Success Stories

The following stories have been recently released by West Georgia Technical College


 

 

Heather Andrews
Posted: May 8, 2017

  • Program of Study: Accounting
  • Graduation Year: 1994
  • Current Occupation: Human Resources Specialist, KIA Motors Manufacturing Georgia

It’s a good thing Heather Andrews has always liked math: she took five calculus classes before realizing she didn’t want to be a computer engineer.

Heather Andrews

The education at West Georgia Tech was so hands-on and practical, and the instructors really helped me along when I ran into different challenges in my class work. You won’t find that in a larger college atmosphere.

“I went to a couple of different colleges right out of high school, and I just didn’t like what was happening,” said Andrews, who’s worked at KIA Motors Manufacturing Georgia for nearly nine years now. “I was at a phase in my life when I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.”

Luckily, she switched gears and wound up at West Georgia Technical College, in her hometown of LaGrange. She earned her associate degree in Accounting in 1994 and was placed in her first office environment right after graduation.

“The education at West Georgia Tech was so hands-on and practical, and the instructors really helped me along when I ran into different challenges in my class work,” Andrews said. “You won’t find that in a larger college atmosphere.”

Since graduating from West Georgia Tech, Andrews earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from LaGrange College and has been with KIA Motors since October 2008 – before the large plant off Interstate 85 in West Point had even fully opened. She currently works in the human resources strategic planning and compensation section and has previously worked in other roles in HR and finance.

“The combination of my degrees has been a really good fit and led to a lot of opportunities for me,” Andrews said. “I love my job and I feel prepared to do my work every single day that I come into the office. I have West Georgia Tech to thank for giving me that foundation that I’ve been able to build on.”


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Dicylle Elder
Posted: May 4, 2017

  • Program of Study: Cosmetology
  • Graduation Year: 1984
  • Current Occupation: Owner, Dicylle’s House of Styles
Dicylle Elder

My decision to attend Carroll Tech opened so many doors to several opportunities for my family and has inspired each of my children to go further than I have. We definitely have a legacy for our family and all of our offspring, in part because of what West Georgia Tech did for me.

Dicylle Elder has gone from cutting her children’s hair in her kitchen to owning a successful salon for three decades, thanks in part to a diploma she earned from West Georgia Technical College more than 30 years ago.

“I’ve been able to expand my passion as a beautician from my kitchen to a small business that I’ve managed for 33 years,” Elder said. “My husband encouraged me to pursue my Cosmetology license in the early 1980s. I did just that and became the first entrepreneur in my family.”

Now, Elder owns and manages Dicylle’s House of Styles, a successful salon in Carrollton.

Elder enrolled in classes at what was then called Carroll Technical Institute in 1983. She called graduating from the school a “huge milestone” for her and her family.

“My decision to attend Carroll Tech opened so many doors to several opportunities for my family and has inspired each of my children to go further than I have,” Elder said. “We definitely have a legacy for our family and all of our offspring, in part because of what West Georgia Tech did for me.”

As Elder strived to complete the required hours of credit, she found out she was carrying her fourth child. Even thought she had to sit out during the summer quarter in 1983 because she was placed on doctor-ordered bed rest, Elder was determined to finish school.

“I had an extremely supportive family, instructors and team of classmates who encouraged me to finish, and in 1984, I did just that,” Elder said.

 

 

 


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Tim Smith
Posted: May 4, 2017

  • Program of Study: Air Conditioning Technology
  • Graduation Year: 2005
  • Current Occupation: Installation Supervisor, Airforce Heating and Air

Tim Smith had about a decade of experience in heating and air conditioning before signing up for Air Conditioning Technology classes at West Georgia Technical College.

Tim Smtih

It was great. It took me several years, taking one class at a time because of my work schedule, but if I had to, I’d gladly do it all over again. It’s something I wish I had done a long time ago.

“I still learned things I didn’t know,” he said. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Smith, who now works as a supervisor for LaGrange-based Airforce Heating and Air, enrolled in classes at West Georgia Tech about 10 years after finding his first career – criminal justice – wasn’t working out for him.

“I graduated from a four-year college with a degree in social work and criminal justice and was working in the probation field for several years,” Smith said. “Turns out I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.”

Smith said he wanted to do something not a lot of people knew how to do, so he “turned to something more mechanical” and began working for a mom-and-pop HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) business that eventually closed.

“That’s how I ended up at West Georgia Tech,” Smith said.It was great. It took me several years, taking one class at a time because of my work schedule, but if I had to, I’d gladly do it all over again. It’s something I wish I had done a long time ago.


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Jeanne Buchanan
Posted: May 2, 2017

  • Program of Study: Business
  • Graduation Year: 1974
  • Current Occupation: Senior Director of Employee Resources, Southwire Company

Jeanne Buchanan was close to graduating from West Georgia Technical College – called Carroll Tech at the time – when a representative from Southwire Company interviewed her for a position at the Carrollton manufacturer.

Jeanne Buchanan

I’ve never once regretted going to Carroll Tech right out of high school. I was interviewed for a job at Southwire while I was still a student, and I was offered the job right there on the Carroll Tech campus. I’ve been with Southwire ever since. I found my life’s work because of West Georgia Tech.

That was in 1974. Buchanan has worked at Southwire ever since.

Now serving as the senior director of employee resources, Buchanan has been a member of the human resources department at Southwire for more than four decades. It all started at Carroll Tech.

“The education I received at Carroll Tech prepared me to go into the business world with a lot of skills and ideas that went beyond what I thought I would learn at a technical school,” Buchanan said. “The program was so tailored to how businesses operated at the time, while also focusing on techniques that would be truly timeless, no matter how much has changed in the business world since 1974.”

Buchanan was chosen as Carroll Tech’s GOAL (Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership) student for 1974, in the fourth year of the GOAL program.

“That was very rewarding, just to be nominated,” Buchanan said of the GOAL experience. “I was very shocked to be chosen, and I remember how nervous I was going to Atlanta to compete in the statewide competition.”

After graduating from Carroll Tech, Buchanan later earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of West Georgia.

“I’ve never once regretted going to Carroll Tech right out of high school,” Buchanan said. “I was interviewed for a job at Southwire while I was still a student, and I was offered the job right there on the Carroll Tech campus. I’ve been with Southwire ever since. I found my life’s work because of West Georgia Tech.”


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Judy Doggrell
Posted: April 26, 2017

  • Program of Study: Commercial Truck Driving
  • Graduation Year: 2009
  • Current Occupation, Commercial Truck Driving Instructor, West Georgia Technical College

It was near the beginning of the Great Recession, and Judy Doggrell didn’t know how long her job would last.

Judy Doggrell

I get to see, firsthand, people’s lives change for the better over the course of eight or 10 weeks. They get good jobs and can provide for their families, and I get such a rush seeing someone succeed. That’s why I wanted to come back and be an instructor, and just like getting into truck driving in the first place, it’s another decision I’ve never regretted.

She worked as a commercial loan assistant at a bank, and she could read the writing on the wall.

“I knew I needed a backup plan,” Doggrell said.

So she enrolled in the Commercial Truck Driving program at West Georgia Technical College, taking classes at night and graduating with her professional certificate a couple of months later.

Now she’s teaching the classes at West Georgia Tech’s Carroll Campus, after having driven over the road for several years.

“I wouldn’t trade this decision for anything in the world,” Doggrell said. “My friends talked me into it, but they were right. It’s so good knowing there’ll always be a job out there for me because of the drastic effect trucking has on our economy. Everything people touch or use comes off a truck at some point, and it’s good to be a part of that.”

Doggrell said she uses the story of how West Georgia Tech changed her life to inspire her students.

“I get to see, firsthand, people’s lives change for the better over the course of eight or 10 weeks,” Doggrell said. “They get good jobs and can provide for their families, and I get such a rush seeing someone succeed. That’s why I wanted to come back and be an instructor, and just like getting into truck driving in the first place, it’s another decision I’ve never regretted.”


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Andrea Laminack
Posted: April 26, 2017

  • Program of Study: Welding and Joining Technology
  • Graduation Year: 2014
  • Current Occupation: Welder and Millwright, Southwire Company

Andrea Laminack is a welder, and it’s a good thing she loves it. Her daughter won’t let her do anything else.

Andrea Laminack

I chose West Georgia Tech because I needed to start my life over again. I’d learned to weld a little bit when I was younger, so I chose this program and this school because I knew I needed to go somewhere really technical where I could learn the ins and outs of welding quickly and affordably.

“My daughter said I can’t get out of welding because she’s told everyone at her school I’m a welder and they think I’m so cool,” said Laminack, who works as a welder and millwright at Southwire Company in Carrollton.

Laminack graduated from West Georgia Technical College in 2014 with a diploma in Welding and Joining Technology. She was 32 years old and a single mother.

“I chose West Georgia Tech because I needed to start my life over again,” Laminack said. “I’d learned to weld a little bit when I was younger, so I chose this program and this school because I knew I needed to go somewhere really technical where I could learn the ins and outs of welding quickly and affordably.”

While she was a student at West Georgia Tech, Laminack interned at Southwire, working from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. every night and attending welding classes during the day, after getting her daughter to school.

“I knew it was all going to be worth it in the end, and I was right,” Laminack said. “It was worth all the sleepless nights. I’ve become a stronger person for persevering through those times, and now I’m on the other side and I couldn’t be any happier. Every bit was a challenge, but I’ve always enjoyed those.”

 


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Dr. Michelle Boyce
Posted: April 26, 2017

  • Program of Study: Dental Hygiene
  • Graduation Year: 1999
  • Current Occupation: Dean of Health Sciences, Georgia Highlands College

Dr. Michelle Boyce was a student in the School of Health Sciences at West Georgia Technical College less than 20 years ago. Now, she’s the dean of a school with the same name for another Georgia college.

Dr. Michelle Boyce

I found the Dental Hygiene program at what was then called Carroll Tech and knew that's where I was supposed to be. I was able to practice clinically for more than 10 years, until I decided to share my passion for dental hygiene for students who want to follow a similar path I had.

