GNTC honors Spring 2023 graduates

May 5, 2023
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More than 150 Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) students crossed the stage of the Dalton Convention Center on Thursday, May 4, to the cheers of their families, friends and instructors.

Dr. Heidi Popham, president of GNTC, welcomed guests, congratulated the graduates and introduced Cayla Pemberton, the winner of GNTC’s 2023 Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL), as the keynote commencement speaker.

“Fifty-one or 32% of you are graduating from a Hope Career Grant program,” Dr. Popham said. “This is a high demand program … aligned with industries within the State of Georgia where there are more jobs available than there is a skilled workforce available to fill those positions. You have a very promising future in front of you.”

Dr. Popham noted that 69% of the graduates are first-generation college students and 10 are Dual Enrollment students who are most likely receiving a college award before they receive their high school diplomas.

Pemberton, a Dual Enrollment student at Ridgeland High School, attends Automotive Technology classes on GNTC’s Walker County Campus in Rock Spring and will receive her high school diploma on May 25. She is expected to graduate from GNTC in spring 2024, Dr. Popham said.

Pemberton said her “passion for cars was ignited” when she purchased a derelict 1967 Ford Bronco.

“I became hungry to learn everything I could about how it worked and how I could turn this neglected, beat-up truck into everything I envisioned it to be,” she said, adding that at that time she could not afford college and had no future plans after high school.

When the Dual Enrollment coordinator spoke with her about the opportunity to take classes in the field she was “most passionate about” at GNTC for little-to-no cost for her, she grasped the opportunity, Pemberton said. She characterized GNTC as a “blessing” to her.

“It’s given me the confidence I need to feel prepared to jump right into the workforce,” Pemberton said. She has learned not only automotive skills, but also the work ethic that will bring her closer to her goals in life, she explained.

“GNTC has made me realize how proud I am of myself and just how far I’ve come,” Pemberton said, adding that she is also a first-generation college student.

Stuart Phillips, vice president of Student Affairs at GNTC, recognized High Honor graduates with a 4.0 grade point average and Honor graduates with a 3.5 to 3.99 grade point average. Phillips also led a special recognition for graduates that are veterans, FBLA Collegiate members, SkillsUSA members, first-generation students and Student Government Association members.

Dr. Elizabeth Anderson, vice president of Academic Affairs at GNTC, presented the graduates, and Dr. Popham conferred the graduates with associate degrees, diplomas and certificates.

The ceremony concluded with closing remarks by Dr. Popham in which she challenged the graduates not to let this graduation be the end of their educational journey.

Phillips administered the GNTC Alumni Association Oath.

(From left) Martika D. Hernandez, Edith Fortanel, Karli P. Turner and Tatum L. Grady are excited to receive their associate degrees in Respiratory Care.
(From left) Martika D. Hernandez, Edith Fortanel, Karli P. Turner and Tatum L. Grady are excited to receive their associate degrees in Respiratory Care.

Listed are graduates who participated in the 2023 Spring Commencement Ceremony, showing (from left) the graduate’s name and program of study. This list does not include students who have graduated but did not participate in the ceremony, or students who registered for the ceremony after the commencement program was printed:

