Oconee Fall Line Tech respiratory instructor and graduates serve on COVID-19 frontlines in Albany

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Georgia, hundreds of nurses, first responders, and other emergency medical personnel stepped up, including an Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC) Respiratory Care instructor and four of her graduates.

“I’ve been a respiratory therapist since 1995 and have never seen anything like COVID-19,” shared Natalie Smith, an OFTC Respiratory Care instructor. Smith was truly on the front lines of the pandemic, serving a Georgia hot spot at Phoebe Memorial Hospital in Albany. “I can’t put into words just how horrible it has been,” she added. “Patients who were fine one minute were on the ventilator the next, and with no one at their bedside because it wasn’t allowed.”

Smith said it was through the prayers of others and aid from the National Guard and GEMA that allowed them to serve their patients. “In early March we ran out of almost everything,” she said. “We were borrowing equipment from wherever we could.” 

OFTC was one of many technical colleges across the state who lent their ventilators to GEMA to help patients in need. Not only was Smith proud that her employer was aiding a need, she found herself directly impacted by a donation from a sister college in Lawrenceville. 

“People don’t understand what these donations truly mean until you pull the last PB980 ventilator out of the equipment room, drag it to the ICU, go to turn it on and see hand-written ‘Gwinnett Technical College’ on the back of the vent.”

“My eyes literally teared up,” Smith said. “I’ve been teaching for 20 years and saw our equipment as just equipment; but here was a Technical College System of Georgia piece of equipment that was going to save someone’s life.”

Four OFTC graduates served on the front lines with Smith at Phoebe Memorial Hospital: Chad Keown graduated in 2016 and works in Emergency Care and the Intensive Care Unit (ICU); Brittany Bryant, also a 2016 graduate works as a Charge Therapist; Kimberly Hall and Valeria Zanders both graduated in 2017 and work in Emergency Care and the ICU. Read more here.

TCSG colleges rack up SkillsUSA chapter awards

The SkillsUSA Chapter Excellence Program (CEP) honors chapter achievement relative to SkillsUSA’s framework of developing personal skills, workplace skills, and technical skills grounded in academics. There are three levels in the CEP program: two awarded by the state association and one awarded by the national office. Congratulations to the following 2019-2020 SkillsUSA CEP recipients:

CEP Level 1 – Quality Chapters:
Albany Technical College; Atlanta Technical College; Augusta Technical College; Central Georgia Technical College; Coastal Pines Technical College; Georgia Northwestern Technical College; Gwinnett Technical College; Lanier Technical College; Oconee Fall Line Technical College; Ogeechee Technical College; Savannah Technical College; South Georgia Technical College; Southern Crescent Technical College; Southern Regional Technical College; West Georgia Technical College; Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

CEP Level 2 – Chapters of Distinction:
Bronze Chapter of Distinction: Savannah Technical College
Silver Chapters of Distinction: Augusta Technical College; Southern Regional Technical College
Gold Chapters of Distinction: Georgia Northwestern Technical College; Gwinnett Technical College; Lanier Technical College; West Georgia Technical College; Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

CEP Level 3 – Models of Excellence Chapter (one of the top 24 chapters in the nation): Lanier Technical College
Congratulations to Albany Technical College men's basketball player Vinny Viana, who has signed with the University of Tennessee-Martin as an incoming junior on the 2020-21 Skyhawk roster. While at Albany Tech, Vinny was recognized by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) as an All-American Honorable Mention. NJCAA All American represents the nation’s Top 50 players in junior college basketball. These players are not only the top players in their region but across the entire country. Vinny majored in Business Management at Albany Tech. 

