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Sen. Blake Tillery addresses SGSC graduates at Douglas campus


Senator Blake Tillery and SGSC President Dr. Ingrid Thompson-Sellers   Submitted photo Senator Blake Tillery and SGSC President Dr. Ingrid Thompson-Sellers  

South Georgia State College celebrated its graduates during SGSC’s annual commencement ceremony May 12 on the Douglas Campus. Family members and friends gathered in front of Peterson Hall to cheer on a portion of the 343 graduates from summer and fall 2021 and spring 2022.

Georgia State Senator Blake Tillery served as the commencement speaker for the Douglas Ceremony. He congratulated the graduates for achieving the milestone of earning a college degree.

“For many of you, this is the culmination of all your academic achievements,” Tillery told the graduates. “We’re so proud of the investment you’ve made in yourselves. You think you’ve finally made it. Well, I’m here to deliver a slightly different message: the hard work has just begun.”

Tillery encouraged the graduates to stay active and involved for the betterment of the communities in which they live and serve.

“We need creative people with creative solutions,” said Tillery. “We need you to not be complacent with the world as it is. Think critically about all that you hear to make the best decision for our future. We need you.”

Tillery reminded the graduates that life will have challenges but that they should remember three “memorials” as they continue with their education, enter the workforce, or both.

“When times get tough, you need a few security blankets, a few memorials to look back to. The first is this moment and the degree you will soon have bestowed upon you,”

Tillery said. “When times get tough, remember the tough things you took on to earn this degree. It wasn’t always easy then, either, and you made it through. You’ll get through the tasks of life just the same. You’ve already proved you can.”

Family and friends were Tillery’s second “memorial” he asked the graduates to remember.

“They care about you. Why else would they be here?” asked Tillery. “Tell them how much you appreciate them. Look them in the eyes, and let them love you back.”

God was Tillery’s third “memorial” the graduates should remember as they move forward in life.

“I have been blessed at a very early age, and I can testify that my success comes only from the One who I believe made me,” Tillery told the graduates. “When these other memorials fall – when your degree is dusty, when your friends and family are too busy – He’s the rock you can depend on.”

SGSC President Dr. Ingrid Thompson-Sellers shared key academic accomplishments from the 2021-2022 academic year during the ceremony. SGSC’s newest baccalaureate degree program, Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET), welcomed its first cohort of 21 students during the fall 2021 semester. Additional students were enrolled in the program in spring 2022, and all MET students received scholarship support during their first year in the program thanks to support from SGSC’s community partners. To date, a total of 67 students have been accepted into the fall 2022 cohort for the MET degree.

The Bachelor of Science in Management degree was launched in fall 2016 and has reached the milestone of graduating over 100 graduates from the program, Thompson-Sellers said. In addition, the bachelor’s degree programs in Long-Term Healthcare Management, Public Service Leadership, and Professional, Business, and Technical Writing awarded degrees for the first time in spring 2022.

Thompson-Sellers included a surprise recognition during her remarks, congratulating Registrar Ame Wilkerson for 24 years of service to the institution. In addition to her daily responsibilities at SGSC, Wilkerson has chaired SGSC’s Strategic Planning Committee and is a 2018-2019 graduate of the University System of Georgia’s Executive Leadership Institute.

“Ms. Ame, we appreciate you,” Thompson-Sellers said.

Following the ceremonial moving of the tassels, Thompson-Sellers offered her congratulations to the graduates.

“You are now alumni of South Georgia State College,” Thompson-Sellers told the graduates. “We wish you the very best of success and hope you will stay in touch and remember your alma mater as you enter the various phases of your personal and professional life. Congratulations, and Go Hawks!”

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