17 August, 2016
Graduating is a wonderful milestone but, for some, the accomplishment is more than a diploma. Taylor Mitchell of Lincoln and his family are looking forward to his monumental walk across the stage to receive his degree during Gadsden State Community College’s Summer Commencement Ceremony at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11 at Word Alive Church in Oxford.
“It is a very exciting time,” said the 20-year-old. “I’ve proved that I can be a successful college student.”
Though he made good grades as a student at Lincoln High School, Mitchell wasn’t confident that college was the right path for him.
“I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do,” he said. “I was very unsure of myself. I decided to go to Gadsden State to figure out not only what I wanted to do but also prove to myself that I could do the career I wanted.”
Though intelligent, Mitchell had been in special education since elementary school.
“I have very poor handwriting and I always have,” he said. “It was a sign that something was wrong. People couldn’t read my handwriting. It was impossible.”
During his senior year, his case worker suggested may have Asperger Syndrome, a developmental disorder affecting the ability to effectively socialize and communicate.
“It made sense to me that I would have Asperger Syndrome because I never really fit in with the people at my high school,” he said. “It also didn’t matter to me. It didn’t affect me. I’m not disabled.”
Learning has never been an issue for Mitchell. He earned an honors scholarship to Gadsden State, which included full tuition and the use of an iPad. He came to the Ayers Campus in Anniston two years ago with an open mind and a passion to succeed.
“I knew I wouldn’t do well if I were thrown into a university,” he said. “But, I was optimistic that going to Gadsden State would be a good transition period for me.”
The typically socially-awkward teenager soon made friends at the Ayers Campus.
“My social interaction improved,” he said. “I made more friends in my two years at Gadsden State than I have made in any other two-year period in my lifetime.”
Mitchell also learned to communicate with adults as a Gadsden State student.
“I didn’t realize adults went to college,” he said. “I just assumed they were all kids like me. I had to learn to talk to adults and have good conversations.
“I also realized that it is so important to be able to talk to your teachers,” he said. “You have to interact with teachers to receive additional help. I recommend that all students talk to their teachers. It will help tremendously.”
Mitchell proved to be a success at Gadsden State. He was named the Ayers Campus’s Outstanding Student in History at Honors Day in May. He is on the President’s List, and he determined what career he wants to pursue.
“Gadsden State taught me that I really like to write,” he said. “I’ve never liked it before but it’s fun for me.”
He is transferring to Jacksonville State University on a Presidential Scholarship to major in communications with a concentration on digital journalism.
“I enjoy working with computers, writing and analyzing,” he said. “I’d love to be a critic and write reviews on video games, television shows and movies. It may not be possible and that’s OK but I’m going to try. I may be a reporter in the Middle East. Who knows? I can do whatever I set my mind to.”
Taylor is the son of Brian Mitchell of Jacksonville and Laura Echols of Lincoln. His grandparents are Mike and Darlene Mitchell and Ron and Margaret Bussey, all of Lincoln.
Come see Taylor and approximately 100 other students from all six of Gadsden State’s campuses graduate Aug. 11. Featured commencement speakers will be Gadsden State students Oluwagbemisola “Gloria” Aderibigbe and Kaitlin Fleming.
Aderibigbe is an international student from Nigeria who will receive an associate degree in pre-engineering. She plans to transfer to a four-year university to pursue a degree in chemical engineering. She hopes to one day finish medical school and return to her home country to practice medicine.
Fleming came to Gadsden State in 2014 as an honors student from Etowah County High School. After receiving her Associate in Arts, she is transferring to Jacksonville State University to pursue a degree in communications. In the future, she plans to be a newspaper reporter.
Graduates will be presented by Dr. Leslie Worthington, dean of Academic Programs and Services, and Tim Green, dean of Technical Education and Workforce Development. Dr. Martha Lavender, president of Gadsden State, will award the degrees. The Gadsden State A Capella Choir and Danielle White will perform. Pamela Jackson, a nursing instructor, will serve as the Commencement Grand Marshal.
For more information about the commencement ceremony, please contact June Bearden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-549-8255.