Campus News Student Spotlight

Celebrating graduation, future opportunities

Graduating undergraduate student Trent Nesbit at the Business Learning Community. Nesbit is the 2024 Commencement student speaker. (Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

Student speaker reflects on ‘the best four years’ and a chance for new growth

Trent Nesbit didn’t get a typical high school graduation. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no in-person ceremony, and the occasion passed without the traditional fanfare.

Now, four years later, he is making the most out of his college graduation. As undergraduate student speaker, Nesbit will help his peers to close out their college careers.

“A big motivation for applying to be student speaker was I thought this would be the coolest way to close this chapter in my life in Athens,” Nesbit said. “I care so much about the school and this town.”

Each semester, a Student Government Association committee reviews applications and speeches from prospective student speakers before inviting select applicants to come and give their speech in person. From there, the committee selects the student they believe will do best at Commencement.

Being selected by his peers to give the Commencement speech is an immense honor, Nesbit said, and it is a testament to the community he has built.

Nesbit is a lifelong Athens resident and Clarke Central High School graduate, but coming to the University of Georgia was a chance to experience a new side of his hometown. He already loved the city, but UGA provided the opportunity to meet students from around the state and nation.

The university started as a large, complicated campus, but he sought out ways to get involved. Through Wesley, a student-led Christian ministry on campus, his role as video assistant in UGA Athletics and study abroad with Real Madrid, he carved out a space for himself.

“Athens has always been my home, but UGA feels like home now as well,” he said. “Every year, Athens feels a little bit smaller, which is a good thing. I feel more and more connected with the city every single year.”

Graduating undergraduate student Trent Nesbit at the Business Learning Community. (Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

Those opportunities have also taught valuable life lessons. Nesbit admits that he’s still figuring out the best work/life balance, but his time at UGA has taught the value of strong relationships and friendships. He continues to work hard, but also focuses on networking to find paths forward.

“College isn’t only about finding what you love, but who you love,” he said. “The relationships you make in college are the things that really, really do matter in the long run. I try to set time aside to invest in the people you love and care about, and that has opened so many doors for me.”

That path has also included finding the right degree program. As an economics major in the Terry College of Business and sport management minor in the Mary Frances Early College of Education, Nesbit appreciates the broad scope of opportunities ahead of him.

“Economics certainly isn’t the easiest thing in the world, and I still have a lot to learn,” said Nesbit, who is also a student in the Morehead Honors College. “But the coolest thing is that it intersects with so many of the interests that I have. I’m trying to leave as many doors open as possible, and I’m excited to see what’s next.”

One thing he knows is the best is yet to come, and that’s one of the main messages in his Commencement speech. He wants his peers to take everything they learned on campus to pursue bigger and brighter futures.

“The theme of my speech is to not let college be the best four years of your life,” he said. “I feel very strongly about always striving for more, and that’s what UGA has equipped us to do.”