You are here

Class of 2013

Young Harris College conferred 146 degrees on graduates participating in the College's commencement ceremony on May 4 in the YHC Recreation and Fitness Center, including 131 seniors earning degrees in art, biology, business and public policy, communication studies, education, English, history, mathematics, music, music education, musical theatre, outdoor leadership and theatre. This marks the third year that YHC has awarded bachelor’s degrees since receiving accreditation in 2008 to offer four-year programs. Read on to find out more about outstanding students from the Class of 2013.


146 graduates
4 Associate of Arts graduates (liberal arts)
3 Associate of Fine Arts graduates (art)
8 Associate of Science graduates (allied health, business, education, outdoor leadership, science)
55 Bachelor of Arts graduates (art, communication studies, English, history, music, musical theatre, theatre)
2 Bachelor of Music Education graduates
76 Bachelor of Science graduates (biology, business and public policy, education,  mathematics, outdoor leadership, psychology)
25 Honor’s Program graduates
11 students that graduated Summa Cum Laude (4.0 GPA)


Commencement Awards

Dr. Charles R. Clegg Outstanding Scholar Award
Ian Calhoun
Connie Wallace
Zell B. Miller Leadership Award
Emalyn Cork
Young Harris Spirit Award
Matt Wilmer
Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award 
Wezly Barnard
Mary Mildred Sullivan Award 
Mary Beth Maxwell
Click here to find out more about these awards.

Honors Ceremony Awards

Joseph Wilson Boone ’31 History Award
Chelsea Hecox
Coley Williams
Luke Rushton ’42 Scholar Athlete Award
Wezly Barnard
Outstanding Biology Student Award
Emalyn Cork
Kacey Miller
Outstanding Graduate in Business and Public Policy Award
Ian Calhoun
Outstanding Senior in English Award
Kyle Huneycutt
Outstanding Paper in an Upper Division English Course Award
Kendra Cowart
Religious Life Outstanding Senior Award
Austin Thomas


Please note: All bios were written in May 2013.

  • Thomas Ian John Crosby (history) of Coventy, England, was accepted into the master of arts in history program at the University of Arkansas.
  • JeRee Dukes (music) of Lincolnton, Ga., was accepted into the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford in Hartford, Conn.
  • Anna Hunter (communication studies) of Houlka, Ga., was accepted into the master of arts in communication program at the University of Memphis.
  • Jeremy Mabe (outdoor leadership) of Marietta, Ga., secured an internship with Sanborn Western Camps in Florissant, Colo.
  • Evan McLean (musical theatre) of Woodstock, Ga., will join the 2013-2014 Apprentice Company at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville, Ga.
  • Heather Richbourg (biology) of Hayesville, N.C., was accepted into Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Collin Rodgers (biology) of McDonough, Ga., was accepted into the doctor of chiropractic program at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa.
  • Cheyenne Teeple (psychology) of Englewood, Fla., was accepted into the University of West Georgia’s master’s in humanistic psychology program.


