Nearly 200 Graduate from Averett University in Spring 2023 Commencement Ceremony

Posted on May 6th, 2023 by Cassie Jones

A new class of graduates joined a global network of Averett University alumni today reaching the pinnacle milestone of their college career.

The University conferred the degrees of 197 graduates, 160 of whom participated in the Averett’s spring commencement exercises held at 10 a.m. in the Grant Center on Averett’s E. Stuart James Grant North Campus.

Averett’s Class of 2023 includes 11 veterans, as well as eight international students from seven countries: Argentina, Bahamas, Belarus, Canada, Finland, Guatemala and Sweden. Graduates ranged in age from 20 to 60, with more than half finishing their time in the University’s traditional programs and more than 40% completing their degrees through Averett Online.

“Enjoy and excel on your new and different paths, Class of 2023. Think, feel and imagine whole new worlds, and be a catalyst for positive change in the world,” said Averett President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks. “And please never forget, Averett people look out for and take care of one another because we are one Averett, one ever-growing family.”

In a gymnasium filled with family and friends, graduates received their commencement address from former NFL player and non-profit founder Buddy Curry, who shared some life lessons and challenges for the new alumni in their next endeavors.

“Seek your strengths; find out what they are. They’ll become your pathway, and then passion will follow your success,” he said.

“Who you know is often more important than what you know. You guys have a degree. You guys have knowledge. Your challenge is to convert that knowledge into wisdom,” Curry shared. “Wisdom comes by living it out. I challenge you to start your personal network…Who you hang around with, many times, is who you become, so befriend people who have something that you want.”

Curry joined the Atlanta Falcons in 1980 and was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He played eight seasons with the Falcons and was selected to two Pro Bowls. He led the team in tackles each year and was named Team Captain.

Following his football career, Curry teamed up with former Falcons teammate Bobby Butler to form Kids & Pros, a Georgia-based 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to teaching proper football and safety techniques and life skills to pre-high school youth from all socio-economic backgrounds. At free camps and clinics, kids come to play as a team and be coached by current and former NFL players who emphasize the importance of good sportsmanship, excellence, integrity, teamwork and perseverance. Since 2002, Kids & Pros has positively influenced more than 63,000 young people and conducted 325 events in 13 states plus Canada.

Sharing some parting wisdom, he reminded graduates, “You don’t have to be a product of your environment; you can be a product of your choices. You have chosen well. Continue to choose well.”

The ceremony included the traditional bagpipe processional followed by music from the Averett Symphonic Band. The Averett Singers performed the national anthem and Averett’s “Alma Mater,” and Professor of Mathematics Rev. Dr. Gary Tucker ’85 delivered the invocation and benediction. Dr. Marc Muneal, professor of English and Averett’s 2021-2022 Faculty Member of the Year, carried the mace during the processional and recessional.

Dr. Annie Wimbish ’81, chair of the Averett Board of Trustees, welcomed graduates and guests on behalf of the board, and Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Virginia Henderson presented the graduates and recognized those receiving awards, including:

Traditional Undergraduate Awards (Highest GPA):
Mary C. Fugate Award: Jacob Taylor Hutchinson
Grace V. Crenshaw Award: Katri Anni Kaarina Kakko

Averett Online Awards (Highest GPA):
Malcolm Knowles Award: Nicole Rene Dufore
Frank Campbell Award: Hope Carleigh Cole

Student Awards of Distinction:
C.L. Davenport Award for Excellence: Sarah E. Marlowe
Curtis Bishop Award: Anna Elizabeth Ewing
American Legion Citizenship Award: Jahna Nichole Waters

View the full recorded ceremony here, and find more photos from the day here.