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Two Students Receive Top Awards at ABAC Fall Commencement Ceremony

December 8, 2016

Two students received top honors as the most outstanding graduates during Thursday’s fall commencement ceremony at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.

Hillery Reeves, an agricultural communications major from Rebecca, received the Alumni Association Award for bachelor’s degree graduates, and Madison Thornhill, a writing and communications major from Tifton, received the George P. Donaldson award for associate degree graduates.

Each recipient was selected through an application and interview process conducted by the ABAC Alumni Association, which provided a plaque and a check for $500 for each of the recipients.

ABAC Alumni Director Lynda Fisher said the Donaldson Award has been a part of the commencement ceremony for many years, and the Alumni Association decided to add the additional award for bachelor’s degree graduates in the fall 2014 ceremony.

Matt Bentley, a 1988 ABAC graduate, was the commencement speaker. He gave the graduates five keys to fulfillment in their careers.

“Take charge of your life,” Bentley said.  “You have to take responsibility for your actions.  Improve your people skills.  Build your career.  Don’t expect to start at the top.

“You must be able to evaluate yourself. Lead by example.  And finally, give back to the community.  Do something for other people.”

Reeves has been a part of many student organizations at ABAC including the ABAC Ambassadors where she served as parliamentarian.  She was also one of the founding members and president of the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow Club, wrote for the student newspaper, “The Stallion,” and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society, the Collegiate FFA, the Rural Studies Club, and the Georgia Association of Educators Student Program.

Displaying her academic prowess, Reeves has been named to the President’s List, the Dean’s List, and the Distinguished List. She has also been named as an Honor Student.

Reeves has received two Harold Ragan Scholarships and three Bynum Rural Studies Scholarships.  She was presented the discipline award from the School of Liberal Arts for excellence in rural studies and honored with a Pacesetter award “for being a model student in agricultural communications and for dedicating free time to ensuring the success of the Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow Club, all the while remaining involved in her surrounding community.”

That community involvement for the past three years focused on Suitcases for Kids sponsored through the Patticake House.  The project makes sure children of abuse receive clothing and gifts during the holiday season. She has also mentored for the Worth County High School Health Occupations Students of America program for the past two years and is a member of the Irwin County Cattlemen’s Club.

Thornhill began her ABAC career as a dual enrolled student while still in high school at Tiftarea Academy. She spent four semesters as a dual-enrolled student and another three semesters as a full-time ABAC student.

A member of the ABAC Ambassadors since 2015, Thornhill currently serves as the organization’s historian. She has also been a member of the Equus Dance Team, written for ABAC’s student newspaper, and was a contestant in the 2016 Ms. ABAC Pageant when she was named the Essay Contest winner. She was also inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society.

Thornhill has worked on the campus as a student worker in the Office of Admissions and the Technology Support Center.  Her academic career at ABAC includes recognition on the Distinguished Achievement List, the President’s List, and as a Superior Honor Student. A recipient of the Foundation Scholarship, Thornhill also received the Loye Daniell Memorial Dance Scholarship, Colquitt EMC Scholarship, and the Sertoma Club Scholarship.

Outside of ABAC, Thornhill has been involved in the community service project Hands on Tifton, assisted with the Natural Resources Conservation Workshop, and helped with the YMCA Father-Daughter Dance.  She also took part in Operation Christmas Child at the Atlanta Processing Center in 2014.

A total of 188 graduates participated in the ceremony.  ABAC will close for the holidays on Dec. 23 and reopen on Jan. 3, 2017.  Classes begin for the spring semester on Jan. 9, 2017.
 Printable News Release