Lucas "Luke" Teague, a funeral service education student from Ogeechee Technical College, has been named the Technical College System of Georgia's 2014 Student of the Year.
Technical College System Commissioner Ron Jackson announced the selection of Teague in front of 600 guests who attended a banquet honoring the system's top students and instructors at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Atlanta on Thursday evening.
Teague competed for the top student honor as part of the system's annual Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership, or GOAL, program, which recognizes the best students at each of the 24 technical colleges and the technical division at Bainbridge State College, which is part of the University System of Georgia.
"We are all extremely proud of Luke Teague. It's an exceptional achievement for him to earn the honor as the top student from among the more than 150,000 students who enrolled in Georgia's technical colleges during the past year," Jackson said. "Luke impressed our judges with his excellent achievement in the classroom, strong communication skills and the talent to be a very effective leader. The entire Technical College System of Georgia congratulates him for his well-deserved selection as our 2014 student of the year."
Representatives from Ogeechee Technical College were on hand to see Teague receive the recognition as 2014 GOAL student for the Technical College System of Georgia.
"We could not be prouder of Luke and the way he has represented himself and Ogeechee Tech," Ogeechee Tech President Dr. Dawn Cartee said. "Luke is a great advocate for technical education, and he will carry the message to all corners of the state for the next year and throughout his career."
Teague was nominated for GOAL by funeral service education instructor Michele Rupar. Kelli Waters, the GOAL coordinator for Ogeechee Tech, guided Teague through the local, regional and state competitions.
Teague already had a journalism degree from the University of Georgia and worked at radio stations in the Atlanta and Athens markets for about four years. But he also started working part-time at a funeral home out of interest in the profession and for extra income. Then he went full-time with an Augusta funeral home, taking classes online at Ogeechee Tech and commuting to the Statesboro campus once a week. With his degree, he told the Statesboro Herald after winning the OTC GOAL award in February, he eventually wants to manage a funeral home or even own one.
The distinction as Georgia's top technical college student also means that Teague is the winner of the GOAL program's grand prize, a brand-new, fully loaded 2014 Chevrolet Cruze, courtesy of Chevrolet and the Chevy dealers. Chevrolet and the local Chevy dealers are the longtime statewide sponsors of the GOAL program.
Edward Bailey, Southeast regional marketing manager for Chevrolet, congratulated Teague and presented him with the keys to the new car.
Selection for the GOAL program and student of the year competition starts with the naming of the top student at each college. A regional competition follows, where nine finalists are chosen to compete for the state GOAL award and earn the honor as Georgia's technical college student of the year.
In April, the nine finalists are interviewed in Atlanta by a panel of judges from business, industry and higher education. At each step, the students are scored on their academic accomplishments, leadership qualities, involvement in their local communities, and future aspirations.
As the 2014 Technical College System Student of the Year and state GOAL winner, Teague will serve as the system's student ambassador during a number of local and statewide functions throughout the year. He will also have a chance to speak before the Georgia General Assembly and receive a personal commendation from the governor.
Upon receiving the award, Teague said: "This is a humbling experience. I believe in the mission of technical education, and I will do everything within my power to be a worthy representative for TSCG and for Ogeechee Tech."
Julie McDonald, a student in the neuromuscular massage therapy program at Moultrie Technical College, was the runner-up for the student of the year award.
Ogeechee Tech has had success at both the region and state levels of the GOAL program in recent years.
Molly Bickerton won the state GOAL award in 2008, and Alvie Coes III did the same in 2011, making Teague the third OTC student to win the top state prize in the last seven years. Stuart Gregory nearly won the top prize last year, leaving as first state runner-up.
Amanda Miller Roberson (2009), Cynthia Simms (2010) and Michael Williams (2012) all were regional finalists.