Please note: All spotlights were written in May 2013.
Jesse Brock (history) of Watkinsville, Ga., will attend the University of North Alabama’s master of arts in history program. Brock was awarded one of only two graduate assistantships by the university and will work with the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area that includes six counties in the Northwestern part of Alabama. Brock’s decision to study history was influenced by an “Introduction to Appalachian Studies” course he took at YHC. “I noticed how little students knew about the region’s culture, history and impact on America,” he said. “This experience empowered me to ensure history stays relevant to upcoming generations. I hope to earn my doctorate and teach at the collegiate level to share my passion for history as my YHC professors have done for me.” During his studies, Brock interned in the Office of Alumni Services and worked as the College’s assistant camp director for three years. Through these positions, he gained valuable experience by helping to plan alumni events, coordinating summer camps and teaching golf to campers. Brock also served as a Police Cadet and member of the men’s golf team, Honor Council and Phi Alpha Theta national history honor society. He was president of the Spat Club and a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity, serving as grand scribe and academic chair. “I have laughed and cried with my fraternity brothers. Those are the memories I consider priceless,” Brock said. “I am the person I am today because of the people I surrounded myself with at YHC.”
Emalyn Cork (biology) of Marietta, Ga., plans to volunteer for Teach for America in the Mississippi Delta region. During her time at YHC, she served in many leadership roles on campus including Student Government Association president, Student Ambassador, First Year Foundations peer mentor, START Orientation leader and member of the Honor Council. She was presented with the Student Government Association Member of the Year Award in 2011 and crowned Homecoming Queen in 2012. “I took on as much as I could handle, both academically and socially, because I’m interested in tasting a little bit of everything,” said Cork. “That’s what college is for, and that’s what a liberal arts education is all about.” Cork excelled academically as a member of the College’s Honors Program. She was also a member of the international English honor society Sigma Tau Delta and the Georgia Xi chapter of the national honor society Alpha Chi. She received an award for Best Undergraduate Presentation in Biomedical Science at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Georgia Academy of Science and was named YHC’s Outstanding Biology Student this year. “The best part about this College is definitely the camaraderie that forms between the instructors and students, along with the family feel of the campus—coming to YHC is like coming home,” Cork explained. “There's no other place where I could get the same amount of one-on-one attention with professors while studying in one of the most biodiverse regions of the country.” 
Dane Knudsen (biology) of Savannah, Ga., will further his education at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Knudsen’s love of animals led him to apply to veterinary school, and he looks forward to immersing himself in various aspects of the intensive program at UGA that only enrolls approximately 100 students each fall out of the more than 700 who apply. “I’ve seen the impact that companion animals make on human lives, particularly my own, so veterinary medicine gives me the opportunity to help humans who benefit from these animals while actually helping the animals themselves,” he explained. Knudsen lists the opportunity he has had to serve in several leadership roles during the last few years as the best part about studying at YHC—which he also believes gave him an edge when applying for graduate schools. “Only at a small college where I’m not just another number was it possible to have so many unique opportunities,” said Knudsen. “I think my experiences at YHC really boosted my application above some of the other candidates.” During his studies, he remained active as a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and Inter-Greek Council, START Orientation leader, resident assistant and volunteer in the YHC Beetle Lab. According to Knudsen, the family atmosphere on campus is what he will miss the most about his days at YHC—including little details like being able to greet everyone he passes, something he said is “unheard of at other schools.”
Mary Beth Maxwell (biology) of Carrollton, Ga., hopes to pursue a career as a pediatrician and plans to attend medical school. She is particularly interested in using her medical skills to assist those living in Third World countries. “I have always had the desire to attend medical school and gain the knowledge needed to serve those less fortunate, and my biology degree will help me on that path,” explained Maxwell. “The small class sizes at YHC made such a huge difference, and my professors were always willing to help me succeed. The faculty, along with my friends and family, were always there to cheer me on to the finish line.” Maxwell held many leadership roles on campus, including Student Government Association treasurer and Inter-Religious Council junior representative. She was a resident assistant and served as Residence Hall Council vice president. She was also a member of the Aspiring Medical Professionals, Student Conduct Council and Media Advisory Board. She competed on the women’s tennis team at YHC for two years and served as an inaugural member of the College’s NCAA Sports Council. She was also highly involved in YHC’s religious life programming, participating in weekly chapel services, Bible studies and Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings. Maxwell traveled to Liberia for a mission trip through her local church, assisting at an orphanage and leading Bible school for children. In 2012, she was awarded YHC’s Beverly Barrow Woodward, ’53, Scholarship that is granted annually to one student to study abroad in England at Harlaxton College. “At YHC, I had the opportunity to do things that I would never have been able to do at other colleges,” Maxwell said. “I will miss attending a school where you are considered an intellectual student that has something to offer—not just a number.”
