Marketing Management student Stephanie Kuhrt was named Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s (GNTC) 2021 Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) winner and Jeremiah Cooper, program director and instructor of Welding and Joining Technology, was selected as the college’s 2021 Rick Perkins Instructor of the Year.

GNTC named the winners during a luncheon held at Gordon County Campus (GCC). The Rome Floyd Chamber, the Seven Hills Rotary Club of Rome and GNTC sponsored the awards.

“I want to create, design and build a business brand that generates 3D rendering designs for luxury homes and commercial properties,” said Kuhrt. “GNTC is preparing me to meet my goals and has surpassed my every expectation. All of my courses are industry-related with a focus on gaining experience.”

Kuhrt is a student on GNTC’s Floyd County Campus and was nominated by her instructor Mark Upton, director of the Marking Management program at GNTC.

“Stephanie is a diligent student. She is personable and has the drive and work ethic to succeed,” said Upton. “She excels in discussion forums with insightful engagement with her classmates.”

After graduating high school, Kuhrt received a scholarship to play basketball at Reinhardt University. During her time as a collegiate basketball player, she suffered an injury and had to withdraw from classes. Kuhrt said she had to face the reality that after two and a half years spent at college she would have to change course.

“I had no other option but to find a full-time job and find a school that would work around my schedule,” she said. “I was living in Gordon County at the time and wanted to give GNTC a try.”

According to Kuhrt, her classes at GNTC gave her the vision and direction she needed to succeed in her career. Kuhrt and her boyfriend Jesse House own and operate Oostanaula Outdoors, a weed control and plant fertilization business. The GNTC GOAL winner also founded Fumi Co. LLC, a modeling and marketing agency she runs on the side.

“GNTC has had an enormous impact on our business, specifically on the marketing side,” she said. “I am able to take all of the material from my online classes and apply them directly to my business every day.”

When she is not working or in class, Kuhrt enjoys spending time with her family, boyfriend and dog Kai. She credits her parents for instilling her Polynesian culture in her and her sisters, which values family, connections and great food.

As the 2021 GOAL Winner for Georgia Northwestern, Kuhrt will move to the regional competition and if chosen as a regional winner she will compete at the state level against winners from the other regions of Georgia. A panel of leaders from business, industry and government will choose the Technical College System of Georgia’s GOAL winner for 2021 and recipient of the GOAL medallion. The 2021 Student of the Year and state GOAL winner will serve as TCSG’s student ambassador during a number of system and college functions throughout the year.

A new automobile, provided by Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, is the competition’s grand prize, presented to the state GOAL winner at the end of the competition.

Jeremiah Cooper has been an instructor at GNTC since 2013. He is the program director and instructor of Welding and Joining Technology on the Walker County Campus (WCC). This is the second time he has been selected as GNTC’s Rick Perkins Instructor of the year. Prior to joining Georgia Northwestern, he served as a welder and fabricator at Gentry Steel Inc. from 2012-13 and held the same position at Wilson Fabrication from 2009-12. He was also an instructor for Childcare Network from 2009-12. During his acceptance speech at the GCC, the GNTC welding instructor talked about his life since winning the award in 2017.

“My life has changed drastically in four years,” Cooper said.

The GNTC welding instructor told the audience that several months after he was chosen as GNTC’s 2017 Rick Perkins winner, his father was diagnosed with cancer. “From that point on things were very different,” he said.

On March 17, 2019, he described spending 10 uninterrupted minutes with his dad in a busy ICU room in Nashville. The father and son talked about a lot during that small window, but Cooper said he remembers one part in particular.

“He said to me ‘Son, after this is all over you’re going to have to pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and press forward because you have too many people relying on you,’” Cooper said. “’You have your wife, your mother, your siblings and you have your students.’”

Life changed again the following day when he had to say goodbye to his dad. Cooper told the audience during his first Rick Perkins acceptance speech that he remembers talking in length about his father and the impact he had on his life.

“I attribute my best qualities to my dad,” he said. “He taught me how to be consistent in my work ethic, my actions and how I treat others.”

Cooper wrapped up his speech by talking about the life altering impact COVID-19 has had on himself as well as the other instructors at GNTC. “The pandemic has taken a lot of things away from us,” he said. “It has not taken away or changed the reason we are here. We are here to help change our student’s lives.”

As GNTC’s Rick Perkins Instructor of the Year, Cooper will compete in the regional competition. If chosen as a regional winner, he will compete at the state level in the competition. A panel of leaders from business, industry and government will choose one instructor to be the 2021 Technical College System of Georgia’s Rick Perkins Instructor of the Year. The winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize.

The Rick Perkins Award winner serves as an ambassador for technical education in Georgia. He or she will make many public appearances throughout the year, including addressing both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly.

Recommended for you