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Today@YHC June 2011

Alumni Spotlight: Class of 1961


Five representatives from the Class of 1961 participated in the historic commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 7, that commemorated the College’s 125th anniversary as well as the Class of 1961’s 50th anniversary.

According to 1961 alumnus Henry Rogers, it is the “outstanding people” comprising the Class of 1961 that makes the 50th Anniversary Class so unique. “It was obvious back then, and borne out by the past 50 years, that there were members of the Class of 1961 who were destined to do great things and make huge contributions to their professions and communities,” Rogers said.

This special Alumni Spotlight will highlight five of these class members: Paula Mitchell McClung, Charles Walls, Frank Erwin, Henry Rogers and Pamela Lester Kenney. From regularly attending Alumni Weekend each year to demonstrating their commitment to the legacy of Young Harris College by participating in the 2011 Commencement ceremony, these men and women have embodied the “Young Harris spirit” for the last 50 years.

Frank Erwin

Residence: Shellman, Ga.
Education: Erwin earned his associate of arts degree at Young Harris College before attending the School of Pharmacy at the University of Georgia.
Professional Career: Erwin owned and operated a drugstore, Erwin Drug Company, for 30 years. He currently works as a pharmacist for Wal-Mart.
YHC Involvements: Erwin is a member of Young Harris College’s Friends of the Arts program, and he and his wife, Clara, often visit campus to watch the College’s theatrical productions. In November, Erwin purchased season tickets for the College’s inaugural basketball season.
Connection to YHC: “Many Erwins have attended Young Harris College throughout the years,” Erwin said. “This College is unique because of the friendships made and the beauty of campus.”

Charles Walls

Residence: Cumming, Ga.
Education: Walls attended YHC for four quarters and studied general courses. He later earned a B.S.A. in poultry science from the University of Georgia.
Professional Career: After working in the poultry industry, Walls served as an instructor of industrial maintenance at Lanier Technical College in Oakwood for 13 years. He currently serves as facilities coordinator for Lanier’s Forsyth campus.
YHC Involvements:  “I really became involved with YHC in 1997 after my wife had breast cancer. She had completed her chemotherapy treatments and needed to get back into living,” Walls explained. That year, Walls and his wife, Janice, attended a trip to New York City organized by fellow alumnus Zell Miller as a fundraiser for Zell B. Miller Field. The trip included an excursion to Cooperstown, N.Y., for Phil Nekro’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. “My wife had never flown before, so I convinced her that this would be the safest flight ever, and she agreed to go,” Walls said. “That is one of my greatest memories—being with then-Governor Miller and friends of YHC.”
Favorite YHC Memory: “There are so many ‘best’ memories of YHC,” Walls said. “I particularly remember Professor Downs holding extra classes to help students like myself that had problems with math, as well as making friends with the boys from Clayton who taught me how to sprinkle sugar on my grits.”
Favorite 2011 Commencement Moment: “At the graduation ceremony, my grandson was with me and had never been to Young Harris before. I was sort of ‘recruiting’ even though he is 12 years old. President Cox came up to him and said, ‘If you want to attend YHC, go pick out a dorm room, and I will reserve it for you.’ I thought that was so neat,” Walls said. “I cannot believe how the campus has changed with all the new buildings. YHC will always have a special place in my heart!”

Henry Rogers

Residence: Oxford, Ga.
Education: Rogers received his associate of arts degree at Young Harris College before earning his bachelor’s degree in English from Emory University in 1963 and his doctorate of law from Emory University in 1966.
Professional Career: Rogers retired as Georgia counsel for LandAmerica/Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation in 2007. He currently works on title, survey and title insurance matters with Bryan Cave, an international lawyer firm with offices in Atlanta.
YHC Involvements: Rogers served on the Board Directors for the Alumni Association of Young Harris College for several years, including serving as President in 1991.
50th Anniversary: “Other members of the Class of 1961 should attend Alumni Weekend because alumni activities, and especially our 50th anniversary, are all about relationships with classmates and the school,” Rogers said. “You’ll never get the chance to celebrate your 50th anniversary again. It would be a shame to let the opportunity get by without taking advantage of it! I am looking forward to renewing old friendships and walking the campus to revive the memories of YHC.”
Favorite 2011 Commencement Moment: “I enjoyed the ‘pomp and circumstance,’ and I wanted to be part of congratulating the graduating classes and celebrating the history and future of YHC,” Rogers said. “I am happy I was there to personally experience the ‘YHC IOU Speech’ by Zell Miller. It was a grand experience.”

