Azalea CEO Reflection of VSU Inaugural Week

As the Chief Executive Officer of Azalea Health (a local business in Valdosta-Lowndes County), and a Valdosta State University alumni, I was both impressed and proud of VSU’s Inaugural Week events for President McKinney.

The week long celebration was themed, “Engaged Innovation” and brought forth awareness to the exciting events and achievements occurring throughout the VSU community. Each day was given a title: “Engaged Innovation & the Individual”, “Engaged Innovation in the Classroom”, “Engaged Innovation in the Community,” and finally, “Engaged Innovation in Higher Education.” Additionally, the Undergraduate Research Symposium was held which highlighted numerous outstanding students in various departments. Participants presented their exceptional research projects to an audience of scholars, students, and business leaders.

The inaugural week showcased President McKinney’s dedication to the students, faculty, and community of Valdosta State University, with events such as a Battle of the Bands, a student art exhibit, the world class theatrical production of Pippin, a talent showcase, and a barbeque for the students, faculty, and staff. The crescendo of the week was Friday, April 5, where VSU hosted both the Investiture Ceremony and Inaugural Ball benefiting Student Scholarships.

During the Investiture Ceremony, forty-seven international flags were presented; representing the forty-seven origin countries of students attending VSU. The Inaugural Ball, attended by faculty, staff, community leaders, and students, was held in the Student Union Ballroom. The ball was one of the most elegant and enjoyable events I have attended in Valdosta. Azalea Health was proud to be a Silver Sponsor of the event, which raised funds for student scholarships.

VSU has taken a giant leap in the right direction. It is crucial for the university to raise awareness of the achievements and excellence of students and faculty. Inviting community and business leaders into the school cultivates their involvement with the university, and enables them to experience firsthand the talent of their future workforce. The week of events demonstrates that VSU recognizes that it is imperative to coordinate with local businesses to ensure the curriculum introduced to students is relative to their specific industry needs.

I look forward to the strengthened relationship of the community and university, as well as the continued collaboration of business leaders throughout the region with VSU. I wish President McKinney the best, and fully support the innovative initiatives of VSU.

Baha Zeidan
Azalea Health