Robert Woodie, Ogeechee Technical College’s 2018 GOAL winner, will graduate in May with two diplomas but then plans to continue at OTC for his associate degree.
Meanwhile, he received a $250 cash prize as the school-level Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership representative and will have the opportunity to win a new automobile if he emerges as the statewide winner.
Computer Information Systems instructor Terry Hand nominated Woodie for GOAL. The college, the OTC Foundation and the Student Leadership Council saluted both of them and three other finalists at a reception Wednesday evening. The state GOAL winner becomes a spokesperson for technical college education in Georgia.
“He’s a remarkable student, and when we see a remarkable student, we try to push them in things like GOAL,” Hand said. “GOAL is a great chance to get up there, speak to the Legislature. We want to get funding for the colleges, and the winner of this has a chance to go do that.”
Just last year, Hand said, he ran into four or five OTC graduates who positively impacted his daily life, from those who work in hospitals to people who fixed his air-conditioning and his computer. The GOAL winner has a chance to share that message with the state and its leadership.
“Overwhelmed and overjoyed,” was how Woodie described his reaction to the award.
“It’s extremely nerve-racking going up into this, and now it’s just a huge piece of relief and I feel like it’s going to just be easier from here,” he said.
Two diplomas ahead
Woodie’s diplomas will be from the Radiology PACS Specialist and Networking Specialist tracks. Both are information technology programs involving computers. PACS, or Picture Archiving and Communications Systems, specialists work in hospitals, archiving images from procedures such as CT scans and making them available electronically to physicians.
The PACS Specialist program at Ogeechee Tech is actually being phased out, but students will continue to learn similar skills in a reorganized information technology program, Hand said.
Woodie, 22, hails from Rincon in Effingham County, where he was home schooled. His parents, Tom Woodie and Lisa Woodie, and his younger sister, Ashton, attended the ceremony, and older sister Caitlin completes the family.
He has been attending Ogeechee Tech for about two years to get this far in his studies, and an associate degree is at most a year away, he said.
Woodie is a member of the National Technical Honor Society.
“It’s all about promoting excellence inside of education and getting good grades and working hard,” he said of this organization.
Besides excelling in his classes, Woodie competes as part of the college’s SkillsUSA teams in information technology and Quiz Bowl. Engaging in competitions testing occupation-related skills, Ogeechee Tech’s SkillsUSA group in IT alone has garnered three gold medals and several other medals in the last five years, Hand said.
Woodie is also a leader in Out to Conquer, an “e-sports” or electronic gaming organization on campus. On computers this group mainly plays League of Legends, but has branched out into a number of board games.
“It’s mainly a good place for people to go and decompress at school, because a lot of us commute,” he said.
In the past 10 years, Ogeechee Tech has produced three statewide GOAL winners and two statewide first runners-up. That’s either a top or second-place finish 50 percent of the time, as OTC President Lori Durden told this year’s nominees and their guests. All 22 colleges in the Technical College System of Georgia are eligible to nominate students for GOAL.
“Students, I am extremely proud of each and every one of you, and you should be proud of yourselves too, because you may not know it, but you are among some really good company when it comes to being a GOAL student here at Ogeechee Tech,” Durden said.
OTC’s state winners were Laura “Molly” Bickerton, from the Radiologic Technology program, in 2008; Alvie Coes III, from Funeral Service Education, in 2011; and Lucas “Luke” Teague, also in Funeral Service Education, in 2014. The first runners-up were Stuart Gregory, dual-majoring in Networking Specialist and Computer Support Specialist, in 2013; and Melissa Behling, also in Radiologic Technology, in 2016.
Chosen from 10 nominees, the other finalists for Ogeechee Tech’s 2018 GOAL award were Tyler Chase, nominated by instructor Jan Martin in Radiologic Technology; Brady Cliett, nominated by instructor Charlie Collins in Construction Management; and Brandi Irby, nominated by instructor Deborah Deloach in Opticianry.
The OTC Foundation provided them each a $50 cash prize.
Nominated students gave a speech and answered questions for a screening committee of five OTC staff members. Then the finalists repeated the process for a selection committee of five people from outside the college, who chose the winner.
Woodie will compete against GOAL winners from seven other colleges in regional competition Feb. 27, where three finalists will be chosen to compete at the state level. Then all college winners can also attend the April 24-25 statewide event, where the nine finalists from three regions will compete for the state award, explained Cindy Phillips, now Ogeechee Tech’s GOAL coordinator.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.