GHC takes annual Honors Ceremony to online format

To continue recognizing students for their academic achievements over the past year, Georgia Highlands College brought its 2020 Honors Ceremony to a virtual format.

“This was our 48th annual Honors Ceremony, so it was a tradition that we did not want to be impacted by social distancing guidelines,” Director of Student Life John Spranza said. “Our students work hard every year, but this year’s special circumstances showed some unique perseverance and dedication to closing out the year in a manner that none of us were prepared for when the semester began. Recognizing the achievements of our students became especially important in order to celebrate during a time that was difficult for everyone.”

The event was presented through a video compiled of prerecorded messages from faculty- and student-submitted photos. Faculty and staff nominated award winners earlier in the spring semester and then created short videos of themselves presenting the awards. Event organizers contacted the students being recognized and gave them the opportunity to submit their own photos to be used in the production. Award certificates were mailed to their home addresses.

“We support the holistic development of our students and want all of our students to engage and excel both inside and outside the classroom,” Spranza said. “Students that invest in their campus community find it can pay dividends towards their success both while at GHC and beyond. Recognizing that success is key in validating their experience and showing our pride in what they have achieved while at GHC.”

The program included several categories of awards and recognition, such as Academic Awards, Athletic Awards, Special Recognition Awards and Leadership Awards.

While the event highlighted the achievements of many GHC students, Spranza said the college recognizes that all students go above and beyond in their roles inside and outside the GHC community.

“We specifically recognized these students during the presentation, but I know there are many more GHC students out there that also deserve recognition,” Spranza said. “While accolades and awards are an important way to honor our high-achieving students, I also think it’s important that we congratulate all the students that attained their goals this year.”

For example, Spranza said it is important to continue recognizing students who are able to overcome academic struggles by passing difficult courses, who manage careers and families while working toward degrees and students who successfully made the transition to remote delivery this semester.

“During this pandemic, we had students that were front-line workers, medical professionals, grocery-store clerks, delivery drivers and so many more in essential jobs that put their health and wellness in jeopardy all while still working to complete class assignments and finish the semester,” Spranza. “To all of them, I say ‘Thank You!’”

48th annual Honors Ceremony



Virtual art exhibition showcases GHC student work

Despite moving to remote operations this spring, Georgia Highlands College has continued its annual student art exhibit in a virtual format, allowing students to place their work on display and giving others the opportunity to see students’ talent and creative efforts.

“Usually we have a spring exhibition of work that had been produced in the art program’s studio courses and we exhibit the work in the Lakeview Art Gallery,” Humanities Professor Brian Barr said. “This year, since we were working remotely, the art faculty set up the online exhibit, so it worked the same way – we had students submit their assignments online and we selected pieces from that collection. There were no awards this year, but the pieces were chosen by the course instructors.”

Barr said once the college moved to remote teaching, instructors revised the normal assignments to new subjects that could be better completed at home, such as drawing from photographs and interior studies. Instructors then used synchronous, virtual class-meetings to evaluate students’ work.

Most of the show came from the work that students did remotely. About 20 of the 30 submissions received were placed on display.

GHC student Julia Belew, of Adairsville, entered several of her pieces in the exhibit. Belew, who is pursuing an Associate of Arts in Art, is no stranger to having her work on display, and said she has fond memories of a lifetime of sharing her work with others.

“My artwork is very personal to me as I’m sure it is for most artists, but I progressed so much as an artist last semester working with [GHC] Professor Barr and I wanted to show off that progression via the art exhibit,” Belew said. “Before starting Drawing I, it was rare that I stepped back from a finished piece and felt proud, but last semester, I created several pieces I am proud of.”

She said while the transition to an online learning format has some challenges, she feels her instructors have continued to provide quality instruction outside of the traditional classroom setting.

“All my teachers at [GHC] have been really wonderful with the switch [to remote delivery],” Belew said.

The exhibit can be viewed by visiting

PHOTO: GHC student Julia Belew, of Adairsville, entered several of her pieces in the exhibit. 


