A feeling of excitement for what looms ahead in new career paths and heading into “the real world” is prevalent in the minds’ of Gaston College students who were recognized at a banquet at the Dallas campus earlier this month.
The winners were diverse in every way, from age to field of study. The 2012 recipients were made up of fresh-out-of-high school and 20-somethings to middle-aged and students hoping to start over.
Getting laid off from long-time employers was a common factor among several of the graduates who were selected for the awards.
Matthew Avery, 28, started attending Gaston College after losing his job several years ago. He was a teacher who always had an interest in science, he said. Avery has a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State in Arts Education and is a life-long Lincoln County resident. He is seeking employment that will allow him to work with chemical verification.
A 47-year-old aspiring accountant, David Beaver, was laid off from work as well, after working with his former employer for about 26 years. Beaver wasn’t sure what to do at first, after dedicating years to the company, but decided going back to school was his best bet.
Beaver was chosen as the outstanding graduate for 2012, and hopes to use his new skills in the workforce as soon as possible. The Lincoln County native hopes to find a job quickly and eventually has plans to go back to school for his bachelor’s.
“It was well worth the time and effort to go back to school; I’m looking forward to starting a new chapter,” Beaver told the Times-News last week.
Eddie Baldwin was chosen for the Learn 4 Life award – an enrichment program that encourages students to get involved in activities around campus and their communities.
Both Vale residents, Phyllis Buchanan and Ashley Houser were both recipients of awards at the May 1 ceremony as well. Houser was recognized for excellence as a dietetic technician.
A 51-year-old mother of two college students, Buchanan was chosen for Early Childhood Education. She also lost her job and had to decide what interested her enough that she wanted to go back to school to study it. Her husband also lost his job close to the same time, so both were exploring new opportunities by going to school.
“I loved working with kids, but it is definitely hard to realize what you want to do after losing your job,” Buchanan said.
She is currently working at Cline Learning Center in Bessemer City, where she teaches 2 and 3 year olds.
The 19-year-old Senator of the year for the Student Government Association, Caleb Handolescu of Iron Station, still has some time left at Gaston College. He is currently focusing on Mechanical Engineering and hopes to later attend UNC-Charlotte or N.C. State University.
Anti-virus systems and firewall protection are on Jeffery Lovelace’s mind as he seeks employment post-graduation. After retiring from the National Guard, he decided to go back to school to study Networking Technology, for which he received an award.
Lovelace, 33, has been a resident of the area all of his life and hopes to land a job where he works with information system security.
The biggest winner of the night, taking home five awards, was 22-year-old Simon Nocher.
Originally from Germany, the oldest of four siblings has been in the county about four years.
Among the awards Nocher received was the President’s Award, given to full-time students