Boyce, who graduated from West Georgia Tech with an associate degree in Dental Hygiene in 1999, was recently named Dean of Health Sciences at Georgia Highlands College. She remembers West Georgia Tech fondly.

“What I loved about West Georgia Tech was the smaller environment and all of the one-on-one interaction I received with my instructors,” Boyce said. “Being in the Dental Hygiene program, which is broken into different cohorts, I got to know my instructors and fellow students very well and built relationships with all of them. I still keep in touch, and I’m glad to have been able to maintain those relationships.”

After high school, Boyce attended Georgia State University without knowing what she wanted to do.

“I found the Dental Hygiene program at what was then called Carroll Tech and knew that’s where I was supposed to be,” Boyce said. “I was able to practice clinically for more than 10 years, until I decided to share my passion for dental hygiene for students who want to follow a similar path I had.”

Boyce became a full-time instructor at Georgia Highlands in 2011, earning her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in rapid succession. Earlier this year, she was named Dean of Health Sciences.

“I never thought about going to technical college right out of high school, for whatever reason,” Boyce said. “I wish I had done that. It would have saved me a lot of time. I’m very grateful for the program I found at West Georgia Tech and all of the opportunities it’s brought me since graduating.”

 


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Jonathan Jones
Posted: April 26, 2017

  • Program of Study: Computer Information Systems
  • Graduation Year: 2012
  • Current Occupation: Manager of Human Resources Technology, ExpressJet Airlines

Jonathan Jones is flying high.

Jonathan Jones

The degree I earned from West Georgia Tech has been extremely helpful in my professional life. The instructors I had in school would never spoon-feed me answers, and while in the moment I found that challenging, now I appreciate it so much. I would eventually catch on and be able to answer their questions, and they let me figure out the answers for myself, rather than just telling me what to say.

He’s using the degree he earned at West Georgia Technical College at ExpressJet, an Atlanta-based airline, as an information technology analyst. The 2012 graduate is using his degree in Computer Information Systems as the manager of human resources technology for the airline.

“The degree I earned from West Georgia Tech has been extremely helpful in my professional life,” Jones said. “The instructors I had in school would never spoon-feed me answers, and while in the moment I found that challenging, now I appreciate it so much. I would eventually catch on and be able to answer their questions, and they let me figure out the answers for myself, rather than just telling me what to say.”

Prior to attending West Georgia Tech, Jones attended a four-year university. He transferred when he realized he could have similar job prospects in half the time.

Jones has worked in information technology since he graduated a half-decade ago, with a brief stint in PC repair. For the past four years, he’s been with ExpressJet, and he’s now in a project management role.

“My job is now to investigate different software platforms the airline is interested in purchasing to determine if they would be a good fit for our current systems,” Jones said. “I would never be able to have this amazing, fulfilling job if I didn’t go to West Georgia Tech, where I learned the skills I’m still using today.”

 


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Alex Reuter
Posted: April 26, 2017

  • Program of Study: Welding and Joining Technology
  • Graduation Year: 2016
  • Current Occupation: Pipe Welder, ALTA Refrigeration

Alex Reuter graduated from high school last May. Now he’s making $80,000 a year.

Alex Reuter

At 19 years old, I’m able to see the country and earn a great paycheck. It’s all thanks to the lifelong skill I learned at West Georgia Tech.

While he was in high school, Reuter enrolled in the Move On When Ready program at West Georgia Technical College. He took four semesters’ worth of welding courses at the Central Educational Center (CEC) in Newnan, graduating with a diploma in Welding and Joining Technology from West Georgia Tech along with his high school diploma.

“At 19 years old, I’m able to see the country and earn a great paycheck,” Reuter said. “It’s all thanks to the lifelong skill I learned at West Georgia Tech.”

While still in high school, Reuter interned at ALTA Refrigeration, a Peachtree City company that specializes in manufacturing custom cooling units for large industrial plants. After he graduated, he was offered a job in the local plant, which he had for about six months. Recently, he was promoted to doing field work for ALTA as a pipe welder, meaning he travels across the country to install and service cooling units at large industrial plants.

Reuter said he couldn’t be where he is today without West Georgia Tech and the Move On When Ready program.

“It was so nice to have somewhere in high school where I could come and actually learn about the job I wanted to have for the rest of my life,” Reuter said. “I didn’t have to invest my own money and resources into learning about welding. I was able to come to the CEC for free and get the skills I need to have a job and be successful.”

 


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Mariah Warwick
Posted: April 24, 2017

  • Program of Study: Registered Nursing
  • Graduation Year: 2016
  • Current Occupation: Emergency Department RN, Piedmont Healthcare - Newnan

Mariah Warwick had just gotten her GED from West Georgia Technical College when someone handed her a brochure.

Mariah Warwick

So I was able to learn a lot about how the hospital worked and the flow of patients through there. Once I was in the Registered Nursing program, we were able to have a lot of clinical time, which to me was the most beneficial aspect of the program. I completed a clinical rotation in the ICU at Piedmont Newnan, and the staff always enjoyed having us there to help and teach.

“It was about taking college courses at West Georgia Tech, and Registered Nursing sounded like a prestigious opportunity,” Warwick said. “But I worked full-time and had a young child at the time, so more schooling wasn’t exactly going to fit into my busy life. Luckily, West Georgia Tech offered plenty of choices for evening or online classes at their different campuses, so I was able to make it work, and I’m so glad I did.”

Now, Warwick works in the emergency department as a registered nurse at Piedmont Healthcare in Newnan, where she’d worked while she was a Registered Nursing student as a patient escort, moving patients to and from testing and procedures.

“So I was able to learn a lot about how the hospital worked and the flow of patients through there,” Warwick said. “Once I was in the Registered Nursing program, we were able to have a lot of clinical time, which to me was the most beneficial aspect of the program. I completed a clinical rotation in the ICU at Piedmont Newnan, and the staff always enjoyed having us there to help and teach.”

Warwick said location was a big reason she decided to work at Piedmont Newnan, but mostly she wanted to give back to her community.

“There was a lot of support from the community to build the new campus in Newnan that provided me with my education,” Warwick said. “I don’t take that for granted, and since West Georgia Tech is in my community, I really just wanted to give back to my community and help take care of its people.”

 


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Larry ‘Pat’ Patrick
Posted: April 24, 2017

  • Program of Study: Fire Science Technology
  • Graduation Year: 2003
  • Current Occupation: Remote Paramedic and Safety Technician, Hess Corporation
Larry Patrick

My degree from West Georgia Tech furthered my life to the next level. I was able to meet and network with a lot of local firefighters and pick up a lot of useful information from them. Those connections actually led to the job I have now, which I love.

One West Georgia Technical College graduate struck oil with his degree.

Larry “Pat” Patrick earned an associate degree in Fire Science Technology more than a decade ago, but he’s still using the skills and knowledge he learned as a paramedic and safety technician in the oil fields of North Dakota.

Patrick works for two weeks at a time for Hess Oil in North Dakota, working part-time for a Georgia ambulance service the other two weeks of the month.

“I came into the Fire Science program at West Georgia Tech having already served as a firefighter for several years,” Patrick said. “I was a lieutenant at the time, but getting my degree allowed me to be promoted to captain, and I think a lot of that had to do with the broader view of fire science I learned about at West Georgia Tech.”

At Hess Oil, Patrick serves as a remote medic in the oil fields of the Bakken Formation in the northwest corner of North Dakota. As a safety officer for Hess, he investigates incidents and conducts safety audits on drilling rigs and fracking sites.

“My degree from West Georgia Tech furthered my life to the next level,” Patrick said. “I was able to meet and network with a lot of local firefighters and pick up a lot of useful information from them. Those connections actually led to the job I have now, which I love.”

 


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Nick Carlisle
Posted: April 19, 2017

  • Program of Study: Air Conditioning Technology
  • Graduation Year: 2006
  • Current Occupation: Owner, Trade Winds Mechanical Services

Nick Carlisle had a good job that paid well, but he woke up one morning with a feeling of uncertainty in his gut.

Nick Carlisle

The training at West Georgia Tech was intense, hands-on and a real life-changer. Now, I own my own business, all because of what I learned here.

He followed that feeling and now, more than a decade later, he owns his own business.

Carlisle had just left his job at a BF Goodrich plant making automobile tires when he started West Georgia Technical College in the Air Conditioning Technology program.

“I’d seen the value of having a skill and a trade that you could rely on,” Carlisle said. “I wanted something more sustainable, and my ultimate goal was to own my own business. After a few years of paying my dues and learning more, I’ve made that goal a reality now.”

Carlisle owns Trade Winds Mechanical Services, based in Lanett, Ala. Trade Winds services residential and commercial HVAC systems, leveraging the diploma he earned at West Georgia Tech.

“The training at West Georgia Tech was intense, hands-on and a real life-changer,” Carlisle said. “Now, I own my own business, all because of what I learned here.”

 


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Jesse Kwak
Posted: April 19, 2017

  • Programs of Study: Computer Programming and IT Support
  • Graduation Years: 2014 and 2016
  • Current Occupation: Data Management Assistant, West Georgia Technical College

Jesse Kwak started attending West Georgia Technical College in 2010, and he’s still with the college now – as a staff member, working in the field in which he was trained.

Jesse Kwak

I just love the environment at West Georgia Tech so much more than what I found at the university. Classes are smaller, and the instructors let students try things firsthand, instead of just speaking out of a textbook...that knowledge has opened up so many doors for me already.

Kwak earned two degrees from West Georgia Tech, both in Computer Information Systems. Now, he’s employed by the college as a data management assistant. As someone who’s been involved with the college for several years now, he can honestly say West Georgia Tech has changed his life.

“West Georgia Tech almost feels like a second home to me, since I’ve been here so long, as either a student or staff member,” Kwak said. “I really appreciate being hired here right after I finished my last program. That really took a lot of stress off of me about finding a job out of college.”

Prior to starting West Georgia Tech several years ago, Kwak took a few classes at a four-year university, finding it wasn’t really for him.

“I just love the environment at West Georgia Tech so much more than what I found at the university,” Kwak said. “Classes are smaller, and the instructors let students try things firsthand, instead of just speaking out of a textbook. I learned more at West Georgia Tech than I ever did at the university, and that knowledge has opened up so many doors for me already.”

 


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Candice Richard
Posted: April 19, 2017

  • Program of Study: Dental Hygiene
  • Graduation Year: 2016
  • Current Occupation: Dental Hygienist

It all started with a Google search.

Candice Richard

I walked in with a huge ego because I’d been in the dental field before. I quickly found out the program is very rigorous and challenging, even for someone who’s been in the field. But at the end of everything, at graduation, it was so rewarding to know that I’d received a good education from some inspiring instructors.

Candice Richard started West Georgia Technical College when she was 26 years old, after having attended a university for a few years in Alabama. She had a passion for dental hygiene, but was unable to earn the correct certifications in Alabama, so she Googled “dental hygiene schools near Atlanta,” where her father lived.

West Georgia Tech wasn’t the first result, but it’s the one that stuck.

Before starting West Georgia Tech, Richard worked as a dental assistant in Alabama. She thought taking classes in Dental Hygiene would be easy for her. In her words, “it was not.”

“I walked in with a huge ego because I’d been in the dental field before,” Richard said. “I quickly found out the program is very rigorous and challenging, even for someone who’s been in the field. But at the end of everything, at graduation, it was so rewarding to know that I’d received a good education from some inspiring instructors.”

Now, Richard works in a small but highly technologically advanced dentist’s office just outside Washington, D.C., making a living doing what she’s wanted to do all her life.

“From a young age, when I would go to the dentist’s office, I always enjoyed it,” Richard said. “Both of my sisters had braces when they were younger, but I didn’t, and I was so jealous of them. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s all so interesting to me, and I’m so fortunate I found West Georgia Tech, so that I could work in this field and make a good living off what I’m passionate about.”

 


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Rebecca Terrell
Posted: April 17, 2017

  • Program of Study: Cosmetology
  • Graduation Year: 2013
  • Current Occupation: Master Cosmetologist, Alchemy Salon
Rebecca Terrell

I could not be happier with my decision on attending this college. I was from a small town in north Georgia, and being in this new place was a little intimidating, but the instructors I found at West Georgia Tech made me feel right at home.

At the salon where she works, Rebecca Terrell has a waiting list of clients wanting to get their hair styled by her. She thanks West Georgia Technical College for that.

“I could not be happier with my decision on attending this college,” said Terrell, who graduated from West Georgia Tech in 2013 and has been a master cosmetologist at Alchemy Salon in Fort Oglethorpe for several years since. “I was from a small town in north Georgia, and being in this new place was a little intimidating, but the instructors I found at West Georgia Tech made me feel right at home.”

Terrell said the skills and abilities she gained from her instructors – whom she called “mentors” – made the first year after college “a breeze.”

“It isn’t easy to build a clientele base straight out of college, but my mentors taught me I could do anything I wanted with hard work and perseverance, and they were right,” Terrell said. “I cannot thank West Georgia Tech enough for my success. My schedule book fills up quickly from month to month, and I can honestly say I couldn’t have achieved any of this without my attendance at West Georgia Tech.”

 


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Cody Barrett
Posted: April 17, 2017

  • Program of Study: CNC Technology
  • Graduation Year: 2014
  • Current Occupation: Computer Numerical Control Programmer, Southwire
Cody Barrett

I’m grateful for West Georgia Tech because I’ve been able to find a well-paying job while I’m going to school, and it’s helped me really figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life. Earning my diploma has helped me learn the ins and outs of a machine shop, which is a good, basic knowledge for an industrial engineer to have.

Cody Barrett will have a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering within a year, but he’s thankful he started out at West Georgia Technical College.

Barrett graduated from West Georgia Tech with a diploma in Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Technology in 2014. He’s been working at Southwire Company in Carrollton as a CNC programmer since before he even earned his diploma.

“I’m grateful for West Georgia Tech because I’ve been able to find a well-paying job while I’m going to school, and it’s helped me really figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life,” Barrett said. “Earning my diploma has helped me learn the ins and outs of a machine shop, which is a good, basic knowledge for an industrial engineer to have.”

Barrett is currently attending Kennesaw State University, working to earn a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. He plans to graduate in May 2018.

“I hope that I’ll be able to stay here at Southwire and work to make the machines I work on now more efficient,” Barrett said. “My being in class at West Georgia Tech and learning how things worked will go a long way toward making that happen.”

 


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Buddy Lee
Posted: April 17, 2017

  • Program of Study: Drafting Technology
  • Graduation Year: 1990
  • Current Occupation: Drafting Technology Instructor and Program Chair, West Georgia Technical College

In the late 1980s, Buddy Lee took a tour of what was then called Troup Tech, but what has since been renamed to West Georgia Technical College.

Buddy Lee

I worked in a factory after high school, and I realized I wouldn’t be able to do that for the rest of my life. I needed a change, and West Georgia Tech made that happen for me.

“I was interested in coming to school here, and they let me sit in on every one of the classes they were offering so I could see what I wanted to do,” Lee said. “I saw that Drafting Technology involved drawing, which I enjoyed and was pretty good at, so that’s what I chose.”

When he started his first Drafting Technology class later that year, Lee soon found out drafting does include drawing, but that his artful drawing skills didn’t “line up” with the skills needed to succeed in drafting.

Still, he persisted, and after a lengthy career in the private sector, Lee came back to West Georgia Tech and now serves as an instructor and the program chair of Drafting Technology.

“I worked in a factory after high school, and I realized I wouldn’t be able to do that for the rest of my life,” Lee said. “I needed a change, and West Georgia Tech made that happen for me.”

Lee worked at several companies in west Georgia and was hired as a full-time instructor at West Georgia Tech’s Coweta Campus in December 2015.

“I would have been able to make a little bit more money if I was working in the field, without a doubt,” Lee said. “But it’s worth it because it’s so rewarding and fulfilling to see my students learn. I’m so glad to be back at West Georgia Tech.”

 


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Katie Gutierrez
Posted: April 17, 2017

  • Program of Study: Clinical Laboratory Technology
  • Graduation Year: 2005
  • Current Occupation: Infection Preventionist, Tanner Health System

Katie Gutierrez hates bugs and has devoted her life’s work to killing them.

Katie Gutierrez

I have lifelong friendships that I made at what was then called West Central Tech. The instructors made learning about the field of laboratory science very interesting, and they caused me to have a passion for the lab. Without the work being done in the lab, doctors wouldn’t be able to know what’s going wrong with the patient.

As an infection preventionist at Tanner Health System, Gutierrez works every day to identify infections in the hospitals and clinics within the system and prevent them from happening. She credits her associate degree in Clinical Laboratory Technology from West Georgia Technical College for opening doors leading to her success.

“I have lifelong friendships that I made at what was then called West Central Tech,” said Gutierrez, who circulates among the several sites in Tanner Health System through the workweek. “The instructors made learning about the field of laboratory science very interesting, and they caused me to have a passion for the lab. Without the work being done in the lab, doctors wouldn’t be able to know what’s going wrong with the patient.”

Gutierrez earned her associate degree from West Georgia Tech in 2005. She’d been working at Tanner since 2003 as a unit secretary. In 2004, about a year before she graduated from WGTC, she was offered a position as a laboratory assistant.

From there, she’s spent most of her time as a medical laboratory technician. She was promoted to infection preventionist in 2015 right before she earned her bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory science from Thomas University.

“I’ve been able to find a lot of success in my field, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the foundation I received at West Georgia Tech,” Gutierrez said. “I initially wanted to be a dental hygienist, but something about this program – which was fairly new at the time – just interested me, and I’m glad I went with my gut and picked it.”

 


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Scott Blue
Posted: April 13, 2017

  • Program of Study: Fire Science Technology
  • Graduation Year: 2014
  • Current Occupation: Chief, Carroll County Fire Rescue

Scott Blue, who’s been fighting fires for nearly four decades, said attending West Georgia Technical College reignited his passion for fire rescue.

Blue

Taking the courses obviously teaches you the basic skills of fighting fires, but more importantly, if you’re wanting to grow in a leadership role in a fire department, the courses will give you the tools and skills for that, as well. A lot of our practical training is done in-house or at the state level, but nothing can really replace the education you receive from earning a degree.

“Taking the courses obviously teaches you the basic skills of fighting fires, but more importantly, if you’re wanting to grow in a leadership role in a fire department, the courses will give you the tools and skills for that, as well,” Blue said. “A lot of our practical training is done in-house or at the state level, but nothing can really replace the education you receive from earning a degree.”

Prior to becoming chief in Carroll County, Blue served as chief of Heard County Fire Rescue for about 10 years. He took classes at West Georgia Tech for several years before graduating, taking one class at a time to accommodate his demanding work schedule.

He said he enjoyed the Fire Science classes, of course, but he also learned a lot in the core classes required to earn the degree.

“Taking the English and public speaking classes has been beneficial for me as a fire chief when it comes time to write grants or speak to the media or other civic groups, and having taken algebra classes definitely helps when it’s time to draft a budget,” Blue said. “I’ve definitely come to appreciate my degree from West Georgia Tech, and it’s something I recommend to any firefighter, especially those who are looking to move up into a leadership position.”

 


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Deborah Rogers
Posted: April 10, 2017

  • Program of Study: Business Administrative Technology
  • Graduation Year: 2004
  • Current Occupation: Medicare Specialist, Southern Therapy Services
Deborah Rogers

I started right out of high school, and I’d spent 31 years in the industry, mostly doing clerical work, so that was my world and all I knew. Luckily, I was able to go to West Georgia Tech and earn a diploma and get back in the workforce soon after.

Deborah Rogers had spent more than three decades in the textile industry when she was laid off in the early 2000s.

“I started right out of high school, and I’d spent 31 years in the industry, mostly doing clerical work, so that was my world and all I knew,” Rogers said. “Luckily, I was able to go to West Georgia Tech and earn a diploma and get back in the workforce soon after.”

Rogers is now employed by Southern Therapy Services in Carrollton, where she works as a Medicare specialist. She says she couldn’t have landed this job 12 years ago without her experience at West Georgia Tech.

