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Breeze Logo 2019


GSW recognizes 2019 graduates

GSW’s Class of 2019 took their final steps, and for some their first steps, on campus Wednesday, May 8 at the Spring 2019 Commencement ceremony in the Convocation Hall. Approximately 307 students earned bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degrees.

The commencement speaker was Judge George M. Peagler, Jr., a retired superior court judge for the Southwestern Judicial District of Georgia.

“Twice each year we get to celebrate our most important and exciting event – commencement,” said GSW President Neal Weaver. “Georgia Southwestern’s campus is full of extraordinary men and women. We cherish our unique position from which we get to watch you grow and develop, both in knowledge and maturity, and because of this we take tremendous joy from your successes and great pride in your accomplishments. When we hear your name called, and we see the smiles on your faces, and we hear the shouts from the crowd cheering, we remember why we chose this profession. All of us at GSW are proud of you and are especially proud for you.”

Read more about Commencement here. Find photos from the ceremony on GSW’s Facebook page. Professional photos from the ceremony are also available for free download.

George Peagler crowd web

Brandon Waters named 2019 GSW Outstanding Scholar

Brandon Waters, a non-traditional senior education major from Pitts, Ga., was recently named GSW's 2019 Outstanding Scholar, the university’s highest academic honor.

Waters currently holds a 4.0 GPA, which puts him at the top of his class. The Outstanding Scholar Award represents superb scholastic achievement. A student must have a near-perfect GPA even to be considered for this award.

"It is truly an honor to be recognized as GSW’s 2019 Outstanding Scholar,” said Waters. “Being a non-traditional student has made it challenging at times, but with the support of God, my family, and especially my wife, my hard work has paid off.”

As the owner and operator of a cow-calf cattle business, Waters originally entered the agriculture field after graduating from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College with a degree in Agricultural Business.

“After I graduated, I began working as a salesman in the agriculture field. But over the years, I could not shake the idea of becoming a teacher,” said Waters. “Being a positive role model and molder of young minds was a desire I could not continue to ignore. With the support of my wife, I chose to come back to school to pursue my second career in education with the hopes of also getting into coaching.”

Read more about Brandon here.

 Brandon Waters web


Hurricanes and Lady Canes make program history in PBC tournaments

GSW’s baseball and softball teams made program history in their runs at the Peach Belt Conference (PBC) Tournaments. In the softball tournament, the Lady Canes upset the second-seeded Columbus State to advance to the Semifinals for the first time in program history. The team also set program records for most runs in a postseason game, first multi-home run game in the postseason, and first save in the postseason. The Lady Canes continued their winning streak against third-seeded Young Harris to advance to the Finals. GSW finished runner-up in the Tournament, falling to North Georgia 3-1.


Just a few weeks later, the Hurricanes entered their tournament as the eight seed and started off strong, toppling the top-seeded North Georgia. The team then defeated Georgia College 9-2 and finished tied with Young Harris, who advanced to the finals by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker. During their season, the Hurricanes recorded their the highest number of regular season wins (14) and defeated both North Georgia and Georgia College in the postseason for the first time in program history.

Softball Baseball Postseason-03




Veterinarian established GSW scholarship in former teacher’s nameAdams and McNeill web

Sam Adams, Ph.D. and the Georgia Southwestern Foundation Board of Trustees proudly established the Rebecca McNeill Scholarship Endowment in honor of educator and Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) retiree Rebecca McNeill.

Adams, a GSW alumnus (’73) who splits his time between homes in Buford and Americus, is a former assistant director for veterinary programs at the Centers for Disease Control and director of the Division of Comparative Medicine for State University of New York Downstate Medical Center. He created the scholarship in honor of McNeill because of the influence she had on his life as well as her service to education at the high school and collegiate levels.

McNeill, fondly known to many as “Mrs. Rebecca” and long-time Americus resident, was a beloved teacher and mentor to her high school students. She was also highly respected on GSW’s campus, where she served as a faculty administrator until her retirement in 1992.

Established less than a year ago, the scholarship has already helped its first recipient, Jackie Larsen of Americus, graduate with her BSN in nursing. Larsen plans to take the boards in the coming weeks and start her career at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

“If not for this financial support, I would have had to put this path on hold,” Larsen writes in her thank you letter to Adams. “You have given my daughter and myself the chance for a brighter future. It wasn’t until I became a single parent that I realized I needed a career I was passionate about and was attainable.”

Read more about the scholarship here.

Inaugural Hail Storm event a success for Athletics

On May 10, GSW’s Department of Athletics help their inaugural Hail Storm at Providence Springs Plantation. Spectators who purchased golf balls in advance of the event gathered to watch the balls drop from a helicopter onto the target. The ball closet to the target took home the first prize of $25,000, with prizes also awarded to second through ninth place and the ball landing furthest away.

After covering event costs, the Hail Storm raised nearly $90,000 for GSW athletics programs.

Watch highlights from the event here and find photos on the Georgia Southwestern Hurricanes Facebook page.

GSW to offer variety of summer youth camps

Throughout the summer, GSW will be hosting a variety of summer camps for area youth, including reading, coding, chess, baseball, and softball camps. There’s something for everyone, from Pre-K through high school.