Austin Thomas (communication studies) of Kennesaw, Ga., will attend Wake Forest School of Divinity, where he will pursue a master of divinity degree. “During my time at YHC, I gained extensive knowledge about what it means to do ministry work and be a part of a community,” said Thomas. “Majoring in communication studies challenged my reading, writing and speaking abilities. My studies at Wake Forest will build on those skills and will further my understanding of theology.” Thomas was highly involved in religious life during his studies, serving as president of the Inter-Religious Council, founder and president of the Chapel Ministry Team and committee chair for the “Underground” Bible study. He also had the opportunity to work for “his greatest mentor,” Dean of the Chapel and Minister to the College Rev. Dr. Tim Moore, through YHC’s work-study program. In addition to his involvement with the religious life community, Thomas was president of the Georgia Xi chapter of the national honor society Alpha Chi and a member of Alpha Omega fraternity and the Lambda Pi Eta national communication studies honor society. “My years at YHC have been the best time of my life,” he said. “I will miss this family. After all, that is what every person on this campus is to one another.”
James Thorpe (business and public policy) of Nuneaton, England, was accepted into the master’s of business administration program at Florida State University (FSU). The student-athlete was a top performer on YHC’s men’s soccer team, and also excelled in the classroom during his time at the College. He was named to the Capital One NCAA Division II Academic All-District III team and the Peach Belt Conference’s All-Academic Men’s Soccer Team in 2012. “I will miss playing soccer with the greatest team I have ever been blessed to play with under a great coach,” said Thorpe. “The faculty and staff have helped me grow academically and as a person, and I was fortunate to make close friends within the soccer team and Kappa Sigma fraternity.” Thorpe’s decision to pursue a degree in business and public policy at YHC was fueled by his desire to follow in his father’s footsteps as a “great businessman,” and he hopes to eventually become an operations manager in a large internationally recognized corporation. “The most valuable skill I have learned at YHC is my ability to write and argue effectively,” he said. “Since I have been at YHC, I have gained a tremendous will to succeed and a desire to be the best that I can be in the world of business.”
Connie Wallace (history) of Hiawassee, Ga., will pursue a master of arts in history from Clemson University and plans to advance into a doctorate program in the future. She was one of 10 students in the nation to receive the H.Y. Benedict Fellowship, a monetary award presented by Alpha Chi to assist with the recipient’s first year of graduate study. “I have a passion for history and education, and attending Clemson will allow me to perfect my research and teaching skills,” said Wallace. “I would love to return to YHC in the future and teach history.” During her time at the College, Wallace experienced firsthand YHC’s commitment to educating and inspiring all students. “This is a school that thrives on empowering students,” she said. “I will miss the bonds I have created not only with fellow students, but also with the faculty and staff. I hope that the friendships I’ve established here will endure past graduation.” Outside of the classroom, Wallace served as a tutor at YHC’s Academic Success Center, an intern in the Department of History and editor of the Corn Creek Review literary magazine. She was also an inaugural inductee of the Phi Alpha Theta national history honor society and a member of the Georgia Xi chapter of the national honor society Alpha Chi. 
Matt Wilmer (communication studies) of Loganville, Ga., plans to utilize his degree by working in the public relations, marketing or health communication fields. “The best thing about being a communication studies major at YHC is that some of the most respected and revered professionals in the field of communication directly teach and mentor you,” Wilmer explained. “The professors devote their time, energy and expertise to empowering students and equipping them with the skills they need to be influential and effective leaders in the workplace and community.” During his time at YHC, Wilmer served as a College Representative in the Office of Admissions and was selected as Representative of the Year in 2011. He demonstrated his leadership abilities and dedication to service in the community through his membership in the Spat Club and participation on the Inter-Greek Council. He was crowned Homecoming King in 2012 and voted “Mr. YHC” by his classmates in 2013. “I was seen as a unique individual and a student full of academic possibilities instead of just another number the moment I stepped onto campus,” said Wilmer. “I learned things in my classes that can be applied not only to future jobs, but to my personal relationships with others. YHC has helped shape me into a good employee—but more importantly, a good friend, student, son, brother and community member.”

Katheryn Woods (education) of Cleveland, Ga., plans to attend North Georgia College and State University’s master of education program and specialize in reading. “I have always had a passion for teaching children, and I made the decision to become an educator when I was in high school,” said Woods. “YHC has given me the skills and knowledge I need to be an excellent teacher. My education courses have been demanding, but they have also prepared me for success in graduate school.” During her studies, Woods broadened her global perspective by taking part in an Art Tour of Italy in 2012. “That experience gave me the chance to get out into the world and dive into a new culture,” she said. “Going to Italy and seeing people in totally different environments opened my eyes to how diverse the human race truly is.” Woods remained active on campus as a resident assistant, co-president of F.E.A.T. (Future Educators and Administrators of Tomorrow) and a founding member of C.L.A.W. (Campus Leaders Advocating Wellness). She was also a member of the senior giving committee and Phi Alpha Phi sorority. “It is difficult to choose only one thing I will miss about YHC, but I can say with confidence that I will miss my professors,” Woods added. “YHC’s faculty members go above and beyond their everyday duties and always make their students’ needs the top priority.”