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Georgia Southern holds graduation ceremonies
Newly graduated Georgia Southern University students Carol MacDonnell and Herman Jermaine Dawson, right, look for family and friends at the conclusion of Friday's Fall Commencement.
    Trey Carter quoted country legend June Carter Cash Friday as he encouraged graduates to follow their hearts. Carter, president and CEO of Acadia Healthcare, spoke during the 1 p.m. ceremony at Hanner Fieldhouse .
    During that particular ceremony, one of three held Friday, students from the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, College of Education and College of Health and Human Sciences received their diplomas.
    "It's just weird not to have to go back to class again," said graduate Molly Asbell, 21, from Macon.  "It's a good feeling." Asbell said she planned to go to work for Progressive Insurance in Macon.
    The stands were full as friends and relatives of graduates strained to catch sight of "their" graduates.  Flashes lit the dimmed gymnasium as people snapped shots, cheering and calling to the graduates.
    Everyone stood during the processional, as GSU's Dr. Michael Braz performed "Pomp and Circumstance."
    Georgia Southern University President Dr. Bruce Grube greeted the graduates, and said "I extend to you my personal congratulations on your academic success," and recognized " a very caring faculty" who helped make the graduation possible.
    Carter took the stand and spoke about asking his young son his opinion when he was working on his speech.
    "I asked my son what he would say to those of you graduating and he said 'I'd tell them to go get a job.'," he said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
    Carter talked about how he started out early in life on a  different path than that which led him to his current status. "In reality, my life has been an interesting experience," he said.
    For reasons upon which he did not expand, Carter's initial venture into athletics did not succeed. However, he talked about how he recovered and realized he truly wanted to help others who had experienced the difficulties he had faced.
    "My job is to help other people," he said. So he returned to school and "did what I believed in and not what other people wanted me to do."
    Carter's message was for students to seek careers where their true interest lies. "My greatest fear for you is you will become something other than what you want to be," he said.
    He spoke of the enthusiasm graduates have as they enter the world f work, and said he hoped that enthusiasm never waned.
    "I can see the fire in your eyes and you're saying 'I'm gonna save  the world,' and I believe you will," he said. He warned them against succumbing to naysayers and those who might discourage them from their endeavors.
    "Accept 'what if," he said. "Cynicism is your worst enemy. Don't ever stop trying to save the world. Don't let the world measure you - measure yourself."
    He ended his speech with a quote from June Carter Cash, wife of country music legend Johnny Cash and a star in her own right. He spoke of how, when people asked her why she did something in particular, she would reply "I'm just trying to matter."
    Carter echoed her words to graduates. "My message to you is - go matter."
    After each graduation ceremony, students milled around, posing for snapshots and visiting with friends and family members. Some posed with Steve Hein, director of  the GSU Raptor Center, and the official GSU bald eagle Freedom, a young male eagle who has not yet reached the full white-feathered head of a mature bald eagle.
    Two other commencement ceremonies were held earlier Friday during the 16th Annual Fall Commencement - the Allen E. Paulson College of Science and Technology and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at 9 a.m., with Congressman John Barrow speaking; and the College of Business Administration and College of Information Technology at 11 a.m., with Joseph W. Alsop, co-founder and CEO of Progress Software Corporation as speaker.

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