You are here

Class of 2014

Young Harris College conferred 167 degrees on graduates participating in the College's Commencement ceremony on May 10 in the YHC Recreation and Fitness Center. The seniors earned degrees in art, biology, business and public policy, communication studies, education, English, history, mathematics, music, music education, musical theatre, outdoor leadership, psychology, religious studies and theatre. Read on to find out more about outstanding students from the Class of 2014.


167 graduates
63 Bachelor of Arts graduates (art, communication studies, English, history, music, musical
 theatre, theatre)
Bachelor of Music Education graduates
98 Bachelor of Science graduates (biology, business and public policy, education,
 mathematics, outdoor leadership, psychology)
15 Honor’s Program graduates
16 students who graduated Summa Cum Laude


Commencement Awards

Dr. Charles R. Clegg Outstanding Scholar Award
Sara Beaster
Tiffany Goebel
Mark "Aaron" O'Tuel
Sarah Puett
Jacqueline Tallman
Jeffrey Stewart

Zell B. Miller Leadership Award
Ashley Cross
Emily Espy

Young Harris Spirit Award
Carol Raterman
Brian Walker

Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award  
David Atwood

Mary Mildred Sullivan Award 
Alyssa Lowery

Click here to find out more about these awards.

Honors Ceremony Awards

Joseph Wilson Boone ’31 History Award 
Johanna Gil-Arroyo
Oliver Pratt

Luke Rushton ’42 Scholar Athlete Award 
Breanna Gleeson

Outstanding Biology Student Award 
David Atwood
Ashley Cross

Outstanding Graduate in Business and Public Policy Award 
Sarah Puett

Outstanding Senior in English Award 
Rebecca Fordyce

Outstanding Paper in an Upper Division English Course Award
Travis Donahoo
Lauren Hohn


Please note: All bios were written in May 2014.

  • Lauren Johnson of Morganton, Ga., is working as an allergy lab technician for ENT Solutions in Blairsville, Ga.
  • Trenton Jones of Lakeland, Fla., was accepted into the theological studies master’s program at Southeastern University of the Assemblies of God in his hometown.
  • Cody Killian of Murphy, N.C., received a graduate assistantship for Mercer University’s master of music in collaborative piano with a vocal emphasis.
  • Bowen Klosinski of Augusta, Ga., will pursue a juris doctorate from Mercer University’s School of Law.
  • Melissa LeViner of Woodstock, Ga., will work as a field instructor leading caving and rock climbing trips for young people with ADHD, autism, and other learning differences with Talisman Programs in Zirconia, N.C.
  • Taylor Loveless of Bremen, Ga., was accepted into Kennesaw State University’s global communications master’s program.
  • Jordan Meeks of Lawrenceville, Ga., will lead wilderness programming for international youth as a field instructor for Higher Ground Group, a leading provider of outdoor education and experiential learning based in Queensland, Australia.
  • Richard Noble of Louisville, Ky., will work as an electrician for Brevard Music Center.
  • Morgan Pierce of Hull, Ga., will serve as the head guide of aerial operations for the Nantahala Outdoor Center.
  • Oliver Pratt of Dacula, Ga., was accepted into Armstrong Atlantic State University’s master’s program in public history.
  • Sarah Puett, of Warne, N.C., is working as a legal assistant at Schklar & Heim, LLC, a civil litigation firm in Buckhead, Ga.
  • Jessie Robinette of Madison, Ga., will teach Pre-K and kindergarten at Middle Ridge Elementary School in Newton County.
  • Dawn Shannon of Lawrenceville, Ga., will serve as a trip leader for SOAR (Success Oriented Achievement Realized) in Balsam, N.C., that features success-oriented, high adventure programs for those with learning disabilities and ADHD.
  • Will Skelton of Hayesville, N.C., will serve as an acting apprentice at Serenbe Playhouse in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga.
  • Daniel Sowell of Atlanta, Ga., was accepted into the master’s of divinity program at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology.
  • Jacqueline Tallman, of Hayesville, N.C., will teach seventh-grade science at Union County Middle School in Blairsville, Ga.
  • Phil Uys of Gainesville, Ga., was accepted into the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine’s doctor of osteopathic medicine program.
  • Kinsey Wade of Duluth, Ga., will work as an environmental education camp counselor for Elachee Nature Science Center in Gainesville, Ga.
  • Renita Kay Wilcox of Blairsville, Ga., was accepted into the University of Florida’s doctorate program in soil and water science.


Please note: All spotlights were written in May 2014.

David Atwood (biology) of Waynesville, N.C., will pursue a doctorate of physical therapy from Louisiana State University and hopes to eventually open his own practice. A starting outfielder on YHC’s baseball team, Atwood racked up several academic accolades at YHC. He was the College’s first-ever student-athlete named to the NCAA Division II Academic All-America Baseball First Team. He is also a member of the prestigious Alpha Chi honor society and was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” by his classmates. “The hardest part about playing baseball at the collegiate level is balancing time, especially as a biology major where every class is extremely challenging,” explained Atwood, who received YHC’s Outstanding Biology Student Award and Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in 2014. “Being able to do both, while keeping a fun and positive outlook, will go a long way in instilling character that will last the rest of my life.” Atwood was dedicated to serving others during his time at the College. He regularly participated in Operation Christmas Child, an international outreach project facilitated by Samaritan’s Purse, and helped the Department of Athletics raise $3,000 during their Food for Families campaign that benefited local food pantries. In 2012, he traveled to the Dominican Republic with his team to participate in meaningful outreach while using their love of baseball to bond with local communities. Atwood also conducted research at YHC with Assistant Professor of Biology Johnathan Davis, Ph.D., that focused on furthering conservation efforts for a rare fish found in one stream in Georgia located near the campus. “Working closely alongside Dr. Davis was a blessing. His creativity, passion, knowledge, willingness to help and excellence in his field are an inspiration to me as I work toward my future goals," said Atwood.

Allison Burnham (art) of Perry, Ga., was accepted into Georgia College and State University’s master of art therapy program and will serve as assistant soccer coach for Georgia Military College. She was the recipient of the 2012 Richard Aunspaugh Award for Visual Art, and won second in the 2013 Student Juried Art Exhibition and an honorable mention in 2012. In 2013, she was named to the Peach Belt Conference (PBC) All-Academic First Team and the Capital One NCAA Division II Academic All-District III First Team, and she made the 2012-2013 PBC Presidential Academic Honor Gold Level. “My time at YHC has allowed me to develop my interests in psychology and creating artwork,” said Burnham. “I want to create art that changes and affects the way people think about something. The faculty guided me to explore different mediums and develop my technique and execution, and they have given me knowledge about creating successful works of art.” Burnham was captain of the women’s soccer team and a member of the College’s new Scholars Consortium. She also served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and as a Police Cadet on campus, and she was a member of the Alpha Chi and Phi Theta Kappa honor societies.

Ashley Cross (biology) of Murphy, N.C.., was accepted into Emory University’s doctorate program in microbiology and molecular genetics. Her penchant for helping others is prevalent in three roles she most valued at YHC—Student Government Association (SGA) president, resident assistant and START Orientation co-director. “It is an indescribable feeling to know that people come to you when they need help with something,” she said. “I got a feel for the workings of the College as president of SGA, and I enjoyed being a liaison between the students and administration.” She was a member of the Honors Program, sat on YHC’s Honor Council and Student Conduct Council, and served as a laboratory assistant, biology tutor and co-founder of the College’s Chemistry Club. “Being a biology major taught me so much about science, but it also taught me life lessons,” said Cross, who received the Outstanding Biology Student Award in 2014. “I know every faculty member in the department, and I could always rely on them for help." In 2013, she was awarded YHC’s Beverly Barrow Woodward, ’53, Scholarship that is granted annually to one student to study abroad in England. “This scholarship allowed me to experience something completely new,” Cross said. In 2014, she completed an internship in Oak Ridge, Tenn., at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest multiprogram science and energy laboratory with scientific and technical capabilities spanning the continuum from basic to applied research.

Katie Earle (history) of Blairsville, Ga., will pursue a master’s degree in education leadership and management from the University of Roehampton in London, England. Earle was instrumental in helping to facilitate the new student experience at YHC. She served as a First Year Foundations peer mentor, START Orientation leader, and intern in the Office of Student Development where she was responsible for creating an orientation program for international and transfer students and for training student leaders on campus. Earle was recognized for her achievements in and outside of the classroom with a Pacesetter Award in YHC’s 2014 Enotah yearbook. These awards are presented to faculty, staff and students who are believed to be exceptionally successful in their day-to-day roles at YHC. “Not only is she well known among the faculty and staff for her willingness to participate, question, learn and grow, it seems that many students know and seek her out as well,” said Associate Professor of History Thomas Stearns, Ph.D. “She is sincerely and honestly curious and interested about the outside world, academics, institutional goings on, and other people.”

Emily Espy (musical theatre) of Cumming, Ga. will pursue a master of arts in teaching from the University of Georgia and hopes to teach music in low-income areas. During her time at YHC, Espy demonstrated her leadership abilities and dedication to service in the community through her involvements as past president of the Dorcas Society and member of the SPIF (Seniors Paying It Forward) Committee and “Underground” Bible study. She received the Outstanding Christian Service Award in 2013 that was created by YHC’s Inter-Religious Council to recognize a student whose Christian service and leadership have been exemplary. Espy was a member of the YHC Choir and Chamber Choir. She served as the production assistant for Theatre Young Harris and starred in productions like Pride and Prejudice. She was also a member of the College’s Honors Program and Scholars Consortium, which seeks to challenge students academically while preparing them professionally. She was voted “Most Likely to Make A Difference” in 2014, and her classmates named her Homecoming Queen in 2013. “I am so grateful for the love and support I received from the student body, faculty and staff, and I will carry the memory of being crowned Queen with me forever,” she said. “Being able to be part of Young Harris history through that honor is a tremendous blessing, and I cannot wait to return for Homecoming as a YHC alumna.”

