Diversity and opportunity make GGC special

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The following was part of the college’s presentation to the University System of Georgia Board of Regents at its April 2015 meeting.

By Dr. Dovile Budryte
Professor of Political Science

Dr. Doville Budryte giving presentation to BOR
Listen to Dr. Doville Budryte’s USG Board of Regents presentation below.
(Text transcription.)

Maya Angelou is quoted as saying, “In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”

It seems to me that one of the main assets of GGC is diversity – of faculty, students, and staff. Many of our students are first generation students, immigrants, veterans; they come from various socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.

The same can be said about our faculty and staff. We truly do reflect the great diversity of the Atlanta metropolitan region.

I believe that together with our devotion to integrated learning, which focuses on the development of the whole person and global citizenship, we have found a way to build on diversity to reach an ambitious goal within GGC’s mission. This goal is to produce graduates who “are prepared to anticipate and respond effectively to an uncertain and changing world.”

This requires certain skills, such as flexibility, being able to shift perspectives and understand someone with a very different way of thinking, as well as thinking fast and thinking critically. You may know that these are no longer called “soft skills” by employers. These are now considered “essential skills.”

GGC has created numerous opportunities for our students to build such essential skills. This is hallmarked by small classrooms, close faculty-student relationships and an internationalized curriculum infused with experiences introducing students to today’s global realities.

This is why we have innumerable student success stories.

“Could it be that through its commitment to celebrate diversity and facilitate student success, GGC has found a way to mitigate the growing gap between the rich and the poor, between the elites and everyone else, and to provide a real chance for social mobility for our students?”

– Dr. Dovile Budryte

My former students currently study law at UGA, international relations and political science at Georgia State, UGA and the University of Utah. Two have won prestigious internships at The Carter Center; several went to study abroad in France, Rwanda, Russia and Switzerland. And one spent more than a year in South Korea as GGC’s first Fulbright Scholar.

Let us be honest – such success stories are usually associated with elite colleges and universities, not open access institutions like GGC. Some of the students I’ve mentioned were of modest means and some did not do well in high school, but we helped them find a path to success.

Could it be that through its commitment to celebrate diversity and facilitate student success, GGC has found a way to mitigate the growing gap between the rich and the poor, between the elites and everyone else, and to provide a real chance for social mobility for our students?

I think so, and I appreciate those who enable us to do so.

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