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Savannah Tech selects top student, instructor
0208 STC
Susan Pinkston, STC department head for business management (left), and Ashley Smith, dental hygiene student (right), were honored by Savannah Technical College today as its Instructor and student of the year for 2013. - photo by Photo provided

SAVANNAH — Savannah Technical College announced its selections for the best of the best in 2013. Ashley Smith, a dental hygiene student, was named the college’s 2013 honoree of the Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) award, and Susan Pinkston, STC department head for business management, was selected as the College’s 2013 Rick Perkins Award for Excellence in Technical Education honoree.

GOAL, a statewide program of the Technical College System of Georgia, honors excellence in academics and leadership statewide among the state’s technical college students.

“Technical college education allows students to have hands on training, which in turns helps students to confirm their career choice,” said Smith. “Not only does the technical college provide superior education, it does so at an affordable cost.”

Smith is one of four finalists of the 44 nominated STC students. The other finalists are Dustin Bolgrihn (welding), Natalia Martinez-Rivera (criminal justice) and Jonathan Gerbsch (fire science).

 The Perkins Award honors technical education’s most outstanding instructors. The award has been an ongoing statewide program since 1991, and the recipients are technical college instructors who make significant contributions to technical education through innovation and leadership in their fields.

Pinkston, the college’s 2013 Perkins honoree, has been the department head for business management at Savannah Tech since 2006, when she created and implemented the business management program at the college. She increased student enrollment from 12 in 2006 to more than 200 now. She also established the college’s human resources management technical certificate of credit. Before she started teaching, Pinkston worked in human resources for almost two decades.

“I chose to teach in a technical college in order to pay it forward,” said Pinkston. “As a non-traditional college student, I faced many of the same obstacles as my students. However, I always kept my eye on the prize (graduation) and persevered.  Along my academic journey, there were others who encouraged and believed in me.  I now pay it forward by listening, by being firm but fair, and by encouraging students to never give up.”

A recent STC business management graduate who is an expeditor for JCB North America, Kevin Steinbach, said: “The program that she has implemented is one that prepares each person that goes through it for real life work situations and instills the knowledge they need to succeed whatever their goals may be. I have never had the amount of confidence in myself and in my abilities that I had when I was under the direction of Ms. Susan Pinkston at Savannah Technical College.”

All 26 local college winners for GOAL and Perkins will gather in April in Atlanta for the selection of the 2013 state honorees to represent TCSG as student and instructor ambassadors. In 2012, Savannah Tech’s Perkins recipient Chef Jean Vendeville was selected as the state’s Rick Perkin’s winner, and the College’s GOAL student, Kathryn Hoyt, was one of the top four finalists in the state competition.