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YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – On Thursday, Sept. 6, Young Harris College hosted members of its 1886 Young Harris Society and Hill Society for a luncheon in Suber Banquet Hall. The event featured Gov. Nathan Deal as the keynote speaker. Other dignitaries in attendance included First Lady Sandra Deal, former First Ladies Shirley Miller, ’54, and Marie Barnes, retired Chief Superior Court Judge Murphy Miller, ’74, and local government officials Andrea Gibby, mayor of Young Harris, Liz Ordiales, mayor of Hiawassee, Cliff Bradshaw, commissioner of Towns County, and Lamar Paris, commissioner of Union County. Student representatives from YHC Admissions were also present, including Jose Rodriguez, Laura Grace Holton, Caroline Cox and Parker Moon.

The meal was blessed by Rev. Blair Tolbert, dean of the chapel and chaplain, and about 100 guests were welcomed by Dr. Drew L. Van Horn, president of the College.

Deal spoke about the state’s progress under his administration, including that Georgia has been named the number one state in the nation for business for five consecutive years. The substantial increase in new private sector jobs has helped lower the unemployment rate to below 4 percent. Deal also spoke about criminal justice reform and noted there was a 10 percent decrease in the violent crime rate and a 20 percent decrease in the overall crime rate from 2010 to 2017.

The majority of Deal’s remarks focused on the importance of education. He reflected on former Gov. Zell Miller’s commitment to education and the generational impact Miller, ’51, made by establishing the HOPE Scholarship. The HOPE Scholarship is funded by the lottery at more than $1 billion per year. The scholarship supports pre-kindergarten programs, the HOPE Career Grant for technical schools and the HOPE Scholarship for traditional colleges and universities.

Under Deal’s leadership, the state launched another scholarship initiative called the REACH Scholarship. This scholarship awards $10,000 to students in participating school districts who are identified as having high potential and financial need. Participating students and their parents or guardians must sign a contract when the student is in eighth grade and agree to maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher, stay out of trouble and meet with assigned mentors and academic coaches. If they uphold their commitments, they are awarded the scholarship upon high school graduation. Young Harris College doubles the REACH Scholarship allotment for students who qualify.

YHC Chair of the Board of Trustees Kurt Momand, ’77, provided closing remarks. He thanked Gov. and First Lady Deal and members of the 1886 Young Harris Society and the W. Harry and Harriet Hill Society for Planned Gifts. Members of the 1886 Young Harris Society give $1,000 or more per year to the College, and members of the Hill Society give to YHC through estate planning and other gift planning tools. Funds raised through these organizations support scholarships and other key initiatives at the College.

About Young Harris College

Young Harris College is a private baccalaureate and master’s degree-granting institution 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 an education that purposefully integrates the liberal arts and professional studies. The College has three academic divisions: Arts and Humanities, Professional Studies, and Mathematics, Science and Technology, with more than 1,300 students enrolled in its residential and Early College programs. The historic campus in Young Harris, Ga. has completed major campus improvements to accommodate the College’s growth. Recent LEED-certified campus improvements include the 121,000-square-foot Rollins Campus Center, new residence facilities, and a 57,000-square-foot recreation and fitness center. The College is an active member of NCAA Division II and remains a fierce competitor in the prestigious Peach Belt Conference. YHC is among fewer than 300 colleges and universities nationwide named to the 2017-2018 list of Colleges of Distinction and is listed as a “Best National Liberal Arts College” by U.S. News & World Report. For more information, visit