ABAC holds first commencement ceremony on Bainbridge campus

Published 4:22 pm Friday, May 11, 2018

Thursday night the final class of Bainbridge State College and the first class of ABAC at Bainbridge and Blakely held commencement exercises for a historic joint ceremony.

Parade marshal and Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Dr. Ray Chambers led the processional of the graduates. Following the seating of the graduates, Dr. David Bridges welcomed family, friends and colleagues before turning it over to student speaker, Traci Hall.

Hall was recognized as the top student in the business program as a non-traditional student. She came back to school after eight years, while working full time and raising three children.

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Hall thanked the faculty and staff for their dedication to the students and helping them get to this monumental moment in their life. She then read a quote by Mario Andretti that she believed helped her achieve her goal.

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal- a commitment to excellence-that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”

She told her fellow graduates that their desire, commitment and motivation may all differ, but she knows they all have the traits necessary to be successful in life, because of where they sit today. She wished everyone the best in wherever life may take them and congratulated everyone once again on their successes thus far.

Dr. David Nelson, Associate Professor of History, was the faculty speaker.

He spoke on how this graduation was especially bittersweet, because of the transition in the college, but the great thing was the college was evolving and has a great future ahead of it.

He hopes the graduates take what they have learned and use it to help them not only in job related decisions, but decisions in life. He reminded them that someday they would become a parent of their own and have to use their knowledge to help impact the future of Bainbridge.

The final speaker of the night was Dan Ponder, mayor of Donalsonville and publisher of The Donalsonville News.

Ponder told the students to constantly strive to learn new things. He explained he would have been so bored and unfulfilled if he simply hung up his degree on the wall after graduation and patted himself on the back. Instead, he continued to forge a path and never stopped learning new things.

He left the class of 2018 with pieces of advice he gave his daughters when they graduated.

First, don’t be in a hurry. It’s not important to know anything and everything, as long as one believes they are moving in the right direction of their life. Second, remember your roots. He asked students to look to their left and right and remember the people they are sitting next to. They may not come across them for a long time, but to never forget whom they started this journey with. Third, cherish your family. He explained to nurture the bond one has with their family, because it can withstand what life throws. Fourth, make new friends. He said to never take these friendships for granted. If someone has five great friends, they have everything they need. Fifth, believe in something greater than yourself. He challenged students to feed the homeless, get involved in a charity.

“If you make a difference in the life of one person, you make a difference in the world,” Ponder said.

He ended by telling everyone to find their place in life. He explained not everyone’s will be the same; some may find joy in coaching little league or helping with scouts, while some may care for the elderly, but no matter what one does to cherish every moment, because that is what will create the ultimate happiness.

After his final speech, Dr. Jerry Baker, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, presented the graduates with their diplomas.