The 2017 graduation season officially kicked off this week at the Infinite Energy Center and Gwinnett Tech graduates were among the first to turn their tassels and toss their caps. On Thursday evening, May 18 there was a joyous celebration as Dr. D. Glen Cannon, President of Gwinnett Technical College, conferred hundreds of degrees, diplomas and certificates to students from all walks of life. Shan Cooper, Chief Transformation Officer of WestRock, was the honored keynote speaker. Nearly 600 students, ranging in age from 16 to 69, walked across the stage to receive their new academic credentials and mark the successful completion of their studies at Gwinnett Tech.
Over the last five years, the number of graduates at Gwinnett Tech has risen 73% and the number of awards conferred is up 20%. This year's enrollment at Gwinnett Tech was at an all-time high as more and more students are seeking affordable, career-focused education that gives them a great return on investment. Students draw to Gwinnett Tech for its hands-on learning environment that gives them a real-world education for real-world jobs. The College's 99% job placement rate attests to that. When it comes to affordability, it’s hard to argue with $89 per credit hour. At the beginning of this academic year, Gwinnett Tech was ranked the #1 Community College in Georgia and in the top 5% nationally by WalletHub for its tremendous economic value.
But Dr. Cannon explains, "It's not as much about the numbers for us as it is about the people. It's about our students and their success. We are vested in our students every step of the way. We provide state-of-the-art classrooms, highly qualified faculty, strong academic rigor and experiential learning that helps them be some of the most sought after graduates in the workforce. When they walk across our stage, they stand ready to succeed."
Radiologic Technologist Rebecca Mainor did her research on colleges and specifically chose Gwinnett Tech because of the outstanding reputation of their program. After just two years she graduates with her Radiologic Technology certificate in hand and two PRN jobs at Gwinnett Medical Center and Northeast Georgia Medical Center. Mainor said, "I came to Gwinnett Tech because they had the top program in the state and I was confident I could get a job. The classes were smaller and tuition was affordable. It was a great decision!"
Joshua Hanley went to Gwinnett Tech for their drafting program and graduates with a diploma in architectural drafting. Joshua is excited to have his career unfold and feels Gwinnett Tech has well prepared him for a job in the industry. With a 3.83 GPA Joshua was proud to cross the commencement stage wearing his honors stole.
Glenda Macawile earned her Associate Degree in website design and development. She was such a standout in her class that Gwinnett Tech’s communications department hired her before graduation to be a part of their website design team. Glenda says, "It's so great to be able to gift back what I've learned to further the mission of the College. I love that I get to help encourage and enable others to pursue their dreams through my work."
While many students will launch into their careers immediately following graduation, others will continue their education at other colleges and universities thanks to Gwinnett Tech’s sound transfer agreements with 42 other institutions of higher learning across Georgia.
Shan Cooper, Chief Transformation Officer of WestRock, delivered a moving keynote speech to Gwinnett Tech’s Class of 2017. (Photo by Jennifer Stalcup)
Rebekah Henneborn earned her Associates Degree in Bioscience Technology and will transfer to Kennesaw State University to continue her studies. Henneborn shared enthusiastically, "I have applied for a special S-STEM scholarship grant at Kennesaw State that covers tuition for bioscience students. My plan is to earn a Bioscience B.S. with a minor in Molecular Biology." Henneborn dreams to be a scientist for the CDC that works with cell tissue growth.
For the full 2016-2017 academic year, the College will confer more than 3000 awards to an estimated 1500 graduates. Gwinnett Tech is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award the associate degree. Nineteen programs hold other specific industry accreditations. Seven of the College’s programs achieved 100% licensing exam pass rates this past academic year and many are ranked in the top ten academic programs in the nation.
Dr. Cannon says, "We are so proud of the tremendous accomplishments of each and every one of our students and we stand behind them as they move forward with their lives and thrive."
May 19, 2017