Paula Mitchell McClung

Residence: Winston, Ga.
Education: McClung studied liberal arts at Young Harris College before earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of South Carolina.
Professional Career: McClung taught third and fourth grade for the Douglas County school system and retired in 2003. She is highly involved in church and community activities and is also an avid tennis player. “June Rushton, Coach Rushton's wife, introduced me to the game at YHC. There was no women's tennis team there at the time, but she would go with me to the courts and hit some tennis balls,” said McClung, who recently participated in the Georgia playoffs with her United States Tennis Association team for the second year in a row.
50th Anniversary: “Four years ago, I came back to YHC for Homecoming for the first time since I graduated and had a ball. I will not miss another one—and especially not the big 50!” McClung said. “I encourage each person who was in the Class of 1961 to make a special effort to return in July to celebrate 50 years of being a part of the Young Harris family.”
2011 Commencement: “I participated in the 2011 Commencement because I am so excited that we are now a four-year college.  I can't say enough about the wonderful job President Cathy Cox and the Board of Trustees have done for this institution,” McClung said. “I loved my two years in the Enchanted Valley, and I hope I never forget that experience. As Dr. Miller said in his commencement address, ‘YHC: IOU!’”

Pam Laster Kenney

Residence: Porterdale, Ga.
Education: Kenney earned an associate degree as well as a business certificate from Young Harris College.
Professional Career: Kenney retired in 2005 after working as a secretary at East Laurinburg School for 18 years. She regularly volunteers at church and community events, and she also enjoys traveling.
YHC Involvements: “I was not really involved with YHC until after I retired,” Kenney said. “While visiting Clayton, I called Sally Boyd who was the Alumni Foundation Director at the time. She suggested I attend Homecoming, which I did—and loved it. I wondered why I had not been back sooner. I hope the Class of 1961 attends Alumni Weekend to see friends, renew old friendships and talk about old times.”
2011 Commencement: “I felt it was an honor to be asked to participate and was happy to do so,” Kenney said. “It was a very nice, memorable experience.” 

Young Harris College will honor the Class of 1961’s 50th anniversary and celebrate the College’s rich heritage and promising future during a special Alumni Weekend, July 29-31. Members of the Class of 1961 are encouraged to attend the Celebration Reunion Dinner on Friday, July 29, at 6:30 p.m. in the YHC Recreation and Fitness Center.

On Saturday, July 30, the Class of 1961 will be recognized during the annual "Coffee with YHC President Cathy Cox" at 8 a.m. in Grace Rollins Campus Restaurant and the YHC Alumni Update at 10:30 a.m. in Hilda D. Glenn Auditorium. Also on Saturday, members of the Class of 1961 are encouraged to attend a special cake and punch reception at 2:30 p.m. in Grace Rollins Campus Restaurant.

For more information about Alumni Weekend 2011, visit or call (706) 379-5334.

5 Questions for… David Mullins, '61


It is quite possible that Young Harris College alumni David, '61, and Margaret Mullins, '60, have logged more hours working at Young Harris College than any other faculty or staff member in the College’s 125-year history. The pair spent 47 years running the much-loved “Little Store” in Sharp Hall, watching thousands of alumni grow and flourish at YHC and beyond. Find out more about the Mullins’ fateful meeting in Susan B. Harris Chapel, the alumni who have touched their lives throughout the decades, and what it’s been like to watch YHC grow for the last 50 years.

What are you up to these days?

