Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local News

December 3, 2013

SGTC announces GOAL award semi-finalists

AMERICUS — Four South Georgia Technical College students have been selected as the college’s semi-finalists for the Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL), according to Cynthia Carter, coordinator for the South Georgia Tech GOAL program.

 Chosen as semifinalists are Ethan E. Johnson of Oglethorpe, Criminal Justice Technology; Connie D. Sewell of Vienna, Early Childhood Care and Education; Blake L. Hardin of Americus, Welding and Joining Technology; and Jenilee C. Johnson of Oglethorpe, Culinary Arts.

 The finalists, as well as the other GOAL nominees, were recognized at a recent GOAL luncheon in the Pope Center of SGTC’s Americus campus.

 GOAL Coordinator Cynthia Carter welcomed the luncheon guests and recognized the GOAL screening and selection committees. The GOAL screening committee consisted of SGTC staff members Mark Brooks, Director of Administrative Services; Dr. Deborah Jones, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs; Lemond Hall, Director of Instructional Technology; Dianne Trueblood, Media Specialist; and Julie Partain, Registrar.

 The selection committee, who interviewed the finalists after the luncheon, consisted of Jackie Bryce, Co-Owner of Star Racing; Daron Butler, Vice President for Community Relations at Magnolia Manor; Angela Westra, President of the Americus-Sumter County Chamber of Commerce; Faith Pinnell, Co-Owner of Clinic Drug Store; and Don Smith, Assistant to the President at SGTC.

 Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. John Watford gave the invocation, and the GOAL nominees, nominating instructors, screening and selection committees, faculty, staff, and friends and family of the  nominees enjoyed a catered lunch from Aramark.

 Following lunch, the semi-finalists’ nominating instructors introduced the students, and each student addressed the luncheon attendees with a three minute introduction.

 David Finley, Culinary Arts instructor, compared his nominee, Jenilee C. Johnson, to the character Mattie Ross of the film “True Grit.” “She’s the force that drives everyone else to do what isn’t always pleasant but needs to be done,” said Finley. Johnson is an intern at Richelle’s Bakery in downtown Americus.

 “I very clearly remember my first day at South Georgia Tech because I was scared to death,” joked Johnson, who had grown up being homeschooled with her brother Ethan E. Johnson, also a GOAL semi-finalist. “It takes a tremendous burden off your shoulders to know your college is going to set you up for your career,” said Johnson. “South Georgia Tech has a bright future, as do all its students.”

 Welding and Joining Technology instructor Ted Eschmann introduced his nominee, Blake Hardin, as a student with excellent grades and work ethics, as well as having a unique story behind the reason technical education is so important to him.

 “I didn’t learn the value of technical education until I worked in Australia,” said Hardin, who said he worked as a management consultant in the industries of agriculture and natural resources. He explained how important the “value added” employees were in those industries, and decided he wanted to become a skilled laborer and create tangible goods. He shared his ambition of wanting to create an improved version of the traditional animal crate and his plans to go to veterinary school to become a veterinarian one day. “Through technical education, I am able to contribute something immediately,” he said.

 Teresa McCook, Criminal Justice Technology instructor, said that her nominee, Ethan E. Johnson, impressed her with his grades and dedication. “He is actively involved in Phi Beta Lambda, and won a gold medal at national competitions last year, making him the youngest national winner at 17 years old.”

 Johnson explained his desire to improve communities through his chosen field of criminal justice. “I’m inspired to impact society and touch lives,” said Johnson.

 Early Childhood Care and Education instructor Lisa Penton described her nominee, Connie D. Sewell, as an “exemplary student,” noting that earlier this year Sewell had scored the highest score on the General Equivalency Diploma (GED) test in the state of Georgia.

 Sewell explained that her decision to come to South Georgia Tech as a student was a result of having “no job, no skills, and no money.” She admits her life had hit a rough patch and she was looking to make a change to better the lives of herself and her twin boys. She shared her dream of becoming a teacher someday.

 The other GOAL nominees for South Georgia Tech included Jary K. Smith of Americus, Practical Nursing; Julian H. Taylor of Arabi, Air Conditioning Technology; Kimberly D. Jackson of Americus, Marketing Management; Christina M. Waters of Americus, Accounting; Jarret M. Tuning of Ellaville, Aviation Maintenance; Margaret English of Oglethorpe, Aircraft Structural Technology; Wendy K. Winters of Americus, Early Childhood Care and Education; James N. Landis of Americus, Computer Support Specialist; Frankie H. Harmon of Cordele, Business Administrative Technology; Ashley S. Conner of Hawkinsville, Medical Assisting; and Donna Y. Cook of Pitts, Accounting.


“The candidate judged most outstanding by our selection committee will compete in the southwest regional judging.  Three finalists from the southwest region will be named and will compete in the state GOAL competition in Atlanta in April and vie to be named as the 2014 statewide GOAL winner.”


The state GOAL winner becomes the student ambassador for the Technical College System of Georgia and receives a grand prize of a new car provided by Chevrolet, the statewide corporate sponsor of Georgia’s GOAL program.


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