Noah McCleskey named SGTC’s 2018 GOAL Winner
AMERICUS – Noah McCleskey of Pinehurst, a Welding and Joining Technology student at South Georgia Technical College’s Crisp County Center campus, has been named as the college’s winner of the Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL).
The announcement was made at the college’s GOAL recognition luncheon at the John M. Pope Industrial Technology Center on the college’s main campus recently in Americus.
GOAL, a statewide program of the Technical College System of Georgia, honors excellence in academics and leadership among the state’s technical college students. Local GOAL winners are selected at each of the state’s 22 technical colleges.
McCleskey was chosen by a panel of local leaders over two other nominees for the award. The runners-up were Stephanie L. John of Ellaville, Networking Specialist, and Alexandra M. Joiner of Cordele, Marketing Management.
Before a winner was announced, Carolyn Wright, Interim President of the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce, SGTC’s GOAL program sponsor, shared her thanks to all of the nominees for their hard work in education.
“We are so excited and so proud of these students,” she said. “The Chamber is all about building careers and jobs and growing our community, and you all are a great example of what we have to look forward to with you all out in the workforce.”
Following Wright’s remarks, SGTC President Dr. John Watford delivered a special thanks to GOAL coordinator Cynthia Carter for her work with the program and also congratulated the finalists.
“The only thing I don’t like about this wonderful event is that we can’t name each one of these students the GOAL winner,” Dr. Watford said. “Each of these students represent the best quality of workmanship, the quality of leadership, and the quality of work ethic that South Georgia Tech helps develop in our students.”
Dr. Watford then announced McCleskey as the GOAL winner and presented him with a trophy.
In addition to the trophy, McCleskey was presented with checks from SGTC President Emeritus Sparky Reeves and his wife Allene, and Gaynor Cheokas, President of the Americus Rotary Club, as a reward for being SGTC’s GOAL representative.
“This really is a big honor,” McCleskey said after accepting the award and checks. “I never expected any of this coming into my technical education. I never expected any of the opportunities or the honors that have been presented to me.”
McCleskey graduated high school as the Salutatorian – sporting a 4.0 GPA and an acceptance letter to Mercer University in Macon. He did well during his first year at Mercer, achieving a 3.6 GPA, but decided after his first year that the university route wasn’t for him. He didn’t want to spend his career behind a desk in administration, so he decided to pursue a technical education – one in which he could work with his hands.
“And with the help of a wonderful instructor, I have truly found my passion in the welding program,” he said, referring to his nominating instructor Brenda Gilliam. “As I’ve gotten further in the program, I have seen the advantages and benefits that a Technical College can offer that far surpass what a university can even try to offer. And I can say that with such confidence because I have been on both sides of the spectrum.”
McCleskey’s life doesn’t stop outside of the classroom or the lab however. He works a full-time job as the manager of NAPA Auto Parts in Vienna, a part-time job with the Southeastern Court Circuit, and also volunteers as a firefighter for the city of Pinehurst. It’s this work ethic that his nominating instructor said she admired most about McCleskey.
“He is just the hardest working student that I’ve had in my classroom and in my lab in many years,” Gilliam said. “He came into my classroom and lab with a big thirst for knowledge and hasn’t slowed down.”
Noah is the son of Karl and Marcia McCleskey of Pinehurst. Upon graduation, McCleskey intends to start his career in welding by working the shutdown circuit – traveling the country from paper mill-to-paper mill to repair machines and infrastructure with his welding skills.
McCleskey will now proceed to regional judging, which will take place at Southern Regional’s Tifton campus on Feb. 22. Nine regional finalists, three finalists from the three regions, will be announced in Atlanta on April 24, 2018 during the Technical College System of Georgia’s State level competitions. A panel of leaders from the business, industry and government sectors will interview them and choose one to be the 2018 State GOAL Winner and the recipient of the GOAL medallion. Additionally, the state winner becomes the spokesperson for technical education in Georgia for the entire year and is awarded a car from Kia Motors.