LAWRENCEVILLE - Convocations are typically events that welcome students to a college campus, but at Georgia Gwinnett College, its first convocation was a celebration of the community.
At the ceremony Thursday, the school unveiled its covenant, a list of things the school pledges to do to "make Georgia Gwinnett College the best liberal arts college of the 21st century," said Stas Preczewski, the vice president for academic and student affairs.
In the keynote speech, Banks Bitterman, the principal of the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology, expressed his admiration for the pioneering students.
"You have taken the road less traveled, and it will make all the difference," Bitterman said. "Life is a journey. It doesn't matter where you begin. It matters where you finish. Georgia Gwinnett College will take you from where you are to where you want to be."
During the convocation, college officials honored eight students who this year embodied and exemplified four values that Preczewski said are "the hallmarks of GGC."
"It takes a certain kind of person to join a brand new college and help build it from scratch, a pioneering spirit," Preczewski said. "And just as our covenant emphasizes the nature of that spirit and our values, so does GGC's official seal.
"Our seal bears four values that emphasize and encapsulate our vision and mission: service, scholarship, creativity and leadership. These values inspire and guide our actions."
The following students were honored:
· Misty Mahan was honored for her service. On the first day of classes in 2006, she created the psychology club, and soon after, she organized a group of students to raise money for Relay for Life.
· Nicole Gunther was honored for her service. She has also worked to support Relay for Life, and she volunteers for organizations including Toys for Tots and the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.
· Heather Levin was honored for her scholarship. She represented the college at the 11th annual Conference on the Americas and co-delivered the paper, "Transatlantic English Literature: An Undergraduate Student Perspective."
· Kristine Ward was honored for her scholarship. She is known for her keen critical perspective, her dedication to collaborative learning and her spirited approach to academics.
· Tom Willard was honored for his creativity. He is president of the Film Club and the Gay-Straight Alliance, and he been creative in coming up for ideas for recruiting new members and collaborating with other clubs.
· Ashley Allen was honored for her creativity. She is known as a creative leader who has innovative ideas for building service programs, and she founded a student volunteer group to raise awareness of underprivileged children.
· Elizabeth Moale was honored for her leadership. She is leading a group of students who are bringing Habitat for Humanity to the school.
· Billy Johnson was honored for his leadership. The president of the Student Government Association is someone who "consistently puts the welfare, concerns and needs of the student body above his own," Preczewski said.
In addition, a group award was given to the college's faculty and staff.
"After receiving so many nominations for so many candidates, we decided that this year, it's only fitting we recognize and thank all our faculty and staff," Preczewski said. "Starting a new college is no easy task, and without the steadfast dedication of the entire team putting our values into practice every day, we would not be where we are today."