Savannah Tech Celebrates Excellence

#1339 | February 6, 2013

Student and Instructor of the Year will represent College in state competition

SAVANNAH – Savannah Technical College announced its selections for the best of the best in 2013. Ashley Smith, a dental hygiene student, was named the College’s 2013 honoree of the Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) award, and Susan Pinkston, STC department head for business management, was selected as the College’s 2013 Rick Perkins Award for Excellence in Technical Education honoree.

GOAL, a statewide program of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), honors excellence in academics and leadership statewide among the state’s technical college students.

“Technical college education allows students to have hands on training, which in turns helps students to confirm their career choice,” said Smith. “Not only does the technical college provide superior education, it does so at an affordable cost.”

Smith is one of four finalists of the 44 nominated STC students. The other finalists are Dustin Bolgrihn (Welding), Natalia Martinez-Rivera (Criminal Justice) and Jonathan Gerbsch (Fire Science).

The Perkins Award honors technical education’s most outstanding instructors. The award has been an ongoing statewide program since 1991, and the recipients are technical college instructors who make significant contributions to technical education through innovation and leadership in their fields.

Pinkston, the College’s 2013 Perkins honoree, has been the department head for business management at Savannah Tech since 2006, when she created and implemented the business management program at the College. She increased student enrollment from 12 in 2006 to more than 200 now. She also established the College’s human resources management technical certificate of credit. Before she started teaching, Pinkston worked in human resources for almost two decades.

“I chose to teach in a technical college in order to pay it forward,” said Pinkston. “As a non-traditional college student, I faced many of the same obstacles as my students. However, I always kept my eye on the prize (graduation) and persevered. Along my academic journey, there were others who encouraged and believed in me. I now pay it forward by listening, by being firm but fair, and by encouraging students to never give up.”

A recent STC business management graduate who is an expeditor for JCB North America, Kevin Steinbach, said: “The program that she has implemented is one that prepares each person that goes through it for real life work situations and instills the knowledge they need to succeed whatever their goals may be. I have never had the amount of confidence in myself and in my abilities that I had when I was under the direction of Mrs. Susan Pinkston at Savannah Technical College.”

All 26 local college winners for GOAL and Perkins will gather in April in Atlanta for the selection of the 2013 state honorees to represent TCSG as student and instructor ambassadors. In 2012, Savannah Tech’s Perkins recipient Chef Jean Vendeville was selected as the state’s Rick Perkin’s winner, and the College’s GOAL student, Kathryn Hoyt, was one of the top four finalists in the state competition.


Media Contact: Amy Shaffer, APR
912.443.5512 or

Savannah Technical College serves Coastal Georgia with quality, market-driven technical education with campus locations in Chatham, Effingham and Liberty Counties. Serving more than 10,000 credit and non-credit students annually, Savannah Tech offers nearly 150 different instructional programs in Aviation Technology, Business and Professional Services, Industrial Technology, and Health Sciences in addition to Adult Education classes, industry-specific training and continuing education. The College serves as an economic and community development partner for the region, offering corporate and customized training and assessment programs for business and industry.

Savannah Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees, diplomas and technical certificates of credit. Questions about the accreditation of Savannah Technical College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (