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Convocation: Students urged to find value in small change

Kristen B. Morales

December 16, 2016

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The newest graduates of the College of Education took to the stage at the Hugh Hodgson Performing Arts Center on Dec. 15 for the annual Convocation.

"Graduates, you are now alumni of the College of Education," said Dean Craig H. Kennedy to the 77 students, along with a crowd of family, friends and faculty gathered for the event. Although more than double that number—210—are set to graduate for the fall 2016 semester.

The Convocation included remarks from alumna Cara Turano Snow (B.S.Ed. '01), senior director of the Technology Association of Georgia and vice chair of the College's Board of Visitors, along with student speaker Creedence Riblett, who graduated with a bachelor's in exercise and sport science.

After opening remarks by Kennedy, Snow told the audience about a habit she and her brother had for picking up spare change from the ground. Her brother took to it initially, keeping a spreadsheet of what he found and eventually finding about $30 over several months. Inspired to use this "found" money for good, she started helping her brother find spare change, and soon they had a small army of friends and family around Atlanta and beyond collecting spare change.

"Small change matters ... every discarded cent becomes valuable when you look at the total sum," she said, noting that their change soon turned into several hundred dollars, which they rounded up with additional contributions and matched with funds from a foundation. In the end, spare change found along the street turned into a $1,200 donation to their local United Way.

That $1,200 funded a mentor for a student for a year, or helped 65 families learn about financial literacy, or it provided 24 hours of job training to a homeless veteran.

"Find the change that needs to happen to make your community a better place," she told the new graduates.

Riblett also had a message of change for his fellow students. He told his own story of coming to campus as a transfer student and the challenges he met along the way. In the end, he called for his classmates to create change in the world around them.

Convocation closed with a final "calling of the dogs" led by Riblett. Students filed out for selfies in front of an arch photo booth and time with friends and families before the University-wide graduation the following morning.

The College of Education's graduates will be among 2,757 UGA students slated to graduate during two Commencement events on Dec. 16. Jon Meacham, a biographer and journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his book about Andrew Jackson, will deliver the fall undergraduate commencement address. The speaker for the graduate Commencement is College of Education alumna Tonya Harris Cornileus (M.Ed. '04, Ph.D. '09), vice president of learning and organizational development at ESPN.