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Young Harris College Class of 2023 Commencement

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. — The Young Harris College 2022–2023 academic year has come to an end, and members of the Class of 2023 have completed their final year in the Enchanted Valley. After celebrating YHC seniors at the annual Senior Reception and Baccalaureate Service, the College held its traditional Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 6, in the Harp Recreation and Commencement Center.

The invocation was given by Case Winkler, Master of Arts in Teaching, Class of 2023. Matthew George, Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and Spanish, Class of 2023, delivered the keynote speech. Graduates reflected on their time together and the memories they created during the past four years. 

On behalf of Young Harris College faculty and staff, President Dr. Drew Van Horn congratulated the graduates on their great academic achievements. Deserving of specific recognition are this year’s Commencement award recipients. 

Gina Howard received the second ever MAT Representative Award for best representing the mission and ideals of Young Harris College’s MAT program. 

John (Luke) Surowiec received the Clegg Outstanding Student Award, which is awarded to the graduating student with the highest cumulative grade point average. Luke maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout all four years at YHC. 

Matthew George and Mackenzie Johnson received the Young Harris College Spirit Awards, which recognize the graduating seniors who best exemplify the spirit of YHC. Emma Pullium received the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award, and Rex DiPietro received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. These two awards go to graduates whose nobility of character and dedication to service sets them apart as examples for others. 

Luke Surowiec also received the Zell B. Miller Leadership Award, which goes to a senior who has made significant contributions to campus life as an outstanding leader and role model.

“I am so proud of the members of the Class of 2023 for their grit,” said Provost Jason Pierce. “They finished their first year online amidst the chaos of the pandemic and returned for their sophomore year to de-densified classrooms, mask requirements, and isolation and quarantine protocols. Despite this, they persisted and earned the right to be called YHC graduates. They are inspirational.”

The Young Harris College Medallion is the highest honor bestowed by the College to alumni and friends who have made extraordinary contributions to YHC. This year’s recipient was YHC Trustee Board member Ray P. Lambert, Jr., for his diligent service, his selfless generosity, and his unwavering commitment to the College. While Lambert graduated in 1977, he never really left the Enchanted Valley. He rarely misses a Homecoming or Alumni Weekend. He was elected to the Board in 2007, where he currently serves on several Board committees, including the Executive Committee, the Properties Committee, the Trusteeship Committee, and the Development Committee, which he chairs. Lambert has also been instrumental in the preservation of campus history. 

“This year’s graduating class went through the entire Pandemic together,” said President Drew Van Horn. “I was encouraged to see a group so resilient. I know that they will accomplish great things in the world.”

Young Harris College conferred 176 degrees on graduates participating in the Commencement ceremony. The College was proud to celebrate the Class of 2023 with family, friends, alumni, faculty, and staff. 

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 four academic divisions: Fine Arts; Humanities; Mathematics, Science and Technology; and Professional Studies. More than 1,400 students are enrolled in its residential and Early College programs. The College is an active member of the NCAA Division II and remains a fierce competitor in the prestigious Peach Belt Conference. For more information, visit