News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news
TUESDAY, MAY 1, 2007

Bishop grad tops class after terminal diagnosis

MOBILE (AP) — A man who was told he had terminal liver disease four years ago enrolled in Bishop State Community College and now has graduated at the top of his class.

George Gates Jr., 39, was one of about 500 people who received associate degrees or certificates Sunday during spring commencement held at the Mobile Civic Center.

Gates said his doctor could find no medical explanation for his recovery, which renewed his faith.

"I went back to church, I got rebaptized, and I gave my life to Christ," he told the Press-Register. "I decided that I had wasted my talent and my resources . . . I decided to enroll in Bishop State College, and now here I am today, graduating top of my class, summa cum laude."

Gates was one of two students honored during the ceremony with academic awards, receiving The James Browning Allen Outstanding Student Award. The award is Bishop State's highest honor and is given to students based on academic achievements, extracurricular activities and good citizenship.

Marla Pisano won The Green-Knight Technical Award of Excellence, which goes to a student receiving a certificate in a technical program who has maintained a minimum 3.5 grade-point average.

Gates said he intends to pursue bachelor's and master's degrees.

He hasn't decided where to continue his education, but is leaning toward the University of South Alabama.

Gates said he plans to study English and would like to get a doctorate and return to Bishop State as a teacher.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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