Student walking at graduation

Georgia Highlands College commencement set for May 9

Hundreds of Georgia Highlands College (GHC) graduates will come together on May 9 in Rome to celebrate earning their college degree. 

GHC will have three events this year at the Floyd Campus gym, 3175 Cedartown Hwy, Rome GA 30161. 

Ceremonies will be held at 10:30AM and 6:30PM, with the Nursing pinning and commencement ceremony at 2:30PM. Due to limited seating, attendance will be limited to graduates and four guests per graduate. 

GHC ID and/or guest passes are required to enter the venue area. For those who cannot attend in person, livestreams of the ceremonies will be available at and on GHC’s social media channels – Facebook, Instagram and X. 

Featured speakers this year include Regent Cade Joiner, President of Atrium Health Floyd Kurt Struenkel and Executive Director of the Booth Western Art Museum Seth Hopkins. 

This year’s Walraven Award Recipient is Professor of Mathematics Laura Ralston. The Walraven Award is named in memory of Dr. Wesley C. Walraven, the academic dean at Floyd Junior College (now GHC) from its founding in 1970 until 1993. Walraven’s most memorable assets included an unselfish dedication to students, a quietly focused management style and keen intelligence. 

More information can be found on the commencement ceremony page regarding details, directions and campus guidelines. 

Regent Cade Joiner 

Cade Joiner

One year after earning a BBA in Marketing from the University of Georgia in 2001, Cade Joiner founded Shred-X Secure Document Destruction. Shred-X is one of the largest independent shredding companies in the Southeast and was named as one of the 100 fastest growing businesses in Georgia.  

Joiner is the Chairman of the National Federation of Independent Business of Georgia, an organization with 8,000 member businesses across the state. He serves as a board member for the UGA Entrepreneurship Program, Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Georgia Workforce Development Board, and he also advises the boards of several start-ups. The University of Georgia recently named him as one of its forty most distinguished graduates under the age of forty.  

In 2018, Joiner served on the Finance Committee for Governor Brian Kemp and was also on the Executive Committee of the Kemp Inaugural. In early 2019, he was named the Co-Chairman of the Georgians First Commission. He regularly appears in the media discussing business issues and has been featured on Fox News, CNN and in the Wall Street Journal.  

Joiner and his wife, Katie, and sons live in Brookhaven. In his free time, he enjoys traveling and watching college football and basketball. 


President of Atrium Health Floyd Kurt Stuenkel 

Kurt Stuenkel

Kurt Stuenkel, FACHE, is President of Atrium Health Floyd, part of the Atrium Health enterprise, one of the largest non-profit and leading academic health systems in the United States. As a member of the executive leadership team, he leads Atrium Health Floyd Medical Center in Rome, Georgia; Atrium Health Floyd Cherokee Medical Center in Centre, Alabama; Atrium Health Floyd Polk Medical Center in Cedartown, Georgia, as well as Atrium Health Floyd Medical Center Behavioral Health, a freestanding 53-bed behavioral health facility, also in Rome; and 26 primary care practices and 8 urgent care locations across six counties in Northwest Georgia and Northeast Alabama. He also serves as secretary for Floyd Healthcare Management Inc., Polk Medical Center Inc. and Floyd Cherokee Medical Center LLC., Floyd Healthcare Resources Inc. and the Hospital Authority of Floyd County.  

With more than 40 years of experience working for Atrium Health Floyd, Stuenkel has served as president and chief executive officer since 1996. Previously, he served as executive vice president and chief operating officer, senior vice president, assistant executive director, director of professional services and projects officer. 

Stuenkel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory University, as well as a master’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in health administration from Georgia State University. 


Executive Director of the Booth Western Art Museum Seth Hopkins 

Seth Hopkins

Seth Hopkins has been executive director of the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia since 2000. He was the museum’s first employee appointed by the anonymous founder despite protests that he didn’t know beans about art and even less about museums. The Boss Man said to get out there and learn, so Seth traveled the West asking dumb questions, listening, learning and making friends. He also took art history, Western history and museum studies courses at five universities before finding the right one.  

Seth earned his master’s degree online via distance learning under the direction of legendary Western art historian Byron Price at Oklahoma University. His thesis on the Western art of Andy Warhol became a national traveling exhibition in 2019, accompanied by a companion 144-page hardcover catalog.  

Under his leadership, the Booth has grown from the founder’s original vision of a 30,000-square-foot regional art center to a 120,000-square-foot world-class art museum, affiliated with the Smithsonian and the Museums West Consortium. In 2020, USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ poll named it the #1 art museum in the country. 


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