gregg, 2015 Georgia Author of the Year.
"You may find yourself one day in a position where you can see the future shapeshifting in front of you, and changing into a reality that you did not expect," Hinds said. "But don't shy away from change — change can be very exciting. Adapt to and embrace the future you did not expect."
A separate commissioning ceremony was held Dec. 11 for members of the Corps of Cadets entering the armed forces as second lieutenants. Individual commissioning ceremonies for 16 cadets recognized their service and leadership, and formally marked their entry into the U.S. Armed Forces.