Minnie Williamson retiring as SGTC WIOA Assistant
Published 8:57 pm Thursday, December 16, 2021
By Su Ann Bird
AMERICUS – Minnie Williamson may have a little silver in her hair but she is definitely ‘young at heart’ and has been helping change the lives of students at South Georgia Technical College through the WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) program for over 20 years as the WIOA Assistant. She has announced that she is retiring effective January 2022.
“We are certainly going to miss ‘Ms. Minnie,’” said South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford. “She has been an asset to the college, the faculty, staff, and most of all to our students. She has knowledge, but more importantly she has great wisdom. Wisdom is not something you buy. It has to be attained. Her wisdom comes from a life well lived and she willingly shares that wisdom with others in an attempt to make their lives better.”
Minnie Williamson has served three President’s at South Georgia Technical College (Jon Johnson, Sparky Reeves, and Dr. John Watford) and two WIA or WIOA Directors (Julie Partain and Sandhya Muljibhai). “South Georgia Technical College has helped me become who God intended me to be,” said ‘Ms. Minnie’ as she is affectionately called by students, faculty, and staff at SGTC. “I came up on the rough side of the mountain. I have been through a lot in my life but what I went through made me stronger. I was very timid and shy when I was younger, but God has blessed me and I believe I have been able to bless others.
WIOA is a federal program that assists students with school-related expenses. The River Valley Regional Commission (RVRC) and the WIOA Board make federal funds available to SGTC for students. The SGTC WIOA office enrolls students and provides additional financial aid for 22 different academic programs. The goal is to help those students enter the workforce in needed career fields such as nursing, welding, accounting, air conditioning, aircraft structural technology, auto collision commercial truck driving, diesel equipment, law enforcement and more.
As the WIOA Assistant at South Georgia Technical College, ‘Ms. Minnie’ worked with students of all ages. “My time at South Georgia Technical College has been wonderful,” said Williamson. “I have enjoyed helping young people and I love my co-workers. I asked God to put me where he wanted me and the Lord blessed me with 20 years here. The young students, as well as the not so young students, talk to me. I am quick to tell them that the book they are reading, I could have written. I have made a lot of mistakes, and I tell the students, if you make a mistake, learn from it and don’t repeat it.”
That advice has stood the test of two decades as she has helped hundreds of students gain an education and enter the workforce. Many of those students from years ago still come back and thank ‘Ms. Minnie’ for her advice and help. She sees students she helped working throughout the community and they are all quick to speak and thank her. “WIOA allowed me to talk with students and get to know them and they got to know me. I could have that personal touch and sometimes that is all it takes to encourage someone to keep going.”
‘Ms. Minnie’ knows because she was one of those students. She began her career at Manhattan Shirt Company and worked as a Quality Inspector/Trainer from April 1968 through December 1996. When the plant closed ‘Ms. Minnie’ found herself without a job and without an education. She had dedicated nearly 30 years to one company and now she had to find something new.
She enrolled at South Georgia Tech and by December of 1997, she had earned her Accounting Diploma. She worked as an Accounting Clerk at Wal-Mart and then went to Cooper Lighting before she accepted the WIOA Assistant position at South Georgia Technical College in 2001. Twenty years later she is retiring after helping hundreds of students accomplish the same types of goals she had when she started her second career.
Minnie Williamson was the mother of three, but she raised five. She made sure all of her children went to college. Her daughter Pam Clemons Bush is a teacher, her son, Sterling Clemons is an attorney, and the baby, Kimberly Williamson, went into customer service. ‘Ms. Minnie’ has also been hands on in helping grandchildren and others who needed a place to live and grow.
In addition to her job duties at South Georgia Technical College, ‘Ms. Minnie’ gave back in other ways. She volunteered to help each year with the South Georgia Technical College Foundation TechForce internal fund drive. She knew her efforts would help more students have the opportunity to receive life changing education. She also helped with registration and admissions and any time there was a need, she was quick to volunteer.
“TechForce is my heart,” said ‘Ms. Minnie.’ “I loved working with other faculty and staff to raise funds for student scholarships and for new equipment needed in the different programs. That was a joy and I have already told them that I will keep contributing something each year.”
Twenty years have come and gone very quickly. January brings an end to a very successful second career for a lady that has touched the lives of many through her quick smile, kind words, and giving heart. Minnie Williamson may have a few gray streaks in her hair, but she will always be ‘young at heart.’