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Young Harris College Confers 194 Degrees During Commencement Ceremony
Women’s National Basketball Association President Lisa Borders Delivers Address to Graduates

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Young Harris College conferred 194 degrees on graduates participating in the College’s Commencement ceremony on May 6 in the YHC Recreation and Fitness Center. The College awarded bachelor’s degrees in art, biology, business and public policy, chemistry, communication studies, creative writing, education, English, history, interdisciplinary studies, mathematics, music, music education, outdoor leadership, psychology, religious studies, Spanish, and theatre.

Women’s National Basketball Association President Lisa Borders delivered the Commencement address to graduates, sharing with them an important message of inspiration and values while charging them to go out and make the world a better place.

“We are depending on you to listen, learn and then lead us to the next best place for the broadest sense of our community,” said Borders, who was also the speaker at YHC’s 2013 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Lecture. “I encourage and implore you to think that everyone is your friend as you move on to the next milestone in your journey. Imagine what the world would be like if we thought of everyone as friends.”

YHC President Cathy Cox presented Borders with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. Borders has more than 25 years of experience in operations, marketing, government relations and public service. She has worked and delivered results in all three sectors: public, private and non-profit. Borders previously served as Vice President of Global Community Affairs at The Coca-Cola Company and Chair of The Coca-Cola Foundation. She has also served as President of the Grady Health Foundation, the fundraising arm of Grady Health System, Georgia’s largest public hospital and metro-Atlanta’s premier Level I trauma center. 

During her tenure as Vice Mayor of Atlanta and President of the City Council, Borders was instrumental in bringing the WNBA, the world’s premier women’s basketball league, to Atlanta in 2008. She became president of the WNBA in early 2016, and is responsible for setting the organization’s vision and overseeing the league’s day-to-day business and basketball operations.

“The shaping of community is not one person’s responsibility; it is all of our responsibilities,” continued Borders. “We all work here, play here, live here, and pray here. I invite you to not just create the listening skill, but to curate and cultivate that skill as it will serve you well in the future. As the new and largest class to graduate from Young Harris College, I invite you to embrace the notion of every voice.”

During the ceremony, the College honored several individuals for their dedication to YHC. The Young Harris College Medallion, the highest honor bestowed by YHC to alumni and friends who have made extraordinary contributions, was awarded to John and Trudy Cathy White, of Atlanta, Ga., and O.V. Lewis, of Blairsville, Ga.

John and Trudy Cathy White are the co-founders of Lifeshape, an organization committed to supporting various initiatives throughout the world, including Impact 130 Institutes, which offers students and young professionals leadership experiences and Impact 360 Gap Year which provides worldview studies, experiential learning, international travel, and leadership training for students who have completed high school. Their relationship with YHC first began in 2011 when Trudy, daughter of Chick-fil-A founder Truett and Jeannette Cathy, and director of WinShape Camps chose the YHC campus to serve as the new location for the one-week all girls camp. Through their connections and kindness, the Whites were instrumental in bringing Chick-fil-A to the Rollins Campus Center, and have been generous supporters of the Investing in the Future Capital Campaign and the renovations of Glenn-McGinnis Hall.

O.V. Lewis served as an instructor of accounting for 48 years and registrar for 31 years at YHC. He retired in 2011 with the longest tenure of any previous College employee. Lewis has dedicated the majority of his adult life to Young Harris College, and is a generous friend to YHC. Lewis is a member of the Harry and Harriet Hill Society for Planned Gifts and has made provisions in his will to support YHC students in perpetuity through the O.V. Lewis Endowed Scholarship.

This year, the YHC Board of Trustees also presented President Cathy Cox with the YHC Medallion in honor of her 10-year tenure as president and her service and dedication to the College.

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 Seth Black of Beaufort, S.C., and the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award to Sheldon Clark of Norcross, 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 six 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 Seth Black, of Beaufort, S.C., Jason Edwards, of Young Harris, Ga., and Jakob Elliot, of Hayesville, N.C.

Chris Yenney, of Snellville, Ga., was presented the Zell B. Miller Leadership Award for significant contributions to campus life at YHC as an outstanding leader and role model.

Melissa Wall, of McDonough, Ga., and CJ Wilson, of Conyers, 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 at prestigious universities across the country including Candler School of Theology at Emory University, George Mason University, Mercer University School of Law, University of Massachusetts, Georgia Institute of Technology, Florida State University and University of South Florida. Graduates have also accepted internships and positions with various companies including Atlanta United FC, Council of State Governments in Washington, D.C, Disney, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Haywood Street Congregation, Food Lion of Delhaize America, Outward Bound and Birchwood Camp.

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 1,100 students across five divisions—Education, Fine Arts, Humanities, Mathematics and Science, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. 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 2016-2017 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