We have seven grandchildren, and we stay very busy with their many activities. We are also currently building a small cabin retreat in Fannin County where Margaret grew up and inherited 12.5 acres. We were down there clearing it up, and we took a break, just enjoying the breeze, and Margaret said, “Well, why don’t we just build a cabin so we can sit out here and enjoy the quiet?” We are certain our whole family will use and enjoy it as well! We also enjoy traveling and took a month-long trip out west in 2009 with Margaret’s sister and her husband. I think we hit every state out there; the most interesting was California—seeing the acres of grapes they grow was amazing.

We also still regularly volunteer at Towns County Food Pantry, which we founded three years ago. It has been very successful. We started it after a friend of ours, Jim Hicks, told us we needed to plant a victory garden because people would be hurting with the economy. Margaret said, “What we really need is a food pantry.” Jim asked if I would go with him to the commissioner and so I did. It took the commissioner exactly 27 seconds to say yes; he told Jim to build the building and told me to make it all work. A lot of YHC alumni have contributed to the pantry as well as the folks at Sharp Memorial United Methodist Church where we regularly attend. It’s really neighbors helping neighbors—all the churches in Towns County helping those in need feed their families.

You are both Young Harris College alumni. What made you both want to attend YHC, and what are some of your fondest memories during your time as students at YHC?

I was a little late getting to a program in the Chapel, and there was only one seat left—and it was right beside Margaret. I fell in love with her right away. I asked some of her friends if she had a boyfriend and they said she was going steady with a guy, so I sort of put it on the back burner. But I kept seeing her around and didn’t see a guy around with her, so finally I got up enough nerve to ask her for a date. We went on a picnic with her roommate and my brother down on the river below Copper Hill near where she lives. We will be married 50 years in March 2012.

Margaret was inspired to attend YHC by one of her teachers as well as her family doctor, who were both graduates of the College. A neighbor brought me to YHC, and I absolutely fell in love with it. It was very friendly, and it was all in one little area. There were a lot of shade trees, and I love those trees—they have a lot in my hometown of Rome, Ga., where it gets to be 100 degrees.  I had never thought about going to college due to my vision problem and the fact that I didn’t really have any money. When I visited YHC with my friend, Mike Vann, ’59, he told me, “You don’t have to have money.” I checked, and, sure enough, you didn’t! I worked around four hours a day in the dining hall which paid for my tuition.

The best part about YHC is the people. I came from a big family, and coming to YHC felt like coming to a bigger family. I didn’t make very good grades, but I actually learned a lot. I took O.V. Lewis’ accounting class and only made a 75 in the course—but I really used a lot of that information throughout my life while running The Little Store and serving as President of the Georgia Vendors for 18 years.

Your daughters, DeBronda, ’81, and LaRanda, ’91, are also both YHC alumni. Can you describe the experience of having your children attend your alma mater?

It was nice having them continue the legacy. They didn’t mind having their parents on campus because they didn’t really know any different since they both grew up on campus in The Little Store. They would go to class and then come back to the store and study. Also, it was great because they could work for us when we needed a break! For a while there, we had the store open from 8 a.m. until midnight (as we got older, the closing time got earlier), and it was nice having them work there with us.

Our oldest son, David Jr., went to YHC for one quarter before going on to study at North Georgia College & State University. He is now a paramedic and still continues studies in his field today. Our other son, Kevin, was a skillful builder since he was in high school and worked in construction for a long time. Now he’s a repo man and a bounty hunter. So if you don’t keep your payments up on your car, he just may come and get it!

You have touched the lives of many alumni over the years, particularly during the time you operated The Little Store on the Young Harris College campus between 1961 and 2008. What are some of your fondest memories during your time working at The Little Store?

We truly enjoyed meeting the many people who came through the store, especially those who stay in touch. We got to know the students really well. I have actually introduced several girls to their husbands—and I even went to a couple of the weddings! We were “momma” and “daddy” to a lot of kids. Margaret says she told hundreds of kids how to wash their clothes. Kids always get hungry after the dining hall closes. In the 1970s, there was no McDonald’s or Hardees or fast food places, so the kids either bought food from us or didn’t get anything. My wife made several hundred sandwiches a day.

