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Virtual celebration of graduates starts May 8

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A virtual celebration of UNG's spring 2020 graduates will start May 8 on the UNG commencement website.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) will host a virtual celebration for its spring 2020 graduates on the UNG commencement website starting May 8, which would have been the first of back-to-back days of commencement ceremonies.

Graduates, family members, friends, UNG faculty and staff, and others are encouraged to post congratulatory photos and short videos on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtags #UNG20grad and #UNGremotegrad, which will be collected and posted on the commencement site. They are also encouraged to use the hashtags #bestvirtualdayever and #UNGtogether.

A video message featuring UNG President Bonita Jacobs, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Chaudron Gille, and the deans of UNG's colleges, along with traditional commencement music, will be posted May 8 on the site.

All spring graduates are invited to walk in summer commencement, which is set for a trio of ceremonies Aug. 1. Of the spring graduates, 20 are dual-enrolled students. It is the largest number of dual-enrolled students to earn their associate degrees since the program's inception, said Imani Cabell, dual enrollment coordinator at UNG. She said more than 35 percent of the UNG's dual-enrolled students continue their education at UNG.

Keith Antonia

Keith Antonia will be the first graduate of UNG's Doctor of Education in higher education leadership and practice.

UNG's spring graduates include Keith Antonia, who will be the first graduate of UNG's Doctor of Education in higher education leadership and practice (HELP).

Antonia is passionate about UNG's Corps of Cadets and its leadership model, and he was excited to learn more about scholarly research and high-impact practices in higher education. All of those elements came together for Antonia, associate vice president for military programs at UNG, in the HELP program. The cohort program, which is fully online, launched in fall 2017.

Antonia's dissertation is "Retention of first-time freshman cadets at a senior military college."

"The dissertation was the most rewarding part," said Antonia, a retired Army lieutenant colonel. "The research topic’s been kicked around and thought about for years at UNG."

Also this spring, Amber Beauchamp finishes her Master of Arts in Teaching for language arts. After being part of the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program as she earned an English degree with a literature concentration from UNG in 2018, Beauchamp continued her education at UNG.

Dr. Sheri Hardee, dean of UNG's College of Education, served as Beauchamp's mentor in the McNair program. Beauchamp is an English for speakers of other languages teacher at North Hall High School. Her summer research with Hardee as an undergraduate prepared Beauchamp for her current job, for which Hardee served as a reference.

"You need that relationship where someone knows you well enough to vouch for you," Beauchamp said.

The research and presentation elements of McNair allowed the 34-year-old mother of six to become confident in public speaking.

"When it was time to stand in front of students in a classroom, I didn't have that fear anymore," Beauchamp said.

Hardee said Beauchamp is a great role model for her students, as Beauchamp continued her research she started as an undergraduate while in graduate school.

"Amber is the definition of a continuous learner, and we know that she will continue to ask and answer research questions as a teacher and encourage a new generation of lifelong learners at the same time," Hardee said.

Christina Packard

Christina Packard is scheduled to earn a Bachelor of Science in art marketing from UNG about a month shy of her 71st birthday.

Christina Packard embodies Beauchamp's philosophy that age doesn't matter, as she will earn her second bachelor's degree — both after age 60. The Dahlonega, Georgia, resident is scheduled to complete a Bachelor of Science in art marketing in May, about a month shy of her 71st birthday.

"I feel so much like the kids I have to remind myself I don't look like them," Packard said.

Packard's eight-year journey was possible through Georgia's Amendment 23, which provides free tuition for residents age 62 and older.

During her time at UNG, Packard has had her art displayed in the governor's office twice and put in a museum for a month. She even was published on the cover of the state's 2015 financial report.

Packard previously earned a Bachelor of Arts in business management from Eckerd College in her 60s and before that earned an associate degree in art. She hopes to use her skills to offer affordable art classes.

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