The Americus Times-Recorder
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 George Andrew Windham of Oglethorpe, Horticulture; Jenilee C. Johnson of Oglethorpe, Culinary Arts; Christopher Allen Rushing of Americus, Practical Nursing; and Berkima L. Williams of Cordele, Early Childhood Care and Education.
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 students 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; Tony Smith, Retail Store Manager at Alltel; Angela Westra, President of the Americus-Sumter County Chamber of Commerce; Mary Wysochansky, Owner and Nurse Practitioner of After Hours Care; and Don Smith, Special Assistant to the President at SGTC.
Dean for Academic Affairs Raymond Holt 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 semifinalists’ nominating instructors introduced the students, and each student addressed the luncheon attendees with a three-minute introduction.
Mark Collier, SGTC Horticulture instructor, described his nominee, George Windham, as having contagious enthusiasm. “With technical education, the primary concern is to be effective in the workforce,” said Collier. “George has the strength of character, enthusiasm, and integrity to be a good, effective worker.”
Windham explained that he’s been interested in nature since he was a kid, listing Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter, as a personal inspiration. “His passion and enthusiasm inspired me,” said Windham. “I was always outside climbing trees as a kid, so I’ve always been attuned to nature.” Windham explained that he found out about the Horticulture program, called SGTC, and enrolled, and that he’s been working hard ever since.
SGTC Early Childhood Care and Education instructor Lisa Penton described her nominee, Berkima Williams, as “very driven,” and noted that she sets her standards high. “It’s very rewarding to teach students like Berkima,” said Penton.
Williams, a mother of a six year-old, said that she taught her daughter that an education is a very important thing to have, and she aspires to be a kindergarten teacher. Williams says that despite having suffered some hardships in life, “I refuse to give up.” Williams’ mother got her Bachelor’s degree at the age of 50, which showed her that she could do whatever she set out to do if she worked hard.
David Finley, SGTC Culinary Arts instructor said that his nominee, Jenilee Johnson, was “very quiet at first, but as I got to know her, I tapped into this undercurrent of drive and determination.” He also noted that she has a twin brother enrolled in the Criminal Justice Technology program, so her family understands the value of technical education. Finley joked, “She’s fresh out of high school and has better work ethics than her instructor,” noting that Johnson would stay behind on most days to clean up after all other students had left.
“This is a humbling honor, and I know that great opportunity and responsibility have been given to me,” said Johnson. “I saw cooking as something I could do for the next fifty years and be happy. I gained knowledge of the Technical College System of Georgia and what it could do for its students, and I’ve also gained a new confidence in my abilities due to my time as a student at SGTC.”
“I never imagined that I’d be teaching one of my favorite former patients’ grandson,” said Practical Nursing instructor Jennifer Childs, “but I’m very pleased to have Christopher Rushing as a student. He is a father, husband, hard worker, and full time student.” Childs noted that even as a non-traditional student, an older male in a female-dominated field, Rushing is one of the program’s leaders.
“I worked in construction for most of my life, but with the economic downturn that came about around 2007, I knew I was going to have to make a fiscally responsible career choice for my family,” said Rushing. “With technical education, you get that hands-on experience working with patients that you can’t learn from a book.”
The other GOAL award nominees included Armenta Arlicia Battle of Buena Vista, Cosmetology; Anthony Jerome Jackson of Americus, Electrical Systems Technology; Jacob Ross Tyree of Ellaville, Criminal Justice Technology; Tammy Renee’ Spurling of Cordele, Business Administrative Technology; Dorris William Persall, III of Cordele, Electronics Technology; Lonnie Noel Robinson of Cordele, Electrical Systems Technology; Reba J. Craig of Cordele, Accounting; Ricky H. Green of Cordele, Marketing Management; and Saul Vazquez, Jr. of Byromville, Welding and Joining Technology.
GOAL, a statewide program of the Technical College System of Georgia, honors excellence in academics and leadership among the state’s technical college students. GOAL winners are selected at each of the state’s 25 technical colleges as well as the two Board of Regents colleges with technical education divisions.
All the college GOAL winners will compete in regional judging, which will include students from the other 24 colleges of the Technical College System of Georgia as well as the two Board of Regents colleges with technical education divisions.
GOAL winners from each college will compete in regional judging in February. In April, all college winners will come to Atlanta where the nine finalists, three finalists from each of the three regions, will be announced and compete at the state-level in May and one student will be named as the statewide GOAL winner.
"The purpose of the GOAL program is to spotlight the outstanding achievement by students in Georgia's technical colleges and to emphasize the importance of technical education in today’s global workforce," said SGTC GOAL Coordinator Cynthia Carter.
Immediately following the luncheon, a selection panel of business, civic and industry leaders from the community interviewed and evaluated the four students. “The one judged most outstanding will compete in southwest regional judging. Three finalists from the southwest region will compete in the state GOAL competition in Atlanta and vie to be named as the 2013 statewide GOAL winner. The announcement of SGTC’s GOAL winner is forthcoming.
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.