Celebrating Our Graduates At Dalton State

It’s hard not to be upset about missing my son’s graduation from college this semester. I sat in my office alone as I watched a virtual celebration of the graduates on my computer screen.

All over the world, loved ones are experiencing similar grief over missed celebrations. Some are meeting grandchildren for the first time through windows or video calls. People are celebrating weddings virtually with friends and family watching remotely or from the safety of their cars.

And students everywhere are missing proms, athletics, honors nights and scholarship banquets, as well as graduations.

New traditions are being created as we pivot quickly and adjust to life during a pandemic as the weeks of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continue.

We, at Dalton State, are finding ways to celebrate our spring graduates. We want them to feel the excitement we have for their accomplishments and receive the honor they deserve and have worked so hard for.

We polled our students and talked to our colleagues at other colleges and universities both within the University System of Georgia and across the country as we considered alternative celebration options. Each institution has struggled to find the right way to safely acknowledge such an important milestone. Skipping this recognition of the completion of a college credential is not an option.

Our students have worked too hard to put themselves through college while often raising a family and/or working full-time or multiple part-time jobs. The families of our students have sacrificed time with their loved ones to support their student’s attendance of college. Many of our graduates are among the first in their families to complete a college degree. These new graduates represent the hope of their current and future families.

As I study the names and degrees of our graduates, I see a range of young professionals entering our workforce, teachers and healthcare professionals such as nurses, respiratory therapists, radiologic technicians and social workers. There are also a variety of new business graduates in areas such as accounting, management, management information systems, as well as finance and applied economics. (It is certainly an interesting time for a career in finance and economics!) Our graduates from the School of Arts and Sciences have majors in a wide array of fields such as chemistry, mathematics, English and criminal justice.

We awarded approximately 480 degrees this semester including bachelor’s, associate and certificates. Our graduates are ready to step into the workforce. I am confident they are ready for what comes next.

Our graduates are the future leaders of our Northwest Georgia communities. This is why we choose to celebrate our graduates every spring and fall, even during these most unusual times when we cannot gather in person.

We have built a webpage specifically to celebrate our graduates. Here they can download photo frames to place on images and post to social media. We have graduation signs available for download. And most importantly, we are honoring our graduates with a virtual ceremony and hold on to the hope we can have an in-person commencement in the coming months.

Please join me in congratulating these new graduates who enter our workforce at a time when we need them more than ever and when their futures are much less clear than they were a few months ago. If you wish to see our virtual ceremony, please visit our website at daltonstate.edu.

Congratulations to all our graduates this semester. Be proud of all you’ve accomplished. And may you always Run Boldly toward your future success.