Women in cap and gown holding a bouquet being proposed to by a man on one knee.
Lloyd Terry proposes to his fiancé KaToya Williams, a Master of Business Administration graduate from Smyrna, Georgia, outside Pearce Auditorium after the Brenau University graduate school commencement on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016.

Winter Commencements Include a Marriage Proposal and a 40-Year Awaited Graduation

Dec 17, 2016
Brenau Staff

Brenau University winter commencement for 451 graduates on Saturday, Dec. 17, included completion of a journey for one graduate who started his quest for a Brenau bachelor’s degree more than 40 years ago and a surprise marriage proposal for a graduate student.

At the 10 a.m. ceremony in Pearce Auditorium on the Gainesville campus, Katoya Sherez Williams, who earned a B.A. degree in fashion merchandising from Brenau in 2013, not only received her diploma for a Master of Business Administration degree but also, following her graduation, an engagement ring from her fiance, Lloyd Terry.

Terry popped the question on bended knee near the Grace Hooten Moore Memorial Fountain on the Brenau front lawn. Traditionally, when a Brenau student gets engaged, her classmates toss her in the fountain to celebrate, but Williams dodged the dousing.

Man in cap and gown, left, shakes the hand of a man in blue robes, right, who holds a diploma.
Jones Perryman “Jay” Andrews of Gainesville, director of broadcasting and digital communications at Brenau, receives his diploma for a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcasting from Brenau President Ed Schrader. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

At the 1:30 p.m. ceremony for undergraduates, Jones Perryman “Jay” Andrews of Gainesville, director of broadcasting and digital communications at Brenau, received his diploma for a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcasting. Andrews originally attended Brenau from 1977-79 and was the student station manager for WBCX-FM 89.1, the university’s radio station, when it first started. But he went on to a career as a well-known Georgia broadcaster lacking only nine hours of coursework to earn his diploma.

He returned to the university five years ago as the broadcasting director overseeing the radio station and, as part of his duties, announcing the names of all Brenau graduates at every commencement ceremony since. So it was a special moment for Andrews to complete his degree requirements during WBCX’s 40th anniversary year and hear his own name Saturday before walking onto the stage to receive his diploma.

“Being here today to actually graduate is wonderful,” said Andrews. “It means I can teach a lot of courses in mass communications, which is what I love, but it really means a lot to be back in Pearce Auditorium where I went to school in the late ‘70s, finally finishing and getting my diploma. There’s nothing like it.”

Nancy Krippel, Brenau provost and vice president for academic affairs, who called out Andrews’ name, said that Brenau is the place at which people often celebrate their intimate, unique turning points in life. “We do have moments. Brenau is particularly good at this,” she said.

Graduates received diplomas for degrees ranging from Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Master’s degrees in business administration, occupational therapy and teaching, plus a wide array of bachelor’s degrees in disciplines such as the arts, education, sciences and business administration.

Brenau President Ed Schrader congratulated the graduates and their families for the accomplishment in his commencement addresses. He challenged the graduates to use the skills and tools sharpened during their time at Brenau and to retain a positive outlook. His address to both the undergraduate and graduate classes focused on three fundamental concepts: consistency, discipline and affection.

“By being consistent in the way we act and speak and treat others, so we are civil, humane and just…and by being disciplined to not lose our temper, not to return insult with insult and to always respect others…and to care, to have affection and have love for others in your life, is really the only way [to live],” Schrader said. “You cannot go wrong by applying those three basic principles to your personal and professional relationships.”

Brenau traditionally held ceremonies honoring all graduates in May. The university added winter commencement exercises last year. Krippel said many students do not complete their academic requirements until summer or fall terms and, as a result, did not participate in the spring ceremonies.

“We added a winter commencement so we would have the opportunity to celebrate with more of our students who are completing their degrees,” Krippel said. “Particularly for students in graduate programs structured in a way that doesn’t allow them to participate in the spring commencement, this is a wonderful way to celebrate their accomplishments with their families.”

The 298 graduate students in the group represent the bulk of those who have earned diplomas. In addition, there are 30 Women’s College students in the 153 undergraduates, including degree recipients, who are eligible. These graduates were students who completed their degree programs last summer and in the 2016 fall term.

The graduation breakdown by campus is as follows: Augusta, 11; Fairburn, 25; Gainesville, 121; and Norcross, 84. Online students represent 210 of those receiving degrees. At last May’s commencement, 373 total degrees were handed out. Combined with the 451 bestowed at this Saturday’s ceremonies, the total number of diplomas awarded by Brenau in 2016 will be 824.