Student creates a memorable graduation moment with Ransdell

Cambellsville native Georgia Childers and President Gary Ransdell celebrate by dancing after Childers received her diploma. Childers was the final student at the last undergraduate commencement ceremonies in Diddle Arena Saturday night. (Photo by Clinton Lewis/WKU Media Relations)

Rebekah Alvey

As Georgia Childers and her friends filed into the back of the line leading into Diddle Area for commencement, she realized that she would be the last student to shake President Gary Ransdell’s hand after 20 years of graduations and thousands of graduates.

This, she decided, had to be special.

“Gary is our fearless leader and WKU has been a monumental part of my life,” Childers said.

Childers said she looked at Ransdell and told him it was the last one so they needed to dance together. She explained she kept looking at the red towel all students receive after shaking Ransdell’s hand but didn’t want to stop dancing.

Before commencement began, Childers said she was waiting on her friends within her program to arrive so they could all be together before everyone had to leave after graduation. When they realized they would be the last graduates in Ransdell’s final ceremony in Diddle Arena, Childers said they wanted to make it memorable.

Childers was one of four graduates of the Exceptional Education program, which is becoming Learning Behavior and Elementary Education. Childers said graduating this spring was essential because it was one of the last graduating classes for the program. She explained she has taken summer and winter terms since sophomore year just to graduate on time.

Childers said graduating in four years from WKU was a big goal for her, one she didn’t always think would happen. Childers said her advisers, family and WKU helped her make it to graduation.

“It’s crazy that I was one of the last for the degree and the last for Gary,” Childers said.

Riley Robinson, another graduate of the Exceptional Education program and Childers’ friend, said she was excited to begin and end her career at WKU with Ransdell. Robinson and Childers had may of the same classes together since junior year and had grown close.

Robinson shared Childers’ sentiments towards graduating and said she had a personal relationship with WKU. Robinson explained she was a first-generation graduate and the road to graduation was humbling.

“From Ransdell’s remarks, you could just tell how much WKU meant to him and I felt the same,” Robinson said.

Robinson said she was not surprised when Childers started dancing with Ransdell. Robinson explained that Childers is a fun and bubbly person who likes to make life fun and exciting.

Childers said she was excited to be the last graduate but also nervous because of the pressure to make it special. Childers explained that her family and friends who came to graduation started laughing when they realized Childers was last because they knew it would be a funny moment.

“I’m kind of a goofball, I try to make everyone laugh,” Childers said.  

Robinson said when she realized they were last, she promised Childers $5 if she did something special. Childers said other members of the audience, faculty and professors were telling Childers good luck and reminding her that she was in a unique position.

Childers explained that she came to WKU because she could be in a program that not a lot of other universities have. Over time, Childers said, she fell in love with WKU and the people who go here.

Childers said some people could have been competitive and tried to be Ransdell’s last graduate. Instead, she said, everyone was supportive because they had a shared love of Ransdell and the university. Childers said that in her college everyone knows each other and at graduation everyone came together and was supportive.

“Nothing can replace the feeling of being on that gym floor,” Childers said.

Reporter Rebekah Alvey can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].