Formerly Incarcerated Citizen Reaches KIA Sales Heights with CGTC Certificate
Thursday, December 14th, 2017
Kay Williams took vocational certificate courses from Central Georgia Technical College, prior to its 2013 merger with Middle Georgia Technical College, that have helped her to become as high as No. 32 in sales nationwide for Kia South Atlanta in Morrow, Ga.
Williams is a formerly incarcerated citizen at Pulaski State Prison, and like many of these citizens, she learned about certificate opportunities and vocational programs offered by CGTC from instructors and mentors employed by the College inside the correctional facilities.
"When you know you will get out, and you know that what you did is a mistake, and you learned from it, and (inside) someone is willing to provide school for you for free, you know you should probably take advantage of it," Williams said about pursuing the certificate offered to her.
Incarcerated citizens must meet specific requirements including eligibility or being "short" for release, earning qualifying test scores, and having a successful instructor interview, among others. If they meet those stipulations, they can take advantage of a range of coursework opportunities potentially giving them skills to present to employers upon release.
While incarcerated, Kay completed the Business and Customer Service Technology certificate and later served as an instructor's aide, helping the next cohort of students learn. She said she understood her wrongdoing and served the time required of her in good spirits, maintaining a clean discipline record, and thankfulness for the availability and advantages of the program.
She always wanted to finish school and said the courses gave her a great mindset to explore where the certification can take her. The mindset also helped to shape her sales pitches.
Williams put it this way: CGTC courses were a way for her to show her potential worth to the people she let down, to future employers and customers, and to herself. Courses encouraged and motivated her to refine her resume and pursue work immediately. She landed a job with KIA only ten days after her release, and as odd as it sounds, she spent more days without a full wardrobe than she did without a job.
"In the back of my mind, prison was like the closet I have shut the door on. I'm determined to be the only one who ever opens it up," she said. "The potential of my future motivates me to get over my past. All of the successes behind it, getting the certificate, where I am now, just shows that it is all about who I am now."
Williams reached as high as No. 2 in sales in the state of Georgia for KIA, and even as awards pile up, framed and centered on her "wall of honors" in her office is the CGTC certificate she earned.
The office of Re-Entry Services at CGTC oversees Williams’ certificate program and employs nearly thirty instructors who teach in other areas that include Welding, Design and Media Production, Horticulture, Diesel Truck Maintenance, Animal Healthcare, Barbering, and more.
Under the supervision of the Technical College System of Georgia, CGTC’s Re-Entry services are available in 13 public and private correctional facilities across Georgia, and operate under inter-governmental agency contracts from Residential Substance Abuse Treatment, the Georgia Department of Corrections, and the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Dr. Brittany Lucas, executive director of Re-Entry Services, and her team commit daily to reducing recidivism. The office recognizes the continued importance Gov. Nathan Deal has placed on criminal justice reform and the recidivism rate since his proposals of overhaul legislation during his initial months in office.
“Our team makes an effort to recognize that Kay and others are first and foremost citizens; therefore we take seriously the responsibility the state has entrusted to us to provide competitive, high-quality, technically-driven programs,” Lucas said.
“Not only has the state entrusted us to make wrap-around re-entry services available, but also our students and their families look to us to provide continuous academic support prior to and post release.”
Re-entry services at CGTC is a division committed to the educational and training component of criminal justice reform and recidivism rate reduction among Georgia's incarcerated citizens, and through its efforts, streamlines effective transition of those citizens into the workforce.
The work of CGTC instructors has also been noticed by the agencies who contract with the College. In July of this year, the GDC named adjunct Design and Media Production instructor, Woodrow Whipple, its 2017 Vocational Instructor of the Year, in large part for his 20-plus years of service to incarcerated citizens.