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Kelsi Cannon selected as 2019 SGTC GOAL winner

From Staff Reports

AMERICUS — Kelsi Cannon, a practical nursing student from Ellaville, has been named as South Georgia Technical College’s (SGTC) Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) winner for 2019. She will represent the college in regional and state level competitions, in search of being named the statewide Student of the Year and the face of technical education in Georgia.
The announcement came from SGTC President John Watford, Ed.D., during a luncheon on the college’s Americus campus recently. The luncheon was held in honor of the four 2019 GOAL finalists, which included Christine Anderson (culinary arts), Prince Burns (air conditioning technology) and Aisha Douglas (early childhood care and education) in addition to Cannon.
“I’m really honored to be able to have this, especially going against three other people who could have very easily won this award,” Cannon said after accepting the award from Watford.
Cannon’s story began when her parents divorced when she was nine years old. Because of that and the events that followed, she said she has had to grow up a lot faster than most people her age.
In their home, finances were often strained and space was a hot commodity. With eight mouths to feed in a three-bedroom house, Cannon began to work as a babysitter so she could pull her weight at just 13 years old. With her money, she was able to help buy her own school supplies and clothes, and help pay for her cheerleading expenses.
At age 16, Cannon took a leap that she knew would help herself and her family — she moved out of her family home and moved in with her older sister and brother-in-law. In doing so, Cannon would be closer to her school, Schley County High School, and could take advantage of multiple opportunities like the Dual Enrollment program, which allowed her to complete her core classes at SGTC while she was still in high school. In addition to being a hardworking student, Cannon was also a cheerleader and was voted as Schley County’s 2017 Homecoming Queen.
Cannon says she knew early on that she wanted to follow in her sister’s footsteps by attending SGTC to become a licensed practical nurse so she can help others. Cannon is the daughter of Jamey and Shannon Cannon of Oglethorpe.
During the luncheon, special remarks and presentations were made by GOAL sponsors and supporters Carolyn Wright on behalf of the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce, Don Smith on behalf of the Americus Rotary Club, and SGTC President Emeritus Sparky Reeves and his wife Allene.
The field began with six GOAL nominees, but was narrowed to four following an original round of interviews with the GOAL screening committee — composed of SGTC employees Mark Brooks, Deborah Jones, Ed.D., Michelle McGowan, Sammy Stone, and Dianne Trueblood. Weeks later, the four finalists interviewed with the selection committee — made up of community leaders Kim Christmas, PharmaCentra, LLC; Marcus Johnson, Phoebe Sumter Medical Center; Don Smith, SGTC; and Jessica Wright of Innovative Senior Solutions — in order to decide a winner.
Cannon will proceed to regional judging, which will take place Thursday at Southern Regional’s Tifton campus. Nine regional finalists, three finalists from the three regions, will be announced in Atlanta on April 15 during the Technical College System of Georgia’s State level competitions. A panel of leaders from the business, industry, and government sectors will interview them and choose one to be the 2019 State GOAL Winner and the recipient of the GOAL medallion. Additionally, the state winner becomes the spokesperson for technical education in Georgia for the entire year and is awarded a car from Kia Motors. The last Student of the Year state winner to come from South Georgia Technical College was in 2016.