(Pictured: L – R) Nick Chapman, Dean of Business and Education (ACBSP Champion); Dr. Andrea Daniel, President; Glenn Henry, Vice President for Academic Affairs; Amelia Mills, Director of Institutional Effectiveness.
The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) Associate Degree Board of Commissioners reaffirmed accreditation of the business programs at Athens Technical College on June 17. The associate of applied science degree programs at Athens Tech were first accredited by ACBSP in 1992, making Athens Tech one of the first to achieve ACBSP accreditation. The college is required to go through the reaffirmation process every 10 years to maintain ACBSP accreditation. Athens Technical College President, Dr. Andrea Daniel, states, “ACBSP accreditation certifies that the teaching and learning processes within the business programs offered at Athens Technical College meet the rigorous educational standards established by ACBSP.”

Annually, Atlanta Technical College Student Life recognizes student leaders for their commitment, leadership, and service by hosting a Student Leadership Award Luncheon. Due to COVID-19, the event was canceled. Director of Student Activities Dessie Hall wanted the students to receive the recognition for their hard work, so the awards were distributed to the students on July 2. The following awards were presented: Spirit of Excellence: SGA Officers; You Make the Difference: NTHS Officers; Global Leader: International Club Officers; Champion at Work: SkillsUSA Officers.

Every day, Hunter Thomas and Brian McNulty are living out the vision of the Georgia Cyber Center and its growing educational partnerships. “The amount of resources in the area is absolutely phenomenal,” said McNulty, a second-year student at Augusta Technical College. “For someone focused on the cyber or software development area, there’s potentially no place better to be. This rivals even Silicon Valley, in my opinion.” McNulty is a pioneer for Parsons. He’s the first intern they’ve ever had from a two-year technical school. “I’m still shocked and I’m still hoping to prove useful enough, even though I’m behind in the experience of the other interns,” said McNulty. Read more here.

This fall, Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC) will begin offering two fully online Technical Certificates of Credit (TCC) in one of the nation’s fastest growing industries, opening gateways to careers of the future. Cybersecurity TCCs at CGTC are embedded certificates that lead students directly into valuable industry credentials for employment and future diploma and degree programs. The Cybersecurity TCC and the Cybersecurity Fundamentals TCC are designed to enhance the skills of the familiar student and introduce topics to the novice. Read more here.

Eight employees at Inalfa Roof Systems in Cherokee County have completed a comprehensive workforce training initiative in industrial maintenance, thanks to a partnership with Chattahoochee Technical College. Inalfa Roof Systems worked with the Chattahoochee Tech Division of Economic Development to design this training program in order to provide career growth opportunities for internal, hourly employees at the Inalfa facility located in Acworth, according to Inalfa Regional Learning & Development Supervisor Michael Adoyo. Over the course of 10 months, the employees selected for participation in this program expanded their knowledge and skills in several primary areas of industrial maintenance. They completed over 200 hours of instruction, led by Chattahoochee Tech Industrial Maintenance and Electrical Technology instructor Joe Kazemian at the college’s North Metro Campus. Read more here. 

Coastal Pines Technical College (CPTC) recently hosted TCSG Commissioner Greg Dozier. Commissioner Dozier had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Glenn Deibert, President of the College, and be introduced to the CPTC Leadership Team. During the visit, the Commissioner was able to learn more about CPTC and the unique opportunities and programs the College offers. Commissioner Dozier toured the Waycross Campus and the Jesup Instructional Site to get a better look at program offerings and the state-of-the-art equipment that is used to train students for the workforce. The Commissioner also had the opportunity to meet and talk with some of the College’s faculty and staff during the tours. Commissioner Dozier had lunch with newly-elected CPTC Local Board of Directors Chair, Lee Lewis. Mr. Lewis gave a community perspective of the kind of impact that Coastal Pines has on the local workforce in each of the communities served by the College. 

To celebrate its spring 2020 graduates, Columbus Technical College held a virtual commencement ceremony, complete with a "Drive-Through Diploma Pick-up Celebration" and an address from President Martha Ann Todd. Watch the video here.

