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.
Hunter Kimball is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in integrated studies from Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.
There’s a Superman on the campus of Augusta University and his name is Hunter Kimball.
Kimball, a 22-year-old senior from Milledgeville, Georgia, is graduating from Augusta University this week with a bachelor’s degree in integrated studies with a focus in criminal justice and military science and a minor in military science.
While that’s impressive, Kimball was also an ROTC Scholarship Cadet, a Pamplin Ambassador for Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and a leader on the men’s track and field team during his college career at Augusta University.
Kimball was even named University Male Athlete of the Year at Augusta University and, in his final Peach Belt Conference Championships held last month in Daytona Beach, Florida, he won the Steeplechase race and became the conference champion. In fact, he set a new school record with a time of 9:14.91. He also placed second in the 10,000-meter event.
“I just ran my last race for Augusta University and I was really torn about it. It was so emotional,” Kimball said. “But it was really awesome getting to put a nice end to my running career and my competitive journey. I got to end on a high note … I can’t complain.”
And the fact that he was also able to set a new school record during the Steeplechase race was just icing on the cake, Kimball said.
“It was super hot that day and the announcer actually made a comment saying no one was going to run a good race because it was just way too hot,” Kimball said. “So, I just thought, ‘This is my last race. I’m just going to see what I can do.’ And I had no clue I was on school-record pace. When I came to the last little stretch of the race, I could see the time on the clock and I was like, ‘Man, I’m going for it.’
“So, I just threw in a big sprint and went for it. And I ended up breaking it by three-hundredths of a second, so I barely did it. But I’m proud to say that’s my official third school record here at Augusta University.”
When someone tells him that he can’t do something, Kimball said he generally wants to prove them wrong.
“I actually started running because someone said I wouldn’t be good at it. Someone was like, ‘You’ll never be a good runner.’ I said, ‘OK, that’s a challenge,’” Kimball said, laughing. “And I’ve been competitively running since the sixth grade. I ended up being pretty good at it and I got a scholarship offer to Augusta University. I haven’t looked back since then.”
Throughout his college career, Kimball said his family has been supportive of all of activities, including running track.
“My family has been really involved with my running career, my military career and my schooling,” he said. “In particular, I know my family is going to really miss all of the track meets and getting to watch me run. My dad was pretty emotional seeing my last lap coming around. But getting to see your son win his last race is a good sendoff.”
His family has also been able to see how he has matured throughout his college years, Kimball said.
“I think they’re really impressed because, when I first came to Augusta University, I was just an immature freshman,” Kimball said, laughing. “I didn’t like talking, I didn’t like doing anything and then I began to flourish and I became my own person. So, I think they’re really proud of me, which is a nice feeling.”
After graduation, Kimball will commission directly into the United States military as an active-duty second lieutenant and a Quartermaster Officer.
“I’m super excited about it because I’m first-generation military in my family,” Kimball said. “I will be headed to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and be a member of the 101st Airborne Division. Honestly, I can’t wait.”
When Kimball first came to Augusta University, he thought he was going to major in education, but his college experience opened his mind to other careers.
“Being a military officer, I decided that it was a better track to move to integrated studies to get a whole encompassing feel for the military, but also the civilian law enforcement side,” he said. “It also helped me focus on leadership, in general.”
One of the reasons Kimball decided to become a Pamplin Ambassador was so he could share his college experience with other future and current students at Augusta University, he said.
“I enjoy answering questions from students and really just telling them about my experience,” he said. “I wanted something a little bit more catered toward me. And that’s where the integrated studies came into play because you truly get to make it your own.
“I got to take classes that I wouldn’t have been able to take within certain degrees and piece it together to make something that I truly felt like I got all of the value and education out of it.”
With an integrated studies degree, students can also focus on a minor and be involved in a variety of activities on campus.
“If I wasn’t in Pamplin majoring in integrated studies, I wouldn’t have been able to get my minor or get a certificate of leadership or do all of my activities. With my degree, you can make your perfect schedule with all the different classes,” he said. “And being an athlete, we’re running 80 or 90 miles a week, so the training is insane. And then, on top of that, I had ROTC every morning. It was a wild schedule, but being able to work with everyone was very fun.
“I really learned how to work with inner agency, groups and organizations for the complete college experience.”
While Kimball is excited to soon be headed to Fort Campbell, he admits leaving Augusta University will be tough.
“It is bittersweet. I love Augusta and I love the university,” Kimball said. “As soon as I toured Augusta, I felt this was the right place for me. I’m very energetic, I care about people and I care about leadership. I felt that immediately, as soon as I got here to Augusta University.
“Just the way that Augusta cares for their students is how I feel I want to be as a leader. So, I really resonated with that. It’s going to be sad leaving because Augusta is a great city, but at the same time, I’m ready to go see a new adventure.”
Students should embrace their college career, but also not be afraid of graduating, Kimball said.
“College is great, but there’s always that next chapter in life and I can’t wait to go to that next step. I think that’s how it should be,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to have a job coming straight out of college and ending everything on a really good note. And I will never forget Augusta University.”