Where are they now? Five GGC alumni share their success stories
Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) was home to just 118 students when it opened its doors in 2006. At the time, it was the first four-year public college created in the U.S. in the 21st century. Today, GGC is a vital part of the Gwinnett County region, with more than 11,600 students studying everything from cinema and media arts to biology and business.
In its 17-year existence, thousands of GGC alumni have gone on to successful careers in their chosen fields. Following are just a few of their stories.
Amelia Porter Lewis earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 2017. Today, she lives in Lawrenceville and is the official historian for Gwinnett County. She says the research skills she learned as a GGC student have helped her tremendously during her career.
“I was born in Gwinnett, and because of strategic and progressive planning efforts of local leaders, I was able to complete my education and earn a bachelor’s degree, all in Gwinnett, and give back to my community,” she said.
Lewis said what comes to her mind when she looks back at her time at GGC are her professors because they encouraged her throughout her journey and the friends she made along the way.
“GGC is a great school to build your educational foundation,” Lewis said. “I had planned to transfer after completing my core classes, but I stayed and graduated from GGC because I enjoyed the smaller class sizes, professors who cared, and schedule flexibility.”
Ed Miller graduated with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science in 2013. Today, he lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, and is a strength and conditioning coach at, and the owner of, The Rack Athletic Performance Center, a 7,600-square-foot training center in Brookhaven, Georgia.
Miller says GGC’s exercise science program is backed and imbedded in science and research, which gave him a foundation for his career while also preparing him for the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) exam, the highest certification in his field.
“The first person who comes to mind when I think of GGC is Dr. Pamela Anderson,” said Miller. “I wasn’t the best student, but she always looked out for and pushed me. She saw something in me. She is everything a professor should be. We are still very close to this day, and I am forever indebted to her. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.”
Miller said if he could impart anything to current GGC students, it’s that no one owes you anything.
“Just because you have a degree doesn’t mean you’re owed a job or career. Work hard. Become so good that people must have you work for them. Earn it! It makes the successes that much better.”
Harriet Keyamo earned a bachelor’s degree in special education in 2018. Today, she lives in Lawrenceville and works as the special education autism instructional specialist for Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS). In her role, she supports, develops and coaches special education autism teachers in all GCPS high schools.
“The skills I learned at GCC have enabled me to be an effective educator within the classroom and also grow my leadership capacity to mentor other teachers,” Keyamo said. “I was also taught the importance of building meaningful relationships with students and their families.”
Keyamo said she wholeheartedly recommends GGC’s teacher preparation programs in the School of Education to anyone considering a career in her field.
“Not only will you learn the instructional strategies needed to be a successful teacher in a classroom, but you will make lasting friendships and connections with your peers and professors.”
Looking back at her time at GGC, Keyamo remarked on how invested her professors were in her success.
“It was never just about completing an assignment or getting through an observation,” she said. “They truly cared about me as a person and my future as an educator. The continuous encouragement I received helped my confidence bloom.”
After receiving her undergraduate degree from GGC, Keyamo earned a master's in education and a specialist in education degrees from the University of West Georgia. She is currently a doctoral student at the University of Alabama, studying special education with a focus on autism.
Jordan McKay earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2018. Since then, he has become a pediatric intensive care nurse, rapid response nurse, and onboarding specialist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He lives in Duluth, Georgia.
“At GGC, I was taught that nursing is both a science and an art,” he said. “I was taught to think critically about illness and use that to deliver efficient, life-saving care to critically ill patients. At the same time, I was also taught how to care for a patient as an individual, not just a disease.”
McKay said the diversity of GGC’s campus community prepared him to provide culturally aware care to his patients, and the opportunities he was given cultivated his leadership skills, which he uses almost daily when responding to emergencies as part of the hospital’s rapid response team.
“The diversity of the students is truly remarkable. My nursing cohort felt like family. Because I was involved in clubs, I could also develop friendships with fellow students outside of my cohort.”
He found that some students were the first in their families to graduate college. Some students were parents going back to school to learn a degree to help give their families a better life. Some students were coming back to get degrees to begin a second or even third career.
“The diversity of GGC grew my community to be even larger than I ever knew possible, exposed me to a wide array of world views, and showed me how life is so different from person to person.”
McKay noted that GGC’s small class sizes and affordability are two things prospective nursing students should consider. The program’s technology, resources and learning are top-tier, he said.
"An education from GGC is an unbeatable value, and it gives you much more than a degree," McKay said. "GGC prepares nursing students, as well as students in other degree programs, to succeed in their communities and sets them up for a bright future."
Shalaya Morissette graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Today, she lives in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and is chief of minority business and workforce division in the Office of Energy Justice and Equity for the U.S. Department of Energy.
“First and foremost, the education I received at Georgia Gwinnett College provided me with a strong foundation of knowledge and critical thinking skills,” she said. “The coursework challenged me to think analytically, solve problems and approach complex issues with a well-rounded perspective. These skills have been invaluable in my career, allowing me to tackle challenges and find innovative solutions confidently.”
Morissette said her professors’ emphasis on effective communication, adaptability and growth mindset, and GGC’s culture of collaboration and teamwork have also been significant factors in her success.
“Overall, the skills I cultivated at GGC have been transferrable and applicable in multiple aspects of my career. They have provided a solid foundation upon which I continue to build and grow, allowing me to navigate the ever-evolving professional landscape with confidence and adaptability. I am forever grateful for the education and experiences I gained at GGC.”
Morissette said one word comes to mind when she recalls her years at GGC: Growth.
“It was a time of self-discovery, where I was encouraged to push my limits and challenge myself in every way possible,” she said. “While I may have left the halls of GGC years ago, the experiences and knowledge I gained there shaped me into the person I am today. And for that, I will always be grateful.”