Helms College Graduates Ready to Enter Work Force
Institution prepares students through programs designed to be pathways to careers

(AUGUSTA, Ga) - Thirty-five final quarter graduates from the Augusta campus of Helms College donned caps and gowns for their commencement ceremonies, attended by several hundred family members and friends at Snelling Conference Center on Jan. 24.

With programs in Health Services and Hospitality and the Culinary Arts, Helms College earned its national accreditation in 2011 and has a growing reputation for its hands-on instruction from experienced faculty in supportive, experiential learning environments.

“We’re committed to providing access to affordable education that helps students succeed in fast-growing industries,” said Gary Markowitz, Ed.D, senior vice president of education at the private, independent postsecondary career school sponsored by Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA. “We’re equipping students to go out and build career pathways to success.”

Jennifer M. Acosta-Santiago is a mom of four and holds down three jobs. She can now add “college graduate” to her resume after her graduation last week from the Augusta campus of Helms College as a Multi-Skilled Medical Assistant.

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Miami, Acosta-Santiago is 36 and lives in Hephzibah. She and her partner Mariano Estrada have been together for 15 years, and their family includes 21-year-old-Sasha, 13-year-old Sean, 12-year-old Alexander, and three-year-old Aiden.

She would like to return to Helms to earn her associate’s degree then continue with school to become a registered nurse. She is considering continuing on to become a nurse practitioner.

“I chose Helms after attending an open house with a family member and I liked what I heard and saw, so I made an appointment and enrolled!” said Acosta-Santiago. “The best things about attending Helms were the small class sizes and the great instructors. I loved my experience at Helms.”

Like many non-traditional students, Acosta-Santiago faced challenges when she returned to school. There were family issues and changing roles at home that could have been obstacles, but she didn’t let them derail her education.

“I knew I couldn’t stop school because it was going to give me the step up I needed to provide a life for me and my family – the one we deserve,” she said.

Acosta-Santiago’s fellow graduates in the multi-skilled medical assistant program included Ashante Barton, Lillian Branham, Je’Kevia Brown, Allison Marie Carney, La’Quadrick Davis, Fredricka Dublin, Jessican Guanlao, Dana Lynn Hink, Zhane Johnson, Kristin Kennedy, Sonya Lowe, Andrean McNeal, Shaila Moon, Denitra Pixley, Khia Riley and class salutatorian Patricia Williams.

Teadra Brown and Candice McNair graduated as Patient Care Technicians.

Graduates with a Culinary Arts diploma included Thamara Bancroft, Rebekah Cutright, Cody Alan Damron, Nicolas Galvan, Savannah Glenn, Stephanie Irvin, Olivia Angelett Jeffers, Yolanda Mosley, Megan Sponseller and Whitney N. Whitehead.

Recipients of Associate Degrees in Culinary Arts included Briana Zakiya Anderson, Brianna Nicole Certain, Larry Cross, Curtis R. Ellison, Tammy Gooch, Jonathan Grickis, valedictorian Jessica Jacumin, LaTasha Jones, Michael J. Krecksay, Nicholas Anthony Marmino, David Jefferson McWilliams, Caresa Norwood, Katherine E. Quinn, Sharae Staley, Andrius Thornton and Asanti Keyokee.

“My advice for someone trying to decide if Helms College is right for them is to come out to an open house and just listen, and ask all the questions you need to ask,” said Acosta-Santiago, who graduated with a 4.0 grade point average and received the Academic Excellence Medal. “The staff is great and knowledgeable. One piece of advice is to communicate any frustrations or personal issues you may be going through. Communication is key. You CAN do this!”