SAVANNAH — Armstrong State University hosted its 2017 fall commencement Saturday, conferring degrees on nearly 600 students in two graduation ceremonies held at the Armstrong Sports Center.
It was the school’s final commencement. The school was founded in 1935 and is being merged with Georgia Southern University at the start of the new year. Georgia Southern officials have said they will maintain Armstrong’s campus in Hinesville.
Saturday, Armstrong recognized students receiving master’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees and associate’s degrees in a wide range of fields. Students from the College of Liberal Arts, College of Education, College of Health Professions and College of Science and Technology celebrated in a colorful march, showcasing decorated graduation caps.
In a packed arena, Armstrong Interim President Jennifer L. Frum, Ph.D., welcomed the 2017 graduates and their families.
"Each of you has worked hard to reach this point, and I commend you on your achievements," she told the graduates. "The education gained at the university is the foundation upon which you will build your future success."
Regent Laura T. Marsh, the 12th District representative for the University System of Georgia Board of Regents and a partner with the law firm Taulbee, Rushing, Snipes, Marsh and Hodgin served as the commencement speaker at both ceremonies. Marsh practices in the areas of real estate, timber and logging, mergers and acquisitions and business and commercial law, among others, and has long provided pro bono legal services to numerous charitable and civic organizations. In 2016, Governor Nathan Deal appointed Marsh to represent Georgia’s twelfth district for the Board of Regents.
"You are an Armstrong State class whose success will always be measured and always be remembered," Marsh said in her address. "You are the future educators, healthcare professionals, attorneys, entrepreneurs, government leaders and CEOs. You are prepared, and it is your time."
Michael Chase Freeman, who earned a Bachelor of Liberal Studies from Armstrong, said he believes his professors were a key component of his undergraduate success.
"I’ve benefited from professors," he said. "They have all been very open to my questions about what to do after college, and directions to take for job opportunities."
Medical Laboratory Science program graduate John Erik Mills has already used what he learned in Armstrong’s "quality learning environment" and "nurturing atmosphere" to secure his dream job at Memorial University Medical Center.
The flexibility to keep her current job as a seventh grade English language arts teacher at Southwest Middle School is one of the aspects Deborah R. Jaudon, already a 2007 Armstrong alumna, loved most about her time in the M.Ed. in reading specialist education program.
"The program allowed me to learn new strategies that will help my students become lifelong readers, regardless of their abilities," Jaudon said.
Thanks to the variety of courses offered at Armstrong and the accessible professors administering them, Lindsey Speaks, who earned a B.S. in Applied Mathematics, feels prepared to conquer any challenge and achieve her professional goals.
"Armstrong is a prestigious university," she says. "It has been an honor to attend this school."