Note: The following release was provided by Georgia Northwestern Technical College for publication on Polk Today. – KtE

A Student Honors Reception was held on Tuesday, May 24, to honor and congratulate Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s 2022 GOAL and EAGLE award winners, as well as students who were medalists at SkillsUSA and Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) state competitions in Atlanta.

The program, held at the Gordon County Campus in Calhoun, also recognized faculty and staff that provided support and mentorship to students.

William Robert Rutledge, GNTC’s Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) winner for 2022, and Shannon Edwards, winner of GNTC’s EAGLE Award for 2022, were both recognized during the program.

While serving 17 years in prison for leading police on a high-speed chase, Rutledge overcame drug addiction and worked at the Georgia Correctional Industries (GCI) metal fabrication plant. He designed a reception desk for the Governor’s Office in the Georgia State Capitol Building while he was in the transition phase towards the end of his incarceration. Upon release from prison, he immediately signed up for classes at GNTC and was hired by GCI as a CAD draftsman. He was onsite at the State Capitol during the installation of the desk.

“I am proof that rehabilitation can work and what better addition to a successful reentry than technical education,” Rutledge stated.

Georgia Northwestern students competed against students from other colleges in the Technical College System of Georgia at the SkillsUSA statewide competition in Atlanta on Feb. 24-26. The competition allowed students to take the skills, knowledge and experience that they have gained in their program of study and apply it to a real-world project based on industry standards.

“The mission of SkillsUSA is to empower its members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens,” said Selena Magnusson, GNTC vice president of Institutional Effectiveness and Student Success. “SkillsUSA improves the quality of America’s skilled workforce through a structured program of citizenship, leadership, employability, technical and professional skills training. It enhances the lives and careers of students, instructors and industry representatives as they strive to be champions at work.”

Highlights from SkillsUSA Georgia include winning the gold and silver medal in Medical Assisting, winning the silver and bronze awards in Automotive Service Technology and winning the gold medal in the TeamWorks team construction category for the sixth year in a row.

The national SkillsUSA competition will take place June 20-25 in Atlanta.

GNTC students who were gold medalists in SkillsUSA Georgia were: Ashley Floyd, Medical Assisting, Gordon County Campus; Will Holden, Carpentry, Gordon County Campus; Edgar Perez Ramos, Industrial Motor Controls, Floyd County Campus; and TeamWorks (team competition): Leonardo Garcia, Whitfield County Campus; Trey Posey, Gordon County Campus; Tyler West, Walker County Campus; and Finn White, Gordon County Campus.

Silver medalists from the statewide SkillsUSA competition include: Isaiah Lewis, Automotive Service Technology, Walker County Campus; Crystal Mallory, Medical Assisting, Floyd County Campus; Bryson Thurman, Masonry, Gordon County Campus; and Welding Fabrication (team competition): Jay Davis, Whitfield County Campus; Taylor Garlock, Whitfield County Campus; and Logan Watson, Whitfield County Campus.

GNTC President Dr. Heidi Popham (left) and William Robert Rutledge

SkillsUSA bronze medalists include: Necie Campbell, Welding Sculpture, Floyd County Campus; Gavyn Peace, Automotive Service Technology, Gordon County Campus; and Lance Watson, Welding, Whitfield County Campus.

Kevin Mateo and Freddie Vargas who also competed at the SkillsUSA competition were recognized during the ceremony.

Gold medal winners will advance to the national SkillsUSA competition.

GNTC was also recognized for placing first at SkillsUSA Georgia for largest membership increase for its 45-member increase and for placing second for the largest overall membership, with 102 members total.

Three students placed in their competitions in April at the Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) State Competition in Atlanta. The competition is for students in business and business-related fields.

All three of these students qualified in all eight events for the PBL National Leadership Conference in Chicago on June 24-27: Will Arrant, second place in Computer Concepts, second place in Retail Management and third place in Cybersecurity, Whitfield Murray Campus; Misty Hawk, first place in Justice Administration and third place in Marketing Concepts, Gordon County Campus; and Aixa Rodriguez, first place in Small Business Management Plan, first place in Management Concepts and second place in Entrepreneurship Concepts, Floyd County Campus.

Crystal Anderson was recognized for involvement in GNTC’s Student Government Association (SGA). SGA is a volunteer organization made up of volunteer representatives from all occupational programs at GNTC; SGA works on projects throughout the year to benefit the college and its students; and SGA officers participate in the student conventions held each fall and winter.

GNTC faculty who were recognized during the event for their contribution to GNTC’s SkillsUSA program included Billy Brown, Scott Carter, Shawn Daniel, Donny Holmes, Tracey Mercado, Troy Peco and Jennifer Stephenson. Susan Bowman and Missy McLain were recognized as GNTC’s advisors for SkillsUSA.

GNTC faculty and staff members Mark Upton and Larry Blanchard were recognized for their advisor roles for PBL and the Student Government Association, respectively, and GNTC staff member Patricia (Trish) Wiggins was recognized for her role as GOAL coordinator.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College provides quality workforce education to the citizens of northwest Georgia. Students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree, diploma or a certificate in aviation, business, health, industrial or public service career paths. This past year, 11,134 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. GNTC has an annual credit enrollment of 8,528 students and an additional enrollment of 2,606 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training and Georgia Quick Start. For more information about GNTC, visit us at GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an Equal Opportunity Institution.

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