More than 200 Koalas were sent out into the world Saturday in Columbia: not the furry ones who like eucalyptus, but the human variety who like purple and have just earned diplomas.

Columbia College celebrated the class of 2019 with a commencement ceremony at Bible Way Church of Atlas Road. The college student body includes approximately 1,400 students from 25 states and 20 countries, and even a quick look at Saturday’s graduating class made its diverse origins obvious.

A women’s college since its founding in 1854, Columbia College now offers co-ed evening and online classes, and the master’s degree program is also open to men.

Alumna Zelphine Smith-Dixon, now director for special education with the Georgia Department of Education, served as Saturday’s commencement speaker, and told the graduates that where they came from is unimportant compared to where they will go from here.

“I am standing before you to tell you your past and your process are irrelevant,” she said. “Graduates, don’t ever allow anyone to dictate where you’re going because of where you have not been.”

Columbia College President Carol Moore, Senior Class President Nakiya Bias and master’s program graduate Joey Crosby also addressed the packed sanctuary as well as others watching via live streaming.

Smith-Dixon also alluded to the problems in the world and charged the graduates to go fearlessly and make it a better place.

“Take your seat and celebrate today, but plan to stand tomorrow,” she said.

More information on Columbia College is available at

Categories: Columbia, Education, Richland County

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