ALBANY — In September 2017, Albany Technical College and Georgia Military College announced a collaboration to expand educational opportunities for students in southwest Georgia, opening GMC’s new extension center.

Now, almost three years later, GMC-Albany celebrated its first graduates, Grady Wilson and Bethany High, over the weekend.

GMC-Albany joined GMC-Valdosta on Friday for graduation at the Valdosta State University PE Complex, with state Rep. John LaHood, R-Valdosta, as the commencement speaker.

Wilson is GMC-Albany’s first bachelor of applied science degree graduate, as well as GMC’s first supply chain management and logistics BAS graduate. After graduating with an associate of applied science degree from Albany Tech, Wilson said he wanted to see if he had what it took to go further in his education.

“My goal in the beginning was to prove an old middle school teacher wrong,” Wilson said. “She told me I’d end up in jail, and for a long time that drove me to keep going. I wanted to show her she was wrong.

“As I went further in school, I realized that it didn’t matter what she thought of me then, she doesn’t know me now. I may have started this journey for her, but I finished for me.”

With a full-time job at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, the 43-year-old father said he credits his family for pushing him to finish his BAS degree.

“My kids are proud of me,” Wilson said. “They are what’s kept me going throughout this process. Showing them anything can be achieved if you work hard enough was important to me.

“My wife has a long list of things around the house that need to be done so I think she’s happy I’ve finally finished my degree, too. It has been a long road, but the hard work will be worth it.”

GMC-Albany also celebrated its first dual-enrollment graduate. High graduated from Baconton Community Charter School while simultaneously graduating with her associate’s degree from GMC.

“It doesn’t feel real that I have an associate’s degree and a high school diploma,” High said. “There have been a lot of tears trying to balance everything I was involved in, in addition to completing my course work. But I’m happy I did it.”

High is an Olympic bunker trap shooter and travels frequently for competitions. She said the flexibility of her class schedule and course work at GMC allowed her to continue to study and travel at the same time.

The high school salutatorian has a goal of competing in the Olympics, but first she will head to Valdosta State to study sports psychology and physical therapy.

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