Tifton Gazette

Local News

December 8, 2011

Tully conquers learning disability to achieve college degree

TIFTON — Patrick Tully of Ponte Beach, Fla., struggled with a learning disability from a very young age and was repeatedly told he would never attain a college degree.  Now, after six years and almost 200 hours in the classrooms of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Tully can prove his doubters wrong when he takes the stage to give the invocation and receive his bachelor’s degree in golf course and turf management at ABAC’s commencement on Dec. 9.

His learning disability showed itself at an early age. He didn’t speak until the age of five years old.  Even at that time, he was aware that there was something different about him. In high school was when his disability really became a hardship.

“I went to a great high school before coming to ABAC,” said Tully. “But the school was geared toward the Ivy League set so I struggled a lot. The learning disability just added to it and   left me unprepared for college. That was when people began to tell me that I would never receive a college diploma.”

With a lot of support from his parents, Steve and Chris Tully; tons of encouragement from his girlfriend; Penny Chestnut, advisor of the Baptist Collegiate Ministries; and his relationship with the Lord is what motivated Tully to push forward in his goal for a college degree.

“I took every learning support class that ABAC offered,” said Tully. “I spent a lot of  time at the Academic Assistance Center on campus and I had to repeat some of my classes, but ABAC worked with me so that I could receive my degree.”

While at ABAC, Tully has helped to establish a Young Life chapter in Tifton. Young Life is an international ministry that spreads the word of God to youth around the world.  His goal to be employed with one of the Young Life camps as a landscaper came to fruition in November when he was offered a position at a camp near Ocala, Fla.

Tully also plans to propose to Hannah Fox, his girlfriend of four and a half years, the morning of graduation. Fox, a Tifton native and Tift County High School graduate, is a 2009 graduate of ABAC and works at 1st Community Bank in Tifton.

“I am going to propose with this news article during breakfast at the place we first met, Chick-fil-a,” said Tully. “I’m hoping nobody spoils the surprise before I can pop the question.”

The commencement ceremony will take place on Dec. 9 at 6 p.m. in Gressette Gym with featured speaker retired Major General, USMC and Medal of Honor recipient James Livingston. Approximately 175 students are expected to receive degrees at the ceremony.

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