Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times
Located away from the central hub of Valdosta sits the city’s best-kept secret.
Georgia Military College.
“We’ve been teaching classes in Valdosta for 35 years,” said GMC’s enrollment officer recruiter Mary Anderson.
Originally located on Moody Air Force Base, GMC bounced around to Perimeter and Bemiss Road, Castle Park then, finally, in May 2006, Forrest Street where it has remained for six years. Upgrading from just one building, — building A — building B was added in January 2010.
“We started with building A and (building B) is a totally new building,” said Anderson.
Georgia Military College was established in 1879 in Milledgeville. Originally called Middle Georgia Military and Agricultural College, the named was changed to GMC is 1900. In 1950, the War Department designated the institution a “Military Junior College.” To date, GMC is one of only five United States military junior colleges.
Today, Georgia Military College is composed of a two-year, liberal arts, multi-campus junior college and preparatory school. The college is a co-educational public institution operating under the direction of a publicly elected Board of Trustees.
Valdosta is one of eight GMC campuses — including Augusta, Columbus, Fairburn, Milledgeville, Warner Robins, Stone Mountain and one online campus — and offers 19 different, two-year degree programs.
“We just added an English degree and a mathematics degree,” said Anderson.
Though GMC is small, it has always been wholly dedicated to its students and strives to instill a sense of community in each and every one of them.
“Even though we’re a small campus, we’ve always had a really big heart,” said Anderson. “In addition to the education (students) earn here, they also earn a sense of community.”
Recently, some of GMC’s faculty and students participated in the 5K for John Eunice.
“We can’t always show up in the hundreds,” said Anderson. “But we show up.”
On Sept. 15, GMC plans to participate in a Habitat for Humanity Build and it has also worked with Toys for Tots and sponsored events such as blood drives, food drives and 5Ks.
While GMC’s impact reaches far beyond the campus, the faculty and staff strive to make the college an ideal learning environment by offering a multitude of resources.
“At GMC Valdosta, we strive to provide an environment that fosters academic success and character development. We are committed to ensuring a quality education through the efforts of our dedicated faculty and staff,” said Georgia Military College Director Leslie Hafer.
Though GMC does not have a room for a full-fledged library, it does have an electronic library with more than 250 electronic databases and resources. GMC even hired a new e-librarian, Katresa Gardner, who has been in the job for one month.
There is a book store located in one of the two student lounges where students can rent books for their courses for just $10 per credit hour.
“That’s in with their tuition,” said Anderson.
While locally, students have the choice of attending Valdosta State University and Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, GMC is able to offer a more personalized approach to education that can’t be achieved at larger institutions of higher learning.
Just two years ago, GMC made the transition from faculty advisors.
“It’s been transitioned from faculty to professional advisors,” said Anderson. “The faculty here serve more as mentors now.”
The new Advising Center consists of three full-time advisors — including Advising Center supervisor Chris King, Anne Chambers and Jennifer Nawara — and several part-time advisors. This further improves the convenience of advising for students as they are not trying to juggle advising sessions between work, class and the faculty’s schedule.
“We have morning and night advising hours,” said King.
Because GMC strives to be convenient for military students and civilian, working students, it incorporates technology into advising sessions and is able to advise through email and over the phone.
“Our Advising Center is a big focal point for us,” said Anderson.
Another new addition, that is about two years old, is GMC’s Learning Center located in building B.
“We offer free tutoring in every subject we teach,” said Anderson. “It’s something we’re really proud of.”
Anderson said Academic Dean Tarn Burton has been known to tutor students.
“It’s that sense of community we instill in them that keeps them here,” said Anderson. “It’s a nice environment for students.”
The annual Doughnuts with the Deans is just one event that exemplifies the principles of the college.
On the morning of Sept. 6, students filed in for free doughnuts to meet-and-greet with Burton and Billie Washburn, assistant director dean of students. There was a box of pre-selected questions which students used as an “ice breaker.”
“That lets (students) know that they can talk to us,” said Anderson.
GMC may not be the biggest college, with the most students, but like many other educational institutions in Valdosta, it offers a quality education to every student who walks through their doors.
“Through the years, GMC Valdosta has helped thousands of students realize their dream of attending college,” said Hafer. “Our graduates serve our community in many different professions such as teachers, nurses, social workers, police officers, entrepreneurs, active-duty military members, and many other career paths.”
Georgia Military College’s Valdosta campus is located at 4201 North Forrest Street. For more information, call (229)293-6000 or visit http://valdosta.gmc.cc.ga.us/.