Former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn came in The Little Store, which was a treat, and we sold a lot of Zell Miller’s books. When alumni would come back, they would usually see us more than they would anyone else because we would be there on the weekends when the offices were closed. They would come in and buy shirts and sandwiches and visit with us.

One student, Laura McClane, ’89, spent a lot of time with us when she was a student at YHC because her parents had moved away to Texas while she was in school. After she graduated, she sent us an invitation to her wedding in Texas, but I don’t think she thought we would actually make it. We did drive out there for the wedding, and we took our time making the drive back home. We hadn’t been home for more than two hours when there came a knocking on the door—Laura and her new husband had flown to Georgia just to come and see everyone in Young Harris!

You live in Young Harris and will be right here in the neighborhood as Young Harris College celebrates its 125th anniversary. In your opinion, what makes YHC so unique, and what is the legacy of the College?

We were here for the 100th anniversary of the College. The biggest thing I remember about that is President Ray Farley being rolled into the gym inside a big old cake and popping up out of it! Nobody was expecting it; they really kept that hush-hush. The place just howled! Also, John Kay, '56, dressed up as Artemas Lester and rode a horse into the gym. As soon as that horse got in there and saw all the people, it started messing all over the floor. John Kniess was supposed to clean it up, but it was more than he was equipped to handle!

We still come to campus every once in a while, especially for choir concerts and other musical performances. The choir this year was remarkable. I have seen around 50 years of choirs at YHC, and this one was definitely the best. It will be hard to top!

What makes YHC special is the friendly family atmosphere of the people who have made up the YHC family through the many years we were in the store. John Beverstein, ’78, came by to see us before graduation this year and spent a few hours with us, which was great. Bob Ferris, ’49, calls once a month to find out how it’s going up here in the mountains. I am retired, and I don’t mind people calling—I can talk! If you ever want to chat, give us a call at (706) 379-3175 or stop by—6112 Byers Creek Road in Young Harris. Margaret and I also plan to enjoy this 125th anniversary celebration as alumni. See you on campus in July!

I don’t want to sound like I’ve written my obituary or applied for online dating. Not that I have a problem with either—just not my goal here.  After a few deep breaths, I remember I am talking to friends—my friends, members of YHC alumni community. So with that little explanation out of the way…here I go.

Most of the time, alumni don’t need a reason to get together or make formal introductions. From birthdays to baby showers, weekends camping to hot yoga classes, annual Christmas parties to monthly book club meetings, many of my fondest memories and the events I most look forward to are shared with you—Young Harris College alumni (and now, also their significant others). What started as a small school has become a large and essential group of friends and community in my life. While many of my colleagues complain that they never see friends from college, I am confident and thankful that a week doesn’t go by were I don’t spend time with a YHC alum. How lucky am I? How lucky are you?

Like many of you, I am incredibly grateful for how this small campus in the mountains allowed me to refine and define myself as an individual, intellect, leader, servant, person of faith and community member.  The training, guidance and formation I received as a leader and member of Wesley Fellowship, Sigma Beta Sigma Sorority and YHC’s Student Government Association continue to equip me as I serve as the Minister of Children, Disability and Accessibility at Northside United Methodist Church in Atlanta. Many days, when the busyness and stress of life and ministry in the city feel a bit overwhelming, I recall REV (Rev. Whitley) proclaiming Psalms 121:1-2: “I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” The mountains and enchanted valley of Young Harris and the people who I meet through YHC have been God’s gift to me. The people, the place and the God who created all are my strength and often my calming refuge. (Seriously, catch me after a rough week and you might see me driving up 75 to campus or heading to a local restaurant to meet up with a few alumni to regain some hope, faith and perspective.)

