Three Culinary Arts Scholarships awarded by SGTC Foundation

Published 4:24 pm Monday, February 27, 2023

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From Staff Reports


AMERICUS – Three South Georgia Technical College Culinary Arts students were awarded scholarships by the South Georgia Technical College Foundation recently for their outstanding academic performance and work ethics grades.  SGTC President Dr. John Watford and SGTC Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the SGTC Foundation Su Ann Bird made the awards.  Culinary Arts Instructor Ludwig “Ricky” Watzlowick was also in attendance.

Alice Bridges of Americus was presented with the Patel Family-Windsor Hotel Scholarship.  Donald Gooden of Warner Robins was awarded the Glover Foods Scholarship and Janelle Dodson of Americus received the Burelle Chappell Strickland Scholarship.  All three were on the SGTC President’s List for outstanding academic performance and were recommended by instructor Chef “Ricky” Watzlowick for this honor.

The Patel Family – Windsor Hotel Scholarship was endowed by the SGTC Foundation’s Sharad Patel and his family, when they owned the Best Western Plus Windsor Hotel.  It was sponsored to help support students enrolling in the Culinary Arts program.  The Glover Foods Scholarship was established by SGTC Foundation Chairman Bill Harris and Ed Shattles of the former Glover Foods Division in Americus.  It was designed to specifically support the SGTC Culinary Arts program and its students.

The Burrell C. Strickland Culinary Arts Scholarship was endowed by the late Ruth Jones.  The scholarship was endowed in memory of her mother, Burrelle C. Strickland and in honor of “Miss Burrelle’s” Caramel Cake.”

“I would like to acknowledge each of you for your hard work and dedication,” said South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford to the students when they were presented certificates for their scholarship.  “We are also appreciative of the Harris’, the Patel’s, and the Jones family for their support of the foundation, the college, and most importantly our students who are excelling in their workforce education.”

SGTC Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Foundation Su Ann Bird added her congratulations to each of the students and their instructor.  “We are so fortunate to have individuals in our communities who support the great work of our instructors and their students through the formation of endowed scholarships.  Each of these students are very deserving of this honor and the support received from foundation donors makes these scholarship opportunities possible.”

All three students were recommended for this honor by Culinary Arts Instructor Chef “Ricky” Watzlowick.  “I am so proud of each of them,” said Chef “Ricky”.  “They are all outstanding students and I am very fortunate that they chose the Culinary Arts program as their field of study.”

Donald Gooden, the Glover Foods Scholarship winner, is a self-described “military brat” who was born in Hawaii but graduated from high school in Montana.  He chose South Georgia Technical College’s culinary arts program because its was one of the highest recommended culinary arts schools.

“Honestly I love it,” said Gooden, who is currently in his second semester.  “I commute an hour each day to class.  Growing up, I baked with my family and friends and I thought this is something that I could enjoy doing the rest of my life.  I enjoy preparing food and making people happy.”

He also shared that he loves the “hands-on training” that he receives in Chef “Ricky’s” program.  “My first semester we were already in the kitchen learning and actually preparing food.  I also like getting to work side by side with my classmates and then sharing our efforts with faculty, staff and other students.”

Gooden has already accepted a paid internship with the Divine Dining Group in Myrtle Beach, SC, that will begin in May.  “I hope to one day work in a resort setting or with a cruise line,” said Gooden.  “Right now, I know I need to get as much practical experience in every setting and I look forward to this opportunity.”

The other two students, Alice Bridges and Janelle Dodson, are actually grandmother and granddaughter. Alice Bridges, who is Dodson’s grandmother, said she enrolled in the Culinary Arts program after her granddaughter made that decision.  She was the Patel-Windsor Hotel Scholarship winner.

“I love this,” said Bridges. “I was going to retire for the second time and I wanted to stay active and do something I really enjoyed.  I found it in the Culinary Arts program here at South Georgia Tech and I would encourage anyone, no matter their age, to find something they desire and love to do and go for it.”

When asked how she likes being around some of the younger students, she laughed and said, “I love it. They keep me young. “I think they look up to me and I know they look out for me.  If I have a question about an assignment, they are quick to offer their help.”  And in turn, because of the experience and knowledge that Alice Bridges brings to the class, they come to her for information and advice.

Her granddaughter, Janelle Dodson, the Burnell C. Strickland Scholarship winner, is proud that her grandmother is in class with her.  “She really inspires me and I love getting to cook and bake with her every day,” said Dodson. “She is encouraging of my dreams and is a wonderful person. I love being around her.”

In fact, Bridges and Dodson are talking about opening their own restaurant one day. “That is a dream of ours, and once we graduate who knows what we will end up doing,” laughed Bridges. “Right now, we just have to keep working toward graduation.”  Both Dodson and Bridges are in their third semester.

The SGTC Culinary Arts program has been in existence for 26 years.  It was begun in April 1997 by David Finley, who is now an Academic Dean over the program.  It has earned national recognition and has provided workforce training for many students interested in a career in Culinary Arts.

For more information about endowing or sponsoring a scholarship at South Georgia Technical College, contact Su Ann Bird, or 229-931-2110.  South Georgia Technical College is also accepting applications for an eight-week mini-mester beginning March 13th.  It is not too late to apply and enroll.  Visit the SGTC website at to apply.  For more information about the Culinary Arts program, contact Instructor “Ricky” Watzlowick at or 229-931-2558 on the Americus campus or Instructor Hunter Little at or 229-271-4086 on the Crisp County Center campus.