Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University Graduates Receive Degrees during Annual Fall Commencement

STATESBORO, Ga. – Dec. 13, 2013 –  Georgia Southern University held its 22nd annual Fall Commencement where University President Brooks A. Keel, Ph.D. conferred degrees to nearly 1,600 graduate and undergraduate students at Hanner Fieldhouse.

“This is an exciting day in the Eagle Nation as we recognize the hard work and academic achievements of our newest graduates,” said Keel. “As the 12th President of the greatest University in America, I am proud to extend my congratulations to these hardworking men and women as they embark upon a new journey in their lives.”


Twenty-six Doctor of Education degrees were conferred, along with four Doctor of Public Health degrees, two Master of Fine Arts degrees and hundreds of other graduate and undergraduate degrees from the University’s eight colleges.

Commencement speakers for this year’s three ceremonies included Georgia Southern alumna and Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap (’86); the Executive Vice President at Willis North America Jack Jennings; and Russell Toal, M.P.H., director of Georgia Southern’s Center for Rural Health and Research.

Heap, who briefly reminisced on her days as a Georgia Southern student, reminded graduates that it is okay to make mistakes, but noted the importance of learning from those mistakes and not giving in to the easiest route.

“Aim beyond the audience of your peers. Dare to believe in what is possible and instill in others the same sense of possibility,” Heap said. “It will take daring, sometimes you’ll feel like you’re walking it all by yourself. You need optimism. It’s so easy to become disengaged, to become cynical. It’s an easier path. But dare to explore, to discover, to dream.”

Jennings, who called hi

mself a “Georgia Southern parent three times over,” encouraged graduates to believe the best is still ahead of them, noting, “Never peak. Never believe you’ve arrived. Those who believe the best is ahead are at the front of the pack.”

Toal shared with graduates his beliefs on how to be successful as a public servant, emphasizing the importance of staying humble as he offered several tips. “Remember those less fortunate, do your job in the right way and don’t seek credit or praise for doing what is your duty anyway,” he said. “Always treat others as you would like to be treated, and the best giving is that which is done anonymously. Set high standards for yourself and those you work with and remember, there is no greater crime than the crime of indifference.”

He also advised the graduates to, “Focus on the outcome of your work. Don’t be afraid of change, keep an open mind and never lose your willingness to learn.”

Georgia Southern University, a Carnegie Doctoral/Research University founded in 1906, offers 125 degree programs serving more than 20,500 students. Through eight colleges, the University offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs built on more than a century of academic achievement.  Georgia Southern is recognized for its student-centered approach to education. Visit:

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