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Young Harris College Confers 187 Degrees During Commencement Ceremony
Baseball Legend Hank Aaron Delivers Address to Graduates

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Young Harris College conferred 187 degrees on graduates participating in the College’s Commencement ceremony on May 7 in the YHC Recreation and Fitness Center. The College awarded bachelor’s degrees in art, biology, business and public policy, chemistry, communication studies, education, English, history, interdisciplinary studies, mathematics, music, music education, outdoor leadership, psychology, religious studies, Spanish, and theatre.

Baseball legend Henry “Hank” Aaron delivered the Commencement address to graduates, sharing with them an important message of inspiration, determination and values.

“Ultimately, every individual has one set of values, and we need to live our values consistently in every part of our life,” said Aaron, who served on the College’s Board of Trustees from 2000-2008. “None of us can know the challenges we will be faced with or the battles we will be called upon to fight, but I promise you this: at some point you will come face to face with a situation that feels bigger than anything else in your life.”

YHC President Cathy Cox presented Aaron with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. Aaron, nicknamed “Hammerin’ Hank,” is widely regarded as one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball. He spent 21 years as an outfielder for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves and two final years as a designated hitter for the Milwaukee Brewers, setting several records and winning a number of honors along the way.

“You will face your own time of choice, a time that makes you leave your comfort zone—this is what growth is all about,” Aaron continued. “Each of you can take the field knowing that in life, like baseball, there will be some runs and some hits and also some errors, and at the end of the day the one thing you can control is your own best effort.”

Aaron has a longstanding friendship with YHC alumnus former U.S. Senator and Georgia Governor Zell Miller, ’51. When the College decided to construct a baseball stadium to be named in honor of Miller, who both played and coached baseball at YHC before entering public service, Aaron not only gave generously to the project, but also assisted with raising the funds. In 2014, Aaron received YHC’s Nancy Louise Haynes Stephens Sanderson Robertson Outstanding Friend Award for his generous contributions and friendship to the College.

He has been a friend and advocate of YHC for many years and voted on the appointment of YHC President Cathy Cox and supported the College’s historic decision to become a four-year institution.

The Young Harris College Medallion, the highest honor bestowed by YHC to alumni and friends who have made extraordinary contributions, was awarded to William F. “Bill” Roberts, ’52, of Fayetteville, Ga. Since arriving on the YHC campus in 1950 as a student, Roberts has created a legacy of loyalty and dedication to his alma mater by utilizing his business acumen as a member of YHC’s Board of Trustees. Additionally, he and his wife, Judy, generously support YHC scholarships and athletic programs, in addition to the Young Harris Annual Fund, Class Scholarship Challenge, Investing in the Future Capital Campaign, Harry and Harriet Hill Society for Planned Gifts, and the Clay Dotson Open golf tournament. To honor the couple’s dedication to YHC, the Bill and Judy Roberts Classroom in the Rollins Campus Center was named in their honor. In 2015, Roberts was elected an emeritus trustee of the College and continues to provide valuable leadership today.

YHC is among an elite group of Southeastern colleges and universities who annually bestow the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation Awards on outstanding male and female graduating seniors. President Cox presented this year’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to Wade Orr of Bishop, Ga., and the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award to Irenee Payne of Blairsville, Ga. Created nearly a century ago to honor the servant leadership of their namesakes, the awards are given annually by the Foundation to individuals whose nobility of character and dedication to service sets them apart as examples for others.

President Cox also presented three special awards to nine outstanding students during the ceremony.

The Dr. Charles R. Clegg Outstanding Scholar Award, which was named in memory of a beloved past president of the College and recognizes graduating seniors with the overall highest grade point average, was presented to Erik Hallin of Hagfors, Sweden, Matthew Heard of Gay, Ga., Tim Mohlin-Torringer of Svedala, Sweden, Daniel Johnson of Murphy, N.C., Jaquelin Solis of Tucker, Ga., and Zach Wagoner of Powder Springs, Ga., all of whom tied with a perfect 4.0 grade point average—straight A’s in every class taken at YHC.

