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no stopping her now,” she said. “I am proud to be one of the 34% of First Generation Latinas to attend college, and I am proud to be someone that little Pricila would be proud of.”

The last student to address the audience was Eric Wright, a Welding student who as nominated for the GOAL Award by his instructor Michael Crumpler.

During his address, Wrght emphasized the character traits which STC had helped him learn, including how to lead others. “I’d never really considered myself as much of a leader – just more of a person that was always fine with helping those in need. Throughout the years, I learned that you should always be there to lend a hand and you never know who made need it,” he told the audience. “STC has made me and others become great leaders and even better people. This school has changed many lives, and I’m proud to call the few I’ve met friends. The impact technical education has is tremendous and can change a community for the better.”

Wright enrolled in the welding program at the college after spending time working as a laborer at an industry for a productionbased job. He said he knew that welders were the highest paid workers in those work environments, so he initially sought to learn to weld for the financial benefit. Yet, after many hours of working on the craft, he fell in love with the task.

So, when that job ended and Wright was laid off, he turned to technical education. “As my parents told me, if you love something so much, you should go to school for it and become something. I did take this advice and filled out that application,” he reminisced. “When the day came for orientation, I knew this was a choice that I was going to have to give 100% on – there was no turning back.”

He spoke of his anxiety on his first day at the college, as he was nervous at the thought of doing something new. Yet, the staff and atmosphere of the school soon calmed his worries, and he fell into place. “Southeastern Tech made me feel like this was my second home. You end up in a class full of people that have the same interest, passion, and drive as you,” he emphasized. “I thoroughly enjoyed coming in to get my assignments done – I guess it is true that if you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life.”

Wright credited the one-on-one experiences with his instructors for helping him to grow tremendously in his field, and thanked STC for empowering him to continue further in his career.

After hearing all of the speeches, STC President Larry Calhoun commented on the excellence of the students.. “All the students are winners – especially these 4 this evening, but also the 2,500 that attended STC in the last year, and the 135,000 across the state that attended other technical colleges – because you are all making a difference in your lives and in your families’ lives,” he concluded.

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