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A panorama of the convocation ceremony

Hundreds celebrate spring 2022 graduates at convocation

When assistant professor Gino D’Angelo launched into his convocation ceremony speech, he was practicing what he was preaching—which was, quite literally, to find your stage. 


D’Angelo was one of three guest speakers to impart wisdom upon the 77 students graduating at the spring 2022 ceremony for the University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. In addition to encouraging students to let fate blow them to new places, to be a mentor and a mentee and cherish the moments, he urged students to find ways to let their voices be heard.


As a Warnell alumnus, he said, they will always have important things to say.


“From this day forward, you’re a marked person,” he said, recalling when he received his Eagle Scout badge. His troop leader told him that going forward, D’Angelo would carry that extra weight not as a burden, but something that set him apart. “And as a Warnellian, you’re marked. Please uphold that network. You can pick up the phone and call a Warnell grad you’ve never met, and they will talk to you.”


The spring convocation ceremony featured a new milestone for Warnell, which graduated the first undergraduate student in the recently launched Community Forestry and Arboriculture program.


Lassie Stiles, who graduated among the top of her class as magna cum laude, received three job offers as she prepared to graduate. The degree program teaches the intricacies of urban tree care and management, with job opportunities that include working for tree care companies, utility providers and consulting.


At the ceremony, students also heard from Warnell alumnus Jim Anderson, a 1991 graduate with a degree in forestry. Anderson recently joined Forest Resource Consultants, Inc., in Lumpkin, Georgia, as an account manager. He has decades of experience in the wood supply chain, wood procurement and land management. He also chairs the school’s Alumni Steering Committee.


Anderson urged students to keep connected with the passion that brought them to Warnell to begin with. He also recalled his own graduation day and feeling a mixture of excitement and anxiety—because there was now a bit of uncertainty in the future.


But, he added, it’s OK to not know everything. 


“You’re our future leaders. You’re change agents. You’ll bring in new ideas,” he assured the crowd of several hundred that attended the event at the Classic Center’s Grand Hall. “We know that you’ll make the world a better place to live.”


Undergraduate student Delaney Caslow was also featured as a speaker, selected by her peers to represent the class. A wildlife sciences major, Caslow recently received a UGA Presidential Award of Excellence for her academic and extracurricular achievements.


After graduation, Caslow will be moving to the San Francisco Bay area to work as an outreach, recruitment and workforce diversity resource assistant for the U.S. Forest Service.


Caslow reminded students of the hardships they endured together (chemistry!) but also the bond that those shared experiences create. “There’s no other student who can know the experience of walking through the forest in lab in either the blazing heat or the pouring rain,” she said. “No other student can understand the genuine level of support our faculty give their students.”


Students also share a goal of becoming caretakers for our natural world, a point all speakers made. It’s what connects graduates to each other, and to past and future generations of Warnell graduates.


“May the wind be at your back—you’ll do great things,” said D’Angelo as the crowd cheered. “And go Dawgs!”

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