By Tia Lynn Ivey
An in-person graduation was held for Georgia Military College students from the Madison campus last week in Milledgeville. Madison Mayor Fred Perriman delivered an inspiring commencement speech to the 20 graduates, donned in caps and gowns while social distancing during the ceremony.
Usually, Georgia Military College holds a huge graduation ceremony for all students from the Milledgeville and Madison campus, along with online students. But this is not a usual year. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, GMC opted to hold five smaller graduation ceremonies to keep students, educators, and their families safe.
Perriman aimed to encourage graduates as they enter the workforce during an unprecedented time in history.
“They are a graduating class that will really be making history. This is the first time the college is holding graduation later than usual because of COVID-19,” said Perriman. “I want to encourage them and give them hope for the future.”
Perriman told graduates that although their last year of school was changed because of COVID-19, he hopes they go out into the world to make it a better place.
“They may not have gotten to socialize the way most college students usually do during their last year, but this is only the beginning for them,” said Perriman. “They have a lot of life yet to live and one day they will be telling their children and children’s children about this time in our history.”
According to Leigh Aldhizer, director of the Madison GMC campus, graduates were eager to celebrate their academic achievements with their families, peers and school leaders.
“Madison Campus has 47 graduates this year with 30 of them participating in the ceremony on July 9,” said Leigh Aldhizer, director of the Madison GMC campus. “We are extremely proud of their perseverance during these unprecedented times. Courses were all switched to an online – a remote format. Students rose to the challenges presented and prevailed”
Aldhizer was honored to have Madison Mayor Fred Perriman deliver this year’s commencement speech.
“The graduation speaker for the combined ceremony is normally selected by the Milledgeville Campus. Since we were able to invite a speaker this year for a Madison campus-only ceremony, I felt it was important to choose someone who has direct knowledge of these students, our community, and the challenges and opportunities presented in these current times,” said Aldhizer.
“We were thrilled when Mayor Perriman accepted our invitation. Aldhizer shared how GMC prepared for this year’s graduation in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have put in additional safety measures including: all students, faculty, staff, and guests will be screened prior to entering the activity center, anyone with a fever of 100 degrees or higher will not be allowed to attend; all seating will be spaced six feet apart; hand sanitizer and soap will be readily available; and the space will be thoroughly sanitized by the GMC Engineering Department between ceremonies,” explained Aldhizer, explained before last Thursday’s graduation.
With all the safety measures in place, this year’s crop of Madison’s GMC graduates celebrated together as one chapter in their lives ends and a new one begins.