Gadsden State’s Dr. Kathy Murphy speaks to graduates receiving their GED in Oxford

Dr. Kathy Murphy speaks to the graduates and audience during a ceremony held April 11 at the Oxford Performing Arts Center


Gadsden State Community College hosted its 2023 Adult
Education Graduation for 33 students who earned their general
equivalency diploma. The ceremony was held April 11 at the Oxford
Performing Arts Center.

“These students have overcome numerous obstacles to get to this point,
and we are so very proud of how they have not only changed their own
lives for the better but have changed the direction of generations to
come in their family by earning their GED or High School Diploma
Option,” said Dr. Matthew Burttram, director of Adult Education

He recognized the instructors and the staff in Adult Education Services
by calling them “real-life superheroes.”

“They change lives every day through the work they do, and I know
these graduates can attest that they would not be here tonight without
them,” he said.

Since July, 63 students have earned their GED or HSDO; 152 earned
National Career Readiness Certification; and 1,030 certificates were
awarded for completing training in digital literacy, manufacturing
skills, career pathways and other courses.

“All of this success is a testament to everything our instructors do
every day,” he said.

Burttram also recognized the family and friends of the graduates.

“You all have helped these graduates cross the finish line,” he
said. “No student graduates alone. These people journey with you
through the ups and downs; they cheer you on; and are here with you now
as you cross the finish line to graduation.”

Dr. Kathy Murphy, president of Gadsden State, told the graduates that
one of her favorite songs is “Pomp and Circumstance,” which is
traditionally played during graduation ceremonies.

“Hearing that song tells me that something really awesome is
happening,” she said. “It tells me that we are about to celebrate
accomplishments made by our students.

“A lot of people are here who have stood with you, behind you and
alongside you. They are here to celebrate you. I know they are proud of
you and I know I am, too.”

The graduation ceremony included speeches from GED graduates Tracy
Hutcheson, a 55-year-old graduate who dropped out of high school in the
mid-1980s, and Devin Dampier, a Mississippi native who prevailed over
drug addiction to earn his GED.

“I survived a car accident that happened while I was driving under the
influence,” Dampier said. “I had five overdoses. I was incarcerated
at 23 years old. I knew I had to change my life and I knew I couldn’t
do it alone. I now have a good relationship with God. I no longer have
to do this life alone. I have a Savior that reminds me of that. This is
a blessing.”

Alan Smith, dean of Workforce Development, awarded a full scholarship to
Deonte Jones of Anniston who earned his GED and WorkKeys certification
in six months. He now plans to enroll at Gadsden State and pursue a
career in engineering.

“I can honestly say that within the past few months I have become
better with self-discipline, and this has prepared me for challenges
that I will endure in the future,” Jones said. “Whoever plans to
invest in my future will not be disappointed. I plan to continue to
showcase my improved maturity as a person and as a student.”

Smith also presented $1,000 scholarships to Dampier, Emma Turley of
Anniston, Destiney Hickman of Weaver and Charly Williams of Gadsden.
All of the GED completers are eligible for one free class at Gadsden
State as well.

The GED graduates include Ashley Allen, Larissa Balliet-Beckwith, Taylor
Marie Baruch, Amber Benton, Amy Lynn Brooks, Julian Carr, Celia Castro,
Gary Coody, Kyra Ayana Crosson, Devin Dampier, Jaylin Ezekiel, Joby
Giles, Jazmine Goss, Daniel Lee Gray, Jeremy Griffin, Destiney Hickman,
Tracy Hutcheson, Piper Hyde, Joshua Jackson, Deonte Jones, Jodi Jones,
Heather Lancaster, Michael Ray McCullough, Vanessa McWhorter, Paul Kamea
Margadonna, Guy Marler, Shelbi Nicole Phillips, Xena Rangel, Jeremy
Reynolds, Kristy Rochelle Shields, Emma, Lashay Turley, Charly Grace
Williams and Sierra Wilson.

After Burttram and Murphy awarded the diplomas, Dr. Farrah Hayes, dean
of Academic Programs and Services, challenged the graduates to keep
improving themselves and their quality of life.

“Continue your education,” she said. “We want to continue to serve
you at Gadsden State. We want to watch you fly. Let us help you achieve
the next goal. We want to help you live up to all you are destined to

For more information about the GED program as well as other programs and
services offered in Adult Education Services, visit

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