Zachary Champion of Lakeland, Fla., was presented the Zell B. Miller Leadership Award for significant contributions to campus life at YHC as an outstanding leader and role model.

Breann Lindsey of Lindale, Ga., and Shaw Carter of Gainesville, Ga., both received the Young Harris Spirit Award, which recognizes students who best demonstrate outstanding levels of personal integrity, friendliness and engagement with the campus community.

Many members of the senior class will go on to begin graduate programs and careers, including:

  •   Jacob Bennett of Ellijay, Ga., who was accepted into the University of Leeds’ Master of Arts in Art Gallery and Museum Studies program in the United Kingdom.
  •   Shaw Carter of Gainesville, Ga., who was accepted into the University of Georgia’s Master of Public Administration program.
  •   Leah Cheshier of Bremen, Ga., who received a paid communications internship at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
  •   LaDareon Copeland of Warner Robins, Ga., who was awarded a First Stage Teaching Artist Fellowship in Milwaukee, Wis.
  •   Georgia Googer of Cumming, Ga., who was accepted into the University of Vermont’s Master of Arts in English program.
  •   Erik Hallin of Hagsfor, Sweden, who accepted an assistant financial advisor position at Handelsbanken, an investment service company in Sweden.
  •   Christian Hambrick of LaFayette, Ga., who was accepted into the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy.
  •   Jared Lee of Lula, Ga., who was accepted into Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law.
  •   Breann Lindsay of Lindale, Ga., who was accepted into Wheaton College’s Master of Arts in Christian Formation and Ministry Outdoor Leadership and Adventure program.
  •   Stephanie Mills of Bainbridge, Ga., who received a paid internship for the Disney College Program.
  •   Stephanie Mimbs of Loganville, Ga., who was accepted into the University of Tennessee’s Higher Education Administration doctoral program.
  •   Wade Orr of Bishop, Ga., who was accepted into Georgia State University’s Master of Global Hospitality Management program.
  •   Matthew Robinson of Watkinsville, Ga., who accepted a building ministry coordinator position at the Hinton Rural Life Center.
  •   Courtney Sanders of Murphy, N.C., who accepted a mathematics teaching position at West Fannin Elementary.
  •   Aaron Smithson of Suwanne, Ga., who will attend the Savanah College of Art and Design to obtain a masters of fine arts in film and television.
  •   Jaquelin Solis of Tucker, Ga., who was accepted into a medical pathway program at the University of California, Los Angeles.
  •   Jonas Sturesson of Kalmar, Sweden, who accepted a financial assistant position at Jacobi Carbons company.
  •   Courtland Walters of Stockbridge, Ga., who was awarded a graduate assistantship at Eastern Illinois University, where he will pursue a Masters of Arts in music.
  •   Reed Wilkinson of Roswell, Ga., who was accepted into Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law.
  •   Grace Williamson of Athens, Ga., who was accepted into Boston College’s Master of Arts Higher Education Administration program.

About Young Harris College
Young Harris College is a private, baccalaureate degree-granting college 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 the highest quality liberal arts education. The College currently has more than 1,200 students across five divisions—Education, Fine Arts, Humanities, Mathematics and Science, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. The historic campus in Young Harris, Ga., is currently undergoing 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. In 2014, the College was granted active membership in NCAA Division II and is a fierce competitor in the prestigious Peach Belt Conference. YHC is among fewer than 300 colleges and universities nationwide named to the 2015-2016 list of Colleges of Distinction. For more information, visit

Class of 2016

Young Harris College awarded 187 bachelor’s degrees during its 2016 Commencement ceremony on May 7.

Hank Aaron at YHC Commencement

Baseball legend Hank Aaron addressed graduates during Young Harris College’s 2016 Commencement ceremony.

Students and YHC President with Aaron

Aaron has been a friend and advocate of Young Harris College for many years and voted on the appointment of YHC President Cathy Cox and supported the College’s historic decision to become a four-year institution.

Hank Aaron

The recipient of the Young Harris College Medallion, the highest honor bestowed by the College, William F. “Bill” Roberts, ’52, of Fayetteville, Ga., (left), posed for a photo with YHC President Cathy Cox (center) and baseball legend Hank Aaron (right).