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Tillery Meets With Standout Students

Senator Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) met with three standout students who participated in speech, writing, and art competitions held by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Ladies’ Auxiliary organization to talk with them about their futures. “First of all, I am really thrilled that you would take the time to come hang out and talk with me,” Tillery told the students. “There are a couple things I really want to make sure I share with you.” He began by first emphasizing the importance of valuing those who invest in the students’ lives. “You will never be bragged on — except maybe by your parents — the same way which Mrs. Shirley Curl (District VFW Ladies Auxiliary President) brags on you. Relish that and accept it,” he advised them. “Accept it because the world gets rough. Especially when you leave the walls of your school, or Toombs, Montgomery, Wheeler Counties, it gets a little bit rougher out there, and some of you have even experienced or seen that already. So, when you have folks like this who are wanting to pour like they are into your lives, let them.” Tillery added, “I’m telling you this wishing that I had understood what people were saying when I was your age and they were telling me things like that. I totally missed it, and I didn’t understand it,” he added. “So, if you don’t understand it today, go home and write it down, so you can read it ten years later when you truly understand and appreciate it.” The students shared their future plans and what they hoped to accomplish in life after high school. Local VFW Voice of Democracy Competition Winner and recent Vidalia High School Valedictorian Mikelle Peters told Tillery that she would be attending Georgia Tech in the fall to begin pursuing her biology degree, which would focus in pre-med. She hopes to attend medical school to pursue her dream to become a neurosurgeon.

Local VFW Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest Winner and rising Freshman Rilyn Rodgers informed Tillery that she desires to enter the law enforcement field, as she plans to eventually earn a degree in criminal justice. District and Local VFW Patriotic Art Contest Winner and rising Junior Luke Mitchell said he was unsure of the specifics of his future, but knows he wants to pursue something in the field of art. “Every single field you mentioned are fields that we are looking for in the state,” Tillery emphasized. “Right now, my job as state senator is to deal with the budget. The jobs we are trying to fill are physicians, criminal/forensic pathologists, and marketers.”

He related details about rural clinic ribboncuttings he had attended that garnered tremendous support from not only the surrounding communities, but the surrounding regions, and of the need for more forensic pathologists in the law enforcement system of Georgia. “Right now, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is trying to fill a position in Macon that they are offering to pay substantially more for in that location than Atlanta,” Tillery explained. “It ends up being a job that earns around half a million dollars a year, and we can’t fill it.” Tillery also discussed the importance of marketers within the economy as well, sharing stories of individuals who created projects that they must sell to others but were unable to do so because of their lack of ability to market the products to the public.

He also encouraged Mitchell to pursue his options, and to be willing to venture into several opportunities for art, such as medical illustration. “Your field can really transition into anything,” he told Mitchell. “From what I understand, you’re a hard worker, so it doesn’t really matter what field it is, as long as you show up and perform, you are going to move up.” Tillery said, “I’ll tell you what I really want from you all: I want you to go to Tech. I want you to go to [Georgia] Southern, or Mercer [University], or SCAD [Savannah College of Art & Design], or Emory [University]. But what I really want you to do is come home [after college], because we need you,” Tillery remarked. He continued, “You’re going to see that as the world becomes more and more your digital skills are going to transition.” Tillery answered questions from the students about the pros and cons of technology within society, and how the new developments in the cyber world had affected the state government.

“These students are so bright, and have such incredible futures ahead of them,” Shirley Curl commented. “I am very excited to see what all they accomplish, and I am glad to know there are youth like them in the next generation.”

DISCUSSING THE FUTURE — Tillery told the students that the career fields they plan to pursue are greatly needed within the state. Here, he discusses the various career opportunitiesPhoto by Makaylee Randolphin each field with them.

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