They will join more than 1,000 others in the first graduation ceremony for Georgia Regents University, but for many nursing students who began at the former Augusta State University, it will be like graduating from their old program.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal will speak at commencement 2 p.m. May 10 at James Brown Arena.
All nine colleges will also hold ceremonies in the days before commencement to hand out individual honors, but the College of Nursing will hold two ceremonies, one for former Georgia Health Sciences University nursing students and one for former ASU students. While the two schools were merged under consolidation last year, the students who started under different programs were allowed to finish out their curriculum, and that will continue for the next two semesters, with the final ASU curriculum students graduating in 2014, said Dr. Jean Pawl, the program director of the ASU track.
“Our first GRU class should graduate in May 2015,” she said.
While they are in the same building, the two nursing curriculums are separate.
“We don’t ever see the other students” from the GHSU track, former ASU student Caitlin Pye said. “Plus we still have all of the same faculty. There hasn’t been any faculty crossover yet.”
“We haven’t noticed any changes,” former ASU student Tania Widener said.
“Other than location,” former ASU student Matthew Lewis said. In fact, going to the library on the Summerville campus now has a nostalgic feel, he said.
“It’s just a walk down memory lane, like going back to your old high school,” Lewis said.
“But we love our new classrooms because we can actually stretch out,” Widener said.
The former GHSU students will hold a convocation at 4 p.m. May 9 at First Baptist Church of Augusta, 3500 Walton Way, and the former ASU students will hold their pinning ceremony at 7 p.m. May 9 at the Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre on the Summerville Campus.
“I do feel the pinning is more personal because it is class specific,” Lewis said. “It’s going to be our graduating class together with the faculty.”
After all they have been through together, “we’re like family,” Widener said.
They plan to go to graduation, which has been in the planning for almost a year, said Dale Hartenburg, the director of student services.
More than 90 percent of those eligible said in a recent survey that they plan to show up for the ceremony, and students were limited to six tickets for family and friends so more than 5,600 were issued, with 7,400 total packing the arena for the event, Hartenburg said.
A couple of changes were made to the ceremony to keep it within a couple of hours in length but each name will be read, he said.
“We still are recognizing every graduate individually,” Hartenburg said.
While Pye debated whether to attend graduation, being the first of her siblings to graduate is a big deal that her family wanted to celebrate.
“My family said, ‘You need to, we want to see you walk across the stage,’ ” she said. “So I’m going to do it for them more than for me.”
All students will receive a GRU diploma, but students who began under Medical College of Georgia, GHSU or ASU can receive a commemorative diploma from that school at no additional cost.
Asked which one she plans to display, Widener diplomatically said, “Both.”