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New Lifelong Learner Programs for 50+

lifelong learner programs

The Georgia Southern University Division of Continuing Education (CE) is expanding its offerings to include specially designed courses for the 50+ population.

The Lifelong Learner programs feature a wide breadth of travel, artistic and language-based offerings among others. The Beaufort Tour and Charleston Tea Plantation excursions are the first of their kind developed by CE since the Flying Eagles program of the early 2010s. Both educational tours explore some of South Carolina’s most beloved and historic cities, rich in Lowcountry history.

These new programs come on the heels of the Evening at Armstrong Community Lecture Series, a series of events led by members of the community designed to provide lifelong enrichment for those seeking to stay engaged after retirement. These lectures feature a diverse range of topics; past lecturers include Pat Prokop, a veteran meteorologist of more than 30 years who is also known for his green thumb and “backyard astronomy” photographs.

Deedee Southerlin, Ed.D., the program manager working alongside director Diane Badakhsh, Ed.D., and other members of CE have piloted several of these lifelong learning courses for the spring 2020 season.

“The intent of lifelong learning content is more about engaging individuals in something they find meaningful—that continues to help them develop intellectually,” Dr. Southerlin said. “The programs that are successful will match the interest of their communities.”

Those interested in learning more about the Lifelong Learning Programs through CE can view a listing in the spring 2020 issue of Advance., on the website, or contact Dr. Southerlin at or 912-478-5555.

Why Mental Health Matters

Photo courtesy of Bekir Dönmez

According to Mental Health America’s annual State of Mental Health in America report, over 40 million adults have a mental health condition. Of those 40+ million Americans, 1 in 5 adults still aren’t getting the care they need and 61.5% of youth ages 12-17, who had reported a major depression, received no treatment.

Among veterans, experts see a similarly troubling trend.

Thirty percent of active duty and reserve military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have a mental health condition that requires treatment.

— Mental Health First Aid

What’s more troubling is that only half of that 30% actually receive the treatment they need.

What does this mean for you? 

It’s likely you or someone you know experiences a mental health condition. While access to care is increasing, there is still a call to action for people from all walks of life to become a resource for someone in need. 

Mental Health First Aid certification enables everyday people to become everyday heroes, equipping them with the knowledge and strategies to help others recognize their strengths, identify their support systems, and seek out the resources to get appropriate care.

The Division of Continuing Education offers an area-specific course to meet the needs of its communities, each led by highly trained and certified instructors:

Mental Health First Aid for Veterans

October 18, 2019 • 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Armstrong Center at Georgia Southern • Savannah, GA

$125 • Registration ends October 4. 

For many Americans in service, the battle doesn’t always end when they leave the field. This course gives you the know-how to recognize and respond to mental health and substance abuse challenges while also understanding the unique cultural factors of military life.

Light breakfast and lunch will be served at this workshop. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Senior Program Specialist, Deedee Southerlin, Ed.D., at (912) 478-5555 or at

Pat Prokop to jumpstart inaugural community learning series in Savannah

Former WTOC meteorologist Pat Prokop will be leading the first-ever Evening at Armstrong community lecture event, hosted by the Georgia Southern University Division of Continuing Education, on September 12 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Armstrong Center.

“The Weather and World Beyond,” will offer attendees a trip through tropical weather, climate change and the awe-inspiring images of the cosmos one can capture in their own backyard. This presentation invites attendees to look at and engage with the world around them in a new, more thoughtful way.

“I am honored to share my thoughts and my experiences of local weather and the tropical storm season, and excited to share views of the heavens,” Prokop shared. “It’s amazing what’s out there in a sky near you.”

In addition to serving as a meteorologist for over 20 years in the Savannah area, he is an avid gardener and an amateur astrophotographer, who uses his telescope to take photos of nearby celestial bodies. His love of gardening was born from time spent with his grandmother, digging dahlia tubers for safe storage during the icy Detroit winters as a child.

Photo of the North America Nebula, taken July 19, 2019, courtesy of Pat Prokop.

Prokop’s interest and study of climate change began during his tenure as a graduate student at St. Louis University’s School of Meteorology in 1975. Since, he has dedicated himself to finding greener, more sustainable solutions even in his own backyard.

To find out more about Prokop, his weather, garden or astrophotography, visit his website, Savannah Pat.

