Staff Photo: John Bohn April Therrien of Larenceville, a senior accounting major, reads "Women & Money" by Suxe Orman as students return to Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville for the first day of classes of the new school year on Wednesday.
Joe Axt, 50, hates being told he "can't do something."The 15-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps walked the grounds of Georgia Gwinnett College Wednesday afternoon. His seeing eye dog, Gerry, helped him navigate the day of classes ahead.
Axt said he's going to college because he wants to inspire other blind people. A degree in information technology will allow him to work in the field of assistive technology, which enables people with disabilities to perform tasks they were not formerly able to accomplish.
"There's a lot of other blind folks that just don't know they can do some things," Axt said, adding that so far it had been "a good first day."
Like 3,400 other students new to the campus Wednesday, Axt was learning the ropes for the first time.
Administrative Secretary Helen McDaniel stood at the entrance of an academic building, offering assistance to first-time students searching for classes.
"To see all these students here today is so exciting," McDaniel said. "They have a lot of questions about where they're going, and the ones who are coming back from last year, it helps them to have a familiar face to welcome them back."
Emma Clyde, 26, and Jessica McFarland, 22 are both returning students. The friends plan to get their bachelor's degrees in education and teach.
Clyde said GGC's campus is "big, but it's still small enough where you get assistance from the professors if you need it."
Perry Lawson, 18, agreed.
As a first-year college student, he has plans to go into the healthcare industry as a career.
"I'm going to try and get some of my harder classes out of the way first. That's my plan," Lawson said.
Michael Desiderato, 18 and also a new student, said he was enjoying his first day.
"Lots of fine girls here," Desiderato said, smiling. "I like the gym too. I'll be hitting the gym a lot. So far, it seems like a nice place to go to college."
In total, more than 8,400 students were welcomed to the school for fall semester 2011.
Military veteran Axt said he looked forward to a good semester at Georgia Gwinnett College.
"It's going good so far," Axt said. "Everybody's been wonderfully helpful. I'm hoping to learn a lot here and get started in my field."