Warner Robins, Ga. – Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC) designated, Wykesia Stafford, a second-year Construction Management student, as the winner of the Georgia Occupational Award for Leadership (GOAL) at the College’s Awards Day ceremony earlier this month. Stafford will now move on to the regional and state GOAL competitions in the spring of 2018.
“From the very beginning I have stated that it is an honor whenever there are others who can see something in you,” Stafford said, of what she thought her nominating instructor and panel of judges saw in the way she lives her life in and out of the classroom.
Stafford tries to embrace all of her life’s complexities, challenges, and successes.
In her teenage years, Stafford became a mother and then years later had two more children. She married and divorced and is currently a single mother, as each of her children is several years apart.
She graduated high school in the top-ten percent of her class and soon after became a member of the Army. In that time and beyond, Stafford earned a bachelor’s degree in Business and a master’s degree in Business Administration with a focus on Human Resource Management, and even after all her education and transition into 17 years of experience working for a local construction company, she still saw the advantage of returning to a technical college to learn industry-specific skills.
“There is always another starting line,” she said, adding that she tries to remind her peers of that very fact. “You may have stumbled, or may not have gotten where you hoped, but you make the starting line.”
Her participation in Construction Management is a starting line to her advancement in the company she works for; preparation to step into a presidential role.
Good luck trying to convince Stafford that as once a teenage mother, top-of-the-class veteran, career-changer, or 44-year-old she fits into any singular, non-traditional category of students.
“I’m reluctant to say I am non-traditional because we are everybody now,” she said. “I’m just someone who represents a little bit of everyone (enrolling in college).”
Stafford went on to say that so many of the students she has met who are coming to CGTC aren’t bringing just one factor that makes them non-traditional. She does, however, admit that she is an anomaly when it comes to the representation of her gender in construction fields. She said she is used to being the “only one with a dress tail,” but that there are now more women coming into the profession, and that she uses all of her “day-to-day” experience to relate to both her female and male peers in the classroom.
She also said that her perception of a technical college education was built on a 25-year-old foundation, but that the experience has led her to understand that CGTC is just like many other colleges.
“They believe in getting you to that next level, and they walk with you each step,” she said. “There is a footing that they really helped build for you.”
Stafford is active with a local Bibb County School District (BCSD) summer camp called Mentoring A Girl in Construction (MAGIC), which partners with CGTC to help motivate young girls to pursue a construction career path.
In her spare time, she is a self-acclaimed game night innovator and night owl of family fun, saying she creates “reasons” for her family to get together.
Stafford’s GOAL selection came after an initial interview round to narrow the field of nominees. She was selected for the award from a group of finalists by a panel of community judges. The four other finalists for the CGTC GOAL award were Lee Downard, Hospitality Management program; Alma Duvall, Practical Nursing program; Andrew Rader, Practical Nursing program; and Hilary Queener, Radiologic Technology.
GOAL, a statewide program of the Technical College System of Georgia, honors excellence in academics and leadership among the state’s technical college students. Local GOAL winners are selected at each of the state’s 22 technical colleges, as well as Bainbridge State College, a University System of Georgia college with a technical education division.
Stafford will move on to the Central Region competition. Following the regional competitions, all college GOAL winners will meet in Atlanta in April where students will have professional development opportunities and compete for the state title.
GOAL winner Wykesia Stafford.