Columbia College students Yolanda and Lottie Lawrence finalize gradation details, June 24 at Fort Stewart’s and Hunter Army Airfield’s 31st annual commencement exercise.

FORT STEWART, Ga. - College graduates reached another milestone in their lives during the 31st annual commencement exercise, June 24 at Fort Stewart’s main post chapel. The commencement exercise, sponsored by Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield’s Army Education Centers, proved to be a major accomplishment for hundreds of former students.

“Because of the hard work they have taken even during the deployment cycle … it’s just the best thing that could happen to a person and to see this accomplishment based on their hard work,” said Gail Burgohy, program manager for the colleges and counseling staff. “It’s not a regular college graduation where the students are in college for four years. Some of these folks have taken 10 to 15 years just to complete a bachelors degree.”

The commencement exercise was deferred in 2010 because many students were deployed and resumed this year resulting in two college graduations according to Burgohy.

Giving the commencement address to jubilant graduates was Stewart-Hunter Garrison Commander, Col. Kevin Milton. Closing remarks were made by Pamela King, education services officer and the Third Infantry Division band performed during the ceremony.

Among those earning their associates degree from Columbia College was mother and daughter Yolanda and Lottie Lawrence. Both graduates shared that each served as an inspiration and role model throughout their journey.

Along with those earning a Master of Arts in Management and Leadership was Fort Stewart’s Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. James Ervin.

“Today is a very special day for me, for my Family and the Webster University family … an accumulation of many years that I’ve tried to pursue my degree,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Ervin.
Command Sergeant Major Clifton Johnson, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, Third Infantry Division, earned his Master of Business Administration from Trident University International. Like other graduates, his story encompassed earning his degree despite long hours and lengthy deployments.

“As leaders in the United States Army, we need to continually get better and that is my battle cry as 3rd Sustainment Brigade Command Sergeant Major,” Command Sgt. Maj. Johnson said. “I constantly tell my Soldiers you are to get better … you are to improve.”

According to Burgohy, Soldiers, Family Members, Army Civilians can further their educational journey with the help of a dedicated staff at the Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith Army Education Center.

“I want them [Soldiers, Family Members, Army Civilians] to know, if they are sitting out in the audience, don’t think about it [earning your degree] any longer, take the first step,” said Burgohy. “All they need to do is come forward and begin their program.”

Page last updated Thu June 30th, 2011 at 11:16