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This year's convocation speaker came to the College in an untraditional way

Kristen B. Morales

December 1, 2016

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Sometimes you just need to take a leap before considering where you'll land.

That's how senior exercise and sport science major Creedence Riblett found his way—first to Athens, then to UGA, and then to the College of Education's department of kinesiology.

Riblett is the student speaker at this fall's College of Education graduation convocation ceremony, which takes place at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 15, at Hodgson Concert Hall in the UGA Performing Arts Center. It's a send-off that Riblett thinks is a bit ironic, since it wasn't until earlier this year that he truly explored all the floors of Aderhold Hall—and now he's imparting wisdom to the entire class of College graduates.

"What can I say to represent the entire College of Education?" he asked, noting that his graduation speech, as he goes through the final editing process, will hopefully be something most students can relate to. "Some of the things I've focused on are my personal experiences at UGA and how the kinesiology program has pushed me and encouraged me and my classmates to be the best they can be."

After graduating from high school in Franklin, N.C., Riblett knew one thing for certain: He didn't want to stay in his hometown. He also didn't want to follow other high school friends east to Winston-Salem and Raleigh. Instead, he opted to visit a friend in Athens, curious if the town was really as cool as he had heard.

That trip turned into a decision to stay. Not long after, Riblett's friends began asking about school—he had taken some community college classes but nothing that would define a career. So then he found himself at Athens Tech and working a desk job to pay the bills.

Not long after, in 2013, Riblett established his Georgia residency and applied to transfer into UGA. Originally intending to be a business major, his desk job helped him realize that might not be the best path.

"I was interested in human resources and business management," he said, but his professional experience, working at an Athens call center, told him something different. "I realized I didn't want to be at a desk all day."

Luckily, Riblett learned about the department of kinesiology's exercise and sport science program—a path that wouldn't lead to a desk job—and soon immersed himself in Ramsey. For the past three years most of his time has been spent in labs or the gym, soaking it all in.

"I love that (the program) is very research heavy—I love that you can back what you are saying with facts," he said. "I love how the faculty are so passionate about what they do, and I love the hands-on experience you get there.

"And I'm in Ramsey all day, so that's cool."

Riblett's next step is applying to physical therapy schools, which are typically three-year doctoral programs. He plans to do that next summer, working at SPARC Athens (a sports performance and rehabilitation center) in the meantime.

In a way, Riblett says, it makes sense that he's serving as convocation speaker. Representing a college as diverse as the College of Education is difficult, but it's also the diversity that connects his classmates.

"I'm not a traditional student—I'm a little older. I'm a transfer student. And I think that's kind of great," he said. "It symbolizes the College of education in that it's a college that's representative of everyone."

Related links: Department of Kinesiology