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UNG graduates more than 400 in summer commencement

Summer commencement 2016 feature
Jacob Meyers crosses the stage after being recognized for earning his Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice while being cheered on by his family, including his father, who flew in from Afghanistan for the event.

For Jacob Meyers, one of more than 400 students honored during the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Aug. 2 commencement ceremony, it was a given that his graduation would include many family and friends, save one. His father, Roger Meyers, who is the acquisition advisor to forces supporting the Afghan National Army, currently working in Afghanistan, would be unable to make it home to see his son cross the stage. Or so Jacob thought.

On Sunday, July 31, two days before the UNG commencement ceremony, Meyers was surprised by his father, who came home for a three-day stay to celebrate his son's accomplishment; they had only seen each other for one day since spring break.

Commencement commissioning
Commissioning cadets repeat their oaths.

"I was definitely not expecting it," Jacob said. "He has to go back soon, but it's great to have him here now."

Meyers, who earned a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice, also recently enlisted in the Army, where he hopes to make his way into cyber command.

UNG's graduation ceremony featured congratulations from university President Bonita Jacobs and an address from Dr. Victoria Hightower, assistant professor of history at UNG.

"We are here to honor you with the richest tradition in the academic community — a commencement ceremony," Jacobs said before conferring degrees. "UNG graduates are known for their civic engagement and service, and we know that, as graduates of UNG, you will add meaning and value to the lives of those around you. Congratulations on this important milestone."

Hightower talked to the students about how the decisions they make now can positively impact their futures for many years.

"There are three important points I want to give you, to help you succeed," Hightower told the students. "First, be willing to take a job that you think you are too good for. Use the money to build your life and future. Second, never stop networking, both professionally and personally. Third, never give up on your passion. Because of your time at UNG, you now have everything you need for all your tomorrows."

Commencement families
Families celebrate with their new graduates.

Hightower was selected for the Distinguished Professor Award by the North Georgia Dahlonega Alumni Shared Interest Group during Alumni Weekend 2016, held this April. She earned a master's degree in history from Florida State University in 2004 and another master's degree in Near East studies from the University of Arizona in 2006. She earned her doctorate in Middle East history from Florida State in 2011, and her areas of expertise include Middle East history, Persian Gulf history, pearl trade, gender studies, environmental history, nationalism, and heritage studies.

Separate commissioning ceremonies were held the same day for 24 members of the Corps of Cadets entering the armed forces as second lieutenants. The individual ceremonies recognized the cadets' service and leadership. Later, during the main commencement ceremony, the cadets were again recognized for their service, and repeated their oaths, after which they received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Graduates and guests can continue sharing their success and stories via social media using #UNG16grad; posts and photos using the hashtag can be viewed at

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