Nearly 100 newly minted graduates of the University of Georgia College of Education walked during the College's convocation ceremony on Dec. 18.
The new alumni, representing bachelor's, master's, specialists and doctoral candidates, each had a turn to walk across the stage at the UGA Performing Arts Center's Hugh Hodgson Concert Hall. Ninety-one participated in the ceremony, which began with opening remarks from Dean Craig H. Kennedy. He then introduced Linda Campbell, a professor in the Department of Counseling and Human Development Services, who in turn introduced the ceremony's guest speaker, George Gazda.
Gazda, distinguished research professor emeritus of counseling, spoke to the audience of more than 300 about his journey to become an educator, and the importance of taking a chance and not missing an opportunity along the way. In one story, Gazda recalled his first job as a professor at the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign, right after finishing his doctoral degree. The first class he taught was filled with older school administrators and on that first day he chose to sit in the front row until it was time to begin.
When he got up and saw his students' astonished faces, he realized he was the youngest person in the room by 15 years.
"Don't be afraid to take leaps into leadership or professional positions where you might be the youngest or the least experienced," he told the audience. "You have what it takes. Or at least you'll fake it until you make it. Trust yourself and trust those who see potential in you."
After each graduate had the opportunity to have their name called and walk across the stage, they heard remarks from fellow student Jordyn Cox, an early childhood education major who received the UGA Award of Excellence, followed by closing remarks by Kennedy.
While the fall convocation ceremony is the smaller of the College of Education's convocation ceremonies, this most recent ceremony was slightly larger than 2014's, which saw 85 students. Last spring, 434 students participated in the College's convocation.