“It was just a big deal for me to be able to succeed in a school setting, a place I hadn’t been in for more than 30 years,” Rogers said. “It really added to my confidence level, and that’s affected all aspects of my professional life. If you’d told me some of the things I’d be learning to do now 15 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you, but it’s all possible because of West Georgia Tech.”

 

 

 

 


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Tiffany Jacobs
Posted: April 10, 2017

  • Program of Study: Computer Information Systems
  • Graduation Year: 1997
  • Current Occupation: Electronic Data Interchange Coordinator, Southwire

When she was in her 20s, Tiffany Jacobs went to a job interview that changed her life.

Tiffany Jacobs

I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for West Georgia Tech. Technology is changing every single day, especially in the modern times we live in, but something that never becomes obsolete is a good education.

When she was in her 20s, Tiffany Jacobs went to a job interview that changed her life.

“I’d graduated from high school and had been working in Atlanta for a couple of years by that time,” Jacobs said. “I had an interview with Delta Air Lines, and they told me I could use some more schooling. That changed my life. I found West Georgia Tech and enrolled into the Computer Information Systems program in 1991.”

Jacobs worked in Atlanta while she attended classes at what was then called Carroll Tech. She described her instructors as being “nice, informative, patient and eager to help.”

After graduating from West Georgia Technical College in 1997 with her associate degree, Jacobs was hired by Southwire Company in Carrollton, where she’s been employed ever since.

“I applied as soon as I graduated, and I got a job on the third shift,” Jacobs said. “I wanted something in my field, no matter what time of day I had to work.”

Since then, Jacobs has worked in numerous positions in Southwire’s information technology department, currently serving as the coordinator for the company’s electronic data interchange, meaning she handles all data transfers from internal and external systems within Southwire and among its partners.

“I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for West Georgia Tech,” Jacobs said. “Technology is changing every single day, especially in the modern times we live in, but something that never becomes obsolete is a good education.”

 


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Michael Mize
Posted: April 10, 2017

  • Program of Study: Medical Assisting
  • Graduation Year: 2015
  • Current Occupation: Medical Surgical Technician, Jackson Hospital

When he graduated from high school, Michael Mize didn’t have the test scores to attend the four-year university he wanted. So he earned an associate degree from West Georgia Technical College and waited. Now, he’s working full time and attends Auburn University.

Michael Mize

I’m so thankful for West Georgia Tech. After high school, I didn’t have that many options or opportunities like you expect when you’re going to school. I’m so glad I got the foundation I needed, and I honestly believe I wouldn’t be here at Auburn if it wasn’t for West Georgia Tech.

“I’m so thankful for West Georgia Tech,” Mize said. “After high school, I didn’t have that many options or opportunities like you expect when you’re going to school. I’m so glad I got the foundation I needed, and I honestly believe I wouldn’t be here at Auburn if it wasn’t for West Georgia Tech.”

Mize plans to graduate from Auburn University next May with a bachelor’s degree in Registered Nursing. While attending classes, he’s also working as a medical surgical technician at Jackson Hospital in Montgomery.

The Carrollton native said he was working at the time he took classes at West Georgia Tech, as well, first at a local restaurant and then as a phlebotomist at Kennesaw Medical Center.

“Because I was working, it took a little longer to get my Medical Assisting diploma than other people, but it worked out in the end,” Mize said. “The pace of the classes really worked for my schedule, and the instructors were all so helpful and nice. I was able to pass my certification test the first time I took it, and it was all of the skills and techniques I learned at West Georgia Tech that helped me pass the test.”

 


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Willie Ford
Posted: April 10, 2017

  • Program of Study: Welding Technology
  • Graduation Year: 2006
  • Current Occupation: Welding Technology Instructor, West Georgia Technical College

When the company Willie Ford worked for went out of business in 2003, he had a couple of options: either get another job as a forklift operator, what he’d been doing for a couple of decades, or go back to school.

Willie Ford

Obviously, West Georgia Tech has had a major effect on my life. When I changed careers late in life, I knew I would need to go somewhere that would give me the skills I needed to get a better job in a reasonable amount of time, so I could keep supporting myself and my family. West Georgia Tech did the job.

Later that same year, he earned his GED after taking classes at West Georgia Technical College. A few years later, he received his diploma in Welding & Joining Technology from West Georgia Tech. Now, he’s a Welding & Joining Technology instructor at the college’s Greenville Instructional Site.

“Obviously, West Georgia Tech has had a major effect on my life,” Ford said. “When I changed careers late in life, I knew I would need to go somewhere that would give me the skills I needed to get a better job in a reasonable amount of time, so I could keep supporting myself and my family. West Georgia Tech did the job.”

Ford said he couldn’t see himself teaching students until he served as an adjunct instructor for a couple of years while he was working full-time at another company.

“I’ve figured out since then that teaching is all about being able to read people and find out what they need because there is no one-size-fits-all answer in life,” Ford said. “It’s a matter of learning a person and where their strengths and weaknesses are, and it’s something that I’ve come to love since I started working at West Georgia Tech.”

 


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Paige Johnson
Posted: April 10, 2017

  • Program of Study: Practical Nursing
  • Graduation Year: 1999
  • Current Occupation: Licensed Practical Nurse, Tanner Health System

From elementary school through high school, Paige Johnson was intimidated by school.

Paige Johnson

I loved being in classrooms that had a more family-style atmosphere and offered an education that was more hands-on. I learned the basics and beyond at West Georgia Tech. I’m still learning a lot to this day on the job, but I still use all of the basics I learned at West Georgia Tech.

“I wasn’t a bad student, but I had to study a lot – especially when compared to my sister, who it just came naturally to,” Johnson said. “I knew I needed to go to college fresh out of high school – when the things I learned would be fresh in my mind – but I was still intimidated.”

Johnson ended up at West Georgia Technical College, from which she graduated as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in 1999. Now, she’s a nurse on the surgical floor at Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton.

Johnson said her “calling to be a nurse” came at an early age.

“As a child, my uncle suffered from seizures and actually became handicapped because of them,” Johnson said. “I watched as my grandmother took care of him, and that inspired me at an early age to do what I could to help people.”

Johnson said graduating from West Georgia Tech was beneficial for her, after she found her other educational experiences so intimidating.

“I loved being in classrooms that had a more family-style atmosphere and offered an education that was more hands-on,” Johnson said. “I learned the basics and beyond at West Georgia Tech. I’m still learning a lot to this day on the job, but I still use all of the basics I learned at West Georgia Tech.”

 


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Clint Hudgins
Posted: March 30, 2017

  • Program of Study: Computer Information Systems
  • Graduation Year: 2012
  • Current Occupation: Training Specialist, Southwire

When Clint Hudgins was 31 years old, with two young sons, he started a new life.

Clint Hudgins

As far as me being able to connect and networking with colleagues and other professionals locally and across the state and nation, I have West Georgia Tech to thank for that. My education has been able to help me relate the knowledge I’ve gained to new people who’ve joined our company, so I apply that critical, analytical thinking I learned at West Georgia Tech to my everyday tasks.

“I had always thought about going to school, but was always unsure if I could do it,” Hudgins said. “My life didn’t go the way I’d planned it. I was going to go to college and then go into the Navy after high school, but when my wife became pregnant, those plans didn’t happen, and I had to go to work.”

Hudgins graduated from West Georgia Technical College in 2012 with a degree in Computer Information Systems. It took him several years to finish the degree, being able to take only one class at a time because of his demanding work and family life.

He was working in Southwire’s Wire Building Plant, on its Carrollton campus. When he started attending classes at West Georgia Tech, he transferred out to the company’s West Georgia Customer Service Center in Villa Rica to be the center’s floor operator.

Now, he’s back in Carrollton, working as a training specialist at Southwire, training new employees who are hired by the company.

As far as me being able to connect and networking with colleagues and other professionals locally and across the state and nation, I have West Georgia Tech to thank for that,” Hudgins said. “My education has been able to help me relate the knowledge I’ve gained to new people who’ve joined our company, so I apply that critical, analytical thinking I learned at West Georgia Tech to my everyday tasks.

 


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Michelle Smith
Posted: March 29, 2017

  • Programs of Study: Practical Nursing and Registered Nursing
  • Graduation Years: 1993 and 2015
  • Current Occupation: Registered Nurse – Nursery, WellStar West Georgia Medical Center

When the nursery department at the hospital where Michelle Smith works changed its policy a few years ago, requiring all nurses to be Registered Nurses, Michelle Smith had a choice to make.

Michelle Smith

I went to West Georgia Tech the first time fresh out of high school because I knew it was a smaller school that could offer me more interaction with the instructors. When I came back a few years ago, I was an older student who was married with three kids, but that didn’t matter to my instructors or classmates.

“I could either change departments or go back to school and become an RN,” Smith said. “I’d been in the nursery unit for about 20 years, and it’s such a special area, so I knew I needed to go back to school. When I was choosing my school, there wasn’t really a choice because I’d been to West Georgia Tech and knew there were good instructors there who would give me a good education.”

Smith has graduated from West Georgia Technical College twice – once in 1993 with a Practical Nursing diploma and again in 2015 with a degree in Registered Nursing.

Now, she works at WellStar West Georgia Medical Center in LaGrange, where she’s worked since graduating from WGTC the first time.

“I went to West Georgia Tech the first time fresh out of high school because I knew it was a smaller school that could offer me more interaction with the instructors,” Smith said. “When I came back a few years ago, I was an older student who was married with three kids, but that didn’t matter to my instructors or classmates.”

Smith said becoming an RN had always been her dream, and the hospital’s policy change gave her the “push” she needed.

“Everything I learned in every class helps in some way, even from the core classes like public speaking when I’m communicating with patients,” Smith said. “I definitely still use the skills I learned through the two nursing degrees I earned at West Georgia Tech every day, and they help me feel more confident in my work.”

 


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Joe Pennington
Posted: March 28, 2017

  • Program of Study: Welding Technology
  • Graduation Year: 2013
  • Current Occupation: Welding Instructor, West Georgia Technical College
Joe Pennington

I love West Georgia Tech because it’s given me the opportunity to be back at home full-time with my family, and I get to teach students who have so much passion for what they’re doing. I appreciate West Georgia Tech for letting me have the best of both worlds.