Those interested in learning about other upcoming lectures in the monthly Evening at Armstrong series, please visit

The mission of the Division of Continuing Education is to support individuals and organizations who seek to accomplish more. The Division does this by serving as the link between the needs of the community and Georgia Southern University’s nationally-recognized academic resources.  Offerings include customized training for business and industry, professional development and personal enrichment courses, as well as comprehensive conference services with an array of options for every clients’ needs. For more information, visit

The Division of Continuing Education welcomes new director

dr. diane badakhsh, the new director of the division of continuing education at georgia southern university

On July 1, the Division of Continuing Education welcomed its new director, Diane Badakhsh, Ed.D., who comes to Georgia Southern University with over 10 years of experience in continuing education and over 15 years in post-secondary administration.

Prior to joining the Division, Badakhsh served as the director of Continuing and Professional Education (CPE) at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). In that role, she established training partnerships with several county and city governments, as well as the United States Marine Corp.  She also worked with faculty from all academic departments within UNCW and increased CPE’s revenue by 30% each year.

“I am excited about being at a university with Georgia Southern’s reputation for academic excellence and personal attention—and leading a division with the sole purpose of connecting the resources of the university with the needs of the community,” Badakhsh stated. “Continuing education is for everyone and is a lifelong endeavor.”

Badakhsh holds a doctorate in educational leadership with a focus on higher education from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is also a licensed professional counselor, certified employee assistance professional, and a certified program planner. Her specializations include needs assessments for business and industry, succession planning, budget development and management, strategic planning and more.

The mission of the Division of Continuing Education is to support individuals and organizations who seek to accomplish more. The Division does this by serving as the link between the needs of the community and Georgia Southern University’s nationally-recognized academic resources.  Offerings include customized training for business and industry, professional development for adults, and personal enrichment courses, as well as comprehensive conference services with an array of options for every clients’ needs. For more information, visit

Georgia Southern Conference inspires H.O.P.E. in HIV/AIDS care to Rural Communities

STATESBORO, Ga. –September 29, 2015 – Georgia Southern University, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Public Health will host the 4th Annual Rural HIV Research and Training Conference on Friday, October 23 through Saturday October 24, 2015 at the Coastal Georgia Center in Savannah, Ga.

Over recent years, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment has been on the cutting edge of research in Public Health sectors. According to the National Rural Health Association, rural areas comprise of 5 to 8 percent of a US HIV cases, with majority of those affected in the southern region.

This two day collaborative forum brings together a variety of professionals in health related fields to address HIV/AIDS prevention, intervention, research and care. Key speakers and participants will share innovative strategies and discuss unique challenges in providing HIV/AIDS treatment, especially to those in rural communities. This year’s conference will focus on H.O.P.E.
Health care: Medical, social and psychological realties in HIV/AIDS research
Opportunities: Save lives with the latest in emerging research into HIV/AIDS care
Prevention: Tools for primary care, mental health and social services
Empowerment: Advocacy, prevention and intervention in rural communities

Conference chair, Dr. Fayth Parks explains, “During its 4th year, our goal for the Rural HIV Research Conference is to provide an open forum to provide tools for professionals to use in the prevention and care of HIV/AIDS in our rural communities.”

The program will include Bristol-Myers Squibb sponsored keynote speaker, Linda H. Scruggs, Director of The Ribbon Consulting Group (RCG). Scruggs serves as a national leader with 20 years of experience working with women, men, families, and youth impacted by health disparities including HIV and AIDS. Her work has led her to present before former President Bill Clinton, receive an honorable mention by President Barrack Obama, meet national heads of states, and travel as far as villages in South Africa.

Other featured speakers include Gregory S. Felzien, M.D., AAHIVS, from Georgia Department of Public Health Dept. of Infectious Disease and Immunization, Sally Jue, MSW, from American Psychological Association Office on HIV/AIDS, and Patt Gunn, Master Storyteller from the Geechee Institute.

Registration is highly encouraged to all health care providers including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, case managers, public health workers, psychologists, counselors, social workers, family therapists, educators, advocates, community leaders and policy-makers.

Credits applied for include; CME (Continuing Medical Education), GNA (Georgia Nurses Association); NASW-GA (National Association of Social Workers, Georgia Chapter); LPCA (Licensed Professional Counselors Association); and CHES (Certified Health Education Specialist).

Registration fees are $145, and $160 on or after October 1. For more information, please contact Georgia Southern Continuing Education at (912)–478-5555 or visit