Every Tuesday and Thursday evening over the next few weeks on the Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) Catoosa County Campus, employees of four northwest Georgia industries will be training in the basics of programmable logic controllers (PLC). According to Cody Brewer, GNTC’s Instrumentation and Controls instructor and leader of the PLC training, automated processes are in every field of industry and the understanding of programmable logic controllers is the first step in understanding industrial automation. “They will be learning how to program machines to do simple tasks,” Brewer said. “This is something they will be able to put on their resume.”

Through a partnership with the Newton County Industrial Development Authority, the Covington-Newton Chamber of Commerce and the Development Authority of Walton County, Georgia Piedmont Technical College has reimagined its traditional job fair into a virtual one during the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will pair job candidates with the businesses and industries that still need them. More than 40 employers from throughout the region in the fields of manufacturing, film, entertainment, public safety, local government, bio-pharma, high-technology, and distribution will be available in exclusive online chat rooms to discuss their current employment opportunities and meet candidates at the "2020 Regional+Virtual Job Fair." The fair, set for July 30, is free to both employers and job seekers. Read more here.

Gwinnett Technical College has launched The Georgia Cloud Academy at Gwinnett Technical College, teaching the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud Practitioner course. The Cloud Academy will address the state’s growing need for workers with cloud computing skills while developing a steady pipeline of talent for Gwinnett Tech’s service area and local businesses. Students who earn this certificate will be prepared for a variety of careers in the fields of cloud computing, including Cloud Support Associate, Network Technician, Systems Analyst, Technical Sales Executive, Web Development Engineer, Applications Developer, Cloud Support Engineer, and Network Design Analyst. Gwinnett Tech’s faculty and staff are currently piloting the program and will launch to the community and students in the fall.
Lanier Technical College paramedicine student and Gainesville firefighter Robby Buffington and fellow firefighter Jared Rogers saved thirteen-year-old Hunter Madlock of Carrollton from drowning in Panama City Beach. "We are always looking out for anything that may happen," explained Latham. "On-duty is a consistent mindset, no matter where you are." Read more here.
North Georgia Technical College recently opened the campus libraries in Clarkesville, Currahee and Blairsville in a limited capacity for students. Appointment times are booked online by students who must social distance while studying inside each library to follow CDC guidelines. The Clarkesville campus dining hall also recently opened to the public after preparing the facility with social distanced tables and designated waiting spaces in serving lines. Faculty and staff are happy to welcome students and community guests back to both the library and dining hall.

Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC) will host a virtual "Ask Admissions Day" designed to answer questions of those interested in getting started with education and skills training at OFTC. Topics to be covered include how to get started, next steps, programs and services, and how to enroll. The "Ask Admissions Day" is scheduled for Wednesday, July 22 and there will be two sessions to choose from: 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. OFTC’s fall semester classes begin August 24 and the virtual "Ask Admissions" session will be a great way for those considering college to learn more about OFTC and how to get started.
Ogeechee Technical College’s student gaming club, Out to Conquer, raised $300 for the Make-a-Wish® Georgia's competition "When Stars Align Challenge". The challenge was a call for Georgia streamers to raise money for local wishes affected by COVID-19. “The original idea was passed along to us through the Georgia Game Developers Association (GGDA),” said April Burkes, an employee of the College and staff advisor to the club. “I pitched the idea to the students, and they thought that it was a great way to get the community involved in a worthy cause.” The GGDA is a statewide video gamers association that provides networking, continuing education and workshops to its members. Much like televised sports, streaming for gamers is the broadcasting of individuals or teams playing video games that a live audience can watch from their own devices. Out to Conquer chose to stream their broadcast on Twitch, a popular streaming service for gamers, for four hours each day, June 17-19. During the stream, members of Out to Conquer shared information with their viewers about the challenge asking them to donate online through a link provided. During their final stream on Friday, the club had reached their $300 goal.

