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Thomas University presented its annual alumni awards during the Homecoming Brunch held Saturday, Oct. 14, at Receptions for You in Thomasville. Participating in the event are (from left) Marvin Dawson, President of the TU Alumni Board of Governors; Felton Ivey, recipient of the Distinguished Recent Graduate Award; Dr. Debra Gresham, Assistant Professor of Social Work and award presenter; Lori Battle, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice and award presenter; Grady D. Sanford Jr., recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award; Miriam Jackson, TU alumna and award presenter; Brett Reichert, who accepted the Alumni Ambassador Award on behalf of his late mother, Waunell Reichert; and Dr. Andy Sheppard, TU President.

 

Thomas University honors outstanding alumni during Homecoming

During its Homecoming Alumni Awards Brunch held Saturday, Oct. 14, Thomas University recognized three of its outstanding alumni: Waunell Reichert, Felton D. Ivey and Grady Sanford.

Miriam Jackson, a class of 2016 graduate, presented the Alumni Ambassador Award to Brett Reichert, who accepted the award on behalf of his late mother, Waunell Reichert. The award is given to an alumnus in appreciation of exceptional commitment to Thomas University.

Reichert was a non-traditional student who decided at the age of 80 to fulfill her lifelong dream of earning a college degree by enrolling at Thomas University. During her time as a student at Thomas University, she was active in the Psychology Club, the Night Hawk Review literary journal and several honor societies. Reichert could often be found chatting with a group of traditional students about classwork or about life in general. She genuinely cared about her classmates. They respected her wisdom – and even sought her advice.

Reichert graduated from TU with an Associate Degree in 2014 at the age of 85. At the time she was the oldest female graduating from college in Georgia. Reichert died earlier this year, but she made a lasting impression on the students, faculty and staff of Thomas University that will be felt for many years to come.

In accepting the award on his mother’s behalf, Brett Reichert spoke about her love for Thomas University and the joy that came with earning a degree from TU.

Dr. Debra Gresham, Assistant Professor of Social Work, presented the Distinguished Recent Graduate Award to Ivey. This award is presented to an individual who graduated in the last five years in honor of his or her personal and professional accomplishments, in addition to his or her support and commitment to Thomas University.

A Thomasville native, Ivey graduated from TU in 2016 with a Bachelor of Social Work Degree after first earning an Associate of Social Work Degree from Southern Regional Technical College. During his time at TU, Ivey maintained a 4.0 GPA in all his social work courses. As a senior, he exceled in his field placement at the Phoenix Substance Abuse Recovery Center.

Ivey received advanced standing at Valdosta State University where he completed the Master of Social Work Degree in May 2017. After graduating, he joined Turning Point Hospital in Moultrie as a therapist. Ivey is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and is preparing to take the Georgia Master of Social Work licensure exam.

“As a non-traditional student, Felton truly embraced his opportunities to earn his social work degrees,” Gresham said. “He prioritized his educational requirements as he balanced his home and volunteer responsibilities. His passion for social work is always proudly displayed.”

Lori Battle, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, presented the Distinguished Alumnus Award to Grady David Sanford Jr. This award is given to an alumnus who graduated five or more years ago in recognition of personal and professional accomplishments, as well as continued support of the Thomas University mission.

A native of Gordon County, Georgia, Sanford earned an Associate of Science Degree in Law Enforcement in 2008 and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice in 2009, both from Thomas University. He went on to earn a Master of Public Administration Degree from Columbus State University.

Sanford’s career in law enforcement began in 1984 as a deputy sheriff with the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office. In 1986 he accepted a position as a police officer with the Fairmount Police Department. In 1987 Sanford began his career with the Georgia State Patrol as a radio operator in Calhoun. In 1988, Chief Sanford attended the 63rd Georgia State Patrol Trooper School and was assigned to Post 3 Cartersville after graduation. In 1992, he transferred to Post 43 in Calhoun and worked there until his promotion to corporal at Post 9 in Kennesaw in 1997.  

After being promoted to corporal, Sanford progressed through the ranks being promoted to sergeant at Post 29 Cedartown in 2000; to sergeant first class (post commander) at Post 43 Calhoun in 2001; to lieutenant (assistant director of training) in the GSP Training Division, Georgia Public Safety Training Center in 2003; and to captain (troop commander) in Troop B in 2011. Sanford was appointed the division director of the Capitol Police Division in July 2012, a post he held until being appointed the troop commander of Troop A in September 2014.

Sanford also served as the state commander of the Georgia Department of Public Safety’s Honor Guard. He retired from the Georgia State Patrol on Dec. 31, 2016, and joined the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Jan. 1, 2017, where he currently serves as chief deputy for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.

 

Waunell Reichert receives her degree from then-President Gary Bonvillian during Thomas University’s 2014 Commencement ceremony.

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