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Gilmer Center Offers Students Positive Atmosphere

Ashton Walk will receive his associate’s degree this December, a full semester before he officially receives his high school diploma.

Walk craved rigor that he wasn’t receiving in high school classes alone so he turned his focus to the state’s Move on When Ready program and found Dalton State’s Gilmer Center.

The Gilmer Center, located in the heart of downtown Ellijay, provides a way for students in Gilmer, Fannin, Pickens, and surrounding counties to take core classes close to home. Students at the Gilmer Center can even receive an associate of arts degree without taking classes at the main campus in Dalton.

“It’s a positive atmosphere here,” Walk said. “I know everyone’s name. And everyone here wants to help each other instead of putting each other down. It’s friendly and close-knit. I wish I could stay at the Gilmer Center all four years instead of only my first two.”

Tracey May, site coordinator at the Gilmer Center, describes the campus as having a family feel.

 “With our small class sizes, students here get to know each other and their instructors,” said May. “I love seeing students come together. There are lots of spontaneous study groups that form, and when our students do go to the main campus for upper division courses, they often carpool.”

Students can enroll, take necessary entrance exams, and handle all their financial aid at the Gilmer Center without driving to Dalton. Dual enrollment students attend classes at no cost to them.

“We advise, register, and do all they need over here so students don’t have to drive to the main campus,” May said. “Help is available here. You come in to our office and speak one-on-one. Also, all the support services come here to this campus. Our students have access to the same tutoring, career services, and counseling. We have student activities, as well.”

May has helped Ryan Steingruber, a nontraditional student who spent 20 years in the Coast Guard, numerous times.

“I’ve had an overwhelmingly positive experience here,” Steingruber said. “Tracey often gets things taken care of for us with one phone call. And the instructors here are laid-back but still provide the rigor we need. Everyone here wants to learn, and it makes me want to come here.”

Steingruber chose the Gilmer Center because of its close proximity to home. He lives approximately 10 minutes away, and his daughter even attended the daycare at the church across the street from campus.

“I was trying to apply to federal jobs, but I needed a degree,” he said. “I read about the Wright School of Business’s Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accreditation and decided to major in business management. I take as many classes to fulfill my major as I can at the Gilmer Center. And I drive to the Dalton campus for my other classes.”

Classes offered at the Gilmer Center include introductory math, English, and history courses, speech, economy, and even biology class with lab.

Walk took summer classes at the main campus. He said Dr. Celeste Humphrey, professor of biology who teaches on both campuses, was especially helpful when he made the transition to summer courses in Dalton.

“I don’t attend classes at my high school at all,” Walk said. “I work 30 hours a week, too. Tracey has made it very easy to come here. She has made sure I’ve taken care of everything I need to graduate this semester.”

Those interested in more information about the Gilmer Center can call 706-635-1260 or visit the website at www.daltonstate.edu/gilmer