Southern Union’s commencement full of special moments, memories

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Special to the
Opelika Observer

Amid strands of Pomp and Circumstance, the largest number of graduates to ever participate in Southern Union State Community College’s commencement ceremony, 240, filed onto the floor of the Sports Arena on the Wadley Campus the afternoon of May 10.
Among those earning a degree this spring was Elijah Smith, the youngest person on record to receive an associate degree from SUSCC. Smith, a 16-year-old from Auburn, enrolled as a dual enrollment student at SUSCC while a student at Saugahatchee Christian School. He graduated high school early and enrolled at SUSCC full time, completing his associate’s degree with a 4.0 GPA. He plans to transfer to Auburn University and earn an engineering degree.
“Southern Union has been a perfect choice for me,” said Smith. “I am glad to be able to get a head start on college through attending SU.”
While graduation day is an important milestone for any graduate and their families, this day held special meaning for Susan and Jody Davis, mother and son who participated in graduation exercises together.
Jody attended Southern Union the past two years and was a member of the Southern Union Music Department. Susan left SUSCC a few years ago lacking a math class to earn her associate degree.
“Last year, as my son approached his final semesters at Southern Union, I casually mentioned that I should complete my own degree,” said Susan Davis. “My son immediately encouraged me with the thought of both of us graduating at the same time.”
“Attending Southern Union was a humbling learning experience guided by caring faculty. I’m thankful for the mentors and friends I came in contact with,” said Jody. “I’m also very proud of my mom, Susan Lovvorn Davis, who went back to Southern Union to finish her associate’s degree so we could walk together at graduation. To be able to share that experience with my mom is a memory that I will never forget, and I’m thrilled to be a graduate of Southern Union State Community College.”
Susan went on to say, “Jody was enjoying his experience at Southern Union so much, and that made me feel really good. The day of graduation was a very emotional, humbling experience. During a quiet moment we shared as we stood in line to receive our diplomas, Jody told me that this was something he thinks his grandchildren will talk about! That really touched my heart! I am so grateful that I graduated from Southern Union at the same time as my son. His success inspired my own!”
This year’s commencement address was delivered by Opelika Mayor and Southern Union alumnus Gary Fuller. As part of graduation exercises, the college recognized a Most Outstanding Student from each division. Representing the Academic Division was Hannah Kirby. Erica McGehee was named Most Outstanding Student for the Health Sciences Division, and Kenneth Wayman was named Most Outstanding Student for the Technical Division.
“Graduation is the most important day on our annual calendar because we recognize our students for their commitment and hard work in reaching their goals,” commented SU Interim President Mark Ellard.
“This is a day that we can celebrate not only the accomplishments of our students, but of the college as well.”

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