Gwinnett Technical College Names Raquel Mohammed 2017 EAGLE Winner

GWINNETT — Mrs. Raquel Mohammed of Lawrenceville has been chosen to represent Gwinnett Technical College at the statewide EAGLE Leadership Institute March 13-15, 2017. The Leadership Institute recognizes and honors students who have demonstrated superior achievement in adult education classes and programs.

The Technical College System of Georgia, through its Office of Adult Education, sponsors the annual Exceptional Adult Georgian in Literacy Education (EAGLE) Leadership Institute. EAGLE is the first statewide program in the nation that recognizes and rewards excellence among students enrolled in adult education programs. This student recognition program is designed to create greater awareness of educational opportunities that are available in local communities across the state and to foster greater involvement in lifelong learning pursuits.

  • Raquel Mohammed’s story certainly exemplifies all that this program is about. She grew up in the Caribbean on the island of Trinidad and Tobago. Life circumstances when she was young kept her from finishing school. She always promised herself she would go back and get her GED. Thirteen years ago, she started a GED program at Gwinnett Tech, but with 3 small children ages 9 months to 5 years old, demands of life were too overwhelming. Eight months into the program she had to withdraw. Raquel says "The timing just didn’t work. My family had to come first. My desires had to be put on the back burner." In the years following she describes herself as, "getting stuck just working and providing for our family."
  • Many years later when her oldest son Isaiah, now 21, decided to explore engineering and computer programming classes at Gwinnett Tech, she returned to campus to support him. Raquel says when she stepped back on campus she couldn't help but notice "how much the school had grown." She said, "It had such a different vibe and energy. There were so many great options to choose from." While they were talking to Isaiah’s counselor, she asked if they still offered the GED program and they did. Something began to stir in her again.

Shortly thereafter, Raquel learned that her job would be transitioning across town to College Park. The time she would spend commuting to and from would take precious time away from her family. It was a move she wasn’t sure she wanted to make. She was given the option to move with the company or take a severance package. Knowing her dream to one day get her GED, it was Isaiah that began to actively encourage her to chart a new course and follow her dreams. She told him that school "was for young people" and felt frustrated about next steps. But Isaiah kept spurring her on and saying, "Mom, just start. Just start with your GED." At 45 years old, she did just that.

"Mom, just start. Just start with your GED."
At 45 years old, she did just that.

With great determination, Raquel Mohammed is now actively studying for her GED and starting to dream even bigger. She's fallen in love with the learning environment at Gwinnett Tech and wants to continue on with her studies to pursue a degree in business management and communications.

Through it all Raquel has been a stand out in her courses. Instructor Erika Lele saw Mohammed as a strong leader and decided to nominate her as a candidate for the EAGLE Leadership Institute. In her nomination she wrote, "Raquel is an extremely motivated student and she is very enthusiastic about learning. She participates in discussions daily and she is always lending a helping hand to her peers. She is a joy and a pleasure to have in class."

Once nominated Raquel joined a cohort of nominees in a rigorous process of being considered for the Institute. A panel of Gwinnett Tech staff outside the Adult Education department judged EAGLE delegates. Each were required to:

  1. Present a 3-5 minute speech on "Why the Technical College System of Georgia and the Adult Education programs are important to the state of Georgia?"
  2. Submit a 2-page essay on "How has Adult Education prepared you to be College and or Career ready?"
  3. Participate in an interview based on personal and career goals, community involvement, and the value of education.

Yolanda Davis, Adult Literacy Instructor for Gwinnett Tech’s Adult Education Department said, "At the end of the process, it was Raquel that best expressed herself in all three areas. We were delighted to name her Gwinnett Tech’s 2017 EAGLE winner."

When asked what this opportunity means to her, Raquel said, "It was such a great honor just to be nominated. I was very surprised and pleased to learn I was named the winner. This is a great opportunity for me to represent Gwinnett Tech and bring awareness to adult education. I want to be an advocate and an encourager to others. I want other people to be inspired to change their path like I did and pursue their dreams."

Stephanie Rooks, Dean of Adult Education, shares, "We are thrilled that Raquel Mohammed will represent Gwinnett Technical College and our community at the statewide 2017 EAGLE Leadership Institute. This is a great opportunity for us to continue to help her grow and learn, while helping to motivate and uplift others. Raquel's is a powerful story and we are honored that Gwinnett Tech has been a part of her journey."