SGTC GOAL Semi-Finalists Honored at Luncheon
South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) recently hosted a luncheon in honor of the college’s 2020 semi-finalists for the Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) program. The event was held in the John M. Pope Industrial Technology Center on the SGTC campus.
Four semi-finalists were chosen by a panel of SGTC faculty and staff from a field of 12 candidates nominated by their program instructors for the honor.
The four students – Sierra Berry of Americus, David Bush of Cuthbert, Garrett Kennedy of Pine Mountain, and Matthew Ross of Americus – proceeded after the luncheon to be judged by a committee of community leaders who will choose a local winner to go on to the southern regional competition.
The luncheon kicked off with brief remarks from SGTC Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and GOAL Coordinator Vanessa Wall, a welcome from SGTC President Dr. John Watford, and an invocation from SGTC Dean for Academic Affairs Raymond Holt.
After lunch, each of the twelve candidates was presented a certificate by Dr. Watford in recognition of their nomination. The candidates recognized were: Berry, Practical Nursing (nominated by instructor Jennifer Childs); Bush, Air Conditioning Technology (nominated by Glynn Cobb); Roderick Douglas of Americus, Culinary Arts (nominated by instructor Ricky Watzlowick); Andreas Edwards of Americus, Computer Information Systems (nominated by instructor Andrea Ingram); Sylvia Gary of Ellaville, Criminal Justice (nominated by instructor Teresa McCook); James Griffin of Oglethorpe, Aircraft Structural Technology (nominated by instructor Jason Wisham); Heather Hinton of Dawson, Computer Information Systems (nominated by Ingram); Robbin Hurt of Cordele, Criminal Justice (nominated by instructor Wanda Bishop); Kennedy, Motorsports Technology (nominated by instructor Kevin Beaver); Kimberly Kirksey of Reynolds, Culinary Arts (nominated by Watzlowick); Jennifer Owens of Americus, Criminal Justice (nominated by McCook); and Ross, Air Conditioning Technology (nominated by Cobb).
Dr. Watford then presented engraved plaques to Berry, Bush, Kennedy, and Ross in honor of their selection as semi-finalists. After the presentation, their respective instructors introduced each semi-finalist who then spoke to the audience about their personal stories and why they believe in technical education and South Georgia Technical College in particular.
Sierra Berry talked about the struggles of being a single mother of two trying to further her career. “With technical education, I was able to find a lot of resources to pay for my education.” For Berry, these resources meant she could come to school and still pay her bills and support her young children. She also spoke of the way she feels empowered by pursuing her education at SGTC after going through an abusive relationship. “Coming back to school, I was surrounded by so many supportive people who just wanted to see me succeed. People are cheering me on every single day.”
In his remarks, David Bush said “I am a big advocate for technical education. I want to be the guy that proves you can be successful and earn a lot of money doing technical jobs.” He spoke of technical college as being “a highly affordable way to get a quality education.” With affordable tuition and financial aid resources, Bush believes technical education is a way of learning valuable skills without being burdened by massive student debt. “That dream of being debt free while getting a quality education can be a reality.”
Garrett Kennedy discussed how technical education is valuable and can quickly lead to employment opportunities. “All the other programs I looked at were much longer with a lot of extra course work, and you were still not guaranteed a job.” While acknowledging that nothing in life is guaranteed, Garrett said of quality employment “I feel you’re much closer to it here than anywhere else.” He also spoke of the value of the hands-on training students receive at South Georgia Tech. “All of it directly translates to what you want to be doing with your life.”
For Matthew Ross, his interest in technical education was sparked while working as a forklift operator in Wisconsin. “There was a maintenance man there, and watching his work is when I realized it would be something I would enjoy. He could start with something that was broken, go through a process of fixing it, and have a finished product that worked just as if it was new. I could see that he clearly enjoyed that. And that’s when I realized that I would enjoy that.” After moving to Americus with his wife, Ross discovered South Georgia Tech and was pleased to learn about the hands on training offered by the college. “It’s evident everywhere how critical these skills are.”
The SGTC screening committee who selected the four semi-finalists consisted of Dianne Trueblood, Information Technology Director; Paul Farr, Director of Business and Industry Services; Dr. Deborah Jones, Assistant Vice President of Student Navigation; Chief Sammy Stone, Director of Security and Dorms; and Julie Partain (Chair), Dean of Enrollment Management at the SGTC Crisp County Center.
The external committee tasked with choosing a winner from among the four finalists includes Carolyn Wright, President and CEO, Americus-Sumter County Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Dorothy Ingram, Assistant Principal of Webster County Schools; Rev. Michael Coley, First United Holiness Church of Montezuma; Ms. Mattye Gordon, SGTC Board of Directors; and Kim Christmas, Vice President of Human Resources, PharmaCentra.
The SGTC 2020 GOAL winner will be announced in February, and from there, he or she will compete at southern regional judging. Three finalists from that region will be named and will compete in the state GOAL competition in Atlanta in April, and vie to be named the 2020 statewide GOAL winner. The state GOAL winner becomes the student ambassador for the Technical College System of Georgia, and receives the grand prize of a new car.