All Georgia Southern faculty, staff, students, and visitors are required to wear an appropriate face covering while attending the indoor commencement ceremonies at the Savannah Convention Center because social distancing may not always be possible. Face covering use will be in addition to and is not a substitute for social distancing.
For the outdoor ceremonies at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro face-coverings are still encouraged, but are not required.
Appropriate use of face masks or coverings is critical in minimizing risks to others near you. You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you have no symptoms. The mask or cloth face covering is not a substitute for social distancing and should be considered as just one precaution people should take to ensure our community remains healthy.
- All guests, regardless of age and including currently enrolled students, are required to have a ticket for entry to the Savannah Convention Center. Graduating students and attendees at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro do not need a ticket.
- Tickets will be delivered electronically to graduating students to share with guests. Guests will have the option to print tickets or present an electronic ticket on their mobile device.
- Ticket scanners will be used to cut down on touchpoints.
- All attendees are required to wear a face covering in the Savannah Convention Center. If they do not have a face covering, they will be provided a disposable mask. Face coverings are encouraged, but not required, in Paulson Stadium in Statesboro since it’s an outdoor venue.
- Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the facilities.
- There will be no concession stands.
- Social distancing will be maintained throughout the facility.
- As a best safety practice, water fountains will be unavailable. Attendees will be able to carry in a sealed bottle of water (up to 1L).
- Social distancing guidelines apply to parking areas around the facility. Signage will be placed throughout parking areas to encourage guests to “Do Right” during the event.
- In Statesboro, guests will not be allowed on the field.
Custodial staff will be present for all ceremonies to keep common areas and restrooms stocked and cleaned throughout the event. All restrooms will be disinfected prior to doors opening.
Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the facility.
Commencement is a special and significant occasion in your life. Many of your family and friends will come from a long distance to witness this memorable ceremony. Our faculty, staff and administrators have planned the program and arrangements with every consideration to make this an impressive and enjoyable event for all candidates and spectators.
Please follow these decorum guidelines for Commencement:
- Arrive an hour before the ceremony.
- Remain quiet and in your seat except when going to the stage or being recognized by your dean and the President. You are not allowed to leave before the ceremony concludes.
- No smoking.
- No alcoholic beverages.
- No balloons.
- Umbrellas are permitted, please bring a poncho in case of rain.
- Wear proper graduation attire. Candidates should wear dark, flat shoes and dress attire with graduation gowns.
- A stole associated with an honor society, a student organization/group represented on campus, or a department of Georgia Southern University may be worn at the commencement ceremony.
- Cell phone ringers must be turned off during the Commencement ceremony and only text messaging is allowed during the ceremony.
- No gathering for group photos during the ceremony.
- No use of selfie sticks or noise makers such as cowbells, horns, megaphones, etc. will be allowed.
- Do not engage in other disruptive behavior during the ceremony.
Tickets for guests are not required at Paulson Stadium. Graduates will not need tickets. Their cap and gown is their ticket.
Tickets will be required for each guest at the Convention Center including currently enrolled students at Georgia Southern and children of all ages. This is done to ensure the size of the audience does not exceed the size of the venues. The number of tickets allotted to each graduate will depend on the size of the graduating class and the size of the venue. There will be no charge for tickets.
Graduates will receive tickets for their guests via email as a PDF attachment. Guests can either present a printed ticket (recommended) or display the ticket on their mobile devices to be scanned. Each ticket contains a unique barcode that can only be scanned once. For this reason, it is important to print the entire PDF file to distribute multiple tickets rather than making a copy of the first page.
Graduates will not need tickets. Their cap and gown is their ticket.
Candidates should arrive at Paulson Stadium an hour before the ceremony. Enter through gates 9 and 11 and proceed to the seating area on either side of the Bishop Building, based on your college for undergraduates and degree level for graduate students (masters, specialist, doctorate).
There will be no shuttles operating on Thursday, May 13.
Candidates should arrive at the Convention Center an hour before the ceremony. Enter the Convention Center through the doors near Bryan Square and follow the signs for candidates.
Seating for the Paulson Stadium ceremonies will begin an hour before each ceremony. Please enter at the west end of Paulson Stadium — gates 9 and 11. Please proceed to the seating area on either side of the Bishop Building. Your seating location is determined by your college for undergraduate students and by your degree level for graduate students. Staff members will help direct you to your seat in the seating area.
Seating for the Savannah Convention Center ceremonies will begin an hour before the ceremony. Please enter through the doors near Bryan Square. Your seating location is determined by the college from which you are receiving your degree. Staff members will help direct you to your seat in the seating area.