For more information and registration forms, visit

First-Year Experience receives grant for new iPads

The Georgia Southwestern Foundation recently received a $5,000 grant from the Flint Energies Foundation, made possible by their Operation Round Up campaign. Funds from the grant will be used to purchase five iPads to increase mobility with the Office of First-Year Experience (FYE), which focuses on student retention and overall success. The iPads will allow staff to immediately serve students one-on-one during registration, orientation and advisement at any meeting place.

“We are grateful to Flint Energies for investing in our students’ success,” states FYE Director David Jenkins. “Their financial support will allow for much-needed technology within FYE to better serve our students.”

Flint Energies and GSW web


Fisk publishes psychology article competed with help of the late Cole Varnum

Dr. Gary Fisk, professor in the Department of Psychology and Sociology, recently published an article on unconscious perception with colleague Steve Haase of Shippensburg University.

The data used in the publication was collected with the help of the late Elliott Cole Varnum (pictured here with his research at the 2018 Undergraduate research Symposium), a GSW psychology major who passed away unexpectedly last summer. The article is dedicated to Cole in the “acknowledgments” section.

The full article is available here.

ColeVarnumPoster web


Student Recognitions

Canes Spotlights Announced

Canes Spotlights highlight Georgia Southwestern students who hold leadership roles, are involved in extracurricular activities and excel academically on campus. The May Canes Spotlights were freshman Makayla Graham and recent graduate Lindsey McDonald.

Canes Spotlights are nominated by GSW faculty and staff.

Makayla Graham web square     Lindsey McDonald web square

Vincent Norrman advances to NCAA National Championship, named semifinalist for DII Jack Nicklaus Award

Golfer Vincent Norrman recently placed third at the NCAA DII South/Southeast Regional, where he earned a spot to compete in the NCAA DII Men's Golf National Championship. In the Championship, held May 20-24, Norrman placed nineteenth out of over 100 players.

Norrman has also been named a semifinalist for the 2019 NCAA Division II Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award presented by Barbasol. The award winners will be announced on May 30.

Chelsea Rand Chem Award webChelsea Rand receives Chemistry Award

On April 27, Chemistry major Chelsea Rand received an ACS-SOWEGA Optima Chemical Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Chemistry Student. The award is given each year by the Southwest Georgia Local Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS-SOWEGA) and Optima Chemical, a local chemical company, to chemistry students from universities in Southwest Georgia for outstanding academic achievements in chemistry. Rand graduated GSW in May 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and will pursue a Ph. D. in Chemistry at Auburn University in the fall.

Softball players recognized for excellence on and off the field

Following their regular season and run for the championship, GSW Softball has had a number of players recognized for their achievements both on and off the field. Those recognized were:

GSW Athletics ranks 3rd in community service hours

The GSW Athletic Department takes pride in giving their all on the playing field and in the classroom but also strive to give back within their community. In a recent 2018-19 NCAA Division II report developed by Helper Helper, GSW ranks No. 3 in the nation in volunteer hours recorded and has a total of seven teams ranked in the top-10 for service hours recorded this past school year.

During the 2018-2019 school year, student-athletes from 46 states put forth a tremendous effort out in their local communities volunteering. Throughout the year, student-athletes and staff used the Helper Helper app and online portal to coordinate and track their service efforts.

Read more here.

Six Hurricanes named to PBC All-Academic Team

The GSW baseball team placed six student-athletes on the 2019 Peach Belt Conference Baseball All-Academic Team in a release announced by the league. Those recognized were Tucker Smith, Jamison Wilks, Jacob Harrell, Stewart Tyler, Jared Donalson, and Hayden Martin.

Read more here.

Tucker Smith tabbed PBC Pitcher of the Year

Junior Tucker Smith was named Peach Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year at the league's annual baseball awards banquet. In addition, Smith became GSW's first All-Conference First Team selection. He is the first in program history to win any of the Peach Belt's major awards.

Read more about Tucker here.

New Hires, Promotions & Retirements

Stephen Snyder named Assistant VP for Advancement and Executive Director of the GSW Foundation

Stephen Snyder, former the Special Assistant to the President, has been named the Assistant Vice President for Advancement. As the head of the newly-formed Division of Advancement, Snyder will oversee the operations of Alumni Affairs, Annual Giving, GSW Foundation, and University Relations.

Snyder has also been appointed Executive Director of the Georgia Southwestern Foundation. Snyder has served as Interim Executive Director since Reda Rowell announced her retirement in April.

Ben Hicks steps down as Men's Basketball Coach

GSW Director of Athletics Mike Leeder announced in early May that Ben Hicks has stepped down from his position as head men's basketball coach after three seasons, citing personal reasons. Hicks plans to pursue professional opportunities closer to his hometown of Phenix City, Ala.

"We hate to see Ben go, but understand his intentions and motivation for moving on," Leeder said. "I appreciate his commitment to the University over the years and the effort put forth towards meeting the vision of our department. His involvement in campus activities, the program's dedication to community service and the effort he made to continue to improve the program are respected. We wish him and his family nothing but the best moving forward."

Learn more about Ben and his career at GSW here.

Upcoming Events

  • May 27: Memorial Day (campus closed)
  • May 30: Last day of Maymester
  • May 31: STORM Day
  • June 4: First day of Summer classes
  • June 7: STORM Day

 Find more events on the GSW academic calendar and on CanesConnect.

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