Associate of Applied Science degree  

  • Savannah Adams, Accounting
  • Luis A. Alarcon, Construction Management
  • Alex Alvarez, Industrial Systems Technology
  • Pablo Alvarez, Industrial Systems Technology
  • Crystal Marie Anderson, Business Technology
  • Melinda K. Angell, Business Healthcare Technology
  • Jesenia Azbill, Business Management
  • Joseph Brett Baker, Respiratory Care
  • Megan Leigh Bethune, Business Management
  • Joseph Bisher, Industrial Systems Technology
  • Joseph P. Blankenship Jr., Respiratory Care
  • Deirdre Bobo, Computer Support Specialist
  • Kevin Michael Brewer, Cybersecurity
  • Donald Briggs III, Construction Management
  • Brice Bryant, Business Management
  • Jonathan William Casey, Computer Support Specialist
  • Victor Manuel Cervantes Jr., Business Management
  • Angelita Chavarria, Early Childhood Care and Education
  • Alexander Frederick Lincoln Cheeks, Drafting Technology
  • Amber Deanna Cole, Accounting
  • Edgar Jose Cornejo-Escutia, Industrial Systems Technology
  • Izabel Deniz Cruz, Business Management
  • Houston Chase Edwards, Industrial Systems Technology
  • Kristen M. Findley, Logistics and Supply Chain Management
  • Jennifer Flores, Business Management
  • Edith Fortanel, Respiratory Care
  • Elizabeth Garcia, Early Childhood Care and Education
  • Zackery Garmon, Respiratory Care
  • Rene Ariel Gonzalez, Construction Management
  • Tatum L. Grady, Respiratory Care
  • Lacey Paige Hammontree, Marketing Management
  • Mariah Hawkins, Respiratory Care
  • Martika D. Hernandez, Respiratory Care
  • Morgan M. Hightower, Early Childhood Care and Education
  • Nathan D. Holst, Respiratory Care
  • Rhonda Rashell Horton, Logistics and Supply Chain Management
  • Lesley Mckenna Johnston, Respiratory Care
  • Andrea Marie Jordan, Social Work Assistant
  • Sylvia Kamp, Computer Support Specialist
  • Andrew M. Kaplan, Industrial Systems Technology
  • Kristi Kelley, Early Childhood Care and Education
  • Shyann Faith King, Early Childhood Care and Education
  • Kelsey Lane Kirk, Business Management
  • Timothy Isaiah Kittle, Criminal Justice Technology
  • Amanda Lee, Business Management
  • Dafne Anaite Leonard, Early Childhood Care and Education
  • Mya H. Lively, Cybersecurity
  • Tiffany Lucas, Accounting
  • Cassandra Mairs, Respiratory Care
  • Demetrica Mallory, Business Technology
  • Victoria A. Martinez, Health Care Management
  • Kevin Mateo, Construction Management
  • Edgar Mendiola, Automotive Technology
  • Caitlyn Ruth Morgan, Social Work Assistant
  • Ashley Morris, Early Childhood Care and Education
  • Haley Newman, Health Care Management
  • Johana Nunez, Business Management
  • Abraham Osiel Ocana, Industrial Systems Technology
  • Torye B. Parker, Accounting
  • Levi Kole Pettigrew, Industrial Systems Technology
  • Justin Race, Precision Machining and Manufacturing
  • Hugo Enrique Ramirez, Culinary Arts
  • Cindy Ramos Mendoza, Business Technology
  • Aixa Rodriguez, Marketing Management
  • David D. Roper, Applied Technical Management
  • Christina Renae Ross, Accounting
  • Molly Ryan Schrimsher, Early Childhood Care and Education
  • Anna R. Smith, Early Childhood Care and Education
  • Melissa D. Sorrells, Health Information Management Technology
  • Jessica D. Thompson, Accounting
  • Cassie Leanna Townsend, Respiratory Care
  • Karli P. Turner, Respiratory Care
  • Keven Steven Vivas, Business Management
  • Camilla A. Webb, Logistics and Supply Chain Management
  • Stephen D. Wheelus, Industrial Systems Technology
  • Meagan White, Precision Machining and Manufacturing
  • Jacob F. Worthington, Technical Studies
  • Marisa Young, Early Childhood Care and Education
  • Sandra June Young, Accounting

Associate of Science in Nursing degree  

  • Terri Andrea Foltz, Nursing
  • Relecia Renee Garrett, Nursing
  • Jordan R. Hughes, Nursing
  • Mary Jo Morter, Nursing
  • Demetria Ann Staley, Nursing
  • Courtney N. Velasquez, Nursing


  • Steffany T. Adams, Business Healthcare Technology
  • Juan M. Berrios Rosado, Computer Support Specialist
  • Jessica M. Cabe, Accounting
  • Arnoldo Canales Fraire, Industrial Systems Technology
  • Kadie Carlene Cardin, Business Healthcare Technology
  • Lenora M. Gasca, Business Healthcare Technology
  • Tyler Howland, Auto Collision Repair
  • Brandon A. Juarez Pelico, Electrical Systems Technology
  • Anthony Kretschmer, Welding and Joining Technology
  • Ricky Sebastian Mendoza Bartolome, Industrial Systems Technology
  • Amanda D. Millican, Business Management
  • Cristhian David Padron Ledesma, Electrical Systems Technology
  • Brittany Nichole Rampley, Automotive Technology
  • Landon W. Stephens, Electrical Systems Technology
  • Nickolas Swank, Welding and Joining Technology
  • Colby Lane Thompson, Welding and Joining Technology
  • Quinberli M. Velasquez, Business Management
  • Raymond Delone Velasquez, Air Conditioning Technology
  • Noah Warren, Electrical Systems Technology
  • Kevin Yi, Welding and Joining Technology

Technical Certificate of Credit   

  • Rocio Alcantar Serrano, Healthcare Billing and Coding Specialist
  • Karla Hope Bagby, Clinical Office Assistant
  • Bethany Brianna Bartley, Clinical Office Assistant
  • Roland Bowen Sr., Clinical Office Assistant
  • Charlotte Welchel Bowman, Clinical Office Assistant
  • Lauren Electra Brown, Emergency Medical Technician
  • Gilberto Calachij-Ajqui, Administrative Support Assistant
  • Odalis V. Cardoza, Early Childhood Care and Education Basics
  • Candida J. Celeste, Clinical Office Assistant
  • Harley Nicole Cooper Chastain, Health Care Assistant
  • Hope A. Cooper, Nail Technician
  • Christopher Patrick Cromer II, Administrative Support Assistant
  • Marissa Culbreth, Healthcare Billing and Coding Specialist
  • Holley Nicole Dupree, Human Resource Management Specialist
  • Diamond C. Gibbons, Clinical Office Assistant
  • Norma Alicia Gonzalez, Human Resource Management Specialist
  • Kera J. Goswick, Clinical Office Assistant
  • Patrick Hanson Jr., Nail Technician
  • Jathan Harding, Logistics and Supply Chain Technician
  • Emily A. Hennon, Clinical Office Assistant
  • Miriana Baneli Hernandez Reynoso, Administrative Support Assistant
  • Jada Hudgins, Clinical Office Assistant
  • Itzel Hurtado, Human Resource Management Specialist
  • Mekaela King, Clinical Office Assistant
  • Asrealla M. Lee, Nail Technician
  • Stephany Lopez-Alvarez, Clinical Office Assistant
  • Zachary Calvin Thomas MacKay, Air Conditioning System Maintenance Technician
  • Hailey Nicole Marshall, Early Childhood Care and Education Basics
  • I'deria M. McKnight, Clinical Office Assistant
  • Cynthia Miranda, Clinical Office Assistant
  • Hannia Morales Valladares, Crime Scene Investigation
  • Shanda Morgan, Clinical Office Assistant
  • Emily Noel Muccitelli, Healthcare Billing and Coding Specialist
  • Jesse Luke Nicholson, Basic Shielded Metal Arc Welder
  • Asma Jaysam Odeh, Administrative Support Assistant
  • Michelle Pagleno, Health Information Technician
  • Rachel L. Pelanek, Emergency Medical Technician
  • Melisa M. Perez, Human Resource Management Specialist
  • Ivone Pineda-Pineda, Nail Technician
  • Leslie Nichole Ray, Clinical Office Assistant
  • Adriana Elizabeth Real-Vela, Administrative Support Assistant
  • Brittany A. Reyes, Early Childhood Care and Education Basics
  • Cayenne A. Russ, Central Sterile Supply Processing Technician - Adv
  • Auriel L. Sheffield, Nail Technician
  • Pamela Sills, Clinical Office Assistant
  • Lindsey Nichole Simpkins, Clinical Office Assistant
  • Angelica M. Torres, Commercial Truck Driving - Class A
  • Victoria R. Updike, Early Childhood Care and Education Basics
  • Jonathan P. Walker, Advanced Shielded Metal Arc Welder
  • Daisy White, Emergency Medical Technician
  • Gloria M. Williams, Clinical Office Assistant
  • Ashton Brooke Woodring, Clinical Office Assistant


Georgia Northwestern Technical College provides quality workforce education to the citizens of northwest Georgia. Students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree, diploma or a certificate in aviation, business, health, industrial or public service career paths. This past year, 11,601 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. GNTC has an annual credit enrollment of 8,071 students and an additional enrollment of 3,530 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training and Georgia Quick Start. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an Equal Opportunity Institution.

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