Dacula Resident Named as Gwinnett Tech’s GOAL Student for 2015-2016

To stand out in a crowd of thousands of students is no easy feat, but  Gwinnett Technical College student Lydia Holland has done just that. Holland, a resident of Dacula, was recently named as Gwinnett Technical College’s Georgia Occupational Award (GOAL) of Leadership winner. The Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management student was one of 70 students nominated for the honor at Gwinnett Tech this year.

The GOAL program is sponsored at the state level by the Technical College System of Georgia to give recognition to the importance of technical education. Students are nominated annually by their instructors. The selected students prepare for two rounds of interviews that are held on campus to determine the school winner. As the local winner, Holland will move forward to represent Gwinnett Technical College in the regional and statewide competitions.

Holland did not start out as a student at Gwinnett Technical College, instead beginning her academic career at a private university in another state. After taking a financial planning workshop, Holland and her family realized that she would be better served transferring to a college that was more affordable and closer to home. It was not an easy decision to accept for the Gwinnett County native, who has since learned that the state’s third largest technical college can offer her unexpected opportunities and has led her to a career choice she is passionate about entering.

“I really do feel the instructors at Gwinnett Technical College prepare students to be great and skilled workers in this community,” Holland said after learning she had won the award.

Her nominating instructor, Mark Newton, noted he could not remember a student with as much personality, charm and integrity.

“Lydia’s personality glows in my classroom. Her positive attitude encourages students and even rubs off on me,” he said when he nominated her. “It is obvious that Lydia has a deep love and appreciation for Gwinnett Technical College and learning. She takes advantage of every learning opportunity, inside and outside of the classroom and she will always go out of her way to help others.”

A panel of judges from the faculty and staff at Gwinnett Tech, as well as from local business and industry, selected the winning student. Finalists and the eventual winner were determined through a series of interviews and speeches before these judges. All four of the finalists, including Holland, were recognized for their achievement in a luncheon. The other finalists included Victoria Coker, a Healthcare and Pre-Sonography student from Monroe; Susan Gates, a Radiologic Technology student from Buford; and Oliver White, a Radiologic Technology student from Lawrenceville.

"The screening and selection process is fairly involved and time consuming," said Director of Student Life Rachel Mariano. "But our job is to find the very best candidate to represent Gwinnett Tech. When the evaluations are complete, we know we have found the college's most outstanding student."

A statewide winner will be selected at the state GOAL competition in Atlanta in April and will travel the state for a full year on behalf of Georgia’s Technical College System, including addressing Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia General Assembly. Automaker Chevrolet will donate a 2016 vehicle to the state’s winner.

Gwinnett Technical College offers more than 150 degree, diploma and certificate program options that can be completed in two years or less. For more information, visit www.GwinnettTech.edu or call 770-962-7580.