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YHC Confers 124 Degrees During Historic Commencement Ceremony

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Krystin Dean
(706) 379-5310, kndean@yhc.edu

Young Harris College Confers 124 Degrees During Historic Commencement Ceremony
Class of 2011 First to Progress Through New Four-Year Program

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – 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 BuySellAds.com, 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.

The following students participated in commencement exercises:

Bachelor of Arts:

English
Jessica Lynne Keaton Cum Laude
Ashley Leann McClure
Ja’lessa Olivia Morris
Janelle La’Nise Morris
Hollie Alexis Owenby
Eri Pinto Summa Cum Laude
Kortney Jean Shelley
Jordan Leigh Burgess Stanley Magna Cum Laude
Rebekah Jill Tuttle Summa Cum Laude

Music
Christina Marie Kelley Cum Laude

Musical Theatre
Misty Lynn Barber
Ryan Nicholas Bender Magna Cum Laude
Hannah Elizabeth Guest
Michelle Rachel Honaker Cum Laude
Mary Kathryn Marlowe

Bachelor of Science:

Biology
Katie Phillips Dyer Summa Cum Laude
Levi Talc Gentle
Joseph Kyle Hatley Magna Cum Laude
Christopher John Heard Magna Cum Laude
Erena Tekle Hintsa Magna Cum Laude
Tyler Jay Morris
Matthew Lyles Oliver Cum Laude
Meg Ruth Patterson Summa Cum Laude
Sara Judith Rodgers
Jacob David Stone Magna Cum Laude
Lauren Brittany Swords Magna Cum Laude

Business & Public Policy
Lisa Sue Brown
Cornell Jerome Cypress III
Joshua Allen Dyer
Matthew Frederick Kammerer
Devan Kyle Mahan
Brittany Pauline McKinnon Cum Laude
Bryan William Miller
Katie Eileen Norris
Luis Irving Salaises
Laci Taressa Scott
Candice Marie Shook
Megan Lee Shook
Micah Aarron Tanner
Dustin Jared Wright

Associate of Arts:

Liberal Arts
Joseph Barton Arencibia
Hannah Victoria Bridges
Jesse Dylan Brock High Honors
Thomas Ian John Crosby Honors
Maggie Elaine Daniel
Courtney Kathleen Davis Honors
Kendall Hope Igleheart Honors
Sigrid Alejandra Manzanares
William Blake Ogden Highest Honors
Cassandra Emily Quinn
Brett Alan Rogers High Honors
Maryanne Schramke Honors
Toni Lee Sheppard Honors
Marie Amber Renee Wallace

Religious Studies
Jessica Elizabeth Abernathy Honors

Associate of Fine Arts:

Art
Katie Elizabeth Bludworth
Skye Britni Butler
Crystal Leigh Howell

Music
Betsy Bennett Hutson
Tammy Paige Jenkins

Theatre
Josiah Samuel Bridges Honors
Lydia Elizabeth McEntyre

Associate of Science:

Science
Sharon Lynne Albertson
Merry Carole Bridgeman
Lana Maria Bridgham Highest Honors
Sara Marie Caulder Honors
Christopher Cole Crawford
Brittany Marie Cremering Honors
Patrick Stephen DeFoor
Robert Fitzgerald Garrett
Steven Daniel Holland
Amber Mercedes Johnson
Tyler Scott Maeger
Mary Elizabeth Maxwell
Robert Devin Oesterle
Megan Elaine Payne High Honors
Amber Danielle Sawley Highest Honors
Michael Robert Severin II Honors
Katherine Lucille Van Etten

Allied Health
Haley Maria Abernathy
Jose Guadalupe Acevedo Honors
Amber Faith Marie Allen High Honors
Justin Meadors Giannace
Marley Joan Kahoun
Jamie Lynn Ledford
Linda Velia Lehmann High Honors
Mary Elizabeth Lowe Highest Honors
Brittany Lauren Odom
Nicole Janelle Rohan
Leila Ann Shearon
Heather Marie Sistrunk
Carolyn Theresa Weldon Honors

Recreation
Holly Amanda Smith

Business
Samuel Edward Allen
Wezly Barnard High Honors
Catherine Leigh Butler Honors
Ian Elijah Calhoun Highest Honors
Seihi Mouhamed Doukoe
Christopher Clark Gray
Nathan Allan Hughes
Lucian Thomas Johnson
Christopher Joseph Lyle High Honors
David Le McEwen
Robert Peyton McKinnon
Angelina Marie Polizzi Honors
Teresa Annette Sampson Honors
Andrew Evans Smith
James Daniel Thorpe Honors
Ashley Lance Walker
Cody Dewain Watkins

Education
Jared Thomas Brooks
Sarah Alice Brooks
Sarah Kathryn Deese High Honors
Emily Marie Hadden
Hilary Suzanne Hawk
Emily Caroline Hicks High Honors
Caleb Graham Paul Honors
Victoria Jeanette Sink Honors
Hillary Madge Teasley
Allen Clay Thomason
Shaeniqué Tywana Tyndal
Mitchell Keith Williams Honors
Joyce Nicole Winn High Honors
Katheryn Susanne Woods Highest Honors

About Young Harris College
2011 marks the 125th anniversary for Young Harris College, a private, baccalaureate degree-granting college located in the beautiful mountains of north Georgia. Founded in 1886 and historically affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Young Harris College educates, inspires and empowers students through the highest quality liberal arts education. Long known for nurturing students during the first two years of college, Young Harris College received accreditation in 2008 to grant bachelor’s degrees. The College currently has approximately 800 students across four divisions—Fine Arts, Humanities, Mathematics and Science, and Social and Behavioral Science—and plans to increase enrollment to 1,200 over the next few years. The historic campus in Young Harris, Ga., is currently undergoing major campus improvements to accommodate the College’s growth, including recent completion of a 200-bed, LEED Silver-certified residence hall, Georgia’s first higher education facility north of Atlanta to achieve this certification, and a 57,000-square-foot, LEED-certified recreation center, the second higher educational recreation facility in Georgia to achieve this certification. For more information, visit www.yhc.edu.

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