Class of 2017

At the recent Berry College Commencement, speaker Rear Adm. Vincent L. Griffith highlighted the importance and value of perseverance, hard work, character and building strong relationships.  

“The only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday,” said Griffith, who serves on the Board of Trustees and is a Berry alum. “Remember. No one rides this ship. We all row.”  

Berry’s 2017 graduating class consisted of 469 undergraduates and 64 graduates, making it the largest graduating class in Berry’s history totaling 533. The graduates, faculty and staff and families gathered on Evans lawn May 6.  

Graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, student speaker Valerie McClure acknowledged the people who supported her and her fellow classmates.  

“Berry says that they make us life ready. And while Berry does excel in that aspect, it did much more than that. It gave us an extended family,” McClure said. “Without the support and knowledge given to us by the friends that we lived with and the faculty and staff, we would not be on the paths we are today.”  

The class of 2017 now joins the 33 percent of adults who have earned a college degree. Berry College President Stephen Briggs added that a college degree results in higher status, higher salaries, more taxes paid and a better quality of life.  

“But I want you to remember that there are also obligations,” Briggs said. “Wherever you go, make it your goal to leave that place better than you found it. In other words, be Berry.”  

Highlights from just a few of Berry’s new alumni:

  • More than 100 are headed to graduate school
  • 5 graduates are headed to seminary
  • 13 graduates are headed to veterinary school
  • 8 graduates are headed to medical school
  • Many more graduates have jobs or are in the process of final interviews, from Harley Davidson to Walt Disney World.

The archived video of the graduation ceremony is available at


Written by Student Public Relations Assistant Victoria Mashburn