About Macon State
With the number of four-year graduates now
exceeding 1,200, MSC advances as a baccalaureate institution
By Sheron Smith
Ambitious and studious, Barron, 23, had worried since his teens that paying for an undergraduate education and then law school would be too burdensome for his family. The advent of Macon State’s four-year degrees as he prepared to go to college took that anxiety away.
“Macon State was close to home, and it was affordable,” said Barron, who graduates this spring with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. “And it turned out to be a wonderful educational experience. I’m very proud to be a Macon State graduate at such an exciting time in the school’s development.”
Rapid growth in recent years has helped Macon State reach a number of milestones of late, including a record enrollment of 6,145 students and a significant increase in the number of full-time faculty. Other key growth factors include dramatic jumps in Warner Robins Campus enrollment and the total number of credit hours students are taking.
In fall 2005, Macon State hit another landmark when the total number of students completing all requirements for bachelor’s degrees exceeded one thousand. Only six years earlier, a charter class of 13 baccalaureate students had received their diplomas at graduation exercises held at the Macon City Auditorium.
Including all those who received their bachelor’s degrees this spring, the number of Macon State’s four-year graduates is now at 1,215.
“Reaching this milestone is not just of symbolic importance,” said Macon State President David A. Bell. “We know that more than 90 percent of our graduates are from Central Georgia and a majority want to remain here, so we are talking about a significant number of people in this community who recognized the value of earning a bachelor’s degree and are putting it to work here as better citizens and productive professionals.”
“To a great extent, Central Georgia’s future prosperity and quality of life will be determined by the talent of these graduates because they will be teaching our children, providing quality healthcare and contributing to the success of business, industry and Robins Air Force Base.”
Macon State became a four-year institution with three bachelor’s degrees: health information management, health services administration and information technology. Since developing those initial programs, Macon State has gone on to add five more bachelor’s degrees: business, communications, early childhood education, nursing and public service. The bachelor of science in early childhood education began this past fall and expects to produce its first graduates in spring 2007.
Just last month, the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents approved bachelor’s degrees in math and biology for Macon State, bringing the total to 10.
Macon State focuses on developing bachelor’s degrees that are directly related to Central Georgia’s most urgent professional career needs.
“It’s an exciting mission for us,” said Dr. Barbara Frizzell, Macon State’s vice president for academic affairs who joined the faculty in 1979 as an economics instructor. “Macon State has always served this region well, but to have an opportunity to create bachelor’s degree programs tailored to specific needs is especially rewarding.”
Like Barron, other recent graduates understand that a bachelor’s degree is, in the current economy, the coin of the realm.
Jennifer Voltz, 32, (at right) who earned a bachelor of science in information technology from Macon State in 2002, does programming and related work for a contractor at Robins Air Force Base. After graduating, she returned to Macon State to take computer science courses to further expand her knowledge.
“The IT program provided me with a firm foundation to branch out into all areas of information technology,” she said. “On a daily basis, I apply the skills I learned at Macon State.”
A 2004 graduate of Macon State with a bachelor’s degree in health services administration, Jon Martin is a regional financial director for his family’s nursing home company.
Earning his bachelor’s allowed Martin, 30, to take the licensing exam as a nursing home administrator. “I had a wonderful time at Macon State,” he said. “My degree gave me the background knowledge I need to keep up with the rapidly changing healthcare field.”
Macon State graduate Chris Tsavatewa, 25, (at right with his Center for Palliative Care Transitions colleagues Gale Haney, left, and Carol Babcock) is also in the healthcare industry after earning his bachelor’s degree in public service in 2002. While working for Star Choices, which provides services to people with disabilities, Tsavatewa continued his education at Mercer University in the master of public health program.
Today he is life choices coordinator for The Medical Center of Central Georgia’s Center for Palliative Care Transitions and will soon begin work on a doctorate in health services administration. (Tsavatewa’s wife, Dallas Roper, also earned a B.S. in public service from Macon State and is now a student at Mercer Law School.)
“My bachelor’s degree from Macon State laid the foundation for everything,” Tsavatewa said. “It prepared me to take a multidisciplinary approach to any position in public service, and it prepared me for my graduate work, particularly in research statistics. To this day I maintain personal and professional relationships with the Macon State faculty who teach in the public service program.”
With her newly minted bachelor of science degree in health information management in hand, Akeitha Matthews (at left) recently went to work for Coliseum Medical Center as a medical record control analyst.
The 26-year-old is looking forward to building a career in the healthcare industry.
“With a four-year degree I can pursue a management role or even become a health information management instructor,” Matthews said. “The healthcare environment is constantly changing, and having the proper educational background will help me take advantage of future opportunities those changes may create.”
Peter Gonzalez (below, at right) had been interested in getting a bachelor’s degree since graduating from Macon State with his associate of science in nursing in 1996.
But he always found good reasons to put it off: it would take too much time, it would cost too much, he would have to commute too far to classes.
But when the College added a bachelor’s program in nursing in fall 2004, Gonzalez figured there were “no more excuses.”
“Macon State is convenient, and I was already familiar with the nursing program, so that made the decision pretty easy,” said Gonzalez, 32, an electrophysiology nurse at The Medical Center of Central Georgia who completes his four-year degree this spring.
“The bachelor’s degree will help me take on more of a leadership role at work and advance in the field of nursing.”
Ashley Walker (at left), who graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in communications, is a communications specialist for Automated Network Systems in Milledgeville. Her responsibilities range from marketing to purchasing to accounting.
“My personal goal was to earn a bachelor’s degree,” said Walker, 24, “but I had no idea I would love my major as much as I did. My degree helped me to become a better writer and it gave me the confidence to be assertive in a computer networking environment. I couldn’t be more proud to have earned my bachelor’s degree from Macon State College.”