Keynote Speaker: Gretchen Corbin, Comissioner for the Technical College System of Georgia

April 27, 2016 - Albany, GA - Albany Technical College will hold Spring Commencement Exercises on Thursday, April 28, 2016, at 7pm, at the James H. Gray Civic Center in Albany. A VIP reception preceding the ceremony will be held 6pm to 6:45pm in the Meeting Room at the Civic Center.

More than 120 candidates for associate degrees, more than 300 candidates for diplomas, and more than 750 candidates for technical certificates of credit are expected to graduate. Among these graduates, nearly 80 students were honored at an earlier ceremony on the Albany Tech campus on Tuesday with such distinctions as General Education Development highest test scores, Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL), Presidential Scholar, Honors with Distinction, National Technical Honor Society (NTHS), ATC Ambassadors, American Criminal Justice Association Club, Collegiate DECA, Phi Beta Lambda (PBL), Student Government Association (SGA), and SkillsUSA. In addition, over 100 high school students will graduate with college credit through Albany Tech's Move On When Ready program. Over 80 students will graduate with their General Education Development (GED®) diplomas.

Among the list of graduates for Thursday evening's ceremony is Evelyn Jenkins, one of five finalists for the Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) competition held in February. After almost three years of being unemployed, Jenkins knew that she needed to reinvent herself, but wasn't sure what she wanted to do. After praying and asking God what He wanted her to do, Jenkins said she heard two words – Culinary Arts – and began to seek information about the field, which led her to Albany Tech. She had graduated from Albany Tech 11 years ago with honors and remembered the doors that technical education opened for her and knew she had to come back to tackle her new journey.

Although there were a few financial aid obstacles Jenkins had to overcome, the news that she qualified for the Zell Miller Grant because of her 3.88 GPA, made it possible for all of her tuition to be paid. As an already high achiever, her goal was to maintain A's in all her classes. With God's help and Albany Tech's Academic Achievement Center, she was able to get some tutoring to help her through some of her difficult courses.

With the help of a message from her pastor, Jenkins said his "Can Do" message inspired her and gave her fuel she needed to help propel her through college and every time she faced a challenged, she pulled out her "Can Do" card and placed it on her desk. It reminded her of God's word and gave her the strength she needed to push forward.

"On this journey, there have been times when I have pulled aside to acknowledge that if it had not been for the Lord on my side, I would not have made it," said Jenkins. "I wanted to quit and just throw in the towel, but I remembered that I could do this and strength would come."

Jenkins said the chefs in the Culinary Arts department at Albany Tech were always helping to bring out the best in her and were determined that all students would leave the program successful. She credits them with all the knowledge she has gain and vows to take all she has learned and use it to be a productive and profitable citizen in her community.

While at Albany Tech, Jenkins was actively involved with the college's chapter of the National Technical Honors Society (NTHS), where she served as President. She has also received several awards at NTHS competitions. She will be graduating Thursday evening with high honors.

"I am now here at the end of my journey and have achieved so much," said Jenkins. "God has ordered my steps and led me in some very outstanding places ... what a journey," she added.

Another notable Albany Tech graduate is Norman Stringer, who was also one of the five finalists for the GOAL competition. Stringer was enrolled in the Electronics Technology program at Albany Tech and credits technical education with giving him the solid foundation needed to help him climb the career ladder.

"I feel as though technical education is a very versatile type of education that has well prepared me, whether I decide to continue on at a four-year institution, or enter the workforce now," said Stringer.

Stringer said that coming to Albany Tech has opened many doors for him. With the practical application received in the classroom, to being a part of the college's robotics team, Albany Tech has allowed him to even more application of what he has learned. It also helped him to become President of the college's Engineering (E) Club and participate in activities that helped him narrow his career choice and determine his path to become an engineer.

Keynote speaker for the ceremony will be Gretchen Corbin, Commissioner for the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG). Sworn in as commissioner for TCSG in January of 2015, Corbin oversees the state's 22 technical colleges, including Albany Tech, as well as adult literacy programs, and a host of economic and workforce development programs, including Georgia Quick Start, the nation's number one workforce training program.

Corbin has assisted Georgia Governor Nathan Deal with his top priority, job creation in Georgia, in her previous roles as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), Executive Director of the Georgia Housing and Finance Authority, and Deputy Commissioner for Global Commerce at the Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). As Commissioner of DCA and the state's chief community developer, Corbin was responsible for 65 programs in community infrastructure and development, workforce housing, downtown development and economic development financing. She oversaw more than $71 million in investment in Georgia communities through deal-closing financing, housing tax credits and community development block grants.

During her 15 years at GDEcD, Corbin was responsible for economic development at global, statewide, regional and local levels. She served in a wide variety of roles, including Division Director for International Operations, Director of Project Industry and Recruitment, and most recently, as Deputy Commissioner for Global Commerce. In this role, she led the Global Commerce team to great success in locating and expanding companies throughout the state, growing Georgia's exports and supporting its small businesses. Corbin oversaw 11 international offices and has marketed Georgia's workforce, logistics and other business assets around the world. Under her leadership as Deputy Commissioner for Global Commerce, GDEcD brought nearly 69,000 jobs and over $13 billion in capital investment to Georgia.

A native Georgian, Corbin is involved in a number of professional and civic organizations, including Leadership Georgia, where she serves as Chairman. In 2014, she co-chaired Georgia's annual State Charitable Contributions Program. She is a member of the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute External Advisory Board, a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow, and has twice been named one of Georgia Trend magazine's 100 most influential Georgians. She, her husband David, and their two daughters, reside in Rome, Georgia.

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