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Nicholls Student Wins Top Award at ABAC Commencement

For IMMEDIATE Release                   DECEMBER 8, 2012

TIFTON – Justin Gilliard, a Nicholls resident who earned his bachelor’s degree in diversified agriculture, received the prestigious George P. Donaldson award at the fall commencement ceremony on Friday at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.

Niki Knox, a 2000 ABAC alumnus who was the featured speaker at the event, challenged the 163 graduates participating in the ceremony to make good choices in life because those choices will have an impact on high they climb in their lives and their careers.  Knox is a senior community economic development consultant for the Georgia Electric Membership Corporations.

Gilliard, a charter member of ABAC’s Ag Business Club, was selected for the Donaldson award based on a combination of academics and extracurricular activities.  The award included a plaque and a check for $500 from the ABAC Alumni Association.  Donaldson served as president of ABAC from 1947-61.

Gilliard has twice received Honors Day academic discipline awards, one in animal science and another in diversified agriculture. He has also been named to the Dean’s List at ABAC four times during his career.  He was the recipient of the Jesse Goodman Scholarship in 2008, the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association Foundation Scholarship in 2010, and the WAX  Company Scholarship in 2011.

The son of Tony and Helen Gilliard of Nicholls, he has been an active member in a variety of clubs and organizations on campus, including the Baptist Collegiate Ministries, an intramural softball team, and the ABAC Collegiate FFA.

Gilliard became a member of the ABAC Cattlemen’s Club in 2008. Since then, he has served as the Student Government Association representative, vice president, and as president of the organization.

Outside of ABAC, Gilliard served as a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in 2012, the South Georgia Cattlemen’s Association in the fall of 2012, and the Coffee FFA Alumni since 2008.  He has also interned with the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association.  After graduation, Gilliard plans to return to his family farm, Circle G Farms, Inc.

“My degree fits perfectly with my opportunity to help manage our diverse farming operations,” said Gilliard.  “If not for the educational experiences and contacts I have gained over my time here at ABAC I do not believe I would be able to effectively go into this career field.”

ABAC will close for the holidays on Dec. 21 and reopen on Jan. 2, 2013.  Classes begin for the spring semester on Jan. 7, 2013.