Augusta University is celebrating its spring graduates this week.
Spring Commencement ceremonies will be Thursday, May 13, at Lady A Pavilion, 7016 Evans Town Center Park. There will be a morning and an afternoon ceremony to accommodate participants and guests, while also following appropriate COVID-19 precautions.
Emmanuel Anderson is graduating with a Master of Education in Counselor Education from the College of Education.
When Cadet Emmanuel Anderson graduates from Augusta University with his Master of Education in Counselor Education this week, he will be equipped with the knowledge he needs to help others.
Anderson joined the United States Army in 2007, and during his service was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He transitioned from an Intelligence Analyst to a Satellite Communications Maintainer and Operator, served as a drill sergeant and platoon sergeant, and is now becoming a commissioned officer.
“When I joined, I was married, just had my first child and dropped out of college,” said Anderson, who is originally from Greenwood, Mississippi. “I wanted something better for myself and my daughter. I finished my bachelor’s degree in 2012 and wanted to become an officer. I decided to become a counselor when I saw there were many soldiers that needed help — some that were in my care — that I didn’t know how to help.”
Anderson, who has since remarried to his wife Jennifer Miller and has six children, said he felt so helpless and didn’t want to remain that way. That’s why he decided to become a counselor.
“I chose this [degree] because of the different situations I had in the Army,” he said. “One of my soldiers died by suicide, and I did everything I was trained in the Army to do to try and help him. He was even hospitalized for a while. He always had someone with him just in case he started to feel that way again.
“I went on leave — I was only gone for a week —but while I was on leave, that’s when it happened. Now I understand that maybe I couldn’t have helped him, maybe it wasn’t my fault. I have the opportunity to help others.”
Anderson said he credits Dr. Meredith Rausch, an associate professor in the College of Education, as the reason he’s in the program, saying she’s the “reason I’m graduating.”
“I wouldn’t have had the opportunity if it wasn’t for Dr. Rausch; the Army put me on a timeline, and she vouched for me with the department,” Anderson said. “She encouraged me; she didn’t hold my hand, but she did make me feel welcome. I’m hoping I can be for somebody else what she is for me. I’m happy that I came here.”
Rausch said Anderson’s case was unique because he was part of the Green to Gold program. She interviewed and was able to meet with him one-on-one and took him on as a mentee to ensure the programmatic requirements for the Army were met.
“His entrance essay still sticks in my mind, and I’ve read hundreds of them,” Rausch said. “I have worked with the military for quite some time, and was cautious regarding Emmanuel’s potential for emotional intelligence — it tends to be looked at differently in order to survive in combat situations. Emmanuel had such a balance of understanding, vulnerability and strength that I had not seen previously. His determination to succeed and to gain the necessary skills in a short amount of time is admirable.”
Rausch said she watched him take on more than a full load of classes while meeting the military requirements and serving his family. She said even when it was difficult, he met and exceeded every challenge.
“He helped his classmates see his perspective and broaden their worldview. While arguably one of the busiest students in the program, he never complained or demonstrated that he was going through such challenges or having to overcome such barriers,” she said. “Emmanuel is a consummate professional, yet I also had the opportunity to get to know him on a deeper level. While Emmanuel may say I’ve impacted his life, it cannot be nearly to the extent that he has positively impacted mine. I am honored to have been his professor.”
Anderson is participating in the ROTC program as well as interning at SafeHomes of Augusta Domestic Violence Center. He is one of only a handful of males that Augusta University has ever placed in field experience at SafeHomes.
“It helped me grow as a counselor,” he said. “It has opened my eyes even more to the struggles that women have to go through. A lot of times they feel like they don’t have the means to get away from their abuser. SafeHomes gives them that way out, gives them the means. To be a part of that help is amazing.
“The stories that you hear all day, you carry them around with you. If you don’t do different things to manage your stress, you won’t last long. So I’m in the gym, I’m running, I’m working out, I’m in counseling myself. That way I don’t carry that load around with me.”
He said his experiences with the ROTC have been different from what he experienced on active duty, saying it gave him a “chance to reset.”
“I’m at Fort Gordon … It was convenient,” Anderson said about coming to AU. “I learned a lot about myself at AU and it’s allowed me to shift my focus toward my family. My encouragement is to chase your dreams. You never know if you can catch them unless you try.”