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2,393 walk at GSU Spring 2008 Commencement
051008 GSU GRAD 01
Susan Hill of Tybee Island cries tears of joy after receiving her college degree during Saturday's Georgia Southern University Commencement ceremony at Paulson Stadium. Hill began working on her degree in 1974, only to leave school two years later. "This was a long time coming," she said. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
    Thousands gathered Saturday at Paulson Stadium to celebrate and honor the Spring 2008 graduating class of Georgia Southern University. With more than 20,000 watching the 2,393 graduates, smiles, hugs and many tears of joy were easily seen in all directions.
    The morning sun was bright as U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson delivered his well-tailored commencement address. As he prepared for the speech, he said he tried to draw from the speech at his own college graduation.
    “For the life of me, I didn’t know who spoke that day or what they talked about,” Isakson said.
    Isakson mentioned “six silent secrets” as the key to lifelong success – learning and seeking knowledge, respecting others, always doing what’s right, showing love for people and institutions that make you who you are, having faith and keep dreaming.
    After Isakson wrapped up his remarks, officials announced the first graduate candidates: 29 doctoral degree students. And then a few clouds, a cool breeze and a threat of rain brought needed relief from the heat, as 361 master’s degree candidates and 2,003 bachelor’s degree candidates paraded across the stage.
    Before the ceremony, early childhood education major Hillary Walker said she is “very ready” to graduate. She’ll be moving to Jacksonville, Fla., over the summer to pursue opportunities in her career. Even though she doesn’t have a job lined up yet, she’ll “be there no matter what.”
    Standing near Walker, were three members of an International Study Opportunity (ISO) group that returned from England just this week. Jessica Waters, Tiffany Barrett and Lindsey Pridgen – from the college of education – were spending their final semester student teaching British children.
    “We just got back from England on Tuesday,“ said Waters.
    “Great to be here – except we’re still very tired,” said Barrett.
    “We’re excited to be back for graduation,” said Pridgen.
    ShaDonna Lamar, a business student majoring in logistics, is interviewing full-time for a job. She was enthusiastic about graduating.
    “It feels great,” said Lamar. “I’m ready for the real world. I feel GSU has prepared me well.”
    Another business major, Brandon Cummings, doesn’t have a job secured, but he knows where he wants to put his logistics degree to work.
    “Railroads or ocean carriers,” said Cummings. “That’s where the money is.”
    Tchanavia Scott finished her accounting degree at GSU in four years with help from the Hope scholarship. Though she plans on continuing her education and pursuing a Masters degree, she was focused on something else Saturday.
    “I’m just trying to get across the stage, right now,” Scott said with a laugh.
    On the north side of the stadium Lydia Warren was carrying flowers, but not for her two GSU sons, senior Billy (who graduates this fall) and freshman Matthew. The flowers were for the mother of business major Jennifer Harris – to doubly celebrate her daughter’s graduation and Mother’s Day.
    “I just thought her mom need something, too,” said Warren.
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