The Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) announced today the state’s top technical college student for 2024. Nicholas Rucker, Physical Therapist Assistant student at Athens Technical College, was chosen as this year’s Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) winner. He was announced the winner during a banquet honoring the system’s most outstanding students and instructors at the Grant Hyatt in Atlanta, GA on Wednesday, May 1.

Mr. Rucker states, “Athens Technical college has been a transformative journey for me, especially at this stage of life. and has revitalized my sense of purpose and ignited a passion for helping others in their journey to recovery and wellness. The rigorous curriculum and hands-on training have not only equipped me with the necessary skills for this profession but have also instilled a renewed sense of confidence and determination. The support from my instructors and peers has been invaluable, reinforcing the belief that it’s never too late to pursue one’s dreams and make a positive impact in the lives of others. My experience at Athens Technical College has truly reshaped my perspective and opened doors to new opportunities for personal and professional growth.”


President Daniel added, “I am extremely proud of Mr. Rucker. He is an outstanding representative of technical education and I know he will have a very successful career as a physical therapist assistant. Congratulations to Nick on this well-deserved honor.”


GOAL was instituted in 1971 to showcase outstanding students in Georgia’s technical college system. The state GOAL winner, selected out of the 22 technical colleges, serves as an ambassador for technical education by speaking to numerous groups including addresses to the Georgia General Assembly, and the Governor. The state winner is recognized as the Technical College System of Georgia’s Student of the Year and a new automobile, sponsored by Kia Georgia, is awarded as the grand prize. Mr. Rucker was nominated for this recognition by his Physical Therapist Assistant program instructors, Dr. Ellen O’Keefe, and Dr. Diana Carman.

About Athens Technical College: Since 1958, Athens Technical College has served citizens by providing quality educational programs in an 11-county service area. The college offers over 130 program specializations in business, health, technical, and manufacturing-related areas. Students attend Athens Technical College on three campuses (Athens-Clarke, Elbert, Walton), plus career academies, adult learning centers, through business and industry and continuing education opportunities. Athens Technical College is an Equal Opportunity Institution and a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia. To learn more about Athens Technical College visit



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