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Former Governor Deal among commencement speakers

Former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal will be the keynote speaker at UNG's 6 p.m. May 3 commencement.

Former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is one of three keynote speakers who will address University of North Georgia (UNG) graduates during May commencement ceremonies.

Deal, who was in office from 2011-19, is the keynote speaker at the 6 p.m. May 3 commencement, which honors graduates of UNG's Mike Cottrell College of Business, College of Science and Mathematics, and Lewis F. Rogers Institute for Environmental and Spatial Analysis

Deal represented Georgia's 9th District in Congress from 1993-2010 before his two terms as governor. He is also a retired U.S. Army captain.

Dr. Charles N. Davis, dean of the University of Georgia (UGA) Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, is the keynote speaker at the 10 a.m. May 4 commencement, which is for graduates of the College of Arts and Letters and University College.

Davis earned his Bachelor of Science in criminology from UNG before earning a master's degree in journalism at UGA and a doctorate in mass communication from the University of Florida.

Joy Hawkins, executive director of the Governor's Office of Student Achievement, is the keynote speaker for the 3 p.m. May 4 ceremony, where she will address graduates of the College of Education and College of Health Sciences and Professions.

Hawkins previously served as director of Literacy for All and was a policy adviser and deputy chief operations officer for former Gov. Sonny Perdue's office.

Separate commissioning ceremonies will begin at 9 a.m. May 3 for members of the Corps of Cadets entering the U.S. Army as second lieutenants. Individual commissioning ceremonies for the cadets will recognize their service and leadership and formally mark their entry into the military.

The first graduates of UNG's Master of Science in human services delivery and administration program will accept their degrees during the May 3 commencement ceremony.

Four students will earn the degree as part of the program’s first cohort, with another student on track to graduate this summer.

Dr. Sara Mason, department head of sociology and human services, said the graduate program grew from a need her department identified. Undergraduate students from UNG and other colleges needed extra training to advance into management for nonprofit and government agencies.

"We began the journey to create this program five years ago, and now we get to see our first graduates walk across the stage and get their hoods," Mason said. "It really is a special moment as both faculty and students have been on a unique journey to get the program off the ground. It took a lot of hard work from the faculty and a humbling level of trust from the students."

Three of the four May graduates earned their bachelor's degrees at UNG, two in human services delivery and administration and one in sociology. Mason said the two required 175-hour practicums provide graduate students with field experience and help UNG form community partnerships.

Students pursuing the master's degree work at places such as substance abuse agencies, Division of Family and Children Services and court systems.

Electronic tickets are required to attend each ceremony and have been distributed to graduates through an online ticket system.

Graduates should arrive at least an hour prior to graduation to prepare and line up for the ceremony. Graduates and guests should allow extra time for traffic and parking when arriving for the ceremony in the Convocation Center at UNG's Dahlonega Campus.

All bags will be checked at the Convocation Center's entrance.

Graduates and guests are invited to share their success via social media using #UNG19grad; posts and photos using the hashtag can be viewed before, during and after the weekend's ceremony at UNG19grad.

To find more information about commencement, including details and instructions for graduates and guests, visit UNG's commencement webpage.

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