By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Speaker challenges GS graduates
About 2,200 earn degrees in weekend ceremonies
Flanked by fellow Public Health gradates Jalisa Holloway, left, and Amanda Rogers, right, Skylar Toledo, 22, braces herself against intermittent stiff winds during Georgia Southern Fall Commencement at Paulson Stadium Saturday. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Nearly 2,200 undergraduate and graduate students from Georgia Southern University’s Statesboro, Armstrong and Liberty campuses received associate, baccalaureate, masters, specialist and doctoral degrees during two Fall 2019 Commencement ceremonies this past weekend.

Georgia Southern President Kyle Marrero welcomed the graduates and their families to the university’s 28th Fall Commencement ceremonies, held at the Savannah Convention Center in Savannah on Friday, and the Allen E. Paulson Stadium in Statesboro on Saturday. He extended his personal congratulations to the graduates on their academic achievements. 

“This graduation is a momentous occasion for Georgia Southern University, as well as for all of you,” Marrero said. “Today, you are part of history at Georgia Southern. We strive every day to model our values of collaboration, academic excellence, discovery and innovation, integrity, openness and inclusion, and sustainability.”

He also commended the university faculty members who have inspired students throughout their academic careers and beyond.

“At the front lines of these efforts are our faculty, who are collectively the heart of this university, and who are individually mentors to these graduates,” Marrero said. “Each graduate will have his or her own special story about a professor whose inspiration and interest shaped their success not only in college, but also in their careers, in ways that will be appreciated even more as the future unfolds.”

At both ceremonies, award-winning journalist and alumna Laura Harris served as the speaker. Harris, who graduated summa cum laude and as an Honors Program Scholar from the university’s School of Health and Kinesiology in 2008, has been a rising star in broadcast news since leaving Georgia Southern with a bachelor’s in sport management. The Atlanta native co-anchors the morning and midday newscasts at NBC5 in Dallas/Fort Worth and has garnered an Emmy Award and been recognized for her work by the Associated Press. 

“The important question now is not what do you want to be when you grow up, but rather, who do you want to become”? Harris asked of the graduates. “Today is a day to celebrate, but also a time to let this sink in: You now have an undeniable responsibility. What are you willing to stand for? Who are you willing to become? When this life is over, what will people say about you”?

In closing, Harris left the audience with thoughtful challenges.

“Don’t get out of bed to be mediocre,” she said. “Always act as though what you are doing could change the world. But above everything, be yourself. Authenticity isn’t just encouraged. It’s necessary.”


Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter