Four years ago, Alyese Wilkerson wasn't planning to go to college, but now, the
senior has completed vocal performance auditions and is waiting to hear back from
her graduate school choices.
With almost 20 years experience in corporate sales and marketing, Nathan Swanson
made a life-changing decision in his mid-30s to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing
degree from LaGrange College.
For Marquius Young, it was all about the suit.
"As a young guy, I always admired the men I'd see on television who were wearing
business suits. I liked the whole appeal of wearing a suit and feeling like someone.
I wanted to be someone."
Katie Chancellor says she had an "a-ha" moment recently as she dangled off the
cliff face of a mountain.
The freshman from Augusta was participating in an Outward Bound trip as part of
her involvement with the college's new Leaders Inspired for Tomorrow program. Before
the start of fall semester, the 10 members of the inaugural LIFT class traveled
to North Carolina for team-building exercises. Katie says it was a life-changing
Donicia Blanton was offered a full scholarship to Smith College in her home state
of Massachusetts, but when she visited LaGrange College during Presidential Scholars
Weekend, she was drawn in by the Southern hospitality, the beauty of the campus
and the quality of its science programs.
Most college students would consider tackling a double major while playing an
intercollegiate sport to be a difficult task to juggle. But for LaGrange College
junior Jalen Butler, it's not enough.
Meabh Carlin knows firsthand the healing power of God.
Meabh (pronounced Maeve) is an international student from Craigavon, Northern
Ireland. In August 2011, she was attending a World Youth Day in Madrid when she
was hit by a taxi and suffered severe injuries to her pelvis, groin, knees, heels
One of her art teachers long ago told Sarah Gordon that "learning to paint is
like learning to see again."
Sarah never knew what she meant until she got older, and now, as a senior in college,
she can apply the sentiment to her experiences at LaGrange College.
Chandelle Ulmer, a sophomore exercise science major from Locust Grove, believes
passionately in sustainability.
"In the Bible, we're told to be good stewards of everything, because everything
is a gift from God, a blessing," she says.
Senior Freddie Wolford likes numbers.
The senior accounting major from Acworth says he's always been fascinated by math.
"You know when you're in elementary school and they ask you what your favorite
subject is or what you enjoy in school? My answer was always math."
Andre Carter is making his mark on the football field, racking up national and
As a linebacker for the Panthers , Andre holds several school records and is closing
in on the LC career record for tackles. An All-American, he receives weekly and
season honors. His fumble recovery resulting in a touchdown was named the USA South
Athletic Conference's Play of the Week for Oct. 30.
Junior Amber Holmes found more than she bargained for when she began pursuing
her love for mathematics at LaGrange College.
She came to college thinking she would major in pre-medicine, but her mathematics
professors helped her realize where her true passions lie.
"It's the opposite of what you might think," says freshman and LaGrange native
Jalen Smith when asked about growing up with LaGrange College in his backyard.
"LC was always here, but I didn't know much about it until I was a junior in high
school, when our choral director at LaGrange High (and LC Theater Arts alumni '06)
Katie Westbrook brought a bunch of us to see plays at Price Theatre."
When LaGrange College senior math major Kayla Cline accepted a Research Experience
for Undergraduates (REU) position at North Carolina State University this past
summer, she didn't realize she would be the only one out of the 40 students there
who had taken a MATLAB course to prepare her for what was ahead.
Ever since Lauren Brandner saw the births of her two younger siblings, she's wanted
to be a midwife. As a sophomore, she's now working toward that goal as she heads
into LaGrange College's Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.
When Alex Rodriguez watches a TV show or film, chances are his focus isn't on
the plot. Instead, he is listening to the music.
Alex, a junior Music Composition and Technologies major, started writing hip-hop
music at 14 with "some really bad music software." By 18, he moved to film scoring.
Nikki Stone gets chill bumps when she talks about her love of theater.
"It's in my blood," she says. "My mother was a theater major when she was in college,
before she switched to psychology to become a social worker, but she would always
tell me about her experiences with theater. I grew up hearing her stories."
After a missions trip this summer, LaGrange College senior Alex Blount has about
75 new friends on the other side of the world.
Alex traveled to Mahasarakham, Thailand, to teach English through Baptist Collegiate
Ministries with three other BCM students from Georgia College & State University,
Valdosta State University and North Georgia College & State University. Other
Georgia BCM students traveled to Russia and California.
Lou and Joey Hennesy
From the time Laura Hennesy, class of 2012, was old enough to watch musicals like
"Mary Poppins" and "The Wizard of Oz" on television, she would sing and dance around
the house, says her mom, Lou Hennesy.
As a child, Laura had small parts in community theatre and church productions.
Before reaching her teenage years, she begged her parents to try out for her local
high school's production of "The Wizard of Oz."
For Brent Kinsey '13, LaGrange College offered exactly what he needed to be accepted
into the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia this fall.
"Over the past three years, in particular, I've had several professors in the
Biology and Chemistry departments who have been inspiring," he says. "They all
have a way of bringing something special to the classroom and really invoking you
to want to do your best."
The last thing Paul Smart of Ireland expected to find at LaGrange College was
a second family.
Make that 26 new brothers, several little sisters and even a few surrogate parents
along the way. And it all started on a whim.
Because every LaGrange College Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduate in the
past four years has passed the national licensing exam on the first try—a feat
almost unheard of at colleges and universities—this year's class had an intense
motivation to succeed, says Hannah Reeves Lancaster '13.
For Sarah Carter '13, life is all about helping others.
She says her time at LaGrange College helped her develop that passion and prepared
her for a life of service.
"I started with the Servant Fellows program led by the Rev. Quincy Brown (Vice
President for Spiritual Life and Church Relations) when I was a sophomore," she
says. "His motto is 'See a need, fill a need.' We learned to lead by serving others."
Hannah Sharp, an exchange student from England, had always heard about Southern
hospitality, but faced a dilemma when she experienced it for the first time.
"I wasn't entirely sure how to respond to people I didn't know who greeted me
on the street," she says. "They'd say 'Hello, how are you?' when they were about
level with me, but when I went to reply, they'd already be past. Do I carry on
the conversation, even while we're walking away from each other? That took some
getting used to."
There was a time in Taressa Thompson's life that she thought she might be earning
her college degree "at 80, holding a cane."
"I knew education was important, but at times having a family and trying to have
a career while going to school was all just too much," Taressa said. "My family
ended up overriding my education. I stopped and started, stopped and started, and
thought I'd never finish school."
As one of five children in her family, Taylor Baldwin has learned to rely on herself,
a quality that has served her well.
"It's the five of us and my mom," says Taylor, a 2013 LaGrange College graduate
from Woodstock. "She has her hands full, so we've all had to learn to be independent.
If we want something, we're driven to do it ourselves."
Brian Kempson of Manchester got his first drum set when he was 1, and he's been
drumming ever since.
"I was always beating on pots and pans – anything I could get my hands on," he
says. "My dad decided it would be better if I had real drums to beat on."
Felipe Vega had just finished his last English final his freshman year at LaGrange
College when he learned his stepfather had been laid off from his job. Hoping to
make up the shortfall, Felipe worked a summer job and optimistically returned for
football camp just three weeks before fall classes started his sophomore year.
But then he got the call: He owed too much and wouldn't be able to start back
Wherever Nicole Burns goes, her camera normally travels with her.
"Photography is about having an eye for seeing beauty," says the senior art and
design major from LaGrange. "I usually photograph the abstract, the things that
you wouldn't necessarily see as beautiful at first, and then I try to make it beautiful
by taking a photograph of it."
After completing a yearlong international scholarship at LaGrange College, Denmark
native Kristoffer Appel couldn't think of leaving.
"I'm majoring in music and vocal performance because I plan to be an opera singer
one day," he says.
Singing opera is a long way from where he started.
Every weekday for three to four hours, sophomore Patrick Reynolds is fondly known
as "Mr. Patrick."
The early childhood education major from Toomsboro works with elementary-age boys
at the local Boys and Girls Club of West Georgia, where he tutors, listens and
plays with the eager young faces who look up to him.
For someone who wasn't even sure she wanted to play basketball in college, senior
Heather Miller has made an indelible mark on the college's record books.
The Sarasota, Fla., native ended her final year as a Panther by being named to
the USA South All-Conference Team and was the second-highest scorer in the conference.
She led her team in scoring and set a new single-season record with 87 steals and
18.5 points averaged per game. She has 1,545 career points and 194 career 3-point
"In the classroom, I'm able to dance and teach with enthusiasm, stand on tables,
make students move around and have energy themselves," says Cameron, a graduate
education student in curriculum and instruction. "It's important for them to believe
in themselves at such a young age. I didn't necessarily have that; I loved learning,
but I didn't like school. I want to make it for them the way I wish it had been
The mention of Hawaii usually conjures up images of beautiful beaches, lush greenery
and hula dancing. But for junior Leslie Rhoades, Hawaii is a reminder that homelessness
is an issue that lives in even the most exotic places.
"People visit Hawaii wanting to relax and have leisure time," says the junior
Spanish and accounting major from Augusta. "They don't want reality shoved at them
whenever they go on vacation. But homelessness is a very real problem in Hawaii."
Sometimes the greatest growth comes from conquering one's fears.
One of the first things senior Joanna Meyer did as a freshman performing arts
student was to confide in Nate Tomsheck, Associate Professor of Theatre Arts. He
also serves as technical designer, overseeing sets, scenery and lighting.
When Madison Barker signed up for a Jan Term class about philanthropy, she had
no idea what was in store for her.
"Basically, I took it because my best friend was taking it," she says. "The only
thing I knew about philanthropy was what I'd hear from the fraternities and sororities.
I knew nothing about it, that it was about charity, nothing like that."
Four years ago, Knox Robinson was on a family vacation to Washington, D.C. On
the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, he told his dad he had a strong urge to study
or work in the nation's capital one day.
But first, he wanted to go to college and play football.
Kenrick Hutson came to LaGrange College almost four years ago to become an accountant,
not realizing he'd pick up a college career in basketball along the way.
"I never touched a basketball until ninth grade, and I didn't play high school
basketball," Kenrick says. "Actually, LaGrange is the first team I played for."
Kiah Britton lived all over the country growing up because of her father's job,
but it was the two years she spent in the Bahamas in high school that changed her
"I've always had a passion for helping other people," she says. "But living in
the Bahamas really made me aware of Third World countries and those who are less
fortunate. I've always wanted to deliver babies, so that is why I decided to become
an OB-GYN (obstetrics and gynecology) and serve in a Third World country."
Relatives of Austin Burns recall how much they enjoyed him standing on the fireplace
hearth at Christmas to give impromptu performances when he was young. He sang and
acted on stage through high school.
When he came to LaGrange College as a freshman, he thought he would lean toward
composing pop music. But now, as a senior double major in composition and vocal
performance, he is just as surprised as anyone that he wants to become an opera
For junior Blake Shuler, time management has been the key to college success as
he balances academics with being on the swim team. And running cross-country. And
working on- and off-stage in the theatre program. And serving as a local Methodist
Ellen Morris-White drives to LaGrange College 47 miles one-way three or four times
a week to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, passing by several colleges
and universities that offer a four-year nursing program along the way.
It's a sacrifice she doesn't mind one bit.
Softball player Danielle Newbern says being a member of the Fellowship of Christian
Athletes at LaGrange has been a blessing.
"It's a chance to be with other people who are going through the same things I
am," she says. "But it's not just for student-athletes – it's for everyone. We
have people who used to play sports and those who haven't played sports at all,
but we are all there for each other."
Homecoming Queen Morgan Habbison loves LaGrange College, but she's also ready
to explore the world.
"I'd like to go to grad school overseas, and right now I'm looking at London,"
says the senior art and design major from Fayetteville. "Or I may find somewhere
to work overseas, possibly in advertising. I want to branch out from America; I
feel like going abroad will challenge me a lot."
Mark Wagner, a guard for the Panther basketball team, has been playing basketball
since he was 2 years old, shooting hoops with his big brother on the back porch
of their Cape Coral, Fla., home.
"I've always loved basketball," the first-year student says. "It's all I've ever
wanted to do."
With all the bells and whistles in the LaGrange College Music Department recording
studio, sophomore Patrick Reagan feels just like a kid at Christmas.
As a high-school freshman, he used to record original acoustic guitar and vocals,
sometimes with "some piano thrown in," he says. That almost seems archaic compared
with what he uses now.
Hafner Buchanan's mother, brother and sister all graduated from LaGrange College,
and now the senior English major is making her own mark on the Hill.
"Most of my friends may not realize that when I came here I was pretty shy," Hafner
says. "When I first got here, I pretty much kept to myself. Now they say, 'Oh my
gosh, here comes Hafner. I hear her.'"
Senior Tiffany Dillard has a heart for Latin America.
The Peachtree City native was drawn toward the Spanish language when her third-grade
teacher shared it with her. By sixth grade, she took a Spanish class.
Many Spanish classes later, she had the opportunity to go with her church, Peachtree
City Christian, to Guatemala this past summer to build homes for three underprivileged
Lawrence West, a freshman music and theater student from Austin, Texas, says if
you had told him a year ago that he would be going to college in Georgia, he would
have laughed at you.
"I hadn't even heard of LaGrange College," he laughs.
That all changed when he learned a woman in his home church has a LaGrange connection.
In high school Rose Noel wanted to be a pediatrician, but she now has her heart
set on becoming a pediatric nurse so she can more involved in the daily direct
care of patients.
"I really would like to work in a NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit) and do
whatever I can to make my patients more comfortable," says the senior nursing major
from Powder Springs. "Not only is that what you normally expect from nursing care,
but it's playing games, doing puppets, all while carrying out doctor's orders,
to make a patient feel at ease."
Cody King began his college career on the Hill in 2011 brimming with excitement
for what the future might bring.
"I knew that LaGrange was the place for me. Although the courses were demanding,
that's what I needed because I want to be a veterinarian. I was ready for the challenge."
But he wasn't ready for what happened next.
Ben MacMinn attended a large state university before coming to LaGrange College,
and he says that hands down, he knows which of the two environments helped him
"I started five years ago at a local state school," says the senior religion and
philosophy major. "I wasn't doing my best. I was distracted, I was less than apathetic,
and my grades showed it."
Madison Wilson '13 always knew she wanted to be in a sorority. What she couldn't
imagine were the opportunities being a Greek would afford her, and how it would
change her life.
Madison is from Griffin, Ga., where her father serves as county manager. While
she was growing up, her mother worked for Griffin's Downtown Development Authority,
so Madison learned the importance of public service at an early age.
Though college is usually the time students discover where their passions lie,
freshman Shelby Stephen came to LaGrange College knowing exactly what she wants
"Of all the things I've ever done, art's always been the most important," Shelby
Most of the students who graduated high school with Kalil Diawara in St. Augustine,
Fla., are attending a small community college near there this fall.
"That's where everybody goes," he says. "But I didn't want to be 'everybody.'"
Instead, he chose LaGrange College and learned at Orientation in June that it's
the right place for him.
Mary Hannah Robertson
When Mary Hannah Robertson graduated from Hillgrove High School in Marietta in
2010, she had no idea what was next.
"I wasn't really focused on going anywhere," she says. "I had kind of hoped to
play soccer in college, but I had just torn my second ACL. When you tear two consecutive
ACLs, soccer is usually out."
Daniel Martiny's job promotion is proof that having a college degree can make
a profound difference.
Daniel is the new operations manager for Roswell-based Single Source Inc., a leading
supplier of automotive painting. Single Source, which has 37 stores across 15 states,
promoted Daniel to the position after he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in
Business Administration at LaGrange College in May.
Orientation: Easing freshman jitters
The thought of leaving family and high school friends to go to college can be
nerve-wracking, but LaGrange College's upcoming summer two-day Orientation sessions
are designed to ease those jitters—for both incoming freshmen and their parents.
Those interested in attending LaGrange still have time to sign up for the overnight
Orientation sessions, which will be held Thursday and Friday, July 12–13, and Thursday
and Friday, August 16–17.
The unthinkable happened to Toni Wolfe when she was 10, but she hasn't let difficult
life circumstances stand in the way of ministering to others and fulfilling her
dream of becoming a college religion professor.
Toni, 49, earned her bachelor's degree in religion in May from LaGrange College
and now is heading home to Indiana, where she will pursue a Master of Arts degree
in Biblical studies from Asbury Theological Seminary.
Senior Devin James never considered himself much of a scholar.
"I wasn't that big into academics in high school and didn't have that great of
a GPA," he said. "I just didn't have much that interested me."
That all changed when he arrived on the Hill.
He played football, baseball, competitive paintball on the national level, and
raced motocross when he was young, and inevitably found himself with broken bones
in a certain orthopedic clinic in Newnan. He not only came away with several casts,
but with a newfound friendship with his doctor and a keen interest in orthopedics.
Though Matt Karr was born and raised in LaGrange, his heart is in South America.
He left it there during a recent mission trip to Ecuador, a both perfect place
for him to minister to the people there because of his intense interest in Spanish
culture. And after he graduates with an early childhood education degree May 19,
he will return to Ecuador for a year to pursue his passion for teaching.
As a high school senior, Laura Hennesy wasn't too thrilled with the idea of visiting
LaGrange College with her mom. But four years later, she feels the college is exactly
where she was supposed to earn a degree in theatre arts.
"I came to LaGrange College knowing I wanted to become an actor in New York,"
says Laura, who is from Douglas. "But I'm a completely different performer now
than I was when I came. I realize I didn't know anything, and now through all the
acting classes, I have the tools I need. Training is everything. Here they prepare
you for the endurance, the industry itself… I certainly don't think I would be
able to have a successful career without the training I've had."
When Jake Adcock first began a research project in his toxicology class on the
effects of a certain insecticide on a tiny worm found in healthy soil, he and his
lab partner never thought they'd get the hang of transferring the little creatures
onto a microscope slide.
"The first time it took us four hours to transfer five worms onto our slides,"
says Jake, a junior biology/biochemistry major from Auburn. "We finally were able
to transfer 15 worms in 20 minutes. At first we'd accidentally slice their heads
off or stab them."
After two serious shoulder injuries on the field, LaGrange College baseball player
James Hall had a lot of people helping him work toward his recovery—surgeons, an
athletic trainer, his parents, coaches and teammates.
But ultimately, it was up to James alone to determine if he had the strength,
perseverance and mental toughness to work through two major physical setbacks.
Meldra Hall says the most important thing she learned during her Jan Term internship
with LaGrange cardiologist Dr. Robert Copeland had nothing to do with medical theory.
"Being a physician requires understanding what exactly is wrong with a patient,
not necessarily ordering a lot of drugs and saying, 'Here, let's see if this works.'
Dr. Copeland took a lot of time to figure out the symptoms so he could have the
Micah Prescott not only marches to the beat of another drummer, he IS that other
Micah, a sophomore from Newnan, is studying composition and music technology in
addition to percussion performance – and he loves every minute of it.
Latisha Gilliam never imagined when she began college that she would one day study
photography in Europe.
But that's exactly what the senior nursing major did this past January as she
and two other nursing majors put down their medical textbooks and experienced Greece
through a camera lens.
Alex Henderson has known for a long time what he wanted to do, and he didn't have
to look far for his inspiration.
"My father has always owned his own business," says Alex, a senior business management
major and entrepreneurship minor. "I watched how he dealt with employees and customers,
and I knew I wanted to do that, too."
Junior Hill Daniel's future is in psychology, but not in a "talk-to-me-about-your-problems"
sort of way.
"I'm not interested as much in the clinical side of things; it's more the theory
I'm leaning toward," the psychology major said. "I've thought about becoming a
high school AP psychology teacher because I like being able to take what I know
and help other people understand it."
