There were 15 students receiving their graduate degrees this semester. From the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, students receiving a Master of Science are Peter Chiarelli, Alejandra Monterrosa, Sakshi Pathania, and Boran Yang; and receiving a Doctor of Philosophy is Pin-Chu Lai. From the Mary Frances Early College of Education, receiving an Educational Specialist is Sapna Bhambani; receiving a Master of Education is Imani Akpuchukwu; and receiving a Doctor of Education are Matthew Brigner, Ashley Brown, Marc Ebelhar, Christine Kopacz, Jerome Lee, Nicole Phillips, Joseph Pierce, and Tyrone Smiley.

University of Georgia Griffin graduates had the opportunity to literally leave their mark on campus during the Spring 2021 Brick Ceremony held on Thursday, May 13. This event is special to UGA Griffin, with each graduate receiving a brick, featuring their name and class year, to be placed on the floor of the Naomi Chapman Woodroof Agricultural Pavilion where it will remain for all time.

“When you come back 20 or 30 years from now, with the kids and grandkids, you will be able to bring them over and find your brick,” said Dr. David Buntin, Interim Assistant Provost and Campus Director for UGA Griffin. “By then hopefully we will have the entire floor covered in bricks of our graduates.”

In order to keep with social distancing measures, separate ceremonies were held for graduate students and undergraduate students, with each featuring a student speaker for the group. The student speakers were nominated and selected by UGA faculty and staff. 

Nicole Phillips, who received her Doctor of Education degree from UGA’s Mary Frances Early College of Education, served as the student speaker for the graduate students. She began by noting that while she knew in her heart she would see this day, like many of her classmates, she did not know how she would get there. She thanked God for seeing her through and wished congratulations to all her fellow graduates.

“Finishing a degree is always hard and is always an accomplishment,” said Phillips.

Her speech focused on four points to share with the class of 2021. The first acknowledged that this showed they all have the capacity to achieve greatness academically and sustain it through future generations. The second was to accept without apology your current situation and have the courage to create your ideal truth. For her third point, she drew inspiration from Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., better known as rapper Snoop Dogg, and his speech when he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In it he thanked himself for believing in himself and for doing all the hard work and Phillips told the crowd this represents how important it is to appreciate yourself and all the best ways you show up in this world. Last, she made sure to point out how important it is to acknowledge and honor where you came from and those who contributed to your success along the way.

At the close of the ceremony, Dr. Chrystal McDowell, Assistant Director of Student Affairs for UGA Griffin, wished all of the graduates well and congratulated them on their accomplishments.

“You made it. Job very well done,” said McDowell. “Congratulations from all of us and as always, go Dawgs!”