August 20, 2020–8:09 a.m.
Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) Echocardiography student Christina Bullock has been named a 2020 Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) finalist while Mandy Jones, General Education English instructor, has been chosen as a 2020 Rick Perkins Instructor of the Year finalist by the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).
The finalists were announced during a live-streamed TCSG special presentation on Wednesday, Aug. 19.
“I want to say thank you to everyone who has been in my corner and I am looking forward to participating in the state competition,” said Bullock, a student on the Floyd County Campus. “It is an honor to be a GOAL finalist.”
At the age of four, Bullock entered the foster care system after her mother was incarcerated. It wasn’t until her father, who didn’t know she existed, found her at age seven that she was able to leave the system behind.
The 23-year-old was the first in her family to graduate high school, and Bullock said while that was an accomplishment unto itself she knew she had to keep going.
In the middle of her senior year at Sonoraville High School, her dad was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer.
“He was already disabled and barely making ends meet, I needed to get a job to help us both,” Bullock said. “He started his first round of chemotherapy and radiation, while I started my first job at Office Depot and first semester at Georgia Northwestern Technical College.”
After losing her father to a four-year-long cancer battle, Bullock has continued to show a strong work ethic, leadership and reliability in classroom attendance, said Dawn Irwin, instructor of Echocardiography. The GNTC GOAL winner also has maintained a 3.38 GPA while working full-time to pay for a mortgage and classes.
“Even though my options were limited on where I could go to school, Georgia Northwestern was the only school around me with an accredited Ultrasound program,” she said. “This meant I would have a better chance at getting a job right out of graduation.”
Bullock has set her sights on graduating from GNTC this December to pursue her goal of a long-lasting career in Ultrasound Echocardiography.
“I want to show my dad I made it,” she said. “Technical college is not just a stepping stone or a means to an end. It is my life’s work and it shows me that I was right to believe in myself.”
The 2020 Student of the Year and state GOAL winner will serve as TCSG’s student ambassador during a number of system and college functions throughout the year.
As the grand prize, a new automobile provided by Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia will be awarded to the state GOAL winner.
“I am incredibly proud of Christina and all she has accomplished,” said Trish Wiggins, GNTC Student Life coordinator. “I am so happy for both her and Mandy. Our winners display the best Georgia Northwestern Technical College has to offer and they have worked exceptionally hard to reach this point in the competition and I know they will do well in the final judging.”
An instructor at Georgia Northwestern since 2013, Mandy Jones is an English instructor on the Walker County Campus in Rock Spring. She is a resident of Chickamauga and has been an educator since 2005. Jones said that at GNTC she wanted to adjust her lesson plan so that it was more applicable to her students once they started their careers.
“Creating relevance between my students’ needs and my curriculum was an essential part of becoming an effective English instructor at a technical college,” said Jones.
She decided to do some research and found that many Georgia employers cited the lack of soft skills as a concern in their young employees.
“Georgia’s top businesses want skilled laborers that can interact effectively, intuitively, and harmoniously in the workplace,” said Jones. “Skilled laborers that can be adaptable, flexible and think quickly on their feet.”
Jones said that soft skills like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and work ethics are crucial in today’s workforce.
“Deficiencies in soft skills may cause Georgia business leaders to hire outside of state lines,” said Jones.
“Mandy Jones is an exemplary instructor who always goes above and beyond to create a dynamic and fun learning environment for her students,” said Beverly Padgett, GNTC Rick Perkins Coordinator. “She is full of both knowledge and personality which her students benefit from in her classes. Both Mandy and Christina have worked extremely hard and are outstanding representatives of both GNTC and TCSG.”
The Rick Perkins Award winner serves as an ambassador for technical education in Georgia. He or she will make many public appearances throughout the year, including addressing both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly.
A panel of leaders from business, industry, and government will choose the Technical College System of Georgia’s GOAL and Rick Perkins Award winners for 2020 and recipient of the GOAL medallion. A virtual state competition is scheduled to be held in September 2020.