Meet VSU's Graduates of the Last Decade!

February 23, 2012

Meet VSU's Graduates of the Last Decade!


VALDOSTA -- The Valdosta State University Alumni Association recently presented two alumni with the 2012 Graduate of the Last Decade Award (GOLD). The GOLD Award is an honor bestowed upon graduates who excel within 10 years of graduation from VSU.

ReKasa Deen and Brent Lambert were recognized amid a crowd of Blazer fans during halftime of the men’s basketball game against North Alabama Saturday, Feb. 11, at The Complex.

Meet VSU’s Graduates of the Last Decade!

ReKasa Deen, '09

ReKasa Deen hit the ground running in her career upon receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Speech Communication at VSU. Deen began as a business development and expansion coordinator with the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce, where she had interned her senior year. She quickly advanced to marketing and public relations coordinator, then communications director and eventually became business development director.

During her tenure with the chamber Deen played a vital role in programs like Opportunity Central, which promotes the increase of average weekly wages, and MetroOne,

Deen served the chamber for more than two years before accepting her current position as city manager of her hometown, Homerville. She is the first female and, at age 23, the youngest city manager to serve Homerville. As city manager, she is responsible for coordinating municipal activities and serves as the chief administrative officer of the city.

“VSU not only prepared me for my career academically,” she said. “The relationships formed and support received from faculty help me even now.”

Deen maintains a strong relationship with VSU’s Department of Communication Arts, and has spoken with Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) members and assisted with the evaluation of senior projects.

Deen is engaged to Jon Hart.

What are some of your favorite memories of VSU?

“Some of my favorite memories of VSU are during my freshman year. I participated in the Freshman Year Experience where I was randomly placed in classes with the same group of freshman. I was grouped with students from all over the United States, even some from other countries. Throughout our first year of college, we bonded over 3 a.m. study sessions in the library, volunteering at nursing homes, and finding our way around campus -- It was rather comical to see an entire class of students wandering through the University Center looking for their classroom.”

What is the best advice you would give young professionals?

“Be open minded and willing to alter the plans you make for yourself. I never imagined myself serving my community in this way, but because I never said, ‘This is not part of my job’ or ‘I’ll never need to know that,’ I was able to take advantage of learning opportunities I would have missed out on otherwise.”

Brent Lambert, ‘08

Brent Lambert earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga before attending VSU to obtain a Master of Public Administration.

“My single favorite memory of VSU is the first time I toured campus,” Lambert said while reflecting on his time at the university. “I was a non-traditional student in a lot of ways -- 30 years old, married and an expectant father. I didn’t have the luxury of making a mistake when it came to graduate school.”

Lambert earned his master’s degree from VSU in 2008, and became a council member in his hometown, East Ridge, Tenn., later the same year. He served on the city council for the next two years. In 2010, Lambert was elected mayor of East Ridge. Elected at age 34, he is the youngest person to ever hold this position in the city.

During his time as an elected official, Lambert has completed Level I and Level II training with the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Public Service Elected Officials Academy. He also completed the institute’s Local Government Leadership Program last year.

Lambert has spent his time in office creating a citywide recycling program, overseeing the formation of a municipal planning commission and striving to increase police and firefighter salaries.

Lambert has four children with his wife, Mandy, and is a member of Spring Creek Road Baptist Church in East Ridge.

How did VSU prepare you for what you are doing today?

“I believe the rigorous but balanced course of study is probably the most significant way in which VSU prepared me to be an effective municipal official. Of course, excellent faculty members played a critical role in that as well. The MPA program provided many of the core governmental principles and strategies that I rely upon every time I walk into city hall.”

What is the best advice you would give young professionals?

“The advice that I would give to young professionals is very simple: Don’t be afraid to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are. If you follow this advice, you may not always be the center of attention, but you will always be learning and improving.”