GNTC Student Earns Degree In Surgical Technology While Serving In Georgia Army National Guard

  • Thursday, December 8, 2022
  • Catherine Edgemon, GNTC
GNTC student Daisy Azua is studying for her associate degree in surgical technology
GNTC student Daisy Azua is studying for her associate degree in surgical technology
A Georgia National Guardswoman who rigs parachutes has jumped at a second career opportunity, thanks to her education at Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

Daisy Azua, a Dalton resident, attends classes at the Walker County Campus in Rock Spring, where she is studying for her associate degree in surgical technology. She will graduate and cross the stage at GNTC’s Fall Commencement Ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at the Dalton Convention Center.

Ms. Azua said she is stationed at the Georgia Army National Guard in Marietta.

“I pack cargo chutes that are used to drop combative supplies out of the aircraft,” Ms.
Azua said. “I also pack personnel chutes that the unit and I jump with, and rig combat supplies ranging from ammunition, MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) and water, to vehicles.”

She said she went to basic training shortly after high school in September 2019. After completing training, she enrolled in classes at GNTC and has been doing both continuously.

“My coursework has prepared me for another military occupation,” she said. “I love my job as a rigger, but after graduation I will have the option to become an operating room assistant in the military.”

Ms. Azua’s mother is a nurse who inspired Ms. Azua to enter the medical field, she said. She believed the Surgical Technology program would suit her well.

Ms. Azua acknowledged that handling school and military training has proven to be a logistical challenge.

“There have been times when I am in the field, taking exams, studying or completing homework,” she explained. “It is hard work, but working towards my degree has given me plenty of motivation.”

Staff Sgt. Carson Brown has known Ms. Azua for about two years and has watched her grow as a strong unit leader. All of the members of the 165th Quartermaster Company are proud of her accomplishments and wish her luck in the new chapter of her life, he said.

“She is by far one of the hardest workers in our section and consistently proves she has what it takes to get the job done,” he said. “Her attention to detail and her ability to teach others has truly been a great addition to our organization.”

Staff Sgt. Brown said Ms. Azua never hesitates to help out fellow soldiers with any issues they have and has shown bravery and selfless service by volunteering in an upcoming unit deployment overseas.

Ms. Azua has another troop supporting her. She appreciates her supportive instructors at GNTC who have always been willing to work with her training and schedule, she said.

Michael Barrett, program director and instructor of surgical technology, is one of those cheering on Ms. Azua.

“Daisy has been inspirational and motivating for the students in the program, as well as the faculty,” Mr. Barrett said. “She has excelled academically in the program while committing to rigorous military service, long clinical hours and still maintaining a family life.”

Mr. Barrett prioritized working with her on schedule adjustments and planning for her success. “Her military service is so appreciated, and her work ethic will enable her to be successful in and out of the military,” he said.

“I know my instructors are proud of me as a student and service member,” she said. “I will be deploying overseas in January, and my instructors have also been very supportive of this.”

GNTC has supported her from the moment she enrolled and learned she was unable to use her Veterans Administration loan in time for her first semester of college, she said. Then the ITA (Individual Training Account) program with GNTC’s Youth Success Academy helped.

“Daisy contacted me to see if the Youth Success Academy could help her and support her while she pursued her degree in Surgical Technology,” said Tammy Pence, GNTC’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) youth specialist.

“She qualified for our program, and we have been supporting her from the very beginning of her college experience,” Ms. Pence said. “Through the Youth Success Academy, Daisy gets assistance with her tuition and fees and buying books and supplies. The program even helps her with transportation costs to attend classes.”

“Through this program, I have been able to attend every semester without worrying about finances,” Ms. Azua said.

Ms. Azua’s situation aligns with the Youth Success Academy’s mission to help out-of-school youth who wish to attain a GED diploma and a technical education. The Youth Success Academy is sponsored through a partnership with GNTC and Northwest Georgia Regional Development Center.

Programs offer include GED training and testing for ages 16-24, Individual Training Account for first-time college students ages 18-24 with assistance for tuition and other expenses, work experience for those ages 18-24 who have a high school diploma or GED diploma, short-term training for ages 18-24 and short-term training for specific jobs, including administrative professional, certified logistics technician, industrial maintenance technician, gas arc (MIG) or gas tungsten arc (TIG) welder and ServSafe training.

For more information about the Youth Success Academy, call 706-764-3783.

For more information about the WIOA, visit www.gntc.edu/admissions/wioa.
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