May 9, 2019
TIFTON—Alexandra Ikner from Perry and Diego Escobar from Douglas received the top awards presented by the ABAC Alumni Association at spring commencement on Thursday when Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College had the most graduates walk across the Gressette Gymnasium stage in a single ceremony in its 111-year history.
ABAC President David Bridges said 330 students participated in the ceremony.
“It’s a record-setting day for ABAC,” Bridges, who received his associate degree from ABAC in 1978, said. “I am so proud of these graduates and all they have accomplished. Now I look forward to hearing from them as they leave this campus and move into the world where they have a chance to be difference-makers in their chosen professions.”
Ikner, an agricultural education major, was named the winner of the ABAC Alumni Association Award which goes to the top bachelor’s degree graduate participating in the ceremony, and Escobar, who received an Associate of Science degree, earned the George P. Donaldson Award for the top associate degree graduate participating in the ceremony.
Dr. Jean Sumner, Dean of the Mercer University School of Medicine, was the guest speaker.
“Your success will be determined by the choices you make,” Sumner told the graduates. “You will have many opportunities and many choices. You will find new freedoms. Think about the choices you make.
“Work hard, become increasingly self-disciplined, and you will achieve your goals.
Those with grit do well. You are the future of rural Georgia and this state.”
Earlier this year, Ikner was named ABAC’s J.G. Woodroof Scholar, which goes annually to the top academic student at the college. She maintained a 3.97 grade point average and was a member of the ABAC Honors Program during her four years at ABAC.
As the first Agriculture Editor for the ABAC newspaper, Ikner wrote a story about the ABAC volunteers who went to Louisiana to help after a hurricane. The article won third place from the Southern Regional Press Institute. Ikner was one of the first members of the ABAC Environmental Club as well as a member of the ABAC Horseman’s Association.
Ikner’s FFA accomplishments include the prestigious American FFA Degree and service as an official judge in the National Nursery and Landscape Career Development Event. Named to the ABAC President’s List on numerous occasions, Ikner was also a Community Assistant with Residence Life and Housing.
Escobar was a member of the ABAC Ambassadors leadership organization as well as the ABAC Concert Band and Campus Activities Board. He maintained a grade point average of 3.92 during his two years at ABAC.
A tutor in the Academic Assistance Center, Escobar was also a part-time mentor for Upward Bound’s first robotics team. He made the President’s List, Dean’s List, and was named a Superior Honor Student. He was also a member of the ABAC Honors Program.
Escobar plans to continue his education with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering. His career goal is to be an astronaut. In fact, he wants to be one of the first astronauts to travel to Mars.
Dr. Jerry Baker, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, offered special recognition to the 26 graduates who received their bachelor’s degrees in agricultural education. He presented each one of them with a school bell for their desks. The ceremony marked the first time ever that ABAC has awarded bachelor’s degrees in agricultural education.
Summer term classes begin at ABAC on May 28. Fall semester classes begin on Aug. 13.