Our Alumni and Student Stories
Art and Design
Stay tuned, more stories coming soon!
Automotive, Construction and Trades
Welding and Joining
Inspired by his heroes - his father and older brother - and their example of strong work ethic and family priorities, Matthew Brown knew he wanted his career to at least live up to their legacies. "My older brother inspired me to become a welder because he always talked about things he had made and the different opportunities a welding career offers," Matthew said.
Matthew re-enrolled at Gwinnett Technical College in the Welding and Joining program, having previously graduated with a degree in Environmental Horticulture. "After my first degree, I took two semesters of landscape architecture at the University of Georgia but quickly realized I didn’t want to sit behind a desk for the rest of my life," Matthew said. "That's when I decided to go back to Gwinnett Tech.
"It may have taken me some time to discover my passion, but better late than never."
A Zell Miller Scholarship and Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant recipient, Matthew avoided the burden of student debt and was able to focus all of his attention on his studies. After just one month in the program, Matthew secured a Production Welder position at Caterpillar, Inc., in Athens, GA, where his skills learned in the classroom are paying off profoundly.
"My proudest accomplishment is being able to produce the required number of parts per shift within my first two months, which others who have been there longer still struggle with," he said.
She only wanted to update her business management skills and earn a certificate. As Shawntel Carey became acquainted with Gwinnett Tech, though, she began dreaming of a brighter future for her and her daughter.
She enrolled in the Business Management program and added a concentration in Human Resources. Not only did she become a full-time student, but she also landed a full-time job as an executive in retail management - all while parenting her three year old.
"It hasn't been easy. I've worked hard and landed on the Dean's List several times with a 4.0 while taking 15 credits or more," Shawntel said.
In fact, her hard work also resulted in her becoming a Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership finalist.
Shawntel is grateful for not only the experience but also the help she’s received at Gwinnett Tech.
"Career Services was instrumental in me securing my current job by reviewing my work history, assisting with my resume and coaching me," she said. "Due to receiving the most up-to-date education, I was promoted three times up to an executive level in less than one year. I learned that I can 'Be More, Do More and Have More'. As a result, my goal is to pursue my undergraduate degree and then a Juris Doctorate and Master of Business Administration."
Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management
"[They] offered outstanding instructors who actually cared for and invested in their students," Kathy said. "I was also impressed with the school's excellent level of sensitivity toward adult education."
As a student, Kathy served as the 2015 Student Leadership Council president and MU Class Ambassador, was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and was a Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership, Student Organization Leadership Award, Award of Merit, and Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally Scholarship recipient. She even sang the National Anthem for the 2015 Commencement.
Kathy now works for the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services, assisting clients with issues or questions they might have regarding getting or receiving food stamps or Medicaid.
"I'm a part of promoting and affirming strong and healthy families and communities for the state of Georgia," she said.
According to Kathy, Dr. Mark Newton, now retired director of the HRTM program, instilled in her invaluable knowledge that she's applied to both her current job and beyond.
"Gwinnett Tech helped me to become more employable and realize my potential," Kathy said.
For Networking Specialist graduate Evan Gross, graduating from Gwinnett Tech meant more than getting a diploma: it meant achieving one more goal. Diagnosed with Aspergers/Autism in elementary school, Evan has worked his entire academic career to focus on tasks and assignments and be a successful student. After graduating from Brookwood High School, Evan enrolled at Gwinnett Tech, where he maintained the Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) Scholarship and was a Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership nominee.
"Gwinnett Tech not only increased my knowledge, it also helped me with public speaking and interaction," he said. "Preparing and giving the GOAL speech increased my confidence in public speaking."
Evan praised Gwinnett Tech for their great reputation and placement history, as well as their wide range of computer programs and degrees. While a student, he had support from Disability Services and the Career Services Center. Thanks to his experience at Gwinnett Tech, he was prepared to interview and join the workforce after graduation.
Currently working at Eagle's Landing Café & Grill, Evan is embracing the workforce environment, thanks to his employers' and fellow employees' support and encouragement. A proud alum of Gwinnett Tech, he plans to return and take more classes in the future.
After graduating from high school, Jae Eom not only wanted to find an affordable college, but also one that would help him determine exactly what he wanted to do as a professional. Guided by the mentorship of his high school teachers, Jae enrolled at Gwinnett Technical College in the Networking Specialist program.
In addition to learning "real world" skills like work ethic, networking and money budgeting, Jae's time as a student at Gwinnett Tech also showed him new career opportunities. "I feel like a door opened for me in graphic design, ever since I took a web design class. It opened a whole new world for me to play with."
After graduating from Gwinnett Tech, Jae plans to pursue further education as a graphic design major. "Even though there is still room for improvement, one of the things I'm most proud of is my skills as an artist," he said.
