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GA Rep. Gilliard to Give Saint Leo University-Savannah Commencement Address on June 9

More than 200 Students to Receive Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral, Associate Degrees in Ceremony at Johnny Mercer Theatre

Tags: Academic Affairs Adult Learners Associate Bachelor's Commencement Education Centers Master’s Online Degrees Practical Learning Saint Leo WorldWide Savannah Education Center Worldwide Life Doctoral
30 May 2023 - By University Communications

State Representative Carl Gilliard has partnered with Saint Leo University’s Savannah Education Center for many programs in the past and now he will give the commencement address for the 2023 graduation ceremony.

More than 200 students will graduate from Saint Leo during the commencement at 4:30 p.m., Friday, June 9, at the Johnny Mercer Theatre in the Savannah Civic Center, 301 W Oglethorpe Ave, Savannah, GA 31401. Of those graduates, six will receive their doctoral degrees, two will receive their post-graduate in education specialist degree, 85 will earn their master's degrees, 106 will receive their bachelor's degrees, and 17 will earn their associate degrees.

Guest speaker Gilliard and Savannah Feed the Hungry, a nonprofit organization he founded in 2009, partner with Saint Leo University-Savannah each year to provide some deserving families with a traditional Thanksgiving meal.


In addition, Gilliard and Saint Leo hosted housing assistance events to help Savannah residents navigate the increased cost of living, including rent and utilities.

Gilliard was named as the chair of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus (GLBC) for the 2023-2024 legislative term and in 2021 was voted as the GLBC Legislator of the Year. After completing his education and working with Reverend Hosea Williams at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Gilliard returned to Savannah, under the direction of Williams, to take action against the violence that plagued his city following the murders of two friends.

He formed one of the first positive rap groups in the nation, called Candy Love, which recorded public service announcements for a variety of organizations and launched several youth programs. Gilliard focuses his career on being of service to Savannah-area residents through his legislative work as well as his many community projects and programs.

Also addressing the graduates will be Jessica Thomas, who studied at Saint Leo’s Jacksonville Education Center in Florida. Thomas is graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, and will give the Class of 2023 farewell. Thomas also served on the Saint Leo WorldWide Student Advisory Council, which represents students who study online and at the university’s education centers. 

Dr. Edward Dadez, Saint Leo University president, will confer the degrees and alumna Tresa Johnson, who earned her master’s in human services in 2018 and will receive her Doctor of Business Administration at the June 9 ceremony, will welcome her fellow students as alumni and lead them in turning their tassels on their mortarboards.

Saint Leo University’s Savannah Education Center is at 325 W. Montgomery Crossroads, Savannah, GA 31406. Summer Term 2 begins July 5 while Fall 1 Term classes begin August 28.

For more information, email or call (912) 352-8331.