Joe Pennington was making lucrative money as a welder – up to $1,000 per day on one job – but he left it all behind to become an instructor at his alma mater.

Pennington’s parents owned a welding company when he was growing up, so he naturally learned how to weld at an early age. In 2004, his dad asked him to go to college to “learn how to weld the right way.”

“I started in 2004 but didn’t finish at the time and came back in 2012,” Pennington said. “I got some jobs right out of school and thought I’d never come back. I was making incredible money on some jobs, but I wanted to be off the road.”

Pennington said going from “hotel room to hotel room” was strenuous, especially for someone who was raising a family.

Joe Pennington

A couple of years after graduating from WGTC, Pennington was back in the classroom – this time as an instructor. Now, he’s at the Central Education Center in Coweta County, where he teaches both Move On When Ready and traditional students.

I love West Georgia Tech because it’s given me the opportunity to be back at home full-time with my family, and I get to teach students who have so much passion for what they’re doing,” Pennington said. “I appreciate West Georgia Tech for letting me have the best of both worlds.

 


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Joel Rogers
Posted: March 28, 2017

  • Program of Study: Automotive Mechanics
  • Graduation Year: 1969
  • Current Occupation: Mayor, City of Franklin
Joel Rogers

Carroll Tech taught me that if you want to achieve different things in life, you just have to be educated and willing to go for it. Some of the instructors I had have been big inspirations on my life, and since I graduated I’ve found that a good occupation is out there for everyone, if they’re willing to go out and get it.

The mayor of the city of Franklin, who was a member of the first graduating class at Carroll Tech, now serves his former college on the West Georgia Technical College board of directors.

Joel Rogers – who retired in 2013 from a career in high school education and became mayor of the Heard County city a year later – said he’s proud to have been one of the first Carroll Tech graduates.

“Carroll Tech taught me that if you want to achieve different things in life, you just have to be educated and willing to go for it,” Rogers said. “Some of the instructors I had have been big inspirations on my life, and since I graduated I’ve found that a good occupation is out there for everyone, if they’re willing to go out and get it.”

After graduation, Rogers’ job prospects were strong.

“I had 19 different job interviews after leaving Carroll Tech, so that was great to know that there were jobs out there wanting people who had the training like I had,” Rogers said. “But in the end, I took a full-time job at the Chevrolet dealership I’d been working at part-time during school, and I worked there until I enlisted in the Army.”

Rogers was stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army and worked as a wheel vehicle mechanic, using the training he gained at Carroll Tech.

“It was fascinating for me to be able to use the skills and techniques I learned at Carroll Tech on the job while serving my country,” Rogers said.

 


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Santez Kendrix
Posted: March 28, 2017

  • Program of Study: Computer Information Systems
  • Graduation Year: 2009
  • Current Occupation: Systems Administrator, Tanner Health System

Santez Kendrix wasn’t one of those kids who built their first computer before they could drive, but he’s parlayed a small amount of interest sparked from burning CDs in high school into a career in information technology.

Santez Kendrix

I feel like my experience at West Georgia Tech was invaluable in training me to do my job. I didn’t open my first computer until I took a class at West Georgia Tech, and being able to get some hands-on knowledge while I was there told me that this is really something I’m good at and that I want to do.

After graduating high school and finding out a large university wasn’t for him, he moved back home and enrolled at West Georgia Tech. Kendrix graduated from WGTC in 2009 with associate degrees in Networking and Computer Support, both of which fall under the Computer Information Systems program.

“I wouldn’t say I randomly chose my program, but I was never really into computers in high school, aside from burning CDs and surfing the Internet,” Kendrix said. “I’d never taken an interest in their inner workings, but I was interested enough to give it a shot, and now I’m certainly glad I did.”

Kendrix currently serves as the systems administrator for Tanner Health System, a role he’s had for several years. He’s responsible for managing the more than 600 servers operated by Tanner on a daily basis.

He’s also back in school. A senior at Kennesaw State University, Kendrix is taking advantage of an articulation agreement between the WGTC and the university to get his bachelor’s degree in information technology.

“I feel like my experience at West Georgia Tech was invaluable in training me to do my job,” Kendrix said. “I didn’t open my first computer until I took a class at West Georgia Tech, and being able to get some hands-on knowledge while I was there told me that this is really something I’m good at and that I want to do.”

 


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M. Faye Beedles
Posted: March 22, 2017

  • Program of Study: Clerk Typing
  • Graduation Year: 1969
  • Most Recent Occupation: Atlanta Accounting Office Manager, Federal Aviation Administration
Beedles

West Georgia Technical College groomed me to be a successful member of the workforce for almost 40 years, most of which was spent in the federal government. The school was part of molding me and preparing me for life, and not just life in the workplace. The classes I took there and the instructors I met taught me how to be a good citizen and how to provide for my family.

She was 13 years old and expecting her first and only child. Martha Faye Bailey had a choice: she could either drop out of school to raise her son, or she could stick with it and finish high school.

Now, more than 50 years later, she’s glad she was part of the last graduating class of Carver High School, the all-black high school in Carrollton, in 1968.

A year later, she was a graduate again – this time from Carroll Tech, that new trade school that had just opened in Carrollton. In the span of a single year, Bailey (who now carries the last name of Beedles) had been part of the last graduating class of one school and the first graduating class of another.

“West Georgia Technical College groomed me to be a successful member of the workforce for almost 40 years, most of which was spent in the federal government,” Beedles said. “The school was part of molding me and preparing me for life, and not just life in the workplace. The classes I took there and the instructors I met taught me how to be a good citizen and how to provide for my family.”

After graduating high school – and finishing her last season as the captain of the girls’ basketball team at Carver High – Beedles spent a summer working in a coat factory in Waco, sewing pockets onto sport coats.

“After a few months of doing that, I realized I didn’t want to work in the factory for the rest of my life, so I went to sign up for classes at Carroll Tech,” Beedles said. “I wanted to be a nurse, but those classes were full. I’d taken some typing classes in high school, so I signed up for Clerk Typing program, and I’m so glad I did.”

Beedles still has the report cards she received during her four quarters at Carroll Tech, which opened in fall 1968, the same time Beedles enrolled. She also has the program she herself typed up for graduation, with the names of each of the program’s 17 members listed on its weathered page. Tuition was $40 per quarter, she said, which is roughly equivalent to $269 now.

Beedles

“Jobs were plentiful after graduation,” Beedles said. “Companies from Atlanta came to a job fair, and I received offers from several companies. I ended up at Rich’s Department Store in Atlanta in the accounting office. I would ride a bus two hours each way every single day into the city, but it was worth it knowing I was going to work to bring home a paycheck for my baby boy.”

After about a year at the department store, Beedles got her first job in the federal government, a sector she wouldn’t leave until she retired in 2008.

Beedles worked in the accounting offices of several government divisions, spending most of the time with the Federal Aviation Administration.

In 2000, her 70-year-old mother got a taste of the West Georgia Tech way, as well, graduating from the college’s GED program and earning her GED more than a half-century after leaving school.

Beedles said she appreciates West Georgia Tech more than she’ll ever be able to say.

“The classes at West Georgia Tech taught me that I’m all right and that I can be prepared for anything,” Beedles said. “I’m thankful for West Georgia Tech for preparing me for a good life.”

 


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Victor Jimenez
Posted: March 22, 2017

  • Program of Study: Marketing Management
  • Graduation Year: 2016
  • Current Occupation: Insurance Agent, State Farm
Victor Jimenez

This sounds cheesy, but if it wasn’t for West Georgia Tech, I wouldn’t be where I am today. An instructor landed me an internship at Amy Brown’s State Farm office in Villa Rica while I was a student, and that’s how I got involved in this company I love. So without West Georgia Tech, I wouldn’t have found State Farm.

Victor Jimenez graduated from West Georgia Technical College just last May, but he’s on track to open his own State Farm office in about a year.

The 26-year-old credits that jumpstart to his career to West Georgia Tech, where he earned an associate degree in Marketing Management last year. He’s working to receive a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Kennesaw State University now, and hopes to be done before the end of the year.

“This sounds cheesy, but if it wasn’t for West Georgia Tech, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Jimenez, who works for a State Farm insurance office in Powder Springs. “An instructor landed me an internship at Amy Brown’s State Farm office in Villa Rica while I was a student, and that’s how I got involved in this company I love. So without West Georgia Tech, I wouldn’t have found State Farm.”

Jimenez didn’t start WGTC fresh out of high school, either. Graduating from Alexander High School in Douglasville in 2008, he worked at a local Mexican restaurant for the better part of a decade before returning to school.

“I would work in the restaurant for most of the day and then go home and get started with my class work online,” Jimenez said. “Being able to complete assignments online was hugely beneficial for me and my schedule.”

 


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Alexia West
Posted: March 22, 2017

  • Program of Study: Practical Nursing
  • Graduation Year: 2007
  • Current Occupation: School Nurse, Callaway Elementary
Alexia West

What I’ve found since graduating almost 10 years ago and working in different hospitals and doctor’s offices here locally is that if you went to West Georgia Tech, people know you went somewhere local and got a good education. The doctors I worked for knew the program I went through had to be great, and I’m happy to say they were well-pleased with my knowledge and work ethic.

Bouncing around to a couple of state universities after high school, Alexia West never felt at home.

That is, of course, until she came home.

A LaGrange native, West graduated from West Georgia Technical College in 2007 and has returned to the same school system where she got her high school degree as a school nurse.

What I’ve found since graduating almost 10 years ago and working in different hospitals and doctor’s offices here locally is that if you went to West Georgia Tech, people know you went somewhere local and got a good education,” West said. “The doctors I worked for knew the program I went through had to be great, and I’m happy to say they were well-pleased with my knowledge and work ethic.

West currently serves as the school nurse at Callaway Elementary School, a school with about 900 students. She loved West Georgia Tech so much, she’s thinking of returning to become a Registered Nurse.

“I just loved the instructors and staff there because they were so personable and made for a family atmosphere,” West said. “Just being able to contact my instructors and know that they respected me as a student was so important and meant so much to me after coming from a couple of state universities where the instructors didn’t have that personal connection with me”

 


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Elizabeth Langley
Posted: March 22, 2017

  • Programs of Study: Business Administrative Technology and Accounting
  • Graduation Year: 2007
  • Current Occupation: Director of Marketing and Events, Greater Haralson County Chamber of Commerce

Her plan was to take a few classes at West Georgia Tech, then transfer to a university to finish a bachelor’s degree.

Elizabeth Langley

I went to a small Christian high school, so I wasn’t looking for a big university when I looked at my college choices. I attended a small college in north Georgia for a year before transferring back home to attend West Georgia Tech, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

“That didn’t work out for logistical reasons, and I’m actually glad it didn’t, looking back now,” said Elizabeth Langley, who graduated from WGTC in 2007 with two different associate degrees.

Now the director of marketing and events for the Greater Haralson County Chamber of Commerce, Langley said she appreciated the hands-on experience she received while studying at West Georgia Tech.

“I went to a small Christian high school, so I wasn’t looking for a big university when I looked at my college choices,” Langley said. “I attended a small college in north Georgia for a year before transferring back home to attend West Georgia Tech, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Having majored in Business Administrative Technology and Accounting, Langley said she uses what she learned at West Georgia Tech every day in her position at the Chamber of Commerce, serving as the manager of the organization’s social media and website and organizer of events and fundraisers.

“A lot of my teachers took a real investment in me, and that was a big key to my success,” Langley said. “They didn’t want us to just come to class, get lectured to and then go home. Because of that, I believe I came out of school with the right skill set to do my job. I learned a trade and a marketable skill, whereas if I’d gone on to the university, I would have learned a lot of book knowledge and maybe not known how to apply it in the real world.”

 


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Allison Stone
Posted: March 20, 2017

  • Program of Study: Business Management
  • Graduation Year: 2014
  • Current Occupation: Facility Manager, New Franklin Road Self Storage

Allison Stone was sitting in her nursing classes at West Georgia Tech, and it just wasn’t working.

Allison Stone

I have to cover the entire spectrum of running the business, from human resources to customer service to day-to-day management of the facility. Luckily, West Georgia Tech prepared me to do all of that because of the practical, real-world education I got there.

“Fortunately, I was able to find out pretty quickly that nursing was not for me,” said Stone, who took a year or two off and eventually returned to WGTC to major in Business Management. “Honestly, I’m so thankful to West Georgia Tech for letting me realize that the career path I’d wanted was not going to work for me.”

With an associate degree in Business Management, Stone now works as the facility manager for New Franklin Road Self Storage in LaGrange. As half of the two-member family operation, she wears many hats.

“I have to cover the entire spectrum of running the business, from human resources to customer service to day-to-day management of the facility,” Stone said. “Luckily, West Georgia Tech prepared me to do all of that because of the practical, real-world education I got there.”

Stone said she appreciated West Georgia Tech’s effect on her life she’s returned to the school to serve on an advisory committee for the Business Management program.

“I really just wanted to give back to the school that gave so much to me,” Stone said. “I wasn’t quite cut out for the four-year university, and West Georgia Tech made me feel right at home.”

 


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Seth Massey
Posted: March 20, 2017

  • Program of Study: Automotive Technology
  • Graduation Year: 2012
  • Current Occupation: Automotive Technology Instructor, West Georgia Technical College

Like most teenagers, Seth Massey didn’t like going to school. Now he’s a teacher.

Seth Massey

The education I received when I was at West Georgia Tech was very different than what I was used to, after high school. It was different because it was more along the lines of what I wanted to do.

Massey graduated from West Georgia Technical College with a diploma in Automotive Technology in 2012. A year later, he was back in school, but as an instructor instead.

“The education I received when I was at West Georgia Tech was very different than what I was used to, after high school,” Massey said. “It was different because it was more along the lines of what I wanted to do.”

Massey said the “only thing [he’s] ever really known” is how to work on automobiles.

“I was changing the oil on my dad’s truck when I was 6 years old,” Massey said. “It’s just who I am. I see these students who come here who want a career that will provide for their family for the rest of their life, and I’m proud to be a part of that.”

After working a couple of jobs as a master technician at an auto shop and Chevrolet dealership, Massey said he “jumped at the chance” to get back to West Georgia Tech.

“I always thought teaching was something I would do after I retired, but I couldn’t turn it down when the opportunity came my way,” Massey said. “I love that the skills and the education I got from West Georgia Tech is still fresh in my mind, and I’m getting to teach that to students who were in my shoes a few years ago every day.”

 


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Wanda Thomas
Posted: March 20, 2017

  • Program of Study: Criminal Justice
  • Graduation Year: 2016
  • Current Occupation: Administrative Assistant, Coweta County 911

When she was expecting her first daughter at age 16, Wanda Thomas was told she’d never make it further than a trailer park, even though she’s never even lived in a mobile home.

Wanda Thomas

I was one of those people who didn’t really know what she wanted to do, but I knew I didn’t want to be a police officer. I worked at the 911 Center as a dispatcher while I was attending West Georgia Tech, so this job seemed like a natural fit, and I get to use the skills and techniques I learned in my criminal justice classes to interact with the community.

“That lit a fire under me,” Thomas said.

When she was 19 years old, raising a two-year-old girl, she graduated from West Georgia Technical College’s GED program, earning her GED and being named the school’s EAGLE Award recipient for the year.

Jump forward a decade, and Thomas was receiving a diploma in Criminal Justice from the same institution that helped her earn her GED. Now, she serves as an Administrative Assistant in Coweta County 911, supporting the directors and dispatchers in that office.

“I was one of those people who didn’t really know what she wanted to do, but I knew I didn’t want to be a police officer,” Thomas said. “I worked at the 911 Center as a dispatcher while I was attending West Georgia Tech, so this job seemed like a natural fit, and I get to use the skills and techniques I learned in my criminal justice classes to interact with the community.”

Now a single mother of three and taking care of her disabled parents, Thomas said if she can succeed, anyone can.

“My childhood was rough, and if I can make this work coming from what I came from, anyone can,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t necessarily learning one specific thing at West Georgia Tech that made a big difference. It was more that there were people there who believed in me and my talent that really made a difference.”

 


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Taurus Morris
Posted: March 14, 2017

  • Program of Study: Marketing Management
  • Graduation Year: 2011
  • Current Occupation: Co-Owner, Douglasville Boxing Club; President, A Chance To Win Inc.

Taurus Morris’ story packs a punch. Literally.

Taurus Morris

These degrees are my retirement plan. No matter what happens or what job I take in the future, I’m still going to be able to fall back on the marketing skills and the critical thinking skills I learned at WGTC, which are things regular, everyday life just can’t teach you.

Imagine balancing a baby in one arm, attempting to bottle-feed your little one, while you take an accounting test on your laptop. Sounds tough, right?

That’s what Morris did, though, when she was a student at West Georgia Technical College. She graduated in 2011 with an associate degree in Marketing Management, eventually earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Liberty University in similar fields, as well.

Now, the mother of three operates in two distinct but connected fields, as the president of a Douglasville-based non-profit organization and the co-owner of a boxing gym in Douglas County.

“Business is what I do, even before I started on these degrees, and marketing has always been in my blood,” Morris said. “I didn’t want to go to a four-year university right off the bat, and West Georgia Tech has always been right there in my community. I appreciate the flexibility I had at West Georgia Tech to take classes that were a mix between classes that were online and on campus. That was a huge deal for a wife and mother of three little girls.”

Aside from co-owning the Douglasville Boxing Club, Morris is the president of A Chance to Win Inc., a local non-profit organization with the mission of giving youths a chance to win in life, despite the growth of drug and alcohol abuse amongst their peers, Morris said.

Co-owning the gym is a great way to connect the two spheres of her working life, Morris said. Her husband, a professional boxer, opened the gym for other boxers to train in, but Morris opened the club to the public to use as a gym for anyone who wants to get in shape.

“These degrees are my retirement plan,” Morris said of her education, which started at WGTC. “No matter what happens or what job I take in the future, I’m still going to be able to fall back on the marketing skills and the critical thinking skills I learned at WGTC, which are things regular, everyday life just can’t teach you.”

 


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Katie Kilgore
Posted: March 14, 2017

  • Program of Study: Marketing Management
  • Graduation Year: 1999
  • Current Occupation: Director of Admissions and Marketing, Oak Mountain Academy

Katie Kilgore graduated from high school and attended a couple of four-year universities, saying she “didn’t flunk out but came close.”

Katie Kilgore

For me, I really didn’t know what direction I was going in, but I knew I needed to further my education no matter what. I fell in love with the thought of all I could do with a marketing degree, and I’ve been using that degree ever since.

In 1999, she graduated from West Georgia Technical College with an associate degree in Marketing Management, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Mercer University.

“For me, I really didn’t know what direction I was going in, but I knew I needed to further my education no matter what,” Kilgore said. “I fell in love with the thought of all I could do with a marketing degree, and I’ve been using that degree ever since.”

Now, Kilgore serves as the director of admissions and marketing at Oak Mountain Academy, a private K-12 school in Carrollton. Prior to starting her current position about a year ago, she worked in a law office, sold real estate and owned a women’s clothing store in Carroll County.

“Throughout all of those jobs, I used the skills and education I received at West Georgia Tech,” Kilgore said. “I was also part of the business fraternity while in college, and with that group I really came out of my shell. I learned I could speak in front of people eloquently and with confidence, and that was a big deal for me to learn that.”

Kilgore said she appreciated West Georgia Tech beyond the personal skills she learned – she also came to understand the importance of higher education, as well.

“After going to those other colleges and not succeeding there, it was really a breath of fresh air to come to West Georgia Tech and find that I could succeed, thanks to the smaller class sizes and more compassionate instructors,” Kilgore said. “Some students do fine when they’re No. 132 on a roster, but I obviously didn’t.”

 


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Brian Henderson
Posted: March 13, 2017

  • Program of Study: Computer Information Systems
  • Graduation Year: 1991 and 2007
  • Current Occupation: Director of Infrastructure and Operations, University of West Georgia

Brian Henderson says his story is “typical.” It’s anything but.

