Graduation: ‘when achievement is transformed into opportunity’

Dec. 2009/Jan. 2010

Four-year-old Devin Johnson kisses his aunt, GPC graduate Chanda Clarke.

Four-year-old Devin Johnson kisses his aunt, GPC graduate Chanda Clarke, during a quiet moment following the Fall Commencement ceremony at Georgia Perimeter College Dec. 14.

by Roger Barnes

The gymnasium at Georgia Perimeter’s Clarkston Campus quickly filled with graduating students and their families and teachers, all coming together to hear parting words and celebrate the hard work that culminates at commencement.

“This is a day when hope turns into promise, when hard work yields rewards and when achievement is transformed into opportunity,” said keynote speaker Rep. Howard Mosby (D-Atlanta), a 1989 graduate of GPC (known then as DeKalb College). “My education has been an absolutely essential force in my business career, my legislative and community roles and even in successfully navigating life’s daily issues. You have taken a crucial step to elevate and prepare yourself for your future.”

More than 1,000 students were eligible to receive associate degrees and attend the Fall Commencement ceremony held on Monday, Dec. 14. Most said they wouldn’t miss it for the world.

“I’m doing this for my family,” said Nursing graduate Andrea Pack. “It means a lot to my family to see me march. For my parents, it brings a lot of pride to see me walk and move my tassel.” After graduation, Pack plans to continue her studies at the University of Illinois.

Fellow Nursing student Namwinga Penza added, “Nursing school is a very challenging journey. Graduation brings closure to this part of the journey.”

The oldest graduate in the class, Arthur V. Roberts, 70, leaves GPC with a 3.25 grade point average and a degree in Health and Physical Education. And his educational journey is not over: he is transferring to Clayton State University.

“After retiring from the construction field, I felt I had to fill the time with something,” Roberts said. “I was caught up on all the home improvement I could do. It was convenient for me to go to Decatur Campus. I always said that if I only had a campus by me when I graduated from high school, I would have gone to college then.”

The memory of Newton Campus student Stephen Wust, 26, also was honored at Fall Commencement as his parents accepted his degree on his behalf. Wust was to have graduated with a degree in business this fall. In October he was killed in a highway accident while riding his motorcycle.

Graduate Jason Junker leaves GPC having completed the requirements for an associate degree in Criminal Justice.

“I started off going to Lawrenceville Campus and then migrated to Dunwoody Campus,” Junker said. “I chose GPC because it was conveniently located to where I live. Getting to the campus (both of them) was relatively quick, but what made GPC unique for me was the availability of night classes. It really helped me out with my jobs so that I could easily go to work and then go straight to school without having to worry about scheduling discrepancies.”

Junker said he plans to working as an intelligence analyst for the government.

Coming from a high school she describes as being not very diverse, fall graduate Jaleesa Bass has been most impressed by GPC’s diversity.

“I think that’s one of the things my time here has taught me the most about,” Bass said. “When I came to GPC, I took a course on Clarkston Campus, and I got to see and know a lot of people from a lot of different cultures. When that happens, you begin to see things from different points of view.”

Bass is a member of Alpha Beta Gamma, the international business society. She plans to study accounting at the University of West Georgia.

“My major is Business, and so I joined the Student Government Association as treasurer,” she said. “I was able to manage our expenses. I got to work in accounts. I learned to manage different budgets. I thought a community college would be boring, but this was actually fun.”

Georgia Perimeter President Dr. Anthony Tricoli appealed to the graduating students to make good use of their varied GPC experiences. “Graduates, after you leave here, some of you will go on to four-year institutions, some of you will go directly into the workforce, while others of you may start your own businesses,” he noted. “Regardless of your direction, I urge you to apply all that you have gained here at GPC—the understanding, the knowledge and the willingness to support and serve others.”


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