SGTC Holds Luncheon for Four GOAL Semi-Finalists

January 28, 2019
Eight adults stand on a stage , side by side.
South Georgia Technical College’s Georgia Occupation Award of Leadership (GOAL) semi-finalists and their nominating instructors stand together for a picture during a recent luncheon honoring them. Left to right: Ricky Watzlowick, Christine Anderson, Glynn Cobb, Prince Burns, Jennifer Childs, Kelsi Cannon, Jaye Cripe and Aisha Douglas.

Through tears and turkey sandwiches, South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) recently got to learn more about their four Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) semi-finalists. The four were honored at a luncheon on the college’s Americus campus where they were asked to share their stories with the selection committee and select SGTC staff members.

The students – Kelsi Cannon of Ellaville, Prince Burns of Americus, Christine Anderson of Vienna and Aisha Douglas of Buena Vista – were presented with a nomination plaque by SGTC president Dr. John Watford before they ate lunch. Following the lunch, each semi-finalist was introduced by their nominating instructor and was asked to deliver a three-minute speech that told their “story.”

Each instructor seemed to follow a common theme in their introductions: they told of their nominee’s outstanding work ethic, positive attitude, and desire to learn despite battling the obstacles that life often presents.

After their instructor’s introduction, the nominees took turns sharing their stories in front of the small crowd, going in alphabetical order. The nominees’ stories also seemed to follow a theme: the desire for a better life for themselves and their families.

Nominee Christine Anderson, a culinary arts student, told of her recent battle with losing a job of 17 years, a husband of 19 years and having her only son graduate high school and move away. She has since fought back and is set to graduate soon. She hopes to make her life-long passion of cooking into a career. Anderson was nominated by instructor Chef Ricky Watzlowick.

Prince Burns, an air conditioning technology student was then introduced by his instructor, Glynn Cobb.

Burns’ story centered around his family. He attempted two early stints at South Georgia Technical College in 2002 and 2005, but could never finish. In 2007, his family was growing – leaving him with no option but to complete his education and enter a career. He enrolled in the commercial truck driving program, completed it and earned his commercial driver’s license. Now, more than 10 years later, he’s working on a degree that will allow him provide for his family and be with them each night.

The third nominee, Kelsi Cannon, a practical nursing student, was introduced by her instructor, Jennifer Childs.

Cannon says she had to grow up a lot faster than most people her age.

Her parents divorced when she was nine. At 12, her family adopted three of her cousins – straining their finances and filling their three-bedroom home with eight mouths to feed. At 13, she took her first job as a babysitter so she could help buy her own school supplies, clothes, and pay for her cheerleading expenses. At 14, her older sister and best friend moved out of their home, and at 16, she decided to follow her.

She has lived with her sister and brother-in-law ever since, but is currently looking for a place to call her own. Cannon said she knew early on that she wanted to attend SGTC to become a licensed practical nurse so she can provide for her family and help others.

Instructor Jaye Cripe introduced the final nominee, Aisha Douglas, an early childhood care and education (ECCE) student.

Douglas is a 2018 graduate of the ECCE diploma program at SGTC, but decided to continue her education by enrolling in the associate degree program. She said she made this decision so that she can become a better provider and a role model for her two younger brothers, who she had to take custody of after they lost their mother and only parent about a year ago.

Following Douglas’ speech, GOAL coordinator Cynthia Carter thanked the nominees for sharing their stories and thanked the guests for attending the luncheon. The nominees then took turns interviewing with the selection committee, which included Marcus Johnson, Phoebe Sumter; Jessica Wright, Innovative Senior Solutions; Kim Christmas, Pharmacentra; and Don Smith, Assistant to the President at SGTC.

The selection committee will ultimately decide the student that will represent SGTC at the state level during the GOAL competition in April, and the announcement will be made during another luncheon event on February 6.

The State GOAL Winner, TCSG’s Student of the Year, becomes the student ambassador for Georgia’s entire technical college system and receives a grand prize of a brand new car provided by Kia, the statewide corporate sponsor of Georgia’s GOAL program.