• In three ceremonies in Dahlonega, happy grads walked across the stage to receive their degrees from UNG president Bonita Jacobs.

UNG graduating class tops 1,300

Almost 1,300 newly minted University of North Georgia (UNG) graduates walked in spring commencement ceremonies held last weekend at the Convocation Center on UNG's Dahlonega Campus.

Former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal; Dr. Charles N. Davis, a UNG alumnus and dean of the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication; and Joy Hawkins, executive director of the Governor's Office of Student Achievement, were the keynote speakers.

The university also  commissioned 60 members of UNG's Corps of Cadets as second lieutenants into the armed forces.  UNG is one of only six senior military colleges in the nation and is designated as the Military College of Georgia.  The university is on track to graduate and commission 105 military officers for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Deal lauded contributions of namesakes of Mike Cottrell College of Business and Lewis F. Rogers Institute for Environmental and Spatial Analysis in his keynote speech May 3 to graduates of those schools and the College of Science and Mathematics. 

"Their contributions, both financial and otherwise, have not only provided the resources to make these programs of study possible," Deal said. "But their lives and their work have placed an indelible mark on your courses of study and your degrees, which should enhance your opportunities for future success."

Davis addressed the College of Arts and Letters and University College graduates on Saturday.

"You don't have to change the world or find your one true purpose to lead a meaningful life," Davis said. "A good life is a life of goodness, and that's something anybody can aspire to no matter their dreams or circumstances."

Hawkins told College of Education and College of Health Sciences & Professions graduates on Saturday to learn stories of the people they work with to understand where they’re coming from. 

Dorreka Faulkner, one of the first four students to earn the university's new Master of Science degree in human services delivery and administration, began using her skills honed at UNG before commencement. An area director at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier during her graduate school work, Faulkner has launched her own nonprofit Girls Unlimited LLC, which will mentor girls in her hometown of Gainesville.

Dr. Carly Redding, associate professor of sociology and human services at UNG, said Faulkner received plenty of practice through her internships at UNG. The UNG graduate started mentorship programs at multiple agencies in her time at UNG.

"She goes in. She sees what the need is," Redding said. "She develops the program herself, and she makes sure it's sustainable after she leaves."

In addition to mentorship, Faulkner's nonprofit will provide educational programs for girls on topics such as financial literacy, etiquette, meetings with college representatives and information about financial aid.

"I saw a greater need, especially in the Gainesville community," Faulkner said.

Faulkner also earned her bachelor's degree in human services delivery and administration from UNG. Redding was impressed with the way Faulkner always actively searched for leadership development opportunities outside of the classroom.

"She has looked for mentors within the community that she felt like were working with youth and doing it well," Redding said. "She has reached out to them for leadership and guidance."

Redding is glad the human services delivery and administration undergraduate and graduate programs at UNG are helping students find their passion. Faulkner is one of the shining examples.

For her part, Faulkner appreciated the chance to have all these doors open to her so close to home.

"To have something here like UNG where I could further my education was great for me," Faulkner said. "It was convenient. It was perfect for me and what I wanted to do."

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