Savannah Technical College construction management student Zebulon Floyd was awarded a $2,500 scholarship from Fine Homebuilding. Floyd was elected president of STC’s SkillsUSA chapter and has competed on STC’s SkillsUSA team for the past two years. Read more here.
South Georgia Technical College has created a COVID-19 informational video to alert faculty, staff, and students to important facts about the virus, how it is spread, its symptoms, and preventive measures designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19. “We realize that there are a lot of questions and uncertainty right now about the Coronavirus and how it affects individuals,” said South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford. “The safety of students, faculty, and staff is very important to us. This video highlights practical information about how to respond if you are feeling sick or if you are worried about being exposed. It also gives instructions about what to do to stay healthy and how to help slow the spread.” South Georgia Tech has initiated preventive measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in accordance with federal, state, and local government guidelines; however, the college cannot guarantee that individuals will not become infected with or exposed to COVID-19. Read more here. Watch the video here.

Southeastern Technical College welcomes students for face-to-face classes this fall semester. “Our faculty and staff have done an amazing job providing on-line classes and services for summer semester. We will resume face-to-face classes on August 17,” stated Southeastern Tech President Larry Calhoun. The College will continue to follow CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health guidelines to ensure the safety and health of students. The College will continue to waive application fees through the Summer. Beginning Monday, July 13, Southeastern Tech will be open during normal business hours through virtual methods and by on-campus appointments.

The Southern Crescent Technical College Foundation awarded 47 scholarships totaling $16,200 for students enrolled in the College for Summer Semester 2020. Of those, the Foundation awarded 21 Internal Tiger Campaign scholarships totaling $6,450. Internal scholarships are funded through contributions from the SCTC faculty and staff, primarily through monthly payroll deduction to the Internal Fundraising Campaign. In addition, the Foundation awarded 26 external scholarships totaling $9,750. External scholarships are funded through contributions from business partners, foundations, and generous donors within our service community, as well as SCTC faculty and staff for program-specific scholarships not included in the Internal Tiger Campaign.
Southern Regional Technical College campus police officer Ken Davidson came to the aid of a Thomasville resident in mental distress on the evening of June 25. As reported by the Thomasville Times, the Grady County Sheriff’s Office reached out to him when he was off-duty, because they were dealing with a life-or-death mental health crisis. Davidson is a trained hostage negotiator with the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office with over a decade of experience in law enforcement. With the same quiet compassion that he exhibits on our campuses, Captain Davidson spoke to the subject for over two hours, eventually resolving the situation peacefully. “This is what I got in law enforcement for,” said Davidson. “It’s to help people, not to hurt people.”
The West Georgia Technical College (WGTC) Foundation has announced that long-time country music favorite Sawyer Brown will perform at its annual Black Tie & Boots concert October 2, 2020. The Foundation is excited to host this year’s event outdoors at Buffalo Creek Technology Park – the site of the new WGTC Carroll Campus, and for the first time in a long time, open general admission ticket sales to the public. “We’re grateful to the Carroll County Development Authority, as well as to county and city officials, for helping us to move the event outdoors and to a new date. We made this decision in the best interest of everyone’s safety and comfort considering COVID-19 restrictions. We will take every measure to prioritize safety, including offering additional hand washing and hand sanitizer stations and implementing best practices in live entertainment and food service,” WGTC Foundation Executive Director Kelsey Jones said.

The computer programming degree at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College now includes Python, a widely renowned scripting language. This allows computer programmers to utilize the 20-plus years of maturity and its constantly updating library of frameworks. It utilizes a loosely typed syntax that makes development quick and easy. “Wiregrass is excited to offer this to our computer programming students,” shared Andy Powell, Computer Information System Technology Programming Instructor. “The average salary for an entry-level Python Developer in the United States is around $70,000 per year. In Georgia, the average salary is around $120,000 per year.” Python is used in a wide array of careers such as: Artificial Intelligence, Full Stack Development, Video Games, Cloud Development, Data Science, Cryptocurrencies, and Mobile Apps.  
Georgia Northwestern Technical College produced a short video featuring GNTC’s Youth Success Academy, where youth aged 16-24 can quickly earn their high school equivalency.