If you woke up in the Atlanta area this morning, you were treated to snow flurries, frigid temperatures and a sense of optimism. Not every New Years Day is this cold in Georgia, but we can always count on the sense of optimism that comes with a clean slate. New determination when it comes to dealing with the resets, crashes and falls in life.
But if you step onto the campus of Gwinnett Technical College on nearly any day of the year, you’ll sense the very same optimism and confidence that comes with a 99% placement rate for its graduates.
And if you talk with the students about their future plans, you can rest assured that they know exactly where they want to do when they graduate. And of course, when you speak with any of the staff, you sense a passion for educating the students that is second to none.
I’m sure that the same hold true for all twenty-two of Georgia’s technical colleges, strategically located across the state. They are places where specific goals are met and real lives are changed.
I was fortunate enough to experience New Year’s Day style optimism again on the campus of Gwinnett Technical College on a much warmer day in late November. It was on this day that I served as a judge to help decide the winner of the Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) competition. At this point there were only four finalists remaining, from the hundreds that initially competed. I couldn’t wait to serve as a judge, after my first experience in 2016!
All finalists were winners, but the one we ultimately selected is to compete in April during the annual State GOAL & Rick Perkins Award Conference. The person selected in April is to serve as an ambassador for technical education across the state of Georgia.
And make no mistake, regardless of who walks away as an ambassador in April, the state of Georgia and its citizens win, because technical schools are training students to fill positions in the automotive and film industries that are in high demand in Georgia. It’s the talented workforce that brings the companies here, to begin with.
So four finalists reminded us about resets, crashes and falls that we all experience in life – and what it looks like when courage and dedication prevail.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Heidy Sosa reminded us about resets. While in her native country, Ms. Sosa was a practicing physician. Now in her final semester at Gwinnett Tech, she has a 4.0 GPA and serves a role model for the other nursing students she sits in class with – as well as her Anatomy of Physiology students. She told us that it’s her goal to show others that it’s never too late to find a dream.
Angela Philpot reminded us that our technical colleges serve as either a “first choice, or last hope” for many. She was a student at Gwinnett Tech when she got into a serious car accident and had to leave school in order to recover. And recover she did, with a new mission! Angela is now a radiology student, with a “pay it forward” attitude. The change in major came as a result of her experiences with radiology professionals after the crash. She told us that she wants to be a voice to those who think they cannot carry on. When not studying, or inspiring others, she serves as vice president of education for the local toastmasters group.
It takes a lot to get up after a 40 foot fall from a roof, but Michele Crow did just that. Once a contractor, she is now a radiology student, inspired by interaction with radiology specialists. Michele is the president of her class of 28 students, as well as a solid mentor. Older than a majority of traditional students, she told us that it’s her mission to let people know that they can choose to do anything – regardless of age. In what little time she has, Michele helps to raise money and awareness for AIDS research.
There must be something to the radiology profession!
Cassy Mathis is also no stranger to resets. She graduated from the University of Alabama during the “Great Recession,” with a degree in Marketing. Many of us remember that time in our history, as if it were yesterday – it tested us all. Her employer saw something special in her – as we did, and recommended that she get a degree from Gwinnett Tech in Interior Design. While pursuing her degree, Cassy has twice served on the Board of Community Involvement for Young Professionals, in the Professional Women of Building Council. With her reset, Cassy has added “color, texture and vibrancy” back into her life, as well as the lives of her colleagues.
While it was not an easy choice, we selected Cassy Mathis to represent Gwinnett Technical College in April.
It’s funny how we can wake up on New Year’s Day and our mind drifts back to those who inspired us in the past year.
New Year’s Day is a clean slate for us all. What will we do with the next 364 days before 2019 arrives? Will we follow the leads of Heidy, Angela, Michele and Cassy to rebound from the restarts, crashes and falls that are certain to touch us, if they haven’t already?
Maybe Gwinnett Tech has life changing coursework that will turn your life around, among its 140 program offerings, or perhaps you can find a way to participate in some other way to encourage others, or to grow.
Here’s to those who rebound, and never quit!
May 2018 be your best year yet, as you overcome your own resets, crashes, and falls!