Emmanuel Celebrates the Class of 2023!

Approximately 120 graduates walked across the court of the Shaw Athletic Center to receive their diplomas from Emmanuel College on Saturday, May 6. 

2023 Valedictorians – Jessica Adams, Valentina Aloisio, Zuzanna Malinowska (bachelor’s degree) Jewelianna Ayers (associate degree valedictorian). 

Jewelianna Ayers of Homer. Ga. (Allied Health) was named the valedictorian of the associate degree class. 

Jessica Adams of Madison County, Ga. (Dual Elementary/Special Education), Valentina Aloisio of La Paz, Bolivia (Business Administration), and Zuzanna Malinoswka of Wroclaw, Poland (Business Management) were named the valedictorians of the bachelor’s degree class. 

This year’s Faculty Award winner was Alexis Walker of Birmingham, AL. 

Each year, faculty and staff members are recognized for admirable performance in their duties and service to the college and campus community. 

  • The Lee H. and Lucille Firebaugh Memorial Award was presented to Dr. Sue Weaver. 
  • Dr. Vicki Hollinshead was awarded the annual Vulcan Award.
  • The Lorraine Wells Melton Support Staff Award was given to Mr. Tres Ward and Mr. Jonathan Brown. 
  • Dr. Mark Trump and Dr. Jason McCary were awarded the President Thomas L. Aaron Award and Honorarium. 

Emmanuel alumna, Mrs. Leslie Earnest McFarlin (’02) served as the 2023 Commencement speaker. Mrs. McFarlin currently serves as the Vice President for Economic Development at North Georgia Technical College. 

Commencement Speaker – Mrs. Leslie McFarlin

She shared her testimony with the graduates, hoping that it would be an encouragement to them to leave a legacy they are proud of. 

“My journey through college was not an easy one,” she said. “I married and had my first child at age 19 while attending EC. I left and returned several times, all while hiding a secret. I was living in domestic violence, brought on by my husband’s alcoholism and mental illness.”

With the support of family and friends, Leslie found the courage to leave the abusive situation and focus on her family. Her husband would later succumb to his disease.

“I knew the only way I could be successful and leave a legacy for my children would be through education,” she remembered. 

She encouraged the class of 2023 to trust the Lord, even when things get tough. 

“We must trust his plan for our lives and remember that every obstacle we face is an opportunity for growth and learning,” she said. “I know all of you have a story of perseverance and triumph. The fact that you are sitting here today is a testament to your perseverance. God has a plan for you.”

His plan for Leslie included providing her with a godly husband who would complete her family and giving her the opportunity to minister and work with women transitioning out of Lee Arrendale State Prison, offering opportunities to learn valuable skills like welding and cosmetology to turn to when or if they are released.

She closed by encouraging the graduates to blaze trails, outlive their life, and leave a legacy they’re proud of.

Congratulations, Class of 2023! 

Click here to watch the ceremony on demand!