Using the foundation of his Networking Specialist degree, Jae hope to combine his interest in technology and computers with his affinity for art and design, and pave the way for a fulfilling career as a graphic designer.
Bethany Wheeler isn't waiting until graduation to get real-world experience. She's already completed a graphic design/web development internship with the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, assisted Lilburn Day Camp with their marketing design and photography needs, and won a Project Yellow Light Billboard Design Scholarship (her billboard debuted in Times Square and is now featured on digital billboards all over the United States).
She credits Gwinnett Tech with giving her the tools she needs to succeed. "I wasn't even sure that college was right for me, but once here I quickly overcame those fears. Gwinnett Tech has been a great launching board for me."
"My classes here have been wonderful," she said. "Sometimes they get a little overwhelming, but whenever you find yourself in a sticky spot the instructors are always willing to help strengthen your understanding of the course content. I believe learning is a team sport, and at Gwinnett Tech you get the feeling you are part of a learning community."
Bethany plans to attend a four-year college after graduating from Gwinnett Tech and pursue a graphic design degree. "I hope to get a career following school where I can use my creativity to deliver a fantastic product to customers or bosses that will exceed their expectations."
Stay tuned, more stories coming soon!
Early Childhood Care and Education
Dezire'e Morris Mattocks
When Dezire'e Morris Mattocks set out to achieve her dream of being a teacher, she knew that Gwinnett Technical College would give her a strong foundation. "I felt that they could provide me with the knowledge and hands-on experience that would get me a job in education right after graduation."
Dezire'e traces her desire to teach back to her high school algebra teacher, who guided her to all A's in math (her least favorite subject at the time!). That experience sparked Dezire'e's drive to impact students with the same enthusiasm and love of learning.
After graduating from the Early Childhood Care and Education program at Gwinnett Tech, Dezire'e received her undergraduate and Master's degrees in Early Childhood Education from Mercer University and is now in the doctorate program at Walden University for Ed.D. "I owe my career to Gwinnett Tech," Dezire'e says. "When people ask me where I went to school, the first school I say is not Mercer University; it's Gwinnett Tech."
Dezire'e's time at Gwinnett Tech was especially memorable because of her instructors. "Their passion for teaching and dedication to assisting each student to attain their success was amazing. [The teachers] brought out knowledge we as students didn't know we had inside us," she said. "Gwinnett Tech helped me realize my worth as an educator."
Health Sciences and Life Sciences
Lance Adams has worked in the Bioscience and Pharmaceutical industries since May 2012. Having earned a Bioscience Technology degree from Gwinnett Technical College in 2012, he accepted a job immediately with Anitox, a global leader in the control of pathogens and other unwanted microbes. Lance worked in research and quality control for Anitox from May 2012 – September 2013. Tasks included research of new chemical and microbiological testing methods, live animal trials and analytical testing on raw material, manufactured goods and environment by titration, GC and UV-Vis spectrometer.
Currently he is a Site Services Coordinator with VWR. VWR is a leading, independent provider of laboratory products, services and solutions with worldwide sales in excess of $4.3 billion. Being onsite at Alcon, the global leader in eye care, he has performed services such as inventory management, chemical tracking and basic laboratory tasks on a daily basis since October 2013. Through hard work and dedication, he has been nominated to the HSE team at Alcon, and the Director Advisory Council for VWR.
Kristina Palermino is a graduate of the Bioscience Technology degree program class of 2014. Kristina graduated with a 4.0 GPA. She strongly supports the Bioscience program at GTC because it lays a substantial foundation for basic science knowledge and laboratory skills. The hands-on curriculum is challenging, but she values the wisdom and expertise she gained from instructors with different specialties and work backgrounds.
Upon completing her internship at Yerkes National Primate Research Center, she was hired as a lab assistant in the Microbiology and Immunology Division. She decided to leave Yerkes NPRC to pursue her personal and professional goals by obtaining her bachelor’s degree at Kennesaw State University. Currently, Kristina is attending KSU full-time with full scholarship and hopes to return to Yerkes after graduating in 2016.
Clinical Research Professional
When licensed practical nurse Denise Blackman-Chinnery was unexpectedly laid off from her 20-year nursing career, she struggled to find a new job. As a working wife and mother of three, Denise not only wanted to find a new job, she needed a job... After qualifying for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, she enrolled at Gwinnett Technical College and was accepted into the Clinical Research Professional program, a perfect fit with her years of experience in various areas of health care. "I selected Gwinnett Tech because of its great reputation for producing well-trained graduates for more than 30 years," she said.
Thanks to the knowledge and market awareness she gleaned from her program, Denise is now a Medical Support Specialist at Baxalta (part of Shire) in Social Circle, Georgia, with a goal to make a difference in the lives of her patients.
