Winter Cardwell, who received a Master of Arts in Teaching degree, greets family and friends while during the processional at the Brenau University Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement on Saturday, May 7, 2016, in Gainesville, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)
Winter Cardwell, who received a Master of Arts in Teaching degree, greets family and friends during the processional at the Brenau University Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement on Saturday, May 7, 2016, in Gainesville, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Retired Admiral Annie Andrews ‘Commands’ Brenau Graduates to Set Sail for Professional Adventures

May. 7, 2016
Brenau Staff

Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Annie B. Andrews charged Brenau University graduates Saturday to never let fear of the unknown stop them from following dreams.

“At the beginning of my career, I thought I had to choose between a safe route and an adventurous one,” Andrews said. “Embarking on my Navy career, I was surrounded by the bold and the daring. As my professional career progressed, I realized you can have both. You can have security and adventure – money in the bank while taking shots at the moon.”

Andrews addressed the 210 graduate and 78 undergraduate students who received diplomas from the university’s coeducational programs on all its campuses and online – many of them visiting the historic campus in Gainesville for the first time. She also spoke Friday, May 6, to the 104 graduates of the university’s 138-year-old Women’s College. (See http://brena.us/1WdXgO7 for more detail.)

President Ed Schrader speaks during the Brenau University Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement on Saturday, May 7, 2016, in Gainesville, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

President Ed Schrader speaks during the Brenau University Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement on Saturday, May 7, 2016, in Gainesville, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

“Admiral Andrews understands the importance of education and she understands the fact the job market today and the needs of society are ever-changing,” said Brenau President Ed Schrader. “When I first met her, I knew she had something important to share with us.”

In her 32-year Navy career, Andrews became the third African-American woman in the branch’s 240-year history to rise to the rank of rear admiral and was the first to command the Navy’s recruit-training operation in Great Lakes, Illinois, which cycles through more than 100,000 new sailors each year.

After she retired from the military late last year, she turned her eyes from the seas to the skies. Today she serves as the human resource administrator for 46,000 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington, D.C.

Andrews advised graduates that their potential is unlimited as long as they are willing to take on both risk and responsibility, stay committed to their goals and “attack” fears head-on.

“Your professors have given you the tools to be successful, and now it’s up to you,” Andrews said. “Breakthroughs don’t happen unless someone is daring enough.”

Among those preparing to take the next step of their careers are the university’s first two Occupational Therapy Doctorate recipients – Allen Kareem Patmon, of Mableton, Georgia, and Sara Catharine Propes, of Atlanta.

Sara Propes and Allen Patmon both receiving Occupational Therapy Doctorate Degrees, process from Pearce Auditorium to the Front Lawn during the Brenau University Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement on Saturday, May 7, 2016, in Gainesville, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Sara Propes and Allen Patmon both receiving Occupational Therapy Doctorate Degrees, process from Pearce Auditorium to the Front Lawn during the Brenau University Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement on Saturday, May 7, 2016, in Gainesville, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Patmon, who also earned a master’s in occupational therapy from Brenau, said he believes he received “the best teaching I can get for my profession.” Focusing research for his doctorate on reducing repeat offending in the criminal justice system, he already has four interviews lined up to continue his research.

“Everything I have learned about myself and about occupational therapy, it is time to fly now,” said Propes, who echoed the commencement speaker’s charge. “My professor, Rosalie Miller, would ask us, ‘what would you do if you weren’t afraid?’ And now it’s time to shine.”

Brazil native Bruna de Souza Rosa, who now lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, with her boyfriend, Jordan Spivak, and a friend from her Brazilian home town, Aline Munhoz, video chats with her father, Reinaldo, and other family members in São Paulo.

Brazil native Bruna de Souza Rosa, who now lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, with her boyfriend, Jordan Spivak, and a friend from her Brazilian home town, Aline Munhoz, video chats with her father, Reinaldo, and other family members in São Paulo.

Both Friday and Saturday’s ceremonies were streamed live online. The events drew viewers from as far away as Brazil, where the parents of general business M.B.A. graduate Bruna de Souza Rosa watched on a large screen television from their home in São Paulo as she received her diploma. After the ceremony, as de Souza Rosa held up her cell phone, a roomful of cheering family members emanated from her phone’s tiny speakers. “They liked it,” she said, translating the cheer from Portuguese. “Excellent.”

College Park, Georgia, accounting M.B.A. Melissa Donovan said she now planned to seek CPA certification to reach her goal of a job with one of the accounting industry’s “big four” companies.

Buford, Georgia, resident Taylor Morgan said it seems “liberating” to receive a bachelor’s degree in theater. “The biggest thing I’m taking away is the communication with my teachers,” he said. “That was exactly what I was hoping for when I signed up and came here.”

In all, almost 400 students were acknowledged in the May 6 and May 7 graduation ceremonies.

Whether recipients of associate or doctorate degrees, Andrews told graduates the key to success – no matter which field they enter – is to always pursue “the light” of self-discovery.

“When they say knowledge is power, they aren’t kidding,” she said. “Knowing who you are and who you will be, that is power.”

“Notice, I didn’t say ‘who you want to be.’”

General inquiries: info@brenau.edu, (770) 534-6299 or (800) 252-5119 | Admissions: admissions@brenau.edu, (770) 534-6100 or (800) 252-5119 ext. 6100