Many student-athletes walked across the stage together on Wednesday. Pictured left to right: Beau Millwood of Hoschton, Dylan Marshall of Thomaston, Kendall Crew of Americus, Ella Hawkins of Americus, Brooks McDonel of Monroe, Chris Avery of Tyrone, and Julian Rugel of Tucker.

Photo credit: Georgia Southwestern State University

Georgia Southwestern recognizes 2019 graduates Judge George M. Peagler, Jr. serves as keynote

May 2019

AMERICUS, GA (May 10, 2019) – The Georgia Southwestern State University Class of 2019 took their final
steps, and for some their first steps, on campus Wednesday, May 8 at the Spring 2019 Commencement ceremony in the Convocation Hall. Approximately 307 students earned bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degrees.

The commencement speaker was Judge George M. Peagler, Jr., a retired superior court judge for the Southwestern Judicial District of Georgia.

“Twice each year we get to celebrate our most important and exciting event – commencement,” said GSW
President Neal Weaver. “Georgia Southwestern’s campus is full of extraordinary men and women. We cherish our unique position from which we get to watch you grow and develop, both in knowledge and maturity, and because of this we take tremendous joy from your successes and great pride in your accomplishments. When we hear your name called, and we see the smiles on your faces, and we hear the shouts from the crowd cheering, we remember why we chose this profession. All of us at GSW are proud of you and are especially proud for you.”

In his fourth commencement address as GSW President, Weaver recognized the traditional students who graduated in an admirable four years who all earned a presidential gold coin. He also recognized those whose path to graduation took some different, less traditional routes.

“Maybe you’re a single mom, maybe you had a health issue you had to overcome, maybe you’re the first in your family to go to college … you all found a way to be successful even when things weren’t easy. For all of you who followed a broken road to our ceremony today, you may not be receiving a gold coin from me, but you certainly have my utmost admiration and respect.”

Weaver also recognized a few noteworthy graduating students that caught his attention. He starts with Chris Avery from Tyrone stating, “he has been on the Dean’s List for 4 years, was a member of the GSW soccer team, and earned Peach Belt Conference All-Academic Team recognition. Earlier this year, the Boy Scouts of America recognized Chris as the Top Male Peach of an Athlete Role Model, making him the first GSW student to earn this very prestigious award. He’s in an international honor society, a fraternity, and serves as a GSW marshal among other things. He was even selected as this year’s Homecoming King. Chris has done college very, very well. And he’s just one example of the outstanding students that are before us today.”

MeMe Harvey of Cordele “is a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Business Honor Society, volunteers on campus as a Storm Spotter, and is a full-time employee of Chick-fil-A helping to open new restaurants all across the country. When her mother unexpectedly passed away this year, she took on a new role with her family and
her siblings” all while maintaining her GPA and remaining active on campus.

Weaver also recognized Alex Norris from Cumming who took all his accounting classes online and came to campus for the first time on Wednesday. His twin brother, David, graduated from GSW in December, but chose to delay his involvement in the ceremony so they could walk across the stage together.

Following an introduction from Weaver, Peagler led his address with a quip noting, “Whether you come to this ceremony today delighted, relieved, (like I was when I graduated from law school in 1975 not Magna Cum Laude, but thank you Laude!) or if you come surprised, you should also be something else. Class of 2019, you should be proud. Proud of yourselves, your alma mater, and the crowd of people who made a positive difference in your lives.”

Peagler’s message went on to impart some of the wisdom he’s learned over the years. “In your life you should have goals, but I caution you to not take life so seriously that you get in a box and your life becomes stale. Take time to smell the roses. Take time to enjoy life. Take time to recognize the little miracles in your life every day, not just the big miracles.”

Faculty Senate President and professor of Chemistry, Elizabeth Gurnack, Ph.D., served as the Macebearer during commencement. Recently retired Senior Lecturer of Mathematics Ervin Anderson was the Grand Marshal.