Rachel [Phillips] Butts
When it came time to choose her career path, Rachel [Phillips] Butts knew she wanted to work in dental health.
"I had only heard great things about Gwinnett Tech," she said. "I discovered they had my program of study and that it was very hands-on learning. I knew this would be the best option for me."
Rachel entered the Dental Assisting program and began preparing for her future.
"Throughout the program, my two program teachers - Leanna Harding and Amy Weaver- were my mentors. They were great teachers who really prepared us with everything we needed to be successful in the workplace," Rachel said.
Thanks to two internships during her time at Gwinnett Tech, Rachel also gained real-world experience - and a permanent job after graduation.
"My second internship was at Duluth Dental Services, where I now work as the dental assisting and treatment coordinator," she said. "I'm able to assist Dr. Geoghegan during procedures, educate patients on oral health and help them with their insurance as well as perform general office duties. Both he and his assistant Tammy have walked alongside me as I continue to learn."
Her favorite part of her job? "I have really enjoyed building relationships with the patients."
When she looks back on her education, Rachel is thankful for her time at Gwinnett Tech.
"Everything I learned in the classroom applied to my work environment," she said. "The hands-on learning really prepared me for success."
Working as a full-time server while maintaining a full-time class schedule is no easy feat, and Angel Esquivel credits the support and mentorship of her Dental Assisting Program Director Lea Anna Harding and instructor Amy Weaver. "They believed in me, even when I wasn't quite sure I was going to make it," Angel said.
During her time at Gwinnett Technical College, Angel worked hard to balance her school load with her workload, managing to graduate with a 4.0 GPA and the 2016 Distinguished Student Award. "Once I got home after work, I stayed up even later to study for my classes and exams," she said. "I was also involved with Phi Theta Kappa society and the National Technical Honor Society."
One of her favorite parts of the Dental Assisting program was the clinical internship, where she worked with, and learned from, local dentist Dr. Zachary Hyun Kim. "I respect how he even challenged me at times to keep me on track," she said.
Angel credits her success in her field to the hands-on experience her classes and internship provided - "It's more than just learning everything in the books".
Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Sarah Purvis remembers the day, as a high school student, that she underwent a thyroid ultrasound exam. She was nervous and uncomfortable, but, her ultrasound tech was understanding and educational.
"He showed me the monitor on his ultrasound machine, told me about the profession and put me at ease," Sarah said. "Ever since that appointment, I developed a strong interest in that career field."
Sarah's family moved from California to Gwinnett in 2014 and she began researching CAAHEP accredited schools for diagnostic medical sonography. "While there were several other schools reasonably close, I discovered Gwinnett Tech offered the highest standards for the program and their success rates in the workforce are extremely high," she said.
"Since starting the program, I’ve encountered the most passionate healthcare professionals. At clinical sites, the techs are constantly teaching us how to be better and more useful in the medical field. Our instructor’s passion has encouraged us to not only grow in our skills, but also in our character and heart."
Sarah is president of Gwinnett Tech’s Student Sonography Association and a member of the Lambda Nu National Honors Society. She is also in the Workforce Initiative and Opportunity Act program. "This has helped me achieve my goal of graduation by providing me financial support for required material and tuition."
For Sarah, her career can’t start soon enough. "I really enjoy the interaction with patients, the process of the actual exam, and the fascinating medical cases encountered on a regular basis. I have always desired to work in a field where I can help those in need and benefit a large population - diagnostic medical sonography fulfills that desire."
Long before he came to Gwinnett Tech, Robin Prasher knew he would pursue a medical career. "My Mom has been a nurse for more than 40 years and my sister is a physician assistant - they have been my inspiration," he said. "My family always emphasized how important education was. My Dad always said, 'A thief can steal anything from you, but they will never be able to steal your knowledge and that's why it's the best thing to acquire'."
Today, Robin is a registered cardiovascular invasive specialist at Emory University Hospital Midtown. He credits Gwinnett Tech with launching his career. "I chose to pursue my cardiovascular technology education at Gwinnett Tech because I had gone to different colleges but never felt like I was getting the education I needed. I realized when I first took my anatomy class at Gwinnett Tech that this was the college for me. The teachers were so passionate about what they taught and really worked with the students in every way possible to help them succeed."
Before graduating in 2016, Robin won the Dean's List award and the Clyde and Sandra Strickland scholarship, which helped him decrease hours at his job so he could study more.
"My education at Gwinnett Tech helped me prepare for my career by giving me all the tools I needed," Robin said. "I have received many professional accolades from cardiologists at Emory, but the one I always remember is when the head cardiologist told the manager that they need more people like me in this field."