One Senior’s Reflection on a Postponed Graduation


| Written By: Chloe Hammons

As I sit here on my porch in the sunshine on what should be one of my last days on campus, I cannot help but ponder what graduating during the Covid-19 crisis means. May 9, 2020, has been circled on my calendar since the beginning of the year – the day when my first-grade dream of graduating college would become a reality.

When I was in first grade, I wanted to do something big like change the world. I thought the best possible way to change the world would be to become a doctor. I knew that I would need to learn a lot of stuff to be a doctor. Naturally, as a mature first grader, I wanted to get a head start so I went to the library and borrowed a bunch of books on diseases and wellness.

I asked my mama what was required to become a doctor, and she replied, “For starters, you will need to go to college.”

I decided then and there that I must work hard and get good grades so that I could go to college. Though years have passed and the profession choice has changed many times, I still have the same ambition to change the world. I finally discovered that God was calling me to be a teacher, so he must have a plan for me in the education field.

In January, I started my last semester at Brewton-Parker College. I circled and bubbled May 9, 2020, on my calendar. I threw all my energy and time into being a successful student-teacher. I planned to finish strong and have a fun senior year. Little did I know that the next four months would be anything but fun and normal.

One word, Covid-19.

I doubt I will ever hear those two words and not shudder. Covid-19 has been devastating. The Coronavirus has taken lives and robbed livelihoods. It has wreaked havoc on the emotional and mental health of many people. Every sense of normalcy and routine has been abolished. I am surrounded by unknowns. I doubt any one alive today has ever experienced a global pandemic of such epic proportions. 

On April 1, 2020, I received an email stating that “my graduation” was postponed. I was disheartened, to say the least. With all the other unknowns circling – like to quarantine or not to quarantine? Or do I eat all of the Little Debbie cakes in one sitting or ration them out? – I was counting on May 9th as the day I would walk across the stage of Saliba Chapel with all my friends and family cheering for me.


Logically, I understood that postponing graduation was in mine and the publics’ best interest, but it really felt like a dream was being postponed. How can you even postpone a dream? It doesn’t seem real, then again, does anything these days?

On Monday, I turned in my last assignments to BPC and walked into my parents’ bedroom and proclaimed, “I’m done with college!” 

As hard as I’ve worked and as long as I’ve wanted it, I must admit that the event was a little anti-climatic. I’m done with college. That is weird to even think. I did it. It is finished. This journey is over. Chapter closed. Check.

Anyway, I say done, but it feels foreign. But then again, that’s life. People come and go. Events are planned, thrown, or canceled. Life continues. Just like that, a huge chapter of my life is over, and the next one is just beginning. I guess, I’ve been wanting to graduate college for so long that I felt like it would be the end of a book, but instead, my time at BPC has just prepared me to add more pages to the book of my life.

In my preparation to be a teacher, I have learned that you must always be learning and adapting to new situations. The only normal thing about life is that life is not normal. At the end of the day, who could even define normal. My normal may be completely foreign to you and vice versa. I can’t help but think that maybe this is what it’s all about – the ebbs and flows of life each in a varying degree of normalcy.

I went to college to be prepared to go into a classroom and teach, but I learned so much more along the way. I learned that reaching and striving for perfection is good, but giving yourself grace to be human is better. I learned that investing in an education is important, but investing in people is greater. Long after I forget which books I’ve read in college or which papers I’ve written, I will remember the people who invested in me. During the Covid-19 crisis, I am relearning that I am not in control, and that’s a good thing. God still has a plan whether I walk across the stage or not.

Psalm 138:8 says, “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”

God called me to be a teacher, and He is not going to abandon me. I choose to walk on the path that He set me on and trust that He is greater than me.

Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”

When all is said and done, I will graduate. I will have finished my degree and earned my diploma. And I still get the opportunity to change the world, which is all I ever wanted. The truth is your very existence changes the world. It is how you choose to change the world that matters.

I choose to celebrate my graduation and hard work at home. I choose to stay at home to protect the people I love. I chose to change the world by becoming a teacher. I will work hard to inspire a love of learning and life in each of my students. Now, I get to go back to the same school that I went to in first grade and teach sweet first graders.

I wonder which little girl or boy will be dreaming of being a doctor and maybe even a teacher like me.

Name: Chloe Hammons
Hometown: Cedar Grove, Georgia
Major: Early Childhood Education
Plans after Graduation: Become a first-grade teacher.

Joanna Phillips-Mock

Student Enrichment Director

Joanna Phillips-Mock is a proud third generation Baron, both as a student and a staff member.

Beginning her teaching career in Middle Georgia in 1995, Mrs. Mock worked with a state funded program that served some of the most disadvantaged special needs students within the local school districts. She ultimately moved into leadership positions within the organization, serving and training others in multiple initiatives. She enjoys working with students of all ages to recognize and to achieve their greatest potential.

