by Claire Miller
For Alvin Hawkes, the thought of becoming a teacher had always been in the back of his mind.
Hawkes, whose wife teaches at Snellville Middle School in Gwinnett County, was working as a paint contractor when one of his customers suggested he consider a career in education.
“A woman came in who was a principal at a local school, and she said, ‘You should think about teaching,’” he explained.
Fast forward to May 6 when, after enrolling at Georgia State University and working hard to earn his teaching degree, Hawkes celebrated his achievements with his peers at the COE’s Spring Convocation.
Hawkes graduated this month with his bachelor’s degree in middle level education and hopes to find a job teaching middle school math, while his friend and fellow middle level education graduate Dametra Lester hopes to get a job teaching middle school English.
“I hope that a school hires me and lets me try some of the innovative teaching ideas we learned in our program,” Lester said. “I hope to maintain a career working with students.”
Hawkes and Lester were two of 211 graduating students who attended the ceremony, which took place in the Georgia State University Sports Arena.
In addition to walking across the stage and being recognized for their accomplishments, graduates also had the opportunity to hear from Kent McGuire, president and CEO of the Southern Education Foundation (SEF) who served as guest speaker.
McGuire, whose career has taken him from the Clinton administration to the College of Education at Temple University to the SEF, knows that those graduates entering the work force will face a number of challenges. But he hopes they will take what they’ve learned in the College of Education and use it to combat those challenges head on.
“You’re going to have your hands full, but I think you’re ready,” he said. “We’re proud of you for your persistence, vigilance and the quality of work you have done. I hope that you won’t just accept the cards you’ve been dealt – you will play them and raise the ante.”
As graduates of the college, these students are now members of the COE’s Alumni Club, which brings with it opportunities to network with other educators and give back to the community.
August Ogletree (Ph.D. ’09), research associate in the Mathematics and Science Department of Atlanta Public Schools, spoke about the Alumni Club’s recent silent auction, which raised more than $3,000 for Project One-On-One, an educational mentor initiative through the Children’s Restoration Network.
“I hope our new alumni will be eager to help out such a great cause,” she said.
Following the ceremony, graduates and their families and friends enjoyed desserts at a light reception in their honor.
To view photos from the ceremony, click here.