Candidates who need accommodations during the graduation ceremony due to limited mobility should contact the Student Accessibility Resource Center (SARC).
On the day of the ceremony, they may also speak with a Guest Services representative upon arrival. ADA representatives will assist them with getting to their seat.
Visitors with accessibility concerns are strongly encouraged to arrive early to the ceremony. A designated handicap parking area is available on a first-come, first-served basis. A state handicap parking permit is required. See map below.
If one or more of your guests require accessible seating, all guests in your party should enter Paulson Stadium through the Media Gate or Gate 13 and sit together in the accessible seating area, which is located along the South Concourse adjacent to sections A and G, and along the North Concourse in sections H through P, sections 101 through 113. See map below. Reservations are not required and seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Wheelchairs will not be available at the venue. Please come with a wheelchair if one is needed.
If you are in a wheelchair or scooter, you need to park at a remote lot and ride the shuttle to the Convention Center. There will be ADA parking available near the shuttle. Each shuttle can accommodate 2 wheelchairs or 2 scooters. When the shuttle arrives at the Convention Center you will be dropped off at the ADA entrance. You and your commencement party, are allowed to enter through the ADA entrance with your tickets.
There will be no shuttles operating on Thursday, May 13.
American Sign Language interpreting is available. Guests who need access and desire close proximity to the ASL interpreter may choose to sit in Section J of Paulson Stadium (Statesboro Campus). In Savannah, the interpreter will be visible on the big screen from all seating areas.
Student Accessibility Resource Center: 912-478-1566
A Grad Pass will be sent to you through Marching Order. You MUST have the electronic Grad Pass accessible on your cell phone or a printed copy of the Grad Pass before entering the stadium seating area. If you do not have the Grad Pass when you arrive at the stadium, please see a staff member at the Candidate Check In table near the entrance to Paulson stadium. During the ceremony, you will present your Grad Pass to the scanner in front of the stage so your name can be read as you cross the stage.
A Grad Pass will be sent to you through Marching Order. You MUST have the electronic Grad Pass accessible on your cell phone or a printed copy of the Grad Pass before entering the Convention Center seating area. If you do not have the Grad Pass when you arrive at the ceremony, please see a staff member at the Candidate Check In table near the entrance to the Exhibit Hall. During the ceremony, you will present your Grad Pass to the scanner in front of the stage so your name can be read as you cross the stage.
The commencement ceremonies will be broadcast live on the university’s Facebook page. All ceremonies can also be viewed on this page. During the time of the ceremonies, a link to the live videos will appear at the top of this page. The Facebook Live event will begin approximately 5-15 minutes before the ceremony. Due to technical constraints, some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) do not permit the use of their systems to transmit such broadcasts. Should you not be able to view the broadcast, please contact your local ISP.
A commencement program listing the names of all candidates will be placed in the candidates’ seats at the ceremony. To reduce contact during the event and to promote sustainability, commencement programs will be digital for guests.
Dr. Louvenia (Annette) Rainge, DMD
Dr. Annette Rainge is the 152nd president of the Georgia Dental Association (GDA), the premier professional organization of dentists in the state committed to improving oral health. Dr. Rainge received her Bachelor of Science degree from Georgia Southern University in the predental program. While there, she received numerous awards for her service in the community as a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. During her undergraduate career, she also attended Harvard University’s Health Professions Program.
A member of the GDA for 30 years, Dr. Rainge is the first female African American president of the association. She has been recognized by both the Georgia Senate and the House of Representatives for achieving this historical feat. She has held multiple leadership positions at the state and local level and is a past recipient of the Georgia Dental Association’s Honorable Fellow award. She has also earned the Eastern District Dental Society’s President Award, the GDA’s Council on Dental Health Committee of the Year award, and the Augusta Dental Society’s President award.
In addition to her leadership roles at the GDA, Dr. Rainge is a Fellow of the American College of Dentists, the International College of Dentists, and the Pierre Fauchard Academy in which she serves as the Georgia Section Chair of the Academy. She is also a member of the Hinman Dental Society. She currently serves on the alumni board of the Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University and was named Alumnus of the Year by both the Dental College of Georgia and the College of Science and Mathematics at Georgia Southern University.
Her many charitable endeavors include dental screenings during Children’s Dental Health Month, health screenings throughout the community, Georgia Mission of Mercy events, Back to School drives, Thanksgiving donations to needy families, and the Pampered Smiles Project providing free dental care for victims of domestic violence. In 2018, she received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dream Keepers Award for her many contributions and services to the community.
Dr. Rainge completed dental school at the Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry. She has practiced in the Augusta area for 30 years and is a general dentist at Rainge Family Dental, PC.
