More than 3,200 graduate during Commencement ceremonies

KENNESAW, Ga. | May 2, 2017

Diverse group of speakers to send graduates on their way during spring Commencement

More than 3,200 students will graduate during Kennesaw State University’s spring Commencement. Among the speakers who will deliver addresses are the highest ranked African American female Air Force general, an internationally recognized entrepreneur, and a high school dropout who became a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and will graduate from medical school this month. Kennesaw State President Samuel S. Olens will preside over the five graduation ceremonies in the KSU Convocation Center on the Kennesaw Campus, beginning Tuesday, May 9, at 10 a.m.

(Click here for a downloadable photo of Samuel S. Olens)



10 a.m. – Coles College of Business; School of Communication and Media

Speaker: Divesh S. Sharma, Kennesaw State University Foundation Distinguished University Professor

Divesh Sharma is a professor in the school of accountancy in the Coles College of Business. He earned his Bachelor of Commerce and Master of Commerce with honors from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Sharma graduated with a Ph.D. and postgraduate certificate in higher education from Griffith University in Australia. He is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and was an auditor at KPMG in New Zealand. Sharma won the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce Teacher of the Year for 2016-2017. He also spearheaded the Doctor of Business Administration concentration in Accounting and served on the Pathways Commission Task Force examining non-traditional pathways to a doctoral degree.

(Click here for downloadable photo of Divesh S. Sharma.)

3 p.m. – College Architecture and Construction Management, College of Computing and Software Engineering, Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology and College of Science and Mathematics

Speaker: Trenton “Trent” D. Turk, chief executive officer, GeoSurvey, Ltd.

Trenton “Trent” D. Turk graduated from Southern Polytechnic State University in 1987 with a B.S. in civil engineering technology. A registered land surveyor, Turk owns and operates GeoSurvey, Ltd., a regional land surveying firm in Marietta, which was established in 1996. He is an active member of the Kennesaw State University Foundation and the Marietta Kiwanis. Turk is also an active member of the Surveying and Mapping Society of Georgia Education Foundation, a foundation dedicated to assisting students enrolled in land surveying education programs in Georgia. He is married to LaSona O. Turk and has three grown children.

(Click here for downloadable photo of Trenton “Trent” D. Turk.)

7 p.m. – Graduate College

Speaker: Michael J. Coles, entrepreneur

Michael J. Coles is a transformational leader, accomplished entrepreneur, education advocate and motivational speaker. In 1977, he co-founded the Great American Cookie Company with only $8,000. When he sold it in 1998 it was the largest franchisor of cookie stores with sales over $100 million. In 1999, Kennesaw State awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. In 2003, Coles became chairman, CEO and president of Caribou Coffee Company. Over the next five years, he more than doubled its size and took the company public. He serves as chairman of Brand Holding Company and chairman of Brand Bank. Kennesaw State’s College of Business is named for him. Coles lives in Atlanta with his wife Donna.

(Click here for downloadable photo of Michael J. Coles.)



10 a.m. – College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Speaker: Lt. Gen. Stayce D. Harris, assistant vice chief of staff and director, Air Staff, Headquarters U.S. Air Force

Lt. Gen. Stayce D. Harris is the assistant vice chief of staff and director, Air Staff, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. She also serves as deputy chairman of the Air Force Council, and is the Air Force accreditation official for the international Corps of Air Attachés. The highest ranked African American female named an Air Force general, Harris received her commission through the University of Southern California's Air Force ROTC program. She served on active duty until joining the Air Force Reserve in 1991. She has commanded an airlift squadron, an expeditionary operations group, an air refueling wing and a numbered air force. Prior to her current position, Harris served as the Commander, 22nd Air Force, Dobbins ARB, Georgia.

(Click here for downloadable photo of Stayce D. Harris.)

2 p.m. – College of the Arts; Bagwell College of Education; WellStar College of Health and Human Services; and University College

Speaker: 2nd. Lt. Anthony Hawkins, U.S. Army

2nd. Lt. Anthony Hawkins has 10 years’ experience in the U.S. Army, which includes deploying to Iraq and providing humanitarian aid to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. A son of a registered nurse and small business owner, Hawkins dropped out of high school at age 16 to help with the struggling family business. After serving in the Army, he graduated magna cum laude from Kennesaw State in 2013 with a bachelor of science. Hawkins will graduate in May 2017 with an M.D. from the University of Central Florida College of Medicine. He has been accepted for residency training in emergency medicine at Madigan Army Medical Center, Fort Lewis, Wash., one of the most competitive training programs in the Army.

(Click here for downloadable photo of Anthony Hawkins.)

Kennesaw State University Convocation Center, 1000 Chastain Road, Kennesaw, Ga., 30144

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit