Brandon Neighbors, Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s (GNTC) 2019 GOAL winner, was named one of nine regional finalists to become the 2019 Student of the Year for the Technical College System of Georgia.
Leyner Argueta, program director of business management, was named one of nine regional finalists to become the 2019 Instructor of the Year for the TCSG.
The finalists were announced during a banquet honoring the system’s most outstanding students and instructors at the Grand Hyatt in Atlanta on Tuesday, April 16.
The state GOAL winner and the Rick Perkins Award winner will serve as ambassadors for the TCSG during a number of system and college functions throughout the year. The winners will be named at the GOAL and Rick Perkins Awards Banquet on Wednesday, April 17.
Neighbors, an automotive technology student from Ringgold, is a student on the Walker County Campus.
“Technical education has allowed me to take the first steps toward fulfilling my dream of one day owning my own business,” said Neighbors. “It is equipping me with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in the Automotive Technology field.”
Neighbors also won the gold medal in the Automotive Service Technology competition at SkillsUSA Georgia in March.
“As a husband and father, I needed to attend a school close to me rather than moving my family to pursue an education,” said Neighbors. “Technical colleges are right in our communities.”
“I wanted a school that could work with my family’s busy schedule, that offers classes day and night, especially at the age of 38 with two children in school,” continued Neighbors.
He was the director of youth ministry at Rock Spring United Methodist Church, 2013-17, and was an officer in the United States Marine Corps, 2002-10.
Neighbors attended the United States Naval Academy and earned a bachelor’s degree in general engineering in 2002. As a U.S. Marine, Neighbors was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal in 2009 and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal in 2010.
As the grand prize, a new automobile provided by Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia will be awarded to the state GOAL winner.
An instructor at Georgia Northwestern since 2015, Argueta teaches management and supervisory development on the Whitfield-Murray Campus in Dalton. He is a resident of Calhoun and is bilingual in English and Spanish.
The son of immigrants, Argueta had to overcome many obstacles growing up including being born with only one hand and being diagnosed with kidney failure at the age of 21.
“Every now and then when my life gets tough, I remember the reason for my passion,” said Argueta. “My father always said to me as a child ‘I came to this country to give you a better opportunity,’ an opportunity that he didn’t have.”
From 2010 to present, Argueta has served as the pastor and founder of Faith Moves Church in Calhoun.
The last Rick Perkins Instructor of the Year winner to represent GNTC was Troy Peco, director of Automotive Technology, in 2013.