The Legacy Continues

“I cannot remember a commencement day as refreshing or delightful as this one,” remarked Berry College President Steve Briggs as he addressed the new graduates of the class of 2016. “It is a fitting tribute because you brought to Berry the breezes of fresh ideas and energy.”

Berry’s spring 2016 graduating class consisted of 435 undergraduates and more than 60 graduate students, making it the largest graduating class in Berry’s history. The graduates, faculty and staff, and families gathered May 7. 

Graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biology, speaker Rebecca Martin congratulated her fellow graduates on their shared achievement and reminded everyone of the importance of struggles and how we should not be discouraged by them.

“Our courage to continue despite obstacles is what makes us strong,” Martin said. “After all, is it really an achievement if you did not have to struggle to make it happen?”

Former Berry president and featured speaker J. Scott Colley provided much needed wisdom. He reminded everyone of the significance of the triad of the head, heart and hands.

“Our graduates already know how to do good, and how to do well,” Colley said. “Now, the trick for the graduates and for the rest of us is acting upon what we already know.”

A college degree results in higher status, higher salaries, more taxes paid, better health and a better quality of life.  

“But I want you to remember that there are also obligations,” Briggs said. “As hard as you worked for you degree, others have helped make it possible... Use your education to become good at what you do, but as importantly, use your education to improve the place where you live, work and serve.”  

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

  • Four graduates are going to law school, four are going to pharmacy school and three will study athletic training.
  • Two are going to Georgia Tech to study human-computer interaction and nuclear and aerospace engineering and 13 are accepted to Veterinary School programs at University of Georgia, University of Tennessee, Florida University, University of Illinois and North Carolina State.
  • More than 20 graduates will be teaching next year in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kansas, New York, Kosovo and Morocco.
  • Twelve graduating nurses have jobs in emergency rooms, burn/ICU and critical care.
  • More Berry grads are heading to work at Disney, Georgia Pacific and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Others will work on a cattle ranch in Nebraska, as an animal handler at Zoo Atlanta, and training dolphins at the Georgia Aquarium.
  • Some are called to serve with the Episcopal Service Corps, Peace Corps and Young Life.
  • Armed with an entrepreneurial spirit, five grads raised $10,000 in endorsement deals so they can travel to National Parks this summer while promoting various brands on Instagram.

The archived video of the graduation ceremony is available at

Written by Student Public Relations Assistant Victoria Mashburn and photos by Public Relations Student Photographer Sara Leimbach