Brian Henderson

From the standpoint of getting started and having hands-on experiences while I was in class from instructors who were really encouraging me to push myself, my education at West Georgia Tech was invaluable. I tell people all the time, whatever they decide to do, get some experience and exposure to see if it’s really what you want to do.

A 26-year veteran of the information technology field, Henderson has worked in private business, consulting and for several educational institutions – including a tenure at West Georgia Technical College, where he earned both a diploma and associate degree, for 15 years.

“When I got started in the late 1980s, computers had been around for a while, but they weren’t a mainstay and they certainly hadn’t taken over the world like they have today,” said Henderson, who now serves as the director of infrastructure and operations at the University of West Georgia in Carroll County. “On the cusp of personal computers becoming prominent in business and education, I started out working with punch cards and mainframes when I was learning at Carroll Tech, and even though technology has changed an incredible amount, I still fall back on those technical skills I learned in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.”

Henderson earned a diploma in Micro-Computer Specialist and Programming from Carroll Tech in 1991, already working in IT before he even graduated. He returned to the classroom more than a decade later to earn his associate degree in Computer Information Systems in 2007 while he worked for the college as director of technology.

“From the standpoint of getting started and having hands-on experiences while I was in class from instructors who were really encouraging me to push myself, my education at West Georgia Tech was invaluable,” Henderson said. “I tell people all the time, whatever they decide to do, get some experience and exposure to see if it’s really what you want to do.”

 


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Kelley McPherson
Posted: March 13, 2017

  • Program of Study: Nursing
  • Graduation Year: 2006
  • Current Occupation: Director of Nursing, Higgins General Hospital

A member of West Georgia Technical College’s inaugural Associate Degree in Nursing program, Kelley McPherson fell in love with nursing as a high-school student when she visited Higgins General Hospital in Haralson County.

Kelley McPherson

I’ve been blessed to be able to move up the ranks at Tanner, but West Georgia Tech is what got me started in this field I love so much. I was able to graduate with a Registered Nursing degree at 20 years old, and it put me in the position to be successful to this day.

Now, she’s the director of nursing at that Tanner Health System hospital, and she says she has West Georgia Tech to thank.

“I’ve been blessed to be able to move up the ranks at Tanner, but West Georgia Tech is what got me started in this field I love so much,” McPherson said. “I was able to graduate with a Registered Nursing degree at 20 years old, and it put me in the position to be successful to this day.”

McPherson, who graduated with her RN degree in 2006 and later received a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of West Georgia, said she resists the idea that just because a school is close to home means it can’t be a good fit for students.

“A lot of people, when they say they’re going to school close to home say they’re ‘just’ going to West Georgia Tech or some other school that’s in their hometown, like they somehow see it as being inferior,” McPherson said. “But I saw that as a positive, not a negative. It meant I could stay in the community I’ve loved all my life, and the education provided me with a solid foundation for what I wanted to do. For that I’m truly grateful.”

 

 


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Edie Robinson
Posted: March 13, 2017

  • Program of Study: Computer Information Systems
  • Graduation Year: 1999
  • Current Occupation: Director of Interoperability Services, Greenway Health

Edie Robinson didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up.

Edie Robinson

They told me that I would need practical, hands-on experience to work in that field, so I decided I was better off going to Carroll Tech, and I’m glad I did because West Georgia Tech has given me everything I need to be successful in this field.

“I’d gone to college at a university after high school, but I didn’t finish that degree,” said Robinson, who would eventually graduate from what was then called Carroll Tech in 1999. “I worked several odd jobs, got married and had a child. Then I decided I had to do something.”

Robinson went back to the university and talked to the Computer Information Systems department there.

“They told me that I would need practical, hands-on experience to work in that field, so I decided I was better off going to Carroll Tech,” Robinson said. “And I’m glad I did because West Georgia Tech has given me everything I need to be successful in this field.”

Robinson currently serves as director of interoperability services at Carrollton-based Greenway Health, a vendor that offers software and services in health information technology. She oversees the development of the company’s interfacing and data exchange between Greenway and its clients.

Robinson competed for the GOAL Student of the Year award at West Georgia Tech and said that experience was influential in “breaking out of [her] shell.”

“It wasn’t just the education I got from attending classes, but also the experiences I had where I had to stand up and speak in front of people, which I could never do before,” Robinson said. “That pushed me out of my comfort zone, and it’s really made a difference throughout my whole life, not just in helping me get a job I love.”

 


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Jennifer "Pinky" Delagrange
Posted: March 13, 2017

  • Program of Study: Marketing Management
  • Graduation Year: 1994
  • Current Occupation: College and Career Center Specialist, Douglas County High School

Jennifer “Pinky” Delagrange has a bright streak of pink hair that matches her nickname and her personality.

Jennifer Delagrange

I’ve used those skills and that knowledge in every job I’ve ever had. Those skills are pretty universal and can be used in a lot of different fields, and I’ve found a lot of success in interacting with students and colleagues, all based on things I learned while I was in college.

Before 8 a.m. every day, she’s greeting students from her desk at Douglas County High School, cheerily telling them “good morning” and giving them information about how to apply for college or a summer job before classes even start.

Delagrange graduated from high school in 1992 and started classes at what was then called Carroll Tech soon after, graduating in 1994 with a diploma in Marketing Management. Even though she’s worked several jobs since the mid-‘90s, she said she’s still using the knowledge she gained at West Georgia Technical College every day.

“I’ve used those skills and that knowledge in every job I’ve ever had,” Delagrange said. “Those skills are pretty universal and can be used in a lot of different fields, and I’ve found a lot of success in interacting with students and colleagues, all based on things I learned while I was in college.”

As the College and Career Center Specialist at Douglas County High, Delagrange interfaces with students almost constantly throughout the school day, setting up SAT and ACT tests, processing free or reduced lunch waivers, working with the nearby College and Career Institute – on WGTC’s Douglas Campus – and anything else that crosses her desk.

Delagrange said the “family atmosphere” at WGTC was one of her favorite aspects of going to college.

“I was very close with some of the instructors in college, and when I got married around that time, a lot of them attended my wedding, so that shows how much of a family atmosphere there is,” Delagrange said. “I had a lot of one-on-one attention, and it really felt like they cared about me all the way around, not just when I was in school.”

 


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Joey Sanders
Posted: March 8, 2017

  • Program of Study: Accounting
  • Graduation Year: 2006
  • Current Occupation: Accounting Instructor, West Georgia Technical College

Joey Sanders has three diplomas on the wall in his office. For him, one stands out.

Joey Sanders

I love what I do, and knowing that I’m making a difference and changing students’ lives is more rewarding than any high-paying accounting job could be.

No, it’s not the master’s degree or even the bachelor’s degree. It’s the associate degree of Accounting he received from what was then West Central Technical College in 2006.

“It all started here,” Sanders said, looking up at the frame in his office of the Carroll Campus of what is now West Georgia Technical College.

Now a full-time Accounting instructor at West Georgia Tech, Sanders spends his days teaching students who, just like him more than a decade ago, are looking for a good job and a better life.

“I was 33 years old when I started as a student, and I was scared to death,” Sanders said. “I’d worked for my family’s retail business in Haralson County since I was a teenager, so higher education was something completely foreign to me. Fortunately, the instructors I had here were fantastic and worked with me all along the way, which was very helpful for a non-traditional student like me who was having to work and go to school at the same time.”

Fast-forward to New Year’s Day 2009. Sanders called Robert Curry, the current Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs and Sanders’ former instructor, asking for directions to a house he was interested in buying. In addition to the directions, Sanders got a job.

One week later, Sanders was in front of students, teaching a course on payroll management as a part-time instructor. That quarter, he worked as a controller at a local manufacturing firm by day and taught accounting classes by night. Later that year, he interviewed to become a full-time instructor at West Georgia Tech and was offered the job.

“I really had to think about it over a few days, but looking back on it now, it shouldn’t have been such a hard decision,” Sanders said. “I love what I do, and knowing that I’m making a difference and changing students’ lives is more rewarding than any high-paying accounting job could be.”

Sanders said his favorite part about being an instructor at WGTC is how everything has come full-circle.

“I appreciated the education I received at West Georgia Tech because I was able to really apply that education in the workplace after I graduated and started working in the business world,” Sanders said. “Now, I’m able to tell students about those real-world applications I experienced first-hand, so that they’ll know what to expect when they graduate. That’s just an amazing cycle, and it’s one I want to keep going.”

 


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BJ Brock
Posted: March 8, 2017

  • Programs of Study: Cosmetology and Practical Nursing
  • Graduation Years: 1974 and 1985
  • Current Occupation: Director of Nursing, Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton

B.J. Brock calls nursing a “calling,” but she didn’t hear that call until she’d worked as a cosmetologist for 10 years.

BJ Brock

The school planted a firm foundation that I’m still using today, and going back to school is a decision I’ve never regretted.

Brock is a double-alumnae of West Georgia Technical College, having earned credentials in cosmetology in 1974 and returning to the school – then called Carroll Tech – a decade later to pursue her diploma as a Licensed Practical Nurse.

“My last quarter of LPN school, I applied for a job with Tanner and worked as a nurse tech until I graduated in 1985,” Brock said. “I’ve been with Tanner for 32 years now, and I’m the director of nursing at Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton. I’m proud to have gotten my education – both kinds, in cosmetology and in nursing – at West Georgia Tech.”

Brock was in her early 30s when she attended West Georgia Tech’s Practical Nursing program, so she wasn’t a traditional student.

“Honestly, it was a sacrifice for me and my family, but we have to choose the sacrifices that are worthwhile in our lives, and this one definitely was,” Brock said. “We all won in the end, and we’ve reaped the benefits for those long nights when I was in school.”

Brock said the classes at WGTC allowed her to discover the calling she has for nursing.

“I just got a deep desire and, for lack of a better word, a calling for nursing. The school planted a firm foundation that I’m still using today, and going back to school is a decision I’ve never regretted,” Brock said. “A lot has changed in the medical field over the years, but the basics I learned at West Georgia Tech haven’t changed.”