Sarah Gobin, a senior biochemistry and pre-pharmacy major, has been around science
her entire life. Her mother is a physician, and Sarah is a self-proclaimed "science
"Ever since I was young, I wanted to be in the science field, whether it was as
a marine biologist or whatever," she says.
On a chilly day in January, D.J. Grooms stood on a mountainside in Greece and
marveled at where he was.
He and a friend were climbing to visit the ancient theater at Delphi, and decided
to take a break.
Stephanie Fowler hiked mountains and volcanoes, encountered a shark while snorkeling,
and slept aboard a yacht for seven nights during her recent LaGrange College study-away
trip to the Galápagos Islands.
It's January at LaGrange College, and that means chemistry major Matthew Hokanson
is taking advantage of an intensive one-month class called "Water Wars" that studies
the water-resource debate between Georgia, Florida and Alabama.
Catrell Maclin may only be a freshman, but he already has mapped out his future
after he graduates from LaGrange College.
He will be following in the footsteps of his dad, Corey Maclin, who is a television
sports broadcaster in the Memphis, Tenn., area.
Felipe Vega is the ultimate time juggler, managing a demanding class load with
sports and leadership roles on campus.
Trae Long likes rules and order – a trait that serves him well as an accountancy
major and president of the college's Honor Council.
"I've always liked math," the senior from LaGrange says with a smile. "It was
my favorite subject, so accounting is a simple step from that."
Although LaGrange native Isaiah Whitfield hasn't ventured far from home for his
education, he says LaGrange College offers him the best of both worlds.
"I wanted to stay close to home but also I wanted to have a more personalized
education. The professors here are amazing, and I've loved every minute."
When Jeff Anderson decided he wanted to become a teacher, he knew exactly where
he wanted to get his degree.
"I've heard great things about the education department here," he says. "I knew
a lot of people who graduated from LaGrange, and they are great teachers. So I
decided this was where I wanted to be."
When Shari Garrett, a junior from Hinesville, Ga., chose where she'd go to college,
she let her head rule her decision. But her heart for music was not to be denied.
"Originally I went to Berry College, where I was studying psychology," she says.
Senior biology major Turquoise Mann hopes to pursue a career in medicine to help
the youngest cancer patients.
As a child, she knew she wanted to be doctor.
"I've never had any other career path. This is it for me," she says.
After completing his first year at LaGrange, sophomore Steven Porrello has a bold
vision for the future. He plans to earn degrees in religion and mathematics, with
minors in English and physics.
"I want to work hard because God never stops working for me; he never stops pursuing
Katie Hein says years of playing softball helped prepare her for a future career.
as a physical therapist
"I know all about getting hurt," she says with a laugh. "I'm good at that
Jamaica Thomas is positively giddy about undergraduate research. And, the junior
political science major from Jonesboro, Ga., isn't satisfied until she's done her
"I want to go to law school," she says. "That's been my dream since I was in elementary
Art has been a part of Kathryn Schroeder's life for as long as she can remember.
"My mom was an art history major," says the senior from Grayson, Ga. "Since I
was young, my parents would take me to museums and fostered my love of art. When
I was in the fourth grade we visited the Art Institute of Chicago, and I told my
parents that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life."
Biology major, undergraduate researcher and Eagle Scout Taylor Ray aims to improve
A sophomore from Newnan, Ga., Taylor has set his sights on a career as an orthodontist.
"In my life, I have always loved to help people.
Boyhood dreams and a college internship ignited Matt Mayfield's desire to pursue
a career in law enforcement.
A junior sociology major, he recently completed a six-month stint as an intern
with the LaGrange Police Department
It was love at first sight for Stephanie Rojas.
When she was awarded a full-ride scholarship from a foundation in her home country
of Costa Rica, she was given a list of five colleges in the United States where
she could study. She went online to check them out.
Junior psychology major Lauren Gledhill's gift of leadership inspires a campus
and a community.
As Vice President of Service for the Student Government Association, she plans
and organizes regular student service projects.