William Dryden, who is fondly known as “Scooter” and “Mr. D” by friends, colleagues and students in the Cobb School District, marched in the graduation ceremony after earning his specialist degree in educational leadership.
He was among 1,403 total graduates who received diplomas this summer, up from 1,077 last summer.
Kennesaw State holds graduation ceremonies in the summer, spring and fall. It is the third largest university in Georgia with about 24,600 students enrolled this year, up from 24,100 in 2012.
“This (degree) could open up career opportunities outside of the art room for me,” said Dryden, a 42-year-old who has taught art at Brumby for the last four years. “My goal is to ultimately look at an assistant principal position.”
For the coming year, Dryden said there are still a few administrative openings in the district that he could pursue, but as of Tuesday, he is still on track to continue teaching art at Brumby.
As for his experience at Kennesaw State, Dryden said while it was challenging being the first time he’d taken online classes, every bit of his degree has been relevant to his profession.
“I’ve been able to take every single class and put it to real data use at work, and I don’t think that you could ask for any more,” he said.
Dryden earned his bachelor’s degree in drawing and painting from the University of Georgia in 2002 after serving in the U.S. Navy for six years, and he also has a master’s degree in education from Piedmont College.
He chose art because it has been the one “constant” in his life.
“I’ve been drawing and painting since a young kid and even throughout the military,” he said. “I didn’t think I could pursue (a career in it) until I took a chance and it’s been wonderful.”
Dryden said he chose to teach art to impact the lives of his students.
“(Teaching) is current, it’s relevant and it’s fun and that’s what it’s grown into for me,” he said.
Dryden was joined by his parents and girlfriend during the Tuesday evening ceremony.
Kennesaw mayor encourages graduates
Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews was among the keynote speakers. As a Cobb County native, Mathews said it’s been a privilege to watch the local university grow and evolve, specifically when it transitioned from Kennesaw Junior College in 1976 to a four-year school.
“KSU is flourishing and the city of Kennesaw is proud to share its name with the third largest university in the State of Georgia,” Mathews said.
As for advice to those who graduated Tuesday, Mathews reminded them that they are now entering the next phase of their lives, which can be difficult in today’s economy, but that competition and change can be good.
“You’re probably looking to the future with a sense of concern,” he said. “As a politician, I can assure you of one undeniable thing about change, it presents opportunity.”
He said the recession has made the last eight years difficult, but it has also provided great opportunities for economic growth and develop.
“But that’s the big picture at 50,000 feet if you will,” he said. “Your focus is at the ground level on each of you as individuals. You each must commit to seize opportunities because they won’t be handed to you.”
He encouraged them to accept three points.
“My charge to you is to accept responsibility, persevere and be appreciative of those who love and support you,” Mathews said in closing. “Those concepts will provide a foundation for you now and in the future.”