Rahman Anjorin has studied and dedicated over a decade to educating and developing professional and collegiate athletes in and out of their respected sport. He has spent his life training and developing leadership skills to help others reach their full potential. As a sports professional, life skills coach, educator, author and speaker, his life ambitions are to help athletes find their purpose and self-worth outside of their playing arena and to assist in all facets to develop their growth personally and professionally. Anjorin has worked with professional athletes, student-athletes and coaches on both the professional and collegiate levels. Currently, he is a Player Manager in the Player Affairs department with the National Football League Player’s Association. There he oversees the continuing education of the NFL’s active players, the onboarding of rookie players to being professionals within the game and self-investment resources to help initiate transition strategies even while playing the game they love. Additionally, Anjorin is owner and lead consultant of D.E.E.D Consultants. D.E.E.D (Develop, Educate, Engage, Deliver) creates alternative platforms for Athletes to explore more into personal and professional goals and growth. Prior to his current roles, Anjorin has served in positions with The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs in their player engagement space. PAADS or the Professional Association for Athlete Development Specialist and time working with the student-athletes at New Mexico State University have all helped to round out his decade-long experience in the field. Anjorin attended Georgia Southern University on academic scholarship and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. While at Georgia Southern, Anjorin was a McNair Scholar and completed the first of his published works. While The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida allotted more publishing, Anjorin also earned his Masters of Sports Business Management and MBA from the DeVos Sports Business Management Program (ranked #2 in the World for Sports Business Management Programs by Sports Business International 2015). Anjorin has also attended and earned certification from Wharton’s Athlete Development Professional Certification Program. No stone left unturned, Anjorin is now working towards his PhD at the University of Idaho in their Adult, Organizational Learning and Leadership program. Anjorin currently resides in Washington, D.C with his wife Nina-lee and son Eisa who is a sophomore at Howard University.
Ben Freakley, MS.,CMPC, CSCS
- Head of Mental Performance with the Toronto Blue Jays (MLB).
- Founder of Ready. Set. Resilient. High Performance Coaching for individuals and teams.
- Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) through the Association For Applied Sport Psychology
- Member – Professional Baseball Performance Psychology Group (PBPPG)
- Mental Performance Coach – Special Operations Forces / 75th Ranger Regiment
- National staff instructor with the United Soccer Coaches (USC) with a special teaching emphasis in applied mental skills, athlete-centered coaching, factors that influence motivation, and team culture.
- Masters’ degrees in Sport Psychology and Sport Management from Georgia Southern University
- NCAA Division I athlete (men’s soccer) – Georgia Southern University
- Currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Sport and Performance Psychology with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
- His professional interests include: mental toughness, resilience, coach development, team and organizational culture, high performance mindset, mindfulness training and positive psychology.
For more than 20 years, Ben has been helping individuals, athletes, teams, soldiers and businesses look at ways to perform better. Along the way, Ben has been a soccer coach at the Player Development League (PDL) and NCAA Division I level, mental performance coach for special operations forces (75th Ranger Regiment) and general manager for a sports club with over 1100 members. He has consulted with over 20 NCAA teams, sport clubs, military units, legal professionals, and business leaders on the psychology of performance, leadership, culture, and team dynamics.
Lieutenant Colonel Michael J. Gutierrez
Lt Col Michael J. Gutierrez is the Commander of the 330th Combat Training Squadron, Robins Air Force Base (AFB), GA. He leads a Squadron of 60 active duty aircrew instructors and more than 350 students, producing sixteen combat-ready aircrews annually to employ the $6.2B fleet of sixteen E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) aircraft in support of Combatant Commander requirements. He oversees the execution of thirty-one ACC-approved initial qualification, re-qualification and upgrade syllabi and a 2,200-hour flying program in order to conduct Programmed Flying Training in the US Air Force’s only E-8C JSTARS Formal Training Unit (FTU).
Lt Col Gutierrez received his commission from Officer Training School at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, in November 2006. He’s held flying tours in both the E-8C JSTARS and E- 3B/C/G Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), has participated in numerous contingency operations around the world to include USSOUTHCOM Counter-Drug Operations, and six deployments in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM, INHERENT RESOLVE, SENTRY SENTIENAL and SPARTAN SHIELD. Lt Col Gutierrez is a senior Air Battle Manager with more than 2,200 flying hours and over 1,025 combat hours. Prior to his current assignment, he was the Director of Operations 16th Airborne Command and Control Squadron. Lt Col Gutierrez is married to Lt Col Mary Gutierrez and they have one child, Garrett (5).
Jason C. Louder
Actor, Teacher, Coach, Mentor, and general Lover of Life, Jason C. Louder’s star has been steadily rising, Guest-starring in the CW’s “Black Lightning” in the integral role of Frank “2-BITS” Tanner, and as Jamaican Drug Lord “CRESSY”, on “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” an original series on HULU. Jason was also extremely blessed to lend his Voice to the 2016-2017 Adidas Sports Needs Creators National campaign. While persistently honing his craft, he has become one of the most decorated and desirable actors in the Atlanta market and his consistent work at home has also led him to some international acclaim, landing him in Bollywood alongside one of their finest, Kangana Ranaut in the hit movie “SIMRAN”. And he most recently wrapped on a Netflix project starring Jamie Foxx, John Boyega and Teyonah Parris entitled “They Cloned Tyrone”.
A Native of Atlanta, Georgia, Jason has been in more than 30 Stage Productions since 2009, working with some of the most active Directors and Playhouses in Atlanta. Jason was also able to take his stage work to New York in 2013. And he has been working off and on with a transformational production entitled “GO”, a non-dialogue exploration into abuse and its wholistic affect and impact on our lives.
Presently, Jason has worked on 40+Independent projects(Full-length features, Shorts, Web series), including a major SCAD Film, “Odyssey: A Star Wars Story and “Grey Hairs”, a Post Apocalyptic Science-Fiction pilot. Jason’s work has also been recognized by various outlets, being awarded for Best Actor in the 2017 Constellation Film Festival for his role in Darion D’Anjou’s Short Film “PONY”. He has also been in development on a groundbreaking auteurs series addressing Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome and is beginning to trend more heavily on various social media platforms.
And as a Storyteller, Jason joyfully appears as one of his most coveted characters, ‘Babatunde The Griot’ and has inspired thousands of students throughout the state of Georgia. And in the spirit of paying it forward, Jason has worked as an Acting Coach at the incomparable Nova House and is currently working as a youth Acting Instructor with AGI Entertainment. Jason’s calendar is steadily being filled with evidence from his upcoming projects: “The Homecoming”, “ABIDING”, “Sinister Minister”, “My Brothers Keeper”, “Pretty For a Big Girl”, “Moonless Nights(New Jersey)”, “ROADTRIPPING”(N.C.), “BATTERED JUSTICE”, “Christmas Pine”(Chicago) and “The EYES of Providence” just to name a few.
Patrice Buckner Jackson, Ed.D.
Patrice Buckner Jackson, Ed.D. has been lauded by her colleagues for her commitment to the positive experiences and development of her students, her relentless pursuit of excellence in higher education, and her superior level of professionalism. She is a leader, a teacher, a coach and an advocate for students and those who compassionately serve others. She has over 20 years of experience in higher education and more than ten years of experience in executive training. Dr. Jackson is married to Reverend Edward Jackson and they have one daughter, Daiyonah, who is a 2021 Graduate of Georgia Southern University.
Dr. Jackson founded EduCare Training and Consulting, LLC out of a passion for equipping and supporting “heart-workers;” those who do their work as a calling. Working in this way can carry a high price tag: your mind, your body, and your relationships may be in distress as you serve the needs of others. Dr. Jackson’s clients learn how to do the work they are called to do while also living the life they desire. Some of her most notable presentations include: “Start with You”, “Lead with the Shine”, “Ethical Decision Making in Student Affairs”, and “The Myth of Balanced Time”. She is also the host of the “Heart Work with PBJ” podcast.
In higher education, Dr. Jackson has served in many capacities from student assistant to executive leadership in student affairs and enrollment management. Noteworthy accomplishments in higher education include creating Georgia Southern V.A.L.U.E.S., a civility initiative which is rooted in responsible decision-making. As the first female Dean of Students in the history of Georgia Southern University, she developed a Dean of Students Crisis Management Plan, facilitated a Student Grievance policy, and served as a liaison and advocate for students by identifying campus resources and services. Dr. Jackson assisted in building the new Division of Students Affairs at Georgia Southern University post-consolidation until she was named Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Albany State University in October 2018. At Albany State, Dr. Jackson led the Division of Student Affairs including the Dean of Students Office, Campus Housing, Counseling, Disability Services, Student Health Services, Career Services, Student Conduct, Greek Life, Student Engagement, Peer Mentor Support, Student Government, and the newly created Student Support Unit. Dr. Jackson was successful in organizing the Division of Student Affairs at Albany State post-consolidation, introducing a student engagement model to the campus as well as reintroducing the P3 Peer Mentors program. Dr. Jackson worked diligently to bridge the gap between the classroom and co-curricular experiences by creating partnerships between academic affairs and student affairs through the P3 program, ASU 1101 class, First Friday Service opportunities and the VPSA House Calls program. Currently. Dr. Jackson serves as Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at Augusta University where she leads the Student Engagement Unit including Housing and Residence Life, Campus Recreation, Multicultural Student Engagement, Student Life and Engagement, and the Maxwell Theatre.
Relatives and friends may enter Paulson Stadium through Gates 1, 5, 7, 8, 12 or 13. Guests and candidates will not be allowed to hold or reserve seats for other guests.
Gates/doors open 1 hour prior to the start of each ceremony. Please note that the ceremonies begin promptly at 9 a.m. with a processional.
Relatives and friends may enter the Convention Center through the entrances facing the riverwalk. Tickets are required for entry. Guests and candidates will not be allowed to hold or reserve seats for other guests.
Due to Convention Center construction, all guests will park in a remote parking lot and ride an ADA accessible shuttle to the entrance of the Convention Center. Please allow 15 extra minutes for the shuttle (see map for details). Carpooling is encouraged. There will be no shuttles operating on Thursday, May 13.
The Savannah Belles Ferry system provides free passage across the Savannah River between downtown’s riverwalk and Hutchinson Island, home of the Savannah Convention Center and Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa.
The fully accessible ferry boats, which accommodate bicycles, operate from 7 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. Click here to see the Savannah Belles Ferry schedule.
Gates/doors open 1 hour prior to the start of each ceremony. Please note that the ceremony begins promptly at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. with a processional and that there is no seating allowed during the processional.
There will be no concessions available for food and drink purchases. As a best safety practice, water fountains will be unavailable. Attendees will be allowed to carry in a sealed bottle of water (up to 1L).
Parking is available at Paulson Stadium and other locations on campus. The shuttle will begin running at Paulson Stadium 1.5 hours before each ceremony. Each parking lot stop is listed below:
To minimize traffic congestion, carpooling is encouraged. The shuttle will continue to run to each parking lot one hour after the end of the ceremony.
There will be no shuttles operating on Thursday, May 13.
You will be able to park free of charge in the large parking lot in the back of the Convention Center. You will be able to enter the Convention Center at the entrances that face the Savannah River. The back entrance near the parking lot will be closed and not available for entry. Carpooling is encouraged.
A professional photographer from GradImages will take a picture of you as you cross the stage. A proof of this picture will be emailed to you at your Georgia Southern email address and mailed to your home address so that you may decide if you wish to purchase these photos.
If you preregister, you can get 20% off of your purchase.
Caps and gowns are required, and only academic attire approved for the ceremony may be worn. The University Honors Medallion as well as stoles—which include, but are not limited to, Honors Society scarves/cords and Sorority/Fraternity scarves—are approved graduation attire. We suggest candidates wear dark flat shoes, dark dresses or dark pants with their graduation gowns. Please take into account the chance of rain when planning.
For undergraduate students, tassels should be worn on the right side of the cap hanging over the right eye. At the ceremony, the President will ask you to move your tassel to the left side of the cap during the ceremony.
For graduate students, tassels should be worn on the left side of the cap hanging over the left eye. The mortarboard of the cap should be parallel to the ground.
Diploma frames and other commemorative items are available at the University Store on the Statesboro Campus. You may also purchase merchandise online at the University Store’s website.
Invitations, thank you notes, and certificates can be ordered through Printing and Postal Services, in the Main Dining Commons or on the Printing and Postal Services online webstore.
Diploma frames and other commemorative items are available at the University Store in the Student Union on the Armstrong Campus. You may also purchase merchandise online at the University Store’s website.
Invitations, thank you notes, and certificates can be ordered through Printing and Postal Services, corner of Arts and Science Drive or on the Printing and Postal Services online webstore.
Diplomas will be mailed to the graduates at their diploma mailing address or their permanent home address. Please remember to update your diploma address in WINGS to an address that will be valid eight weeks after completing all degree requirements. If there is no diploma address, the diploma will be mailed to the current mailing address. Diplomas should be mailed six to eight weeks after graduation for students who have applied for graduation and completed all requirements.
When applying for employment, transcripts should be used instead of diplomas. Three weeks after graduation, if requirements are complete, graduates may request a transcript with the degree conferred.
At the end of the ceremony, there will be a student recessional that will allow graduates to exit the stadium and meet your guests. For your safety and the safety of others, we ask that you agree upon a meeting place away from the gates of Paulson Stadium and beyond the exterior doors at the Convention Center. That way, we’ll avoid any unsafe crowds of people at the entrances.