 


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Felix Moten
Posted: March 7, 2017

  • Program of Study: Computer Information Systems
  • Graduation Year: 1991
  • Current Occupation: Systems Analyst, TydenBrooks

A local pastor credits his two-year degree from West Georgia Technical College for his decades-long career in information technology.

Kim Norman

My instructors were so helpful and encouraging and made me realize that I could succeed in this field.

“Looking back on my career, I’ve received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theology, but my career in IT and programming has been a result of those two years in the early 1990s that I spent at what was then Carroll Tech,” said Felix Moten, pastor at Word of Truth Christian Church in Haralson County.

Moten graduated with an associate degree in Computer Information Systems in 1991. He’s worked for the past 10 years as a systems analyst at TydenBrooks, a security products company also based in Haralson County.

“I was able to work while I was still enrolled in school at West Georgia Tech, and I came straight out into the field,” Moten said. “I tried the university setting at first, but that didn’t work out. I found technical school to be a better fit. For me, it was a time of settling down as a young man and helping me get focused on what I wanted to do career-wise.”

Aside from working in IT, Moten has served as pastor at Word of Truth since 1996. He resides with his wife of 23 years, Sandra, and has two children, one of whom attends West Georgia Tech now.

Moten said West Georgia Tech was special to him because of its “family environment.”

“I was working and then coming to school at night, so I appreciated that they really kept a great environment for students who had been working all day and then had to take classes,” Moten said. “I had some great instructors who really cared about the students. There were some days when everything we were learning felt so new – because it was at the time – and I felt like I could never do this, but my instructors were so helpful and encouraging and made me realize that I could succeed in this field, which I think I have.”

 


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Kim Norman
Posted: March 7, 2017

  • Program of Study: Radiologic Technology
  • Graduation Year: 2005
  • Current Occupation: CT Technologist, Tanner Health System

Kim Norman likes to live life without regrets, but she still has one – West Georgia Technical College wasn’t her first choice out of high school.

Kim Norman

I actually felt like my teachers knew me and cared about my education and career.

Fortunately, it all worked out. After spending some time at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Norman transferred to West Georgia Tech and was able to take classes in Radiologic Technology at the Douglas Campus, near where she lived.

“Looking back, I wish that I had went straight to West Georgia Tech instead of going to Georgia State and then transferring,” Norman said. “I commuted back and forth to GSU, and I hated it. The classes were so big, and my teachers had no idea who I was because of the large university setting.”

Norman, who now works for Tanner Health System as a Registered Radiologic Technology, graduated from WGTC in the mid-2000s and has been working at Higgins General Hospital in Haralson County for more than a decade.

“I was one of those kids who thought she wanted to have a big college experience, but I quickly learned I’d made a mistake and transferred to what was then called West Central Tech,” Norman said. “The classes were smaller, and I actually felt like my teachers knew me and cared about my education and career.”

Before her final year in the Radiologic Technology program, Norman was hired at Higgins, a hospital she’d never heard of before being hired.

“It was such a relief to know that I already had a job before I even graduated from school,” Norman said. “Now, 12 years later, I’m still at Higgins and loving every minute of it. It’s all thanks to the education I found at West Georgia Tech.”

 


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Mark Foster
Posted: March 7, 2017

  • Program of Study: Marketing Management
  • Graduation Year: 2002
  • Current Occupation: Executive Manager, Walker Cadillac Buick GMC Inc. of Carrollton

Four days before he was supposed to start attending university classes, Mark Foster got a call.

Mark Foster

Whatever your desire and your endgame is, use the resources close to you as an opportunity to prepare for the future.

He didn’t know then, but that call from a family friend who worked at what was then West Central Technical College would change his life. She convinced Foster to un-enroll from the university and sign up for West Central Tech, starting classes in pursuit of a Marketing Management associate degree the next week.

Now, he’s the executive manager – in essence, the dealer – of Walker Cadillac Buick GMC Inc. in Carrollton. Even though he’s since earned two other degrees, he still credits the school that’s now West Georgia Technical College with giving him a firm foundation.

“Going to school at West Georgia Tech allowed me to work at Walker Cadillac while I was still going to school, which was huge for me,” Foster said. “I would learn something about marketing at school during the day and then come here in the afternoon and be able to actually apply it in my job.”

Foster started at Walker Cadillac in 2000, right after graduating from Mt. Zion High School in Carroll County. Two years later, he’d earned his associate degree in Marketing Management from West Georgia Tech, saying he appreciated the “real-world” application experience over reading a textbook.

“I view the entire technical college idea as one of two things: it’s either enough to get someone a good job, or it’s a great stepping stone for someone like me,” Foster said. “Whatever your desire and your endgame is, use the resources close to you as an opportunity to prepare for the future. You won’t be behind when you take whatever next step you want. If anything, you’ll be way ahead.”

 


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Nicki Barradas
Posted: March 7, 2017

  • Program of Study: Business Management
  • Graduation Year: 2016
  • Current Occupation: Lead Staffing Coordinator, Joynus Staffing

When Nicki Barradas graduated from West Georgia Technical College last December, she walked across the stage knowing she was the first member of her family to earn any kind of post-secondary degree.

Nicki Barradas

I realized that, for my children to see me walk across the stage in my graduation robe, that gives them something to look forward to and something to work toward.

When Nicki Barradas graduated from West Georgia Technical College last December, she walked across the stage knowing she was the first member of her family to earn any kind of post-secondary degree.

What she didn’t know at the time was how much that meant to her five children.

“I realized that, for my children to see me walk across the stage in my graduation robe, that gives them something to look forward to and something to work toward,” Barradas said. “That made all of the sacrifices – all of the long nights and early mornings – more than worth it in the long run.”

Barradas has attended WGTC twice, taking GED exam preparation classes at the college nearly a decade ago and graduating with an associate degree in business management in December 2016.

After graduation, the 32-year-old gained employment locally and currently serves as the lead staffing coordinator for the LaGrange and Opelika, Ala., offices of Joynus Staffing, a staffing agency. There, she is responsible for human resources, compliancy and finding new business clients.

“It’s really amazing to me that I’m now helping other people find work, when I was in their shoes a few years ago before I went to West Georgia Tech,” Barradas said. “To be able to have some authority in the workplace, like I do now, shows that the hard work it took for me to get that degree has truly paid off.”

After earning her GED in her early 20s, Barradas said she let her education “wither away,” choosing not to pursue a higher degree. Working at the Duracell battery plant in LaGrange, she eventually found her way back to West Georgia Tech.

“It took a few years of having to balance studying and going to class with working a full-time job and taking care of my children, but I was finally able to break through and graduate, and now I have this great job that I couldn’t have gotten without this degree,” Barradas said. “Now there’s no looking back, only looking forward to what’s next for me.”

 


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Cheryl S. Avery
Posted: March 6, 2017

  • Program of Study: Cosmetology
  • Graduation Year: 2012
  • Current Occupation: Actress, Hairstylist and Makeup Artist

An actress, hairstylist and makeup artist is leveraging her education from West Georgia Technical College to get her foot in the door in the Atlanta film and television production industry.

Cheryl Avery

To be able to use my skills in the field I love means the world to me. It means so much to me that I’m looking forward to continuing my education later this year, and it couldn’t have been made possible without West Georgia Tech.

Cheryl S. Avery, who graduated from West Georgia Tech with an associate degree in Cosmetology in 2012, has been able to stay in the entertainment field and move between hairstylist and makeup artist and acting in several productions, as well.

Known on set by her middle name, Selah, she’s used her skills behind the scenes to work on a few productions that have filmed in Atlanta, including the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s religious talk show “Sid Roth’s It’s Supernatural,” as well as some music videos.

Most recently, Avery booked her first starring role in the popular murder re-enactment series “Fatal Attraction,” airing on TV One in February 2017. She’ll also be hosting a seminar with a nationally renowned casting agent soon on how to get in the acting business.

“Beyond that, in the last few months, I’ve been booked to portray a makeup artist on a TV showing premiering in 2017 on VH1 called ‘Daytime Divas,’ “ Avery said. “The show, created by Star Jones, stars Vanessa Williams, and I can’t believe I’m able to work with such great talent.”

Avery said she is “forever grateful” for her WGTC education, which has allowed her to work both behind and in front of the camera.

“Without honing my hairstylist and makeup artist skills, I would not be able to stay in my beloved entertainment field,” Avery said. “To be able to use my skills in the field I love means the world to me. It means so much to me that I’m looking forward to continuing my education later this year, and it couldn’t have been made possible without West Georgia Tech.”

 


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Roger Swint
Posted: February 13, 2017

  • Program of Study: Fire Science Technology
  • Graduation Year: 2008
  • Current Occupation: Chief of Morrow (Ga.) Fire Department

A West Georgia Technical College graduate has been named fire chief after taking classes in fire science technology online.

fire chief

Morrow Fire Chief Roger Swint with his wife, Kathy, at his side, takes the oath of office from Mayor Jeff DeTar, right.

Roger Swint, who graduated from WGTC in 2008, was named chief of the Morrow, Ga., Fire Department in December, and he said he couldn’t have become chief without the skills he learned at WGTC.

Swint, who owns a feed store in Jonesboro, Ga., graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in agribusiness in 1987. A volunteer fireman for more than two decades, he started a second career in the mid-2000s when he graduated from WGTC.

“I was promoted to battalion chief about two months before I graduated from West Georgia Tech,” Swint said. “I think that I was in college and pursuing the degree at that level had a huge effect on the city’s decision to promote me because they were able to see I was only one semester away from having this associate’s degree and could continue moving up the ranks.”

Swint is the first permanent fire chief for the city of Morrow since 2015, when a longtime chief retired.

Beyond his associate’s degree from WGTC, Swint has received training at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md., in 2010 and 2012.

Swint was formally sworn in at the Morrow City Council meeting in December. He said his family will take over the feed store business while he serves as fire chief for the city.

Swint said he and a couple fellow firefighters took the course together, finishing up in 2008.

“Since it was completely online, we were allowed to do most of our classwork while we were in the station on a shift,” Swint said. “That flexibility was huge, and the class itself has been incredibly pertinent to the job and has helped me in several aspects of my firefighting career.”

 


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