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Awards presented and alumni share memories at Alumni Weekend

The University of North Georgia (UNG) Alumni Association welcomed home hundreds of alumni and their families for Alumni Weekend 2018, and hundreds shared memories that elicited laughs, hugs, smiles and a few tears – all tinged with pride of their alma mater.

Memorial Retreat
The mother of 1st Lt. Weston C. Lee, a 2014 graduate of UNG who was killed in Iraq in late April 2017, prepares to place a wreath on the Memorial Wall.

"I want to see lives saved. I want to see hope renewed and I want to see resilience being restored. That's the thing that I learned here at North Georgia and that's the thing I take with me every day wherever I'm at," Chaplain Kenneth Moon, '86, said at the alumni awards luncheon. "It is an incredible honor to be able to say that I'm a graduate of North Georgia and it is an incredible honor to receive this award."

The Corps of Cadets was featured in a number of Alumni Weekend events, including the 35th Annual Memorial Retreat, which pays tribute to all UNG alumni of the armed forces who gave their live in service of their country, as well as faculty, staff, students and friends who passed away since the prior ceremony. This year, another name was added to the armed forces memorial: 1st Lt. Weston C. Lee, a 2014 graduate of UNG who was killed in Iraq in late April 2017, only days after last year's Memorial Retreat.

"To be sure, living up to your North Georgia heritage, living up to the legacy, is a challenge," said Lt. Col. (promotable) Jason Williams, '98, guest speaker for the event. "It is something that even now, 20 years later, drives me every single day. Thousands of graduates who stood in that formation, some of whose names are now on this wall, and the soldiers who you will prepare and lead in combat deserve nothing less."

The Corps of Cadets also held their annual awards review on Sunday to recognize the accomplishments of cadets and featuring guest speaker Brig. Gen. Ronald T. Stephens.

This year's Alumni Weekend also included a concert by Radford Windham, a 2000 UNG alumnus, and his band Step Back Cadillac on Saturday night. Among the alumni enjoying the event were members of the classes of 1978, 1988 and 1998. The class of 1958 also held their 60th year reunion on Friday night.

One of the many events held over the weekend was the UNG Alumni Association Awards Luncheon. The following were recognized for outstanding leadership, service and excellence in their roles serving or attending the university:

  • Hall of Fame: Rev. Kenneth Koon, '86, of Sharpsburg, Georgia, founder and executive director of the Armed Forces Mission, an organization committed to the reduction of suicide within veteran and law enforcement communities.
  • Distinguished Alumnus: Retired Maj. Gen. William "Bil" Johnson, '72, of Morrow, Georgia, who served more than 38 years in the U.S. Army Reserve, including as chief of staff for the U.S. Transportation Command.
  • Golden Steeple: Kevin Jenrette Scholarship Group, which has raised nearly $150,000 for student scholarships in the nine years since the fund was created.
  • Young Alumnus: Dr. Amanda Wolcott, '11, an organizational consultant and assistant professor of management at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.
  • Distinguished Professors: Dr. Sungshin Kim, a history professor and academic director of UNG's East Asian Studies program from South Korea, and Dr. Yongseung Han, an associate professor of economics from Seoul, South Korea.
  • Dot Strother Student Scholarship: Anna Caitlyn Anderson, a freshman political science major from Gainesville, Georgia, and McKenna Kemp, a freshman nursing major from Jasper, Georgia.
  • Hutcherson Outstanding Students: Rachael Williams, a senior international affairs major from Senioa, Georgia, and Bryton Wenzel, a senior nursing major from Albany, Georgia. Williams has served as a resident assistant, orientation leader and president of the Student Government Association. Wenzel, a recipient of the UNG Military Scholarship, was ranked the No. 5 cadet in the nation on the U.S. Army ROTC Order of Merit list and plans to commission as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers.

Also held this year was the Astronomy Symposium in Rogers Hall, a daylong event to showcase projects by UNG astronomy students including artwork, theatrical works, observational astronomy projects and more.

Other events included the Nighthawks Athletic Club Annual Golf Tournament, the traditional start to the weekend, and other sports events including two baseball games and an alumni soccer games.

As part of Alumni Weekend UNG Recall, a "virtual" reunion, allowed alumni and friends of the university who could not attend the events to view photos and live streaming of several events.

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