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Commencement 2011

Click here to read the 2011 Commencement Address by Former U.S. Senator and 79th Governor of Georgia Zell B. Miller, ’51, and introduction of the speaker by YHC President Cathy Cox.

Click here to find out more about the Class of 2011.

Click here to view highlights from the 2011 Baccalaureate Service.

Click here to view the 2011 Vespers Service.

Click here to view highlights from the 2011 Vespers Hike.

Click here to view photos of the 2011 Commencement ceremony, Baccalaureate Service, Commencement walk-through, Vespers Service and Vespers Hike.

Commencement 2011

Young Harris College held its commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 7, in the Recreation and Fitness Center on the YHC campus. The College conferred its first bachelor’s degrees in nearly a century, reflecting its recent transition from a two-year to a four-year institution.

The commencement marked the private school’s 125th anniversary and achievements, including its recently expanded academic offerings. The College awarded 40 bachelor’s degrees in English, business and public policy, biology, music and musical theatre, which were among the first four-year programs instituted at the College two years ago.

The College also awarded 84 associate degrees in liberal arts, religious studies, art, music, theatre, science, allied health, recreation, business and education.

Young Harris College alumnus and former U.S. Senator and Georgia Governor Zell Miller addressed the graduates on the theme of perseverance and challenged the graduates to overcome adversity and challenges in their future endeavors by following the advice of Sir Winston Churchill: “Never give up.”

Miller also reflected on his time as a student at Young Harris College, describing the institution as “where we discover ourselves, where we realize the value of work, the significance of God, the pursuit of excellence and the thrill that will stay with you always of having an exceptional teacher.”

Miller told the graduates that he seated his English professor from Young Harris College in the front row when he was sworn in as Governor of Georgia. “I knew I would not be up there if it were not for her,” he said. “Burned in my brain are the letters: YHC IOU.”

Young Harris College President Cathy Cox presented Miller with an honorary doctor of public service degree during the ceremony.

Miller was born in Young Harris, Ga., and attended Young Harris College before serving in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1953-1956. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in history from the University of Georgia. He served as mayor of his hometown from 1959 to 1960, as a member of the Georgia State Senate from 1961 to 1964, as Lieutenant Governor of Georgia from 1975 to 1991, as Georgia Governor from 1991 to 1999, and as a U.S. Senator from 2000 to 2005. Miller currently resides in Young Harris with his wife, Shirley, ’54, and serves as distinguished visiting professor of history and public policy at Young Harris College.

In addition to conferring academic degrees at the ceremony, President Cox also awarded the Young Harris College Medallion, the highest honor bestowed by Young Harris College, to alumnus and trustee Jimmy Tallent, ’70, president and chief executive officer of United Community Banks, Inc., which is headquartered in Blairsville, Ga. The Young Harris College Medallion is awarded to alumni and friends of Young Harris College who have made extraordinary contributions to the College. Tallent and United Community Bank have a strong history of support for Young Harris College and continue to sponsor causes and events that help students succeed and strengthen and enrich the community.

President Cox also awarded three new awards to graduating seniors during the ceremony. The Dr. Charles R. Clegg Outstanding Scholar Award was presented to Meg Ruth Patterson of Toccoa, Ga., who had the overall highest grade point average in all courses completed at Young Harris College. Patterson will continue her education at Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU) College of Dental Medicine. Formerly the Medical College of Georgia, GHSU’s dental school accepts approximately 60 students each year.

Matthew Kammerer of Loganville, Ga., was presented with the Zell B. Miller Leadership Award for significant contributions to campus life at Young Harris College as an outstanding leader and role model. Kammerer recently accepted a position with, an online advertising company based in Boston, after previously serving as an intern.

Twins Ja’lessa Morris and Janelle Morris of Canton, Ga., received the Young Harris Spirit Award for demonstrating outstanding levels of personal integrity, friendliness and engagement with the campus community.