Recently let go from work due to cutbacks, Michael Williams once stood at a crossroads with limited options.
“I figured I had two choices because of the job market,” he said. “I could either go work for McDonalds to flip burgers, or I could make a difference.”
Fortunately, Williams followed through on the latter.
Tuesday, about two years after first registering for classes at Ogeechee Technical College, the funeral services student stood before college administrators and staff to accept the local 2012 Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL).
Williams was announced the award recipient by Ogeechee Technical College President Dr. Dawn Cartee during a luncheon in the school’s Occupational Sciences Building.
“I am so truly humbled and honored to have this opportunity,” he said. “I’m speechless.”
The annual honor — awarded for the 41st time Tuesday — “emphasizes the importance of technical education in today’s global workforce,” according to GOAL Coordinator Kelli Waters.
“The program honors excellence in academics and leadership among the state’s technical college students,” she said.
By virtue of winning the local award, Williams will continue on to a regional competition in Macon next month, and could represent central Georgia in a statewide contest in April, where the winner is recognized and given a new car.
En route to becoming the Ogeechee Tech GOAL representative, Williams impressed two panels of interviewers with his speaking and leadership talents.
Funeral Services Education instructor Jarvis Barnes, who nominated Williams as a participant, was not surprised.
“I selected Michael as a GOAL representative, because, since day one, he has walked like a leader, talked like a leader and acted like a leader,” she said. “It was really a no-brainer to select him.”
Williams will be in great shape if Barnes’ talent to spot champions remains true to form. Last year, she nominated another funeral services student, Alvie Coes III, who went on to become the overall Georgia GOAL winner.
“(Williams’) chances are great,” said Barnes. “He is a great presenter and speaker. I am very, very confident he will be a winner.”
For Williams, the award provides an opportunity to spread his passion for OTC to a wider audience.
“We, Ogeechee Tech, are in the spotlight. We are the 2011 Technical College of the Year, and we will continue that good work,” he said. “Our vision is that we will be a catalyst for economic prosperity in the area.”
“I want to get the message out about Ogeechee Tech,” Williams said. “We are an education with a purpose. The people we are training today are our future. It is our time to shine, and I hope to do everything in my power to see to it that we do.”
Currently, Williams is just two semesters away from graduating and has undertaken a preceptorship with Wood Funeral Home in Metter. His Ogeechee Tech family includes even his biological one.
Both of Williams’ children, a 19-year-old daughter (Nursing) and 17-year-old son (Emergency Medical Technician), are enrolled in classes.
The regional GOAL competition will be held February 29.
Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.