Political Strategist and Public Servant James Carville Delivers Address to Graduates
YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Young Harris College conferred 156 degrees on graduates participating in the College’s Commencement ceremony on May 9 in the YHC Recreation and Fitness Center. The College awarded bachelor’s degrees in art, biology, business and public policy, chemistry, communication studies, education, English, history, mathematics, music, music education, musical theatre, outdoor leadership, psychology, religious studies, and theatre.
Political strategist and public servant James Carville delivered the Commencement address to graduates, sharing with them a humorous and inspiring message about the importance of refusing to give up in the face of failure.
“When you all leave this place, you take all of your body and 75 percent of your heart with you. You leave the other 25 percent here in these mountains,” said Carville, whose visit to campus paid tribute to his longtime friend, mentor, and YHC alumnus, former U.S. Senator and Georgia Governor Zell Miller, ’51. “Your ability to succeed is proportionate to your ability to accept failure. When you get knocked down, dust yourself off and get up.”
YHC President Cathy Cox presented Carville with an honorary doctor of public service degree. One of America’s most prominent political commentators and a leading citizen in the revitalization of post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, La., Carville has championed the electoral process at the heart of America’s democracy and dedicated his life to civic engagement.
Best known for crafting a series of impressive political victories at the local and state level, Carville was the leading strategist for President Bill Clinton’s successful election in 1992 and Gov. Miller’s first gubernatorial campaign in 1990. President Cox noted in her introduction of Carville that Gov. Miller, in fact, first introduced him to then-governor Clinton.
Carville’s “cross-aisle” marriage to Mary Matalin has resulted in more than two decades of political commentary, and their book, All’s Fair: Love, War and Running for President, was a national best seller. Gov. Miller performed the couple’s marriage ceremony in 1993.
The Young Harris College Medallion, the highest honor bestowed by YHC to alumni and friends who have made extraordinary contributions, was awarded to Mrs. Lillie Mae Green, of Gainesville, Ga. An extraordinary community citizen and friend of Young Harris College, Mrs. Green—along with her late husband, Frank, and late son, Ronnie, ’65—created an inspiring legacy of ethical business practices, exceptional customer service, wise financial savings, and a lifetime dedicated to hard work.
YHC is among an elite group of Southeastern colleges and universities who annually bestow the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation Awards on outstanding male and female graduating seniors. President Cox presented this year’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to Brian Montgomery of Powder Springs, Ga., and the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award to Mary Calderon of Buford, Ga. Created nearly a century ago to honor the service leadership of their namesakes, the awards are given annually by the Foundation to individuals whose nobility of character and dedication to service sets them apart as examples for others.
President Cox also presented three special awards to eight outstanding students during the ceremony.
The Dr. Charles R. Clegg Outstanding Scholar Award, which was named in memory of a beloved past president of the College and recognizes graduating seniors with the overall highest grade point average, was presented to Mary Calderon of Buford, Ga., Seth Hulsey of Cornelia, Ga., Jordan Moss of Hiawassee, Ga., Lisset Olavarria of Blue Ridge, Ga., Grace Patterson of Blairsville, Ga., and Sydnee Weaver of Sylvania, Ga., all of whom tied with a perfect 4.0 grade point average—straight A’s in every class taken at YHC.
Kaycee Cash of Woodstock, Ga., was presented the Zell B. Miller Leadership Award for significant contributions to campus life at YHC as an outstanding leader and role model. Gov. Miller and his wife and YHC alumna Shirley, ’54, were in attendance at the ceremony to personally congratulate Cash.
Ptah Garvin of College Park, Ga., received the Young Harris Spirit Award, which recognizes the student who best demonstrates outstanding levels of personal integrity, friendliness and engagement with the campus community.