Mon, May 20, 2024

Augusta University graduates nearly 1,600 students

During ceremonies spanning two days, Augusta University conferred degrees on 1,584 graduate and undergraduate students from its individual colleges. Graduate students were honored on Thurs., May 9, with undergraduate students receiving their degrees on Fri., May 10.

The keynote address was delivered by Sonny Perdue, Chancellor of the University System of Georgia (USG). He told graduates he knew they had worked with world-class professors and researchers, putting them on a fulfilling career path.

“From the time you threw a coin in the fountain of the Summerville campus to now, a degree from the AU tells the world and your future employers that you’re serious, you’re smart, and you are ready. You know how to think critically, communicate effectively, and adapt to new situations. You will also know how to work well as a member of any team,” he said.

Dariana Luna, a native of Venezuela who graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration, credited her professors with this success while she plans for her future.

“I think for right now, I’m going to see how it goes and then, I’ll see if I want to continue and get my Master’s. I’m a business major, but I want a career in digital marketing. So, I’m trying to just find a job related to or in a marketing department of a company. That’s really my goal right now,” she said.

Friendship brought Lillian Heineman from Colorado to Georgia to join her best friend studying at Augusta University. She received a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and is interning at the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home. She chose kinesiology because of her grandfather.

“He got Parkinson’s. So, he had occupational therapists and he’s just very close to me,” she said.

Each ceremony included comments from a graduating student. For the undergraduates, one of the speakers was Rakiyah Lenon, who received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. While in school, she served as editor of the school newspaper, The Bell Ringer, and also worked or interned at local news outlets, including ABD.

“Just like our university says, we’re a graduating class like no other,” she said. “This class has had to overcome many challenges since 2020. For many of us four years ago, when we stepped onto this journey, life was filled with uncertainty. We were navigating in a different world. Some of us might have missed out on a high school graduation. Through it all, however, we’ve grown and blossomed into the people we are today.”

Undergraduates in 2024 were high school seniors in 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic meant schools could not hold traditional graduation ceremonies. They tried. There were virtual graduations and so-called “drive-by” graduations where graduates lined up in their cars and received diplomas and congratulations as they drove by school leadership.

Last week’s ceremonies were also bittersweet for Dr. Brooks Keel, President of Augusta University. He is retiring at the end of this school year, having led the university for 10 years.

“More than 18,000 Augusta University students have graduated since then,” observed Perdue. “And Augusta University has reached a major milestone, enrolling more than 10,000 students in the past academic year. Your school continues to add degree programs designed to help meet the demands of a modern workforce. Dr. Keel, I want to tell you that Augusta University would not be what it is today without you, our students, as well as our faculty, staff, alumni, and community.”

Dr. Keel has one more duty to fulfill prior to his retirement. Later this week, he will present his final State of the University Address.

List of graduates by college:

Allied Health Sciences 167; Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences 212; College of Education and Human Development 167; College of Nursing 161; College of Science and Math 82; Dental College of Georgia 95; College of Business 56; Medical College of Georgia 234; College of Computer and Cyber Sciences 82; The Graduate School 297.

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