Mrs. Mock holds a Bachelor’s degree from Brewton-Parker College, a Master's degree in Education with a concentration in Behavior Disorders, and an Education Specialist degree in Educational Administration from Georgia College and State University. She resides in Ailey, Georgia, with her husband Don, their son Tye Lewis, her mother Carol Joyce, and multiple fur babies. She enjoys traveling, gardening, camping, and attending concerts.

Candace Lilford

Profeessional Tutor

Candace Lilford graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Theatre Generalism in 2021 from Anderson University and with her master’s degree in English Literature in 2023 from the University of Alabama. She presently serves as Professional Tutor for the Student Enrichment Center while also teaching sections of ENG 101 and 102. 

As part of her two-year master's program, Ms. Lilford taught sections of ENG 101 and 102, while also serving as teaching assistant for British Literature Survey courses and volunteering in the university’s Writing Center. Ms Lilford has also presented papers at the Hudson Strode Conference and the South Eastern Christian and Literature Conference as well as working on various theatrical productions.

Born in North Carolina of South African descent, Ms. Lilford has lived in Uganda, Botswana, South Africa, and Trinidad before settling in Mount Vernon with her family in 2016, where she attended Brewton-Parker College as a dual enrollment student. She presently resides in Mount Vernon with her family and spends her free time watching old TV shows.

Linda Armstrong

Academic Advising and Career Specialist

Linda Armstrong earned an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Technology from Southeastern Technical College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Walden University. Throughout her career, Linda has worked with diverse populations, including at-risk youth and families and youth in crisis because of mental health and other issues. Her empathetic nature has made her an effective advocate for those in need. In addition to her professional work, Linda is also is committed to volunteerism. She has dedicated countless hours as a youth mentor, and to teaching about her faith at various Christian organizations. She believes in the power of positivity and its ability to transform not only her life but also the lives of others.

"If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you will look forward, do so prayerfully. But the wisest course would be to be present in the present gratefully." ~ Maya Angelou

Willie Ford

Academic Advising and Career Specialist

Greetings, Baron Nation!

It's truly a joy to be back in a place that has shaped me so profoundly. I'm Willie Ford, a proud 2022 graduate of historic Brewton-Parker College, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a Minor in Education. Following my graduation, I embarked on a journey in education, teaching Special Education within the Vidalia City School District. In addition to my role as an educator, I had the privilege of serving as the Unit Director at the J.D. Rabun Boys and Girls Club. All the while, I was honored to pastor at the esteemed New Hope Baptist Church of Rhine, Georgia. With God's grace, I managed these responsibilities, and now, I'm thrilled and ready to contribute to the welfare of our students, aiming to inspire through service.

Dusty Arnold

Mental Health Counselor

Dusty Arnold  is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst as well as a BPC alumnus. He has years of experience working with a variety of mental health issues including anxiety, grief, and challenges related to Autism. He specializes in behavior-related interventions that can help college students build on their strengths to set achievable goals while also learning how to deal with the thoughts and feelings that sometimes get in the way. He incorporates Biblical values and evidence-based treatments to meet students wherever they happen to be on their journey to spiritual and psychological health. 

Carl Anthony "Tony" Wardlaw

Assistant Student Enrichment Director & Student Success Coach

Carl Anthony “Tony” Wardlaw – For over 25 years, Dr. Wardlaw has worked in leadership, counseling, and pastoring. Beginning with working in middle management for a manufacturing company in Douglas, GA, Dr. Wardlaw has also worked in the academic, nonprofit, public, and private sectors. Additionally, he served over 7 years in the United States Military as a Military Intelligence Officer before resigning his commission as a Captain in the Army.

Currently serving as the Assistant Director of the Student Enrichment Center, Student Success Coach, and Adjunct Faculty at Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, GA, he also serves as the Pastor of The Green Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Dublin, GA.

As a member of the renowned International Gospel Singing Group, The Wardlaw Brothers, Dr. Wardlaw has traveled all over the nation and abroad ministering and singing the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Dr. Wardlaw has served as a consultant for various agencies and has worked as a Fatherhood Coordinator and G.E.D. instructor within the Technical College System of Georgia and participates in local and national civic and philanthropic work.

Dr. Wardlaw holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in International Business from the University of Georgia, two master's degrees from Troy University (Master of Science in Clinical Counseling and Psychology and Master of Education in Counseling), and a Doctorate in Education from Argosy University in Organizational Leadership. Dr. Wardlaw is a Lifetime Silver Member of The NAACP and a member of The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He is happily married to the former Mrs. Stephanie Scott. They have 3 Children; Chambria, Marc, and Carleigh.

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