South Georgia Technical College’s Mitchell of Eastman becomes first REACH student to graduate from a Georgia Technical College
Jamera Mitchell of Eastman had a dream – a dream to attend college after graduation from high school. The REACH Georgia program helped make that dream become a reality recently when she earned her associate degree of applied science in Culinary Arts from South Georgia Technical College in Americus, GA.
Mitchell was the first REACH Georgia student to enroll and graduate from a Technical College System of Georgia institution. She enrolled at South Georgia Technical College in 2017 and graduated with her associate degree in two years with a 3.52 GPA. Keisha Hull, Senior Manager for REACH Georgia, was at the graduation to congratulate Mitchell on her accomplishment.
“This was a dream come true,” said Mitchell after she walked across the stage at South Georgia Technical College and received her diploma from South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford, Vice President of Student Affairs Karen Werling, and Hull from REACH Georgia.
“The REACH Georgia Scholarship Program was launched in 2012 so outstanding students could attend their college of choice regardless of their financial situation,” said TCSG Commissioner, Matt Arthur. “Jamera’s achievement as the first REACH student to graduate from the Technical College System of Georgia is a testament to not only the value of the scholarship program, but to her work ethic and character.”
South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford echoed Commissioner Arthur’s comments. “At South Georgia Tech, we take very seriously the idea that people have a choice when they pursue their goals and dreams. Anytime a student chooses South Georgia Technical College we feel honored. For Jamera Mitchell to have committed herself in the 8th grade to a career in Culinary Arts with South Georgia Tech as the vessel to that goal, is even more special. We are so proud of her. We are also proud that through the REACH Scholarship Program, she has fulfilled her personal commitment.”
Chris Green, Associate Vice President External Relations for the Georgia Student Finance Commission, congratulated Jamera Mitchell and all of the graduates of South Georgia Technical College. “We know that commencement is the culmination of years of hard work and determination. We are very proud of all the graduates, but as the first REACH Scholar to graduate from the Technical College System of Georgia, Jamera is charting the course for the next cohort of bright REACH Scholars and we can’t wait to see what they will accomplish. Thank you to our partners at the Technical College System of Georgia and the leadership and support team at SGTC for helping Jamera and all of the graduates pursue their dreams and accomplish their goals.”
In addition to attaining a degree, Mitchell is only a few weeks away from joining the workforce. She has been hired for a full-time position with benefits by the YDC facility in her home town of Eastman as a Culinary Arts professional.
“This is my opportunity to give back,” said Mitchell, who was raised by her grandmother, Helen Mitchell, along with her two sisters, Jamacia Mitchell and Jamya Mitchell. Their mother passed away when Jamera was only 10 years old.
Mitchell said she choose culinary arts because “growing up with my grandmother, I enjoyed being in the kitchen and cooking with her. I just fell in love with it since that is how I was brought up. And now I get to do that for others as a career.” She chose South Georgia Technical College because it offered students the “complete college experience,” with on-campus housing, intercollegiate and intramural athletics, and student activities centered around clubs and organizations.
When asked about the REACH Georgia program and her experiences at South Georgia Technical College, Jamera replied. “I would strongly recommend this program to others and I also hope that other REACH students would consider South Georgia Technical College or another technical college.
“I was very prepared and maybe even overly prepared in the Culinary Arts field,” laughed Mitchell. “When I went for my interview, I knew the answer to every question they asked and I had practical experience to back up my answers.”
Jamera Mitchell had high words of praise for her instructor, Chef “Ricky” Ludwig Watzlowick. “I loved my instructor. He did a good job of teaching us why we needed to know certain information. And then we got practical experience in the kitchen/classroom and through different projects.”
During her two years at South Georgia Technical College, Mitchell helped prepare, present, and serve the food for two South Georgia Technical College Foundation plated dinners with over 200 guests, one community Christmas party with over 500 guests, and did one full summer of restaurant projects where students are in charge of preparing meals for the public in the culinary arts simulated restaurant. The students have to plan all aspects of a meal for the restaurant. They select the menu, prepare a budget, pick out the groceries needed for the meal, prepare the food, serve the food, advertise the project, and clean up at the end of the meal. They also take turns as managers and workers and are graded on their performances as well as if they make a profit, just like in real life.
REACH Georgia is the State of Georgia’s first needs-based mentorship and college scholarship program that provides promising students the support to graduate from high school and achieve postsecondary success. REACH scholars are paired with a mentor who models positive behavior and provides the student with knowledge, advice, guidance, and support related to education and beyond. The mission is to ensure that Georgia’s low income, academically promising students have the academic, social, and financial support needed to graduate from high school, access college, and achieve postsecondary success.
The program began in 2012 as a two-year pilot that only served Rabun, Douglas, Dodge, Quitman, and Bulloch Counties. During those two years, 35 students were committed as REACH Scholars and $350,000 was invested for student scholarships. Today, REACH serves 134 school systems across Georgia and nearly 1,800 Scholars with over $22 million committed in scholarships.
Participating school systems nominate and select seventh graders to participate in the REACH Georgia program beginning in the eighth grade. In order to earn up to $10,000 in scholarship funds, REACH students must maintain strong grades, have good attendance, maintain good behavior and remain drug and alcohol-free during high school. Students must also enroll full-time in an eligible postsecondary institution and maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA and Satisfactory Academic Progress.
For more information about the REACH Georgia program visit: https://reachga.org/. South Georgia Technical College in Americus and Cordele, GA offers students over 200 associate degree, diploma, and technical certificate of credit opportunities as well as a “complete college experience.” South Georgia Tech is one of only two Technical Colleges in Georgia with on-campus housing. SGTC also has a 98% job placement rate for graduates. For more information, visit: www.southgatech.edu. The college is currently accepting applications for summer and fall semester. Summer classes begin May 23rd and Fall semester begins August 13th.