Class of 2011
On May 7, 2011, Young Harris College conferred its first bachelor’s degrees in nearly a century. The commencement marked the private school’s 125th anniversary and achievements, including its recently expanded academic offerings. Many members of the senior class have gone on to prestigious graduate programs and careers. Read on to find out more about these outstanding students and this historic event for Young Harris College.
COMMENCEMENT 2011: BY THE NUMBERS
15 Associate of Arts graduates (liberal arts, religious studies)
7 Associate of Fine Arts graduates (art, music, theatre)
59 Associate of Science graduates (science, allied health, recreation, business, education)
15 Bachelor of Arts graduates (English, music, musical theatre)
25 Bachelor of Science graduates (biology, business and public policy)
9 Honor’s Program graduates
6 Associate degree graduates with Highest Honors (4.0 GPA)
4 students that graduated Summa Cum Laude (4.0 GPA)
Dr. Charles R. Clegg Outstanding Scholar Award
Meg Ruth Patterson
Zell B. Miller Leadership Award
Matthew Frederick Kammerer
Young Harris Spirit Award
Ja’lessa Olivia Morris and Janelle La’Nise Morris
Click here to find out more about these awards.
Honors Ceremony Awards
Joseph Wilson Boone ’31 History Award
Connie Ann Wallace
Luke Rushton ’42 Scholar Athlete Award
Rachel Lynne Wilkes (biology)
Outstanding Biology Student Award
Katie Phillips Dyer and Meg Ruth Patterson
Outstanding Graduate in Business and Public Policy Award
Dustin Jared Wright
Outstanding Senior in Communication Studies Award
Kathleen Elizabeth Layton
Outstanding Senior in English Award
Rebekah Jill Tuttle
Outstanding Paper in an Upper Division English Course Award
A CLOSER LOOK
The College’s first class of seniors in nearly a century were accepted into graduate and professional programs at such institutions as Georgia Health Sciences University, North Georgia College & State University, Georgia College and State University, The Ohio State University, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Miami University (Ohio), Evergreen State College, San Jose State University, Belmont University, and others.
Please note: All bios were written in May 2011.
- Christopher Heard (biology) of Gay, Ga., will attend graduate school at Georgia College and State University to obtain a master’s degree in biology. He plans to apply to dental school in the future.
- Michelle Honaker (musical theatre) of Blairsville, Ga., plans to pursue a career acting onstage. She will perform in the outdoor drama Unto These Hills in Cherokee, N.C., during summer 2011.
- Jessica Keaton (English) of Young Harris, Ga., will attend graduate school at San Jose State University.
- Ashley McClure (English) of Blairsville, Ga., plans to attend law school at Emory University in Fall 2011 and will focus on prosecution in criminal law. In summer 2011, she will earn her paralegal certificate.
- Ja'lessa Morris (English) of Canton, Ga., plans to attend Western Carolina University to obtain her master's degree in education with a concentration in college student personnel.
- Janelle Morris (English) of Canton, Ga., plans to obtain a post-baccalaureate certification in teaching at North Georgia College & State University.
- Tyler Morris (biology) of Douglasville, Ga., was accepted into the Armstrong Atlantic State University doctor of physical therapy program.
- Katie Norris (business and public policy) of Powder Springs, Ga., will attend graduate school at Kennesaw State University to obtain a master’s degree in American studies.
- Jordan Leigh Burgess Stanley (English) of Epworth, Ga., will attend graduate school for secondary education at North Georgia College & State University.
- Jacob Stone (biology) of Woodstock, Ga., and Sara Rodgers (biology) of Young Harris, Ga., were accepted into graduate programs in environmental science at Evergreen State University and Miami University in Ohio.
Please note: All spotlights were written in May 2011.
Katie Dyer (biology) of Blairsville, Ga., will attend Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU) College of Dental Medicine. Formerly the Medical College of Georgia, GHSU is home to the state’s only dental school, one of just 56 in the United States. Only about 60 students are accepted each year.“ YHC has helped me in so many ways and provided the foundation for my education. One of my math professors, Dr. Nichols, once said ‘Fight the ghost of mediocrity,’ a quote I live by daily,” Katie said. “I have been given opportunities here that I could not have had elsewhere. I appreciate the faculty for their help and confidence in me and in every YHC student.” During her studies, Katie conducted a research project that involved determining which angle of curing the composite in fillings produces the least amount of fractures and micro-shrinkage. She presented her findings at the Georgia Academy of Science Annual Meeting at Gainesville State College in Watkinsville, Ga. Katie also gained experience in the dental industry by working as an assist in her father’s dental practice in Blairsville, Ga. While at YHC, Katie served as the manager of the cross country men’s and women’s teams and secretary of YHC’s chapter of Roots & Shoots. She is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and was among 15 YHC students inducted into the Georgia Xi chapter of the national honor society Alpha Chi. She also worked as a tutor in the YHC Center for Writing and Speaking and in the mathematics lab on campus. “It means a lot to be one of the seniors who are setting a new standard for YHC students. I am grateful for the many opportunities that YHC has given me, and I am honored to represent it,” Katie said.
Kyle Hatley (biology) of Kennesaw, Ga., was accepted into the North Georgia College & State University’s doctor of physical therapy program. “I chose biology because it prepared me for physical therapy school. I also wanted to stay with biology because I knew my professors would help me with my classes however they could. All of my professors have taught me so much about how to be a good person inside and outside of the classroom,” Kyle said. During his time at Young Harris College, Kyle spent many hours shadowing and assisting physical therapists. He also conducted a senior research project that involved helping the Georgia Department of Natural Resources improve bear population assessment protocols by using stealth cameras. Kyle was highly involved with religious life on campus, leading worship at bible study and praise band for chapel services. He served as Alpha Omega president, Sigma Beta chaplain and as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. He was also a member of the YHC Choir and Compulsive Lyres, the College’s men’s a cappella ensemble. "YHC is unlike any college I've ever visited. Every student has the opportunity to make their experience at Young Harris unforgettable. The relationships I've made here will last a lifetime,” Kyle said.
