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Armstrong Hosts 2016 Fall Commencement, Honoring More Than 600 Graduates

(December 10, 2016) – Armstrong State University hosted the 2016 Fall Commencement on Saturday, December 10, 2016, conferring degrees on more than 600 students in two graduation ceremonies held at the Armstrong Sports Center.

Armstrong recognized students receiving master’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees and associate’s degrees in a wide range of fields. Students from the College of Liberal Arts, College of Education, College of Health Professions and College of Science and Technology celebrated in a colorful march, showcasing decorated graduation caps.

In a packed arena, Armstrong President Linda M. Bleicken warmly welcomed the 2016 graduates and their families to Fall Commencement.

“Please accept my personal congratulations on your success,” she told the graduates. “I know many of you have gone through a lot to get here today. You have worked very hard. I am proud of your accomplishments.”

Neil L. Pruitt, Jr., a Trustee for the University System of Georgia Board of Regents and Chairman and CEO of PruittHealth, Inc., served as the commencement speaker at both ceremonies. Pruitt is also national vice chair for the North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association and a board member for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the University System of Georgia Foundation and the PruittCares Foundation. 

“Today is a great day,” Pruitt said in his address. “You have done what it takes to graduate. As you set out, remember three things: embrace failure, invest in yourself and invest in a cause greater than yourself.”

Stressing the importance of pairing an education and professional experience with empathy, he ended with a quote from Bishop Desmond Tutu: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

Aptly, Alexandra Altano, a Virginia native who earned a Nursing degree from Armstrong, plans to pursue a job in the oncology unit of a local hospital. Admittedly, the ‘real world’ is a little scary, but she’s excited. However, there is no doubt she is going to miss her alma mater.  

“It was a really great experience,” she says. “The Nursing School is like another family.”

Roderick Jefferson, a 10th grade teacher and athletics coach at Effingham County High School, spent two years at Armstrong to earn a MEd in Special Education. 

“Some days it was a task,” he joked of his schedule. “My professors understood my position as a teacher and how much time it took. They were very understanding. My experience was awesome.”

With a biology undergraduate degree in hand, Jose Cruz entered Armstrong’s Master of Health Services Administration program.

“It was the most highly accredited school in this program in the state,” he said. “I enjoyed it.”

In July, Cruz will begin a two-year program as an Administration Fellow at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, which was ranked 15th in the nation this year by U.S. News & World Report.

With much on the horizon, Cruz thanks Armstrong’s faculty for their dedication.

“My professors were really available,” he noted. “They were always willing to help.”

Photo gallery of the Fall 2016 Commencement Ceremonies.


Armstrong President Linda M. Bleicken congratulated a graduate at the 2016 Fall Commencement, held at the Armstrong Sports Center.


Neil L. Pruitt, Jr., a Trustee for the University System of Georgia Board of Regents and Chairman and CEO of PruittHealth, Inc., addressed 2016 Fall Commencement guests.

Erik Leon

Erik Leon
Class of 2016
Computer Science
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina