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Albany Tech fire/Emergency Services grads are state's first
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ALBANY — Albany Technical College President Anthony Parker presented the first two graduates of the Fire and Emergency Services Occupation Associate of Applied Science degree with a special Challenge Coin to recognize their superb achievement.

On hand for the presentation were Tracie Naylor-Griffin, chair/instructor of the Paramedicine program; Parker; challenge coin recipients Teancum Millerd, currently employed with the USMC Logistics Base-Albany Emergency Services, and Joseph Stodola, currently employed with Lee County Fire & Emergency Services; and Frank Flanigan, chair/instructor of Fire Science Technology.

The degrees are the first of this kind in the state of Georgia.

Millerd and Stodola took advantage of the opportunity to sign up to be dually certified, giving students both components of study — fire and EMS. The degree also is designed for promotional purposes at the occupational level.

A Fire and Emergency Services Occupation Associate of Applied Science degree is five terms in length and is designed to prepare students for entry-level employment in the public safety areas of fire service and emergency medical services. Upon completion of the Fire and Emergency Services Occupation degree, students may be eligible for certification and/or licensure in the following areas: Firefighter I, Firefighter II, EMT and AEMT.

“Today’s industry demands both certifications, Fire and EMS, dual-certified, creating more marketable graduates,” Flanigan said. “Albany Tech’s programs are designed to put that work force out there for in-demand jobs of the future. On the Fire side, your entry levels are Firefighter I and Firefighter II. On the EMS side, you have the Basic EMT and the Advanced EMT. Albany Tech is the first college in the state of Georgia to combine both Firefighter and EMT and create a new degree.

“Now, the student that comes in to take the program obtains both entry-level occupational certifications, and they’ve also received a degree component attached to it for other promotional purposes. This is why it is called the ‘Entry Level Occupational Degree.’ At this point, a person can decide if they would like to further their education on the Paramedicine side or the Fire Science side. Each one bridges into the other.”

Albany Tech was the first college to see a need for dual certification and a degree concept. Students have programs that provide both certificates at a diploma level. The Fire and Emergency Services Occupation Associate of Applied Science Degree is the only degree of its kind offered in the Technical College System of Georgia.

A Challenge Coin, sometimes called a medallion, is traditionally given to recognize an impressive achievement or a challenge to a member of an organization. This coin was created specifically for this degree of accomplishment and can only be received once a student completes the program. Typically, Challenge Coins are distributed to service members and law enforcement personnel in special recognition of accomplishments.

Albany Technical College’s Fire Science Technology Program placement in-field in the service area is 99%. Firefighters from this program have been successfully placed locally and all over the state of Georgia, including Atlanta and even into Florida.

Firefighters’ employment is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The employment of emergency medical technicians is expected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much quicker than the average for all occupations.


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UGA four-year completion rate at record 71%
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ATHENS – The University of Georgia’s four-year completion rate has increased to a record 71%, up from 69% last year and 63% five years ago. The six-year completion rate at UGA holds strong at 87%.

UGA’s 87% completion rate far exceeds the six-year completion rates for Southeastern Conference peer institutions and UGA’s comparator peers, which average 75% and 79%, respectively. UGA’s 87% six-year completion rate also exceeds the average 84% completion rate for its aspirational institutions.

“These outstanding completion rates reflect the University of Georgia’s rise as one of the top public universities in the nation,” President Jere W. Morehead said. “I am proud of our students for their achievements, and I am grateful to our faculty and staff for their commitment to helping UGA students succeed.”

A number of programs and initiatives launched over the last few years have contributed to the positive trend. A series of faculty hiring initiatives have lowered the student-to-faculty ratio and increased the number of small classes. Efforts to enhance teaching and learning, such as increasing the adoption of open educational resources and active learning, have added to this success.

A strong cadre of professional academic advisors across campus provide outstanding guidance to help students achieve their academic goals. Expanded tutoring, mentorship programs and peer-learning support offered through the Division of Academic Enhancement and the Division of Student Affairs have resulted in more significant support, especially for underrepresented groups such as first-generation, rural and transfer students.

To prepare students for success in the workplace and in graduate school, UGA implemented the Experiential Learning requirement in 2016, ensuring that every undergraduate student has at least one significant hands-on learning experience before graduating. Between summer 2016 and summer 2020, 35,152 students completed 89,457 approved EL activities.

“Years of investment in faculty, student support and initiatives to enhance the learning environment have lifted completion rates to record levels,” S. Jack Hu, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, said. “Our students benefit from these initiatives, and so do our state and nation, which depend on a highly educated work force to stay competitive globally.”

With new challenges presented by the pandemic, UGA remains committed to helping students reach their academic goals. One new initiative, the Virtual Learning Student Check-In Progress Survey, prompts faculty to share concerns directly with a student’s academic advisor, allowing advisors to connect students with resources. This high-touch, personalized approach ensures that no student lacks the tools necessary to reach their educational goals.

To foster a sense of belonging, the university has launched several new engagement programs, including DawgsTogether, which pairs new undergraduate students with more seasoned undergraduates, and Connect, which helps to form connections between students and faculty members.

Additionally, the Division of Student Affairs has created several programs to facilitate team building, networking and other social engagements, and the Division of Academic Enhancement has boosted support services such as tutoring and academic coaching.

“While the pandemic has driven many of our efforts these last six months, we celebrate the hard work that our faculty, staff and students have shown over the past several years to reach this record-high completion rate,” Rahul Shrivastav, vice president of instruction said. “Our success in the past and the future is dependent on our always-strong campus community.”


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ASU students selected for Coca-Cola HBCU internship program
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ATLANTA — Two Albany State University students, seniors Kamaria Winfield and Tea Denerson, were chosen to participate in Coca-Cola UNITED’s Annual “Pay It Forward” Internship. The program provides African American students with opportunities to celebrate their achievements and to further their success.

Students from 16 historically black colleges and universities were chosen to participate this year.

Winfield is a mass communication major and a member of the Students Advocating for a Stronger Sisterhood student organization, which she serves as social media coordinator. Asked what she learned through the internship, Winfield said, “You don’t grow when you’re comfortable; get out of your shell and start making things happen for yourself.”

Denerson is a biology major and a member of the ASU ROTC, where she has served as squad leader, platoon leader and company commander.

“Coca-Cola United’s commitment to empower and expose HBCU students to real-world experiences, while providing them with successful techniques for their future endeavors, is a mission that we, as a university, are also committed to,” ASU President Marion Fedrick said in a news release. “Their values of quality, excellence, integrity and respect make the Coca-Cola United Bottling Company great partners for ASU and other HBCUs.”

Students received a $1,000 stipend, a lifetime of Coca-Cola Brand Ambassadorship, and a virtual, two-day informative development session with Coca-Cola Company teams. The students spent two days virtually with leaders across the Coca-Cola Company, learning about a wide range of roles, including sales, production, marketing, pricing, event planning, packaging, philanthropy and community relations.

“HBCUs like ASU, play an important role in educating America’s future leaders,” Fedrick said. “Partnerships like the one we share with Coke gives an opportunity for job placement and additional support of programs, and a larger voice to highlight the accomplishments of HBCUs.”


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4C Academy celebrates completion of construction lab
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ALBANY — The Commodore Conyers College and Career Academy is building on its foundation with a newly completed construction lab for area students.

Officials at the college and career academy acknowledged the accomplishment that allows for the expansion of the program this week with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by community partners that included 4C Foundation Chairman Jake Reese and Dougherty County Schools Superintendent Ken Dyer.

“I would like to thank and recognize our construction industry partners who have contributed financially, which is critical to continuing our mission of producing career-ready graduates,” Reese said.

The academy is a specialized charter school that offers students in Dougherty County and several other counties in the region hands-on education in agriculture, robotics, culinary arts, video and media, and other areas.

The new lab, which will train students for work in construction, was a need brought to the school system by the building community, Dyer said. The field is one that is in high demand, and the lab will support the industry as well as provide students with skills for good jobs.

Dyer recalled meeting with Bill Chambless, member services specialist for the Association of General Contractors, and 4C CEO Chris Hatcher to plan to discuss the expansion.

“The construction industry was clear about the work force needs in the industry and we heard them,” Dyer said.

The partnership between the academy and area partners has worked well, Chambless said.

“I have worked with high school programs all over Georgia, and the key to a successful program is the support of the local construction industry,” he said. “I applaud you all for turning out today and encourage you to stay involved. The 4C Academy has all of the pieces in place to really have an impact in your local work force.”

Among those recognized by Hatcher during the ribbon-cutting ceremony were construction instructor Randin Burlley, who has generated interest in the program.

Hatcher thanked Dyer for the additional investment in the program.

“We are excited about our new lab and look forward to working with our partners in the construction industry so that we can better understand their needs and continue to advance our growing internship program,” Hatcher said. “Our ultimate goal, however, is to prepare our students with the skills that they need to have successful careers in the construction industry right here in the Albany area.”