Warner Robins, Ga. – Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC) designated Larry Jackson, 42, a student in the Clinical Laboratory Technology program, as the winner of the Georgia Occupational Award for Leadership (GOAL) at the College’s Awards Day ceremony earlier this month. Jackson will now move on to the regional and state GOAL competitions in the spring of 2020.
Jackson, a part-time lab assistant with the Health Sciences Division, is grateful for the opportunities that have come to him. He enrolled at the College in 2017, searching for a career program after having already been a student at the Naval Academy, Georgia Southern University, and even earned multiple industry certifications through the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) in the early 2000s. Still, even with all the credentials, he could not find a steady employment.
“The difficult part was convincing people to give me a chance,” Jackson told the College last year in a feature about his unique status as an alum of programs within the Office of Re-entry Services. “People would say, ‘Well, you just got out (of prison).’” “They wanted me to have time and experience, but CGTC gave me an opportunity and a break that I needed.”
Jackson’s time incarcerated was a result of an armed robbery charge.
Even up until his release in 2016, Jackson’s journey out of incarceration and into stability came because of the College’s work with the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) and its system of prisons. Jackson was part of a pilot Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) program ran by Middle Georgia Technical College (MGTC) in the prison system in 2005 before its merger with CGTC in 2013.
“I earned my certification and when I was released, I enrolled here not knowing the College was the same school that offered me courses before my release,” Jackson said.
In August of 2018 Jackson earned acceptance into the Clinical Lab Technician associate’s degree program at the College. That September he began working as a lab assistant in the Health Sciences program.
Program chair for CGTC’s Clinical Laboratory Technology program, LaShauna Hunt, said this award “appropriately reflects his hard work and dedication to learning.”
“Larry exemplifies the mission, vision, and values of CGTC and will be an excellent ambassador for the school and the Clinical Lab Technology program,” Hunt said.
Jackson is involved with several community outreach programs where he regularly speaks and shares his story of perseverance with young people. His career goals are to take his Clinical Laboratory Technology skills and apply them to a bachelor’s degree that will eventually earn him candidacy for employment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
He said he views his position as the GOAL Winner as responsibility to encourage the incarcerated, the re-entering, the traditional, and the nontraditional student. He said he is grateful CGTC and TCSG provide unique opportunities to unique students.
“It is an honor to receive this award and represent CGTC, a place that has meant so much to me,” Jackson said. “I was so surprised by the news but I am excited and thankful for this opportunity. I will do my best to make CGTC proud.”
GOAL selection follows an initial interview round to narrow a field of instructor-chosen nominees into finalists. Then, a panel of community judges shortens the group down from four finalists to the winner. The three other finalists for the GOAL award were, Chastaty Heath, Johnna Redwing Pearce, and Rebecca Tindal.
Jackson will move on to the central region competition in February. Following the regional competitions, each of the 22 GOAL winners from TCSG colleges will meet in Atlanta in April where students will have professional development opportunities and compete for the state title.
GOAL, a statewide program of the Technical College System of Georgia, honors excellence in academics and leadership among the state’s technical college students. Each of the state’s 22 technical colleges selected local GOAL winners and alternates.
Photo: CGTC’s 2020 GOAL Award Recipient, Larry Jackson.