Matthew Kammerer (business and public policy) of Loganville, Ga., recently accepted a position with BuySellAds.com, an online advertising company based in Boston, Mass., after previously serving as an intern. “The most important I learned during my studies is that we have so much control over business by the way we present ourselves, think critically about problems and make decisions,” Matthew said. Based on knowledge gleaned at YHC, Matthew founded UX Booth, a blog about website usability and user experience, and works as a consultant in the user experience and online advertising fields. He hopes to eventually own his own business in the technology or animal field. For Matthew, the opportunity to take on leadership roles early in his academic career solidified his decision to attend Young Harris College. He served three terms as Student Government Association (SGA) president and as senior intern for the Bonner Leaders Program, a time-intensive community volunteer program. During his time as SGA President, Matthew instituted an annual orientation and training session for new members and officers, advocated for the first YHC SGA attendance at national student government conferences and led the creation of a new permanent seat for a student representative on the College’s Board of Trustees. His leadership was instrumental in the creation of the student-funded “SGA Green Fee” that finances sustainability projects on campus, advocacy for improved wireless internet coverage throughout the campus, the creation of new academic policies like the ‘grade forgiveness’ plan, and changes in the drop/add process.
Christina Kelley (music) of Auburn, Ga., plans to attend graduate school at Belmont University to obtain a degree in church music. “My professors prepared me for graduate school and helped me to grow as a performer,” Christina said. “As a result of their guidance, I am more confident in myself as not only a singer but also as a performer.” Christina was involved in a sophomore and senior recital as well as multiple concerts for the YHC Choir and women’s a cappella group, Southern Harmony, for four years. She also served as a choral scholar at St. Clare’s Episcopal Church. During her time at YHC, she was active in the Delta Gamma Drama Society, Souled Out Drama Ministry and Baptist Colligate Ministries. “The most important thing I will take with me from YHC is the memories,” Christina said. “YHC definitely became my second home, and it's sad to leave. I know I will be welcomed back with open arms any time I visit.”
Brittany McKinnon (business and public policy) of Murphy, N.C., hopes to become a legislative aid or business executive assistant. “I am interested in both business and public policy and wanted to be able to work in either field. This unique degree will allow me to do that,” Brittany said. While attending YHC, Brittany took part in a special study regarding business in Appalachia by preparing a course that defines the region, details the area’s demographics and explores major industries.The course taught some of the distinct culture of the area through the lens of public policy. During her time at YHC, Brittany served as Student Government Association (SGA) secretary, worked as a tutor in the Academic Success Center and performed in the YHC Choir and women’s a cappella group Southern Harmony. “The best part about YHC is the unique bond that students form with each other and with the school,” Brittany said. “Coming back to campus always feels a little like coming home.”
Meg Ruth Patterson (biology) of Toccoa, Ga., will attend Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU) College of Dental Medicine. Formerly the Medical College of Georgia, GHSU is home to the state’s only dental school, one of just 56 in the United States. Only about 60 students are accepted each year. “My dad is very passionate about being a dentist, and I can tell he makes a difference in the lives of people in our community,” Meg said. “From working with him, I had the opportunity to see firsthand how this profession helps people look and feel better about themselves.” During her junior and senior years, Meg participated in an intensive work-study program at YHC, gaining valuable experience as a lab assistant for her mentor, Associate Professor of Chemistry Margaret Forrester, Ph.D. She also conducted a research project investigating the effects of xylitol, a substitute sweetener used in gums, toothpastes and mouthwash, and presented her findings at the Georgia Academy of Science Annual Meeting at Gainesville State College in Watkinsville, Ga. During her time at YHC, Meg was a member of the Gamma Psi sorority, Phi Theta Kappa national honor society and Dorcas Society, an honorary service organization for women. She was also one of the first 15 YHC students inducted into the Georgia Xi chapter of the national honor society Alpha Chi. “I’ve had the privilege of learning from and becoming friends with some of the most challenging, brightest, passionate and down-to-earth professors,” Meg said. “I will truly miss all of the professors who have not only taught me the Krebs Cycle or every species of tree in the southern Appalachians, but who have instilled in me patience, confidence and valuable life lessons.”
Eri Pinto (English) 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. “I am fascinated by language, and I received a lot of helpful advice regarding my writing from the faculty at YHC,” Eri said. “I decided that I wasn't finished studying, and I applied to Ohio State University after one of my professors, Dr. Jennifer Gianfalla, told me about its folklore program.” During her studies at YHC, Eri participated in the English Majors Organization, served on the Residence Hall Council for Appleby Hall and worked in the Young Harris College Beetle Lab. She was among 15 Young Harris College students inducted into the Georgia Xi chapter of the national honor society Alpha Chi.
Megan Shook (business and public policy) of Young Harris, Ga., will attend law school in the fall and plans to pursue prosecutorial law. To prepare for life after graduation, Megan interned on two political campaigns, assisting District Attorney Stan Gunter’s race for the Georgia Court of Appeals and incumbent Stephen Allison’s race for the Georgia House of Representatives. During her time at Young Harris College, Megan served as Student Government Association (SGA) treasurer and as a member of the College Republicans. “Some of the most important things I’ve learned from my professors are how to think, form my own opinions and have the conviction to stand up for my beliefs,” Megan said.