Market demand sparks new bachelor’s degree at Georgia Highlands College

Georgia Highlands College is helping students meet the need for the quickly expanding healthcare sector in Georgia by offering a new bachelor’s in health science. Students interested in working toward a career in the field of healthcare will now have a new opportunity at GHC beginning this fall.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that healthcare occupations are projected to grow 18 percent through 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.4 million new jobs.

“Currently, more than 25 percent of the students at the college are enrolled in a healthcare-related pathway,” Dean of Health Sciences Michelle Boyce said. “By offering this new program, students now have the opportunity to continue their education at GHC to obtain a bachelor’s degree and help fill employment needs in our local area. Students can gain employment immediately upon graduation or they can apply to professional graduate programs such as public health, physical therapy, dietetics, or medical school.”

GHC’s health science degree can be completed full-time in four years. Students with an associate degree in a health profession can complete the program in one to two years, depending on previous coursework.

“Students who have previously completed an associate degree in healthcare career programs such as Radiologic Technology, Surgical Technology, or Pharmacy Technology can also transfer to GHC and complete a bachelor’s degree,” Boyce said.

The DOL estimated there were 57,570 health educators in 2016 and employment is projected to grow 21 percent. The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) projects annual growth of 2.3 percent per year for healthcare occupations, and 15 of the 20 fastest growing occupations are in healthcare or are healthcare related.

Graduates of GHC’s program will be able to perform, develop, evaluate, correlate and assure the accuracy and validity of health programs and health information.

“GHC graduates will be able to direct and supervise health education programs and operations and collaborate with clinicians and the general population,” Boyce said. “Furthermore, they will be equipped to provide information crucial to improve the health of all individuals.”

For more information on the new Bachelor of Health Science, please visit




GHC to distribute CARES Act funds to students affected by semester changes

Georgia Highlands College will begin distributing $2,110,118 in CARES Act funds to students affected by changes due to COVID-19.

The CARES Act establishes and funds the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and allows institutions of higher education to use funds they receive to cover any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus.

As soon as funds are made available to GHC for disbursement, an email will be sent out to notify all students with an expected funding date, and GHC will distribute those funds to affected students.

Right now, funding will only be available for those who have completed a 2019/2020 FAFSA application before June 30, 2020. Students in the Dual Enrollment program, transient students or students who started the semester in online-only classes will not be qualified for these funds.

Additional eligibility requirements may be found at

You may also read more about CARES Act and these funds by visiting the US Department of Education website.


Students at GHC can now join the rapidly growing film industry in Georgia

Students will now have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to work in one of the fastest growing film industries right here in Georgia with a new pathway offered at Georgia Highlands College. Starting this fall, GHC students in the new film pathway will choose between a Film Studies or a Film Production track putting them on the path to join any one of the hundreds of productions currently being filmed in Georgia for movies like Marvel’s “Avengers” series or Netflix shows like “Stranger Things.”

“The ability to tell a story is a fundamental skill that proves useful in many modern career paths,” Humanities Chair Seth Ingram said. “Visual media is now more than ever a common tool of human communication. The skills acquired in our film studies program not only focus on the art aspects of film but also on film as a vocation.”

Since the State of Georgia’s creation of the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act, Georgia has established itself as a leading production hub for both feature films and television productions.

“This act has created a workforce need on film sets across Georgia,” Ingram said. “The Georgia Film Academy (GFA) was established to serve this demand by training students to be set ready upon completing the program. The GHC and GFA partnership will provide students choosing a path in production to be workforce ready while allowing the student the option to continue their education towards a higher degree. The GFA Production Track capstones by offering students the opportunity to apply for an onset internship on a major production. The internships are focused within specific departments of the film production.”

The Georgia Film Academy is a collaboration of the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia created by state leadership to meet education and workforce needs for high demand careers in Georgia’s film and creative industries.

The GFA higher education program offers rigorous professional training, and may lead to union-covered film and television production craft internships and placement in creative industries apprenticeships and jobs.

The Film Studies Pathway will prepare students to enter a baccalaureate program for film or media studies. Completion of the second pathway, Film Production, will earn graduates an associate degree, preparing students to jump immediately into an on-set film career.

The courses will be taught by Ingram as well as Assistant Professor of Humanities Amy Gandolfi.

