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Hinesville native, Navy Rear Admiral Annie B. Andrews, delivers 2016 Commencement address at Brenau

By Lou Phelps, Brunswick Business Journal

May 7, 2016 - Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Annie B. Andrews, a native of Hinesville, told the 2016 Brenau University Women’s College graduating class Friday to aim high in their professional aspirations. She also gave them a blueprint for success: have a plan, a purpose, a passion and then picture in their minds how they are going to place themselves there.  She is now an FAA senior administrator, as well.

“Now you are entering into that part of life where your destiny is up to you,” Andrews said in her April 6 commencement address. “Successful people understand the old adage ‘that if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me.’”

At the Friday ceremony on the front lawn of the historic campus, the university conferred 104 diplomas on new graduates of the 138-year-old Women’s College. The Women’s College Class of 2016 comprises five graduates from the College of Business & Mass Communication, seven from the College of Education, 36 from the College of Fine Arts & Humanities and 56 from the College of Health Sciences.

Brenau has a campus at Kings Bay to serve Southeast Georgia residents.

“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.”

Andrews, a native of Hinesville, Georgia, currently oversees 46,000 employees as assistant administrator for human resource management for the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington, D.C. During her 32-year Navy career, Andrews focused primarily on human resources and personnel matters, including commanding all of the Navy’s recruitment operations and directing the Navy’s long-term strategic planning for future force requirements.

A graduate of an all-girls high school in Philadelphia, Andrews said she knows very well the spirit of sisterhood shared by this year’s graduating class. However, she also encouraged them to never rest on their laurels, and to engage in lifelong learning to increase their development, employability and sustainability in the job market.

While opportunities for women in the military three decades ago were limited, today, Andrews said all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces are making great strides to integrate women into all areas of service. And in the civilian sector, she said the outlook for women – especially those with backgrounds in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) – has never been brighter.

“Not only as women do you have a voice and a seat at the table,” she said, “but you can be the one to call the meeting to order.”

Taking Andrews’ advice to heart, several graduates have already made plans to take the next big step in their personal journeys.

“I have learned at Brenau to be incredibly unstoppable at anything that I do – mentally, physically, emotionally,” said MK Jabbia, a biology major from Slidell, Louisiana, who said her next destination is pharmacy school. “My limits are immeasurable, and Brenau has taught me that I am capable of anything.”


Fellow biology major Victoria Adeyemi from Douglasville, Georgia, said she will pursue a master’s degree in microbiology. “What I took away from Brenau are lifelong friendships,” she said. “My friends and I were able to bond a lot, and the bonding here is great.”

The university also presented an honorary Doctor of Arts to former President John S. Burd, who led the university from 1985 to 2004. During his two decades, Burd almost doubled enrollment and engineered a 2,000 percent increase in the university endowment. His most visible legacy, however, said Brenau President Ed Schrader, was Burd’s creation and continuing development of Brenau’s permanent collection of sculpture, painting and other art – starting in 1988 by acquiring a donation of seven paintings through today with more than 6,000 pieces.

“He continues to support the heart and soul of Brenau University,” Schrader said. “Not just the art, but the idea of single-gender education of liberal arts in making the arts, both fine and performing, available to the community.”

Brenau also recognized several faculty members and students for outstanding academic and professional performances.

Hannah Doster, an early childhood education major from Hoschton, Georgia, and Lauren Gooch, a nursing major from Gainesville, Georgia, received the Cora Anderson Hill Academic Award. The honor, named after a Brenau alumna from Gainesville who had a distinguished career in both journalism and public service, is awarded to the Women’s College graduate with the highest grade point average.

Kay Graham, an assistant professor of occupational therapy, received the Ann Austin Johnston Outstanding Faculty Award for teaching. The award, established by Donald C. Johnston of Dublin, Georgia, is named after his late wife, a 1939 Women’s College graduate. It includes a $2,500 prize.

Retiring School of Mass Communication Department Chair and Associate Professor Stewart Blakley received the Vulcan Teaching Award for teaching excellence and leadership. The prize comes with a $1,000 prize funded by Vulcan Material Co. through the Georgia Independent Colleges Association.

Portia Burns, an adjunct professor of music and director of Brenau’s gospel choir, and Alecia Webb, assistant director and adjunct business administration professor at Brenau’s Kings Bay campus who will become director of the university’s Jacksonville campus this summer, received Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Awards.

In all, Brenau plans to acknowledge about 373 students in the 2016 graduation ceremonies May 6 and 7. That includes 163 undergraduates and 210 graduate students – including the first two to receive occupational therapy doctorate degrees, Allen Kareem Patmon of Mableton, Georgia, and Sara Catharine Propes of Atlanta, Georgia.

Founded in 1878, Brenau University is a private, not-for-profit nationally prominent comprehensive institution of higher education that enrolls students in graduate and undergraduate studies on campuses and online. Gainesville, Georgia-based Brenau includes the residential Women’s College, which represents the academic and philosophical underpinnings of the liberal arts university. Brenau also provides coeducational opportunities through the doctoral level, including on-ground programs in Georgia locales Gainesville, Augusta, Kings Bay, Norcross, Fairburn and Jacksonville, Florida. University offers doctorates in nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy, a terminal M.F.A. in interior design, specialist in education, master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees as well as professional certifications. The Women’s College boasts 14 nationally competitive intercollegiate Golden Tigers sports teams, national honor societies and national sororities with dedicated residential facilities on campus. The university provides outlets for artistic expression and community service for all students. Brenau possesses an extensive and distinctive permanent collection of art and presents year-round programming that includes art exhibitions, lectures, debates and literary readings, and theatrical and musical performances. For more information, please visit the website at


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