September 29, 2020–6:42 p.m.
Eight months after becoming Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s (GNTC) Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) winner, the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) named Adult Echocardiography student Christina Bullock as the first runner-up for the top technical college student in the State of Georgia.
“We are so very proud of Christina for being selected as the first runner-up for the 2020 Student of the Year,” said GNTC President Dr. Heidi Popham. “She is a great ambassador for technical education.”
The announcement came during a live-streamed TCSG special presentation on Tuesday, Sept. 29.
“I am so appreciative of the opportunity that has been given to me,” said Bullock. “I had no idea being nominated as a GOAL student would be this inviting and give me such a sense of purpose during my technical education journey.”
The Echocardiography student is currently in her last semester at GNTC and is looking forward to graduating in December. Bullock is participating in clinicals at Erlanger Health System in Chattanooga and would like to continue working there after she graduates.
“I am getting to see the real-world of Echocardiography,” she said. “GNTC set me up with such a good environment and tools that prepared me for working at a health care facility.”
The 23-year-old was the first in her family to graduate high school, which she did while also working to help support herself and her father. During the middle of her senior year at Sonoraville High School, her father found out he had small cell lung cancer, an aggressive form of cancer with a low survival rate. Bullock lost her father after a four-year cancer battle.
Bullock said she wants to honor her father’s memory by continuing on her path to finishing her education. At the age of four, Bullock entered the foster care system after her mother was incarcerated. It wasn’t until her father, who didn’t know she existed, found her at age seven that she was able to leave the system behind. Bullock said her childhood was amazing after her father welcomed her home with open arms.
“I want to show my dad I made it,” she said. “Technical college is not just a stepping stone or a means to an end. It is my life’s work and it shows me that I was right to believe in myself.”
Bullock said when she became GNTC’s GOAL winner graduation seemed far off. March’s shelter in place order threatened to halt her education and disrupt her full-time employment. Fortunately, an anonymous donor from Florida read about Bullock and through the GNTC Foundation paid for six months of her mortgage.
“It was a lifesaver,” Bullock said. “It gave me the opportunity to focus on clinicals and not worry about having enough hours at work to pay for my mortgage.”
Bullock has continued to show a strong work ethic, leadership and reliability in classroom attendance despite everything she has endured, said Dawn Irwin, instructor of Echocardiography at GTNC. She has maintained a 3.38 GPA while working full-time.
“Christina is an amazing person who has overcome so many hardships, while remaining one of the most upbeat, funny and kind people I have ever met,” said Trish Wiggins, GNTC Student Life coordinator. “I am incredibly proud of her hard work this year and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know her. I cannot wait to see all she accomplishes in her bright future.”
As the first runner-up for the 2020 Student of the Year, should the state winner not be able to fulfill their duties, Bullock would step in and serve as TCSG’s student ambassador during a number of system and college functions throughout the year.