Ingram, a film scholar, has been with GHC for years working in technology while also working independently as a writer, director and producer for the film and television industry. He is well known in the Rome community as the director of the Rome International Film Festival (RIFF), which will celebrate its 17th year this November.

Gandolfi, also a film scholar, taught the courses Film History, Film Aesthetics and Analysis, and Media, Ethics and Society at Georgia State University. Among other courses within the GHC’s Communication Department, she has been teaching Introduction to Mass Communication at GHC since 2014.

In addition to instructors with a history in film, Georgia Highlands College has a track record of graduating students with undeniable talent in the field. For example, alumnus Keitravis Squire co-owns the independent production company Imprint Studios and has received numerous accolades and awards for his work. His short film, “Midnight Blue,” won numerous awards, including Best Film Noir Short, Gold Award in the April 2018 Independent Shorts Awards, Special Mention in the 2018 Global Shorts competition and recognition as a Semi-Finalist in the 2018 Los Angeles CineFest.

“The Film Studies Pathways at GHC have already been met with an overwhelming response and the classes are filling up fast for the fall of 2020,” Ingram said. “As the program continues to grow, GHC hopes to expand the offerings and the program in the not-so-distant future.”

For more information on the Film Studies Program, please visit Interested parties can register for a virtual information session on June 16 at 10AM by visiting this link.


PICTURE: Students working in a class at the Georgia Film Academy. GHC has a partnership with GFA that provides students choosing a path in production to be workforce ready while allowing students the option to continue their education towards a higher degree.

GHC business competition draws creativity and strategy from students

Some of Georgia Highlands College’s best and brightest students have worked together to propose products and ideas to help make the world a better place. In the vein of the popular television series “Shark Tank,” GHC launched the Charger Innovation Challenge (CIC) this spring, with a virtual competition being held in late April.

“The Charger Innovation Challenge is very similar to the television series ‘Shark Tank,’” Social Sciences Curriculum Coordinator Patrick Manna said. “The only difference is that we are not asking students to create a business or marketing plan. One of the primary objectives is for teams to identify a void in the marketplace or a need that could be filled by an innovative product or service. Everyone knows ‘Shark Tank,’ so the general idea is to create a real-world experience pitching to real-world practitioners and to answer questions on their feet as well as encourage critical thinking. We want teams to be innovative and the bring us their ‘Big Idea.’”

Manna said the CIC is based on the Bulldog Business Bowl he created while teaching at the Citadel, the military college of South Carolina. It was then modified by Social Sciences Assistant Professor Lucinda Montgomery specifically for GHC students.

“We have a unique student population at GHC, and my goal was to tweak what worked at the Citadel and format it in a way that would provide our student body the opportunity to present their ideas,” Montgomery said.

Manna said the CIC is a new venture modeling format and that the questions that need to be answered through the presentations are about the potential market need and the big idea to fulfill that market need.

“Only the student’s imagination will limit the ideas we receive,” Montgomery said leading up to the competition. “The ideas presented could be anything from solving a problem they have encountered or even an idea to improve on something that is already in the market. The sky is the limit.”

Some say that in business there are only detours, not roadblocks. This concept rang true as GHC converted to remote operations in March.

“I do not think the words ‘cancel’ or ‘postpone’ ever came to our minds when GHC moved to remote delivery,” Montgomery said. “The question that came up in conversations between Pat and I was, ‘How do we pivot and continue the competition for students? We go digital.’”

The creation of the CIC allowed students to draw from their classroom experience and translate it to a real-world scenario.

“We hope to provide a real-world experience, enhance student’s critical thinking skills, engage local business leaders and provide an opportunity for students to show everyone what they are made of,” Manna said. “All of this allows us to expand the GHC brand while engaging businesses and entrepreneurial leaders.”

For a competition of such high caliber, only the best judges were recruited.

“Our judges were business practitioners with decades of experience,” Montgomery said. “We have a vice president of marketing and customer solutions, a retired member of the New York Stock Exchange, the president of a media company, as well as a franchisee who operates high-traffic restaurant locations in the metro-Atlanta area.”

This year’s winner is Team Thayer, composed of students Scott Thayer, Nathaniel Carr and Brady Smith.