Breanna Gleeson (business and public policy) of Adelaide, Australia, will serve as director of the summer mission program at the Hinton Rural Life Center in Hayesville, N.C., and was accepted into the College of Charleston’s M.B.A. program with a concentration in revenue management. Gleeson was a Student Ambassador, an Inter-Greek Council Parliamentarianand a member of the women’s basketball team. Her classmates voted her “Most Athletic,” and she was elected to the 2013 Homecoming Court, making the annual event even more memorable during her senior season. “Painting the school purple was so amazing and fun, especially because so many alumni come back to campus,” she said. “The amount of support we received from the community during that event and throughout the season was so valuable.” She received the Luke Rushton, ’42, Scholar Athlete Award in 2014 and the Outstanding Junior and Sophomore Scholar Athlete Awards in 2013 and 2012, respectively. Her faculty members took note of her success in the classroom that echoed her prowess on the court. “Dr. Todd Jones, one of my business and public policy professors, has always taken the time to invest in me as both a student and a person,” Gleeson said. “His door was always open and he was always willing to help me in any way possible.”

Camden Goddard (art) of Blairsville, Ga., is working as a youth pastor at First United Methodist Church of Union County and hopes to earn a master of fine arts in studio and eventually teach at the undergraduate or graduate level.  He was a member of Alpha Omega fraternity and the SPAT Club as well as an active participant in the “Underground” Bible study and Baptist Collegiate Ministries. “My religious views play an important role in my life,” said Goddard. “I believe the best way of sharing these views with others is by using my God-given talents to do what I know and love—create art. I constantly change my methods of exploring and experimenting with new ideas and materials. My work evolves from drawing and painting to new realms of sculpture and mixed media works.” Goddard learned more about his craft on a global scale by taking advantage of the College’s 2013 Art Tour of New York City and 2012 Art Tour of Italy. “The trip to Italy was a real eye-opener for me,” said Goddard. “Experiencing a completely new culture and learning to respect a different way of life was the most important thing I took away from the experience.”

Alyssa Lowery (religious studies) of Conyers, Ga., will enter the doctorate of philosophy program at Vanderbilt University with a full scholarship. Lowery held many leadership roles on campus, including president of the Student Inquiry Group for Humanist Thought (SIGHT) and Gay-Straight Alliance, co-coordinator for the Buddhist Meditation and Mindfulness Group, and senior class representative for the Inter-Religious Council. “One thing I really love about YHC is the opportunities you have to build things,” she said. “Since the College is in such a transitional phase of growth, there are so many places in which you can get involved to spread your interests and bring people together." In 2011, 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. Lowery led and assisted YHC students as a resident assistant and an assistant in the Office of Student Development. Her classmates elected her to the College’s Homecoming court in 2013 and named her “Most Likely to Succeed” in 2014. She also worked as a teaching assistant in the Department of Religion and Philosophy and presented research at various conferences, including the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Georgia Association of Historians and the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion. Lowery was a member of the College’s Honors Program, prestigious Alpha Chi honor society and Scholars Consortium. “The Consortium enabled me to imagine a bigger future for myself than I would have alone,” said Lowery.

Jeffrey Stewart (music education), of Young Harris, Ga., will pursue a master’s degree in music performance from Georgia Southern University. Stewart was highly active in many musical ensembles at YHC including the College’s Concert Band, Chamber Choir, Jazz Band and Purple Reign Pep Band. He was also named a member of the Georgia All College Band that is comprised of student musicians representing colleges and universities throughout the state. He excelled in the classroom and his perfect 4.0 GPA earned him the 2014 Dr. Charles R. Clegg Outstanding Scholar Award. Stewart gained valuable experience while completing the student teaching component of his coursework at West Forsyth High School in Cumming, Ga. “I had to be able to answer questions, motivate, keep the pace moving, stay on track and make sure the students learned something before they left,” said Stewart. “It provided me with the best opportunity to experiment with techniques, learn and grow.”

Brian Walker (music), of Powder Springs, Ga., will pursue a career in music and film. The recipient of the 2014 Young Harris Spirit Award, Walker was highly involved in many facets of campus life. He was a member of the Bonner Leaders Program and SPAT Club, served as supervisor in the Recreation and Fitness Center, participated in the intramural basketball league, and stayed involved in the Delta Gamma Drama Society. Walker, who was voted “Most Talented” by his classmates, recently competed in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Region IV Irene Ryan scholarship competition and advanced to the final 16 teams out of approximately 300 student actors. “I tried to add as much creativity as I could to our performances,” said Walker, who partnered with musical theatre major Ben Sims of Hiram, Ga. “I wanted to think as much out of the box as I could. If I felt something could be added to our performance, I tried to do it. If it didn't work, I moved on to try something new.”  Walker was a member of the YHC Choir, Chamber Choir and Generation X Gospel Choir. He also starred in many Theatre Young Harris productions including RENTFences and Jack. He was named a member of the Georgia All College Chorus that is comprised of student musicians representing colleges and universities throughout the state. He also advanced to the 2014 national finals in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Students auditions. “My plans for the future are to further my career in music, acting and film,” he said. “I want to take in as much of these as I can, and wherever this takes me, I will be truly blessed.”