More than anything else, Young Harris taught me how to be a faithful member of a community. As a part of the Young Harris community, I am invested in the health, strength and vitality of the individual members and the larger institution. Therefore, it’s essential to me that I continually invest in the people, practices, mission and vision of the school. Investing is more than money, yet I agree with my dad who says “you work hard to make money to spend on the people, places and causes that are important to you.” (Did you know that only four percent of Young Alumni have given to YHC so far this year? I know we can do better than that.) Investing also means finding the time to attend Alumni Weekend, Connection dinners and Young Alumni Council meetings. Investing is reading Echoes magazine and then following up with compliments, questions and concerns. When you are part of a community, you want to be engaged in what’s happening. Like people, communities change; yet, I believe with lots of love, prayer and good investment from so many incredible people, the YHC community is only getting better. 

And since I’m not dead, and this isn’t a dating site, feel free to say “hello” and share your favorite YHC stories with no awkward introductions. I’m truly grateful to be a part of this YHC community together, and I look forward to seeing you at Alumni Weekend next month, if not before.

Catherine Boothe, ’99

Young Harris College Young Alumni Council Hosts Alumni Day at Turner Field

On Saturday, May 14, approximately 80 Young Harris College alumni, along with their families and friends, enjoyed Alumni Day at Turner Field presented by the YHC Young Alumni Council.

The event, held at the Top of the Chop Patio, included a special appearance by Young Harris College alumnus and Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Cory Gearrin, ’06, who posed for pictures and visited with fellow alumni.

Alumni mingled and enjoyed traditional stadium fare while cheering on the Atlanta Braves, who bested the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-3, with Martin Prado and Nate McLouth smacking crowd-pleasing back-to-back homeruns in the first inning.

As part of 2011 Civil Rights Game Week, three-time Grammy winner and multi-platinum selling Atlanta-based rapper Ludacris performed at Turner Field immediately following the game. In addition, the Braves and Phillies paid tribute to the National Negro League during the game by wearing Atlanta Black Cracker and Philadelphia Stars uniforms.

“It was so wonderful to see alumni of all ages mingling and enjoying a beautiful day at the ballpark together,” Director of Alumni Services Dana Ensley said. “We had an excellent turnout for the event, and we hope to host many more alumni connections like this one in the future.”

The Young Alumni Council serves Young Harris College by planning young alumni gatherings and programs and creating opportunities to encourage young alumni to stay connected and involved with YHC. To find out how to get involved with the Young Alumni Council, visit or call (706) 379-5334.

Young Harris College alumnus and Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Cory Gearrin, ’06, (center) posed for pictures and visited with fellow alumni.

Click here to view more photos of the event.

Young Harris College Confers 124 Degrees During Historic Commencement Ceremony

Young Harris College held its commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 7, at 11 a.m. 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.

Many members of the historic senior class will go on to prestigious graduate programs and careers:

  • Kyle Hatley of Kennesaw, Ga., was accepted into the North Georgia College & State University’s doctor of physical therapy program. During his time at Young Harris College, Hatley conducted a senior research project that involved helping the Georgia Department of Natural Resources improve bear population assessment protocols.
  • Michelle Honaker of Blairsville, Ga., earned her degree in musical theatre and plans to pursue a career acting onstage. She will perform in the outdoor drama Unto These Hills in Cherokee, N.C., during summer 2011.
  • Brittany McKinnon of Murphy, N.C., plans to pursue a career in business and public policy. While attending YHC, McKinnon took part in a special study regarding business in Appalachia by preparing a course that defined the region, detailed the area’s demographics and explored major industries.
  • Eri Pinto of Sugar Hill, Ga., was accepted into Ohio State University’s (OSU) doctor of English program with a concentration in folklore. She received the Distinguished University Fellowship from OSU that will provide her with a two-year stipend during her studies.
  • Jacob Stone of Woodstock, Ga., and Sara Rodgers of Young Harris, Ga., were accepted into graduate programs in environmental science at Evergreen State University and Miami University in Ohio.
  • Megan Shook of Young Harris, Ga., plans to attend law school. To prepare for life after graduation, she interned on two political campaigns with candidates for the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Georgia House of Representatives.

Click here to view photos of the event.