Two hundred and sixty-eight students filled the rows of chairs in the Gressette Gym for the 2018 Fall Graduation Ceremony. Some graduates had creative caps, others’ robes were adorned with medals, tassels and sashes. Families gathered on either side of the gym’s bleachers to watch students receive their diplomas. Faculty gathered in seats behind the graduates to watch those they had mentored take the next step into life. President Bridges presided over the event. He introduced this year’s Speaker, The General Surgeon and the Tift Regional Department of Surgery Chair, Dr. Tracy Nolan.

     She described the things she had to overcome as she climbed the ladder of life. Each ring is a step in life, you have to keep moving up. She reminds students to lean on others like a ladder to a house.

     98 students received Associate’s degrees from the fields of Science in Nursing, Music, Arts, Science and Applied Science. The 170 other students finished their Bachelor’s degree in Science, Arts and Sciences, Business and Science in Nursing.

     “It’s always great to have another set of fine additions to the ABAC Alumni,” said President Bridges after the ceremony. Twelve students graduated Cum Laude, finishing with a GPA of 3.5-3.69. Eight students graduated Magna Cum Laude, with a 3.7-3.99 GPA. Only one graduate, John Wesley Helms, earned Summa Cum Laude in this graduating class. His GPA finished as 4.0 or above. He was part of the Honors Program and graduated from the Stafford School of Business.

     “It feels refreshing after four and a half years, it took a lot of hard work and dedication. Many hours of studying, but I’ve always had a passion to exceed,” said Helms. He plans on attending UGA for his Master’s in Business and go into marketing or management. He wants to work in Atlanta someday. Helms described his time with ABAC as, “full of a lot of fun memories, it’s been a really great experience. It was a good adventure to get to go here with the people I have.”

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