This week, approximately 2,100 undergraduate and graduate students from Georgia Southern University’s Statesboro, Armstrong and Liberty campuses received associate, baccalaureate, master’s, specialist and doctoral degrees in three Fall 2021 Commencement ceremonies.
Georgia Southern President Kyle Marrero welcomed the graduates and their families to the University’s Fall Commencement ceremonies, held at the Savannah Convention Center in Savannah on Dec. 11, and the Allen E. Paulson Stadium in Statesboro on Dec. 13 and 14. He commended the graduates on their achievements and tenacity.
“Graduates, I don’t need to tell you about your unique college journey, which has been challenging for all of us,” said Marrero. “I am very proud of how, together, we have persevered allowing us to have a successful semester and today, our commencement ceremony. You, our graduates, deserve great recognition.”
During the Savannah ceremony, Georgia’s 2022 Teacher of the Year Cherie Dennis (Armstrong ‘10), who teaches English to Speakers of Other Languages at Hesse K-8 School in Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools, addressed the packed house with a call for kindness.
“My hope for you is that you go out into the world with your eyes and your hearts wide open,” she said. “That you go out into the world and make something beautiful out of its cracks and imperfections. A world that is bound together by the irrefutable strength and integrity of kindness. Be the repairers of the world; the menders of the world; the bridge builders; the constructive, contributive citizens who nurture communities large and small. And that may sound daunting, but really it all starts with something so very simple, something so very possibleand within your reach. Something you knew how to do even as a child. Just being kind.”
Sachin Shailendra, chair of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents and president of SG Contracting, Inc. in Atlanta, spoke at the first fall commencement ceremony in Statesboro.
“Georgia Southern – which in a few minutes will be your alma mater – is one of the shining stars among our 26 institutions,” he said. “It ranks as one of Georgia’s best comprehensive universities, with a growing reputation for research that impacts not only vital industries but the environment and our communities. The degree you earned lets everyone know you learned from outstanding faculty, top staff and talented fellow students.
“The opportunities ahead of you are many. I know this because of my own experience. I was born in Georgia, but my father was not. I am only a generation away from the farmers my family were in India. Education has been a game changer for both me and my family, and I know it’s a major accomplishment for many of you. I hope your degree will inspire you to take the next steps in building your future. So go out into the world and create a worthy future, not only for yourselves, but one that will represent Georgia Southern, our entire university system, and this state as well…Your education has already changed you. It also has the power to change your community, and move our state forward in exciting ways.”
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds (‘79) addressed graduates at the final ceremony, sharing five things he wished someone told him on his graduation day.
“First of all, some of you have no earthly idea what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. And let me tell you, that’s OK,” Reynolds opened. “This thing called life is a tremendous ride. I would encourage you to hold onto it and enjoy it. It’s OK if you don’t have a set life plan yet.”
He encouraged graduates to embrace chance and change, which will allow for growth as a human being, and to learn from failures they will undoubtedly encounter.
As the director of almost 1,000 state agents and scientists, drive can carry any professional far, he shared.
“Work hard,” said Reynolds. “Nothing will separate you quicker from the herd than working hard. It’s competitive out there.”
Finally, find, set and live by a moral compass, he implored.
“I would charge you today to go out and make your mark in the world,” Reynolds said. “Go Eagles!”