A contingent of 42 Coffee County, GA honors students, grades 9-12, traveled to Amelia Island, Tuesday, September 14, to hear Georgia Tech graduates, faculty and administrators inform them of the advantages and benefits of a Georgia Tech education following high school. Students were accompanied by Superintendent of Coffee County Schools, Dr. Morris Leis; Coffee High School Principal, Van Allen; Counselor James Lowther; CHS Academy Director, Jessica Baker; Assessment & Scheduling Director, Kate Walker and Julie Lord.
Francis Lott, an Amelia Island resident but Douglas native and 1959 Georgia Tech graduate, hosted the group at his Fletcher Avenue home. A passionate advocate for Georgia Tech, Lott also organized and led a CHS field trip to the Tech campus on March 10,2020, for 36 CHS students, which created a campus "buzz" for Georgia Tech. Lott explained that Georgia Tech is now ranked in the top 3 in all engineering majors among colleges and universities in the country. GT is recognized as the #1 value among public colleges in the USA, with an annual cost of $29,000 per year. Also, at an average annual starting salary of $74,000 for graduates with undergraduate degrees, Tech ranks #1, by far, among 18 top colleges and universities in the Southeast USA, 70% higher than graduates from the University of Georgia, Georgia Southern, University of Florida or Florida State.
The purpose of the event was to inform students who possess the grades, aptitude and ambition to earn a GT degree of the value of a GT education and encourage them to apply - and WHY - in order to build a busier pipeline of CHS grads to GT. 18 CHS grads currently attend Tech. It is great credit to our Coffee County School System that of all CHS grads who have enrolled at Tech, over the last 6 years, not one has flunked out or left for academic reasons.
Though curriculum is rigorous and difficult, CHS grads who have attended Tech have not just survived but thrived in the GT environment. During the all-morning session in Fernandina Beach, students heard from a number of Georgia Tech luminaries and guest speakers, including:
*Rick Clark, Georgia Tech Director of Undergraduate Admissions.
*Mindy Hyde, Senior Director of Development, Georgia Tech Athletics.
*Dr. Wade Barnes, Tech grad and Ob-Gyn, with a practice of 40 clinics with 700 employees. He has served as Scholarship Chair of the Georgia Tech Network of Jacksonville for past 41 years.
*Andrea Laliberte, also a Tech grad, with both bachelor's and a master's degrees in Industrial engineering. She has served as executive in residence and professor at Tech, a senior executive for Coach, Inc., and is past chair of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association.
*Pat Keogh, an Amelia Island resident, lawyer, developer, and author of: "Make Your Family Rich: Why to replace Retirement Planning with Succession Planning" and the teen version, “Hey Kid; Wanna Own Great American Businesses?,” both available on Amazon.
Students were very impressed with the information provided about Georgia Tech. Several students mentioned, while they had not seriously considered Georgia Tech previously, they now intended to apply. The GT Promise Scholarship program was established in 2007 in honor of then GT President, Dr Wayne Clough, himself a Douglas native, to provide a debt-free pathway to GT for students from low-income families in Georgia who otherwise could not afford to attend.
Over 500 students have since benefitted from Promise. After 14 years as highly esteemed President of Georgia Tech, Dr. Clough became Secretary of the Smithsonian for 6 years. He is now back at Tech as President Emeritus. Over the last 5 years, 6 CHS grads have earned fully-funded Promise Scholarships, endowed by Francis and Diane Lott. GT Director of Admissions Rick Clark has offered to visit CHS campus later this fall and meet with school staff, interested students and parents about GT.