Smith, who attends the Cartersville site and is majoring in GHC’s Bachelor of Business Administration Logistics and Supply Chain Management program, said the team’s proposed product aided safety, convenience and sustainability.

“We proposed a disposable product that would be inexpensive to produce and easy to recycle that would allow those working in car shops and hangar’s an added benefit of safety and convenience,” Smith said. “Safety comes from the ability to immediately dispose of the product after coming into contact with oil or grease, as well as being made from a slick-proof material itself. Convenience, in that it allows those working in the shop to get into customers cars, as well as walk back inside the shop without risking tracking oil grease.”

Smith said Thayer presented the idea to the group, and the creative process grew from there.

“As someone that watches ‘Shark Tank’ weekly and loves the idea of investing into companies, this was a great opportunity,” Smith said. “Unlike ‘Shark Tank’ where I am looking at the show from the point of view of the investor only, I was able to look at our pitch from start to finish as the investor as well as the one with the product. So, while we weren’t concerned with selling part of our company, we were concerned with selling our idea, which is the first step to any entrepreneurial beginning.”

He said the Charger Innovation Challenge had a direct correlation with what he has learned in the classroom.

“Marketing, procurement, outsourcing as well as our assignments on company strategies has taught me the ways many businesses have been able to begin as an idea, and how to coherently come up with a strategy to get a business off the ground,” Smith said.

The long-term goal of the CIC is to evolve into a full-fledged business plan competition that would take place over a full academic year.

PICTURE: From top left to bottom right: Scott Thayer; Nathaniel Carr; Robin Seikerman (Vice President Marketing and Customers Solutions at The Shippers Group); GHC Social Sciences Curriculum Coordinator Patrick Manna; Brady Smith

May 21 Update – Virtual Commencement Details

We wanted to update everyone on the upcoming virtual graduation planned for July 25th. The virtual graduation will be aired on July 25th via YouTube and Facebook. More information will be shared by email and social media as we get closer to that date. While this approach is different than a traditional ceremony, it is a great opportunity to honor and celebrate our 50th graduating class.

Here are some important items regarding graduation:

Herff-Jones Cap and Gowns

Any student who ordered regalia online should read the attached document and make a selection. Regalia will be shipped to you free of charge or you can request a refund. If you have already completed the form and made your selection, you do not need to do this again. Students who placed an order prior to today should be receiving their orders within the next couple of weeks if they haven’t already.

As far as refunds, please know that we are processing those refunds as quickly as possible. Herff-Jones has built and implemented a new system as of last Friday to greatly speed up this process and are now processing about 1,000 refund requests a day.

If you would still like to order a cap and gown, you can do so through June 30th and it will be shipped at no additional charge directly to you. You will need to do so through this website:


The mailing of diplomas will depend on when we are able to return to campus. Ideally, May graduates should all be awarded by mid-June; therefore, those diplomas will be mailed in early August. Summer graduates will not be awarded until early September and diplomas will not be mailed until late September. Please reach out to the GHC Registrar’s office should you have any questions at

Photo Submission for Virtual Graduation – Deadline is Friday, June 19th

It’s time to celebrate your success at GHC! By visiting and clicking on “Photo Submission” at the top, then completing the form and submitting a photo, your friends and family will get to see your face during GHC’s Virtual Commencement ceremony on July 25th.

Send us a picture that showcases who you are and what you’ve accomplished at GHC. Submit your best cap and gown selfie or a picture in your favorite GHC shirt. We want to celebrate you by giving everyone a chance to see your face during the virtual commencement! Submissions will be accepted through June 19th.

Video Yearbook Submissions – Deadline is Friday, May 22nd

New and special to this 50th graduating class, GHC is putting together a 50th Celebration Video Yearbook featuring you, the Class of 2020! These videos will be showcased on our commencement website and become part of GHC’s history. You are invited to join your fellow graduates by submitting a personal video by visiting or through the 50th Celebration Video Yearbook submission form. Submissions will be accepted through May 22nd.

Please continue checking your student email account for further updates on the 2020 commencement ceremony.

GHC student’s love for music leads to unique final project

Georgia Highlands College student Josie Maddux, of Trion, pulled a leaf from her family tree in a creative approach to the final project of her Latino Literature class while wrapping up the semester remotely this spring.

The daughter of country music singer/songwriter Derry Maddux, from the country music duo Buck and Duke, Maddux teamed up with her father to set some of her favorite poems from the course to music and posted the videos to YouTube.

“I knew that I wanted to do something music related for this project because music has always been what has inspired me the most,” Maddux said. “Since my dad has been a country music singer my whole life, I only found it fitting that he helps me with this project by singing the poems for me.”

Maddux selected poems she felt were inspirational and were relatable to her personally.

“My dad and I both are very passionate, loving people, and I think that you can tell this by our selection of poems,” Maddux said. “For instance, ‘The Rose’ by Gabriela Mistral has a very beautiful story, referring to one’s heart as the rose, saying to keep it open and scatter it everywhere. We loved this poem because that is how we try to live our lives as well.”

Maddux, who is majoring in Psychology and attends classes on GHC’s Floyd site, said she chose to take Latino Literature because she is interested in other cultures.

“This whole course has been truly intriguing. I love the fact that we were able to have a project-based learning experience,” Maddux said. “My classmates have been great the whole semester with giving positive feedback on everyone’s projects along the way.”

Georgia Highlands College moved to remote operations in March. Maddux said this change has not had a negative effect on her experience as a student.

“Professor Lindberg has done a phenomenal job during this transition to [remote delivery],” Maddux said. “She has made the transition for us go very smoothly, and personally I haven’t had a single issue – it honestly hasn’t been that different for me. The transition went very smoothly, and I would like to thank my professors for making that happen. They were very up-to-date and informative with every assignment so I never had an issue.”

Maddux said the Latino Literature class is an excellent option for students, and she appreciated the opportunity to take a unique approach to close out the semester.

“One of the main things I loved about this class was the fact that we learned a lot about the Latino culture through poems, some short stories, and classroom discussions about the readings,” Maddux said. “It was an overall great course and I am glad that I took it.”

She added, “As for my project, I’ve enjoyed going on that adventure with my dad and being able to learn in a way that interests me. If you’ve been hesitant about doing [classes remotely], don’t be. The GHC staff is amazing, and they do everything in their power to make your experience go as smoothly as possible.”

Picture: From left, Derry Maddux and daughter Josie Maddux. Josie worked with her father to create musical renditions of poems for her final project in her Latino Literature class at Georgia Highlands College.

Maddux introducing her project:


Maddux’s dad, Derry, singing one of the poems:

May 15 Update – Commencement, CARES Act, & Plans for Summer and Fall

We want to start by thanking you again. Our students are well on their way to completing the spring semester. Our faculty continue to work closely together to carry on with the tradition of quality instruction GHC is known for. Our staff continue to find new and exciting ways to ensure all campus resources are available remotely.

Thank you to our students. Thank you to our faculty. And thank you to our staff.


GHC student and member of National Guard aids in COVID-19 fight while continuing classes

Georgia Highlands College student Miguel Pizano, of Rome, enrolled in the college’s Criminal Justice program because he wants to make his community a better place to live. As a service member in the National Guard, he was recently given an opportunity to do just that.

On April 9, Pizano was sent to Albany to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes and branches of the Phoebe Putney Health System. He was part of Governor Brian Kemp’s authorization to activate up to 2,000 members of the Georgia National Guard to help a number of nursing homes or long-term care facilities throughout the state with confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Dean of Humanities Jon Hershey spoke highly of Pizano and stated he is keeping up with his classwork in the evenings to stay on track at GHC while also performing his duties for the National Guard.

Pizano said he appreciates how GHC faculty have worked with him as he serves the community.

“It has been a great experience working with them and their understanding of what I’m doing here in Albany with the National Guard,” Pizano said. “GHC has helped me pursue my dream in criminal justice and to one day make it my career once I retire from the National Guard.”

Pizano said furthering one’s education at GHC is a viable option for those who may have extenuating circumstances outside of the classroom.

“All I can say about GHC is that it improves day by day to help students in any circumstance they are in,” Pizano said. “The staff is always there to help when I need it.”