This is the time of proms, fancy dresses, and graduations. Facebook users get the opportunity to see not only the local graduations but the postings of pictures by their extended family and friends. The common denominator is the pride shown on the parents’ faces.
I did not have any children graduate this year, since I am thankfully long past that phase in my life. However, I do have a nephew and two nieces that grew up right next door to Mary Lou and me. I have known them all since the day they were born and watched them grow into fine young adults.
The oldest, Bailey, graduated from the University of Georgia two years ago and is getting her Master’s Degree at the University of Western Carolina. She is planning to be a Speech Pathologist. We are so proud of her.
The twins, Addison and Davis, were both scheduled to graduate on the same day, May 5th. Addison’s school, Georgia Southern University, allowed her to walk in the graduation in December so she could attend her brother’s graduation in May. That was a very generous and selfless gesture on her part and illustrates the close bond they have had since they were born.
Addison will be working on her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy. She will be attending Indiana Wesleyan University and begins in August. To top it off, she is getting married next April to a great guy.
Davis chose a bit of a different path. He attended the University of North Georgia. UNG is one of six senior military colleges in the United States. Davis thrived in the military atmosphere and was named the Commanding Officer for the Boar’s Head Brigade for his Senior Year.
The Corps consists of seven line companies and a headquarters company, forming two battalions and one brigade, totaling approximately 730 Cadets. This was a wonderful opportunity for Davis to lead others while gaining a degree in Business Management.
Davis’ graduation was held in the new Convocation Center at North Georgia. At the conclusion of the graduation, Colonel Cummings, the head of the Military Leadership Center, had all of those that were being commissioned into the United States Army stand. They removed their graduation robes, revealing their full dress uniform. At that point, standing before their fellow students and thousands of onlookers, they took their oath and became 2nd Lieutenants in the Army.
I have attended many graduations, even been the commencement speaker on a couple of occasions. This was the first one to ever bring tears to my face. Standing straight as an arrow was 2nd Lt. Davis Evans Ponder. The boy has become a man and is prepared to fight and defend my rights as an American.
These three young people are like my children. Their parents have done a wonderful job in raising them and I have been lucky to watch it from right next door. The nest is truly empty now.
I have now had two children and five nephews and nieces graduate from seven different universities. There is one left, and he plans to attend Alabama so there will be eight graduates from eight universities. It is funny how that works out.
It is so rewarding to see a young person further their education and begin to make choices about what they want to be and do as an adult.
I am proud of them all. Job well done!
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org