GED Testing Service presented five GED graduates from Georgia with the 2022 GED Graduate of the Year award during the GED Testing Service Annual Conference.

Jalisa Marks of Fulton County, Ashlee Adams of Commerce, Natosha Banks-Nolley of Lawrenceville, Toby Patton of Carrollton, and Angela Sevier of Columbus, are the recipients of this year’s awards.

This award recognizes students who recently earned their GED credentials and displayed exceptional dedication and scholarship during the preparation and testing process. Winners of the GED Graduate of the Year award received a $1,000 scholarship and participated in a professional photoshoot.

Here’s a look at each of their stories:

Ashlee Adams

Adult Education has had a huge impact on Ashlee Adam’s life. She credits it for getting her through the hard times and giving her confidence. In elementary school, she was diagnosed with a severe health condition which caused her to miss a lot of school. She also experienced bullying and says that her dogs were a source of comfort and friendship and inspired her to pursue a career that would allow her to help animals. Motivated by this goal, Ashlee enrolled in classes at Lanier Technical College and earned her GED credential with plans to become a veterinarian technician and eventually a veterinarian.

Ashlee has recently accepted a position with the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Advisory Board for Irritable Bowel Syndrome with the goal to mentor and inspire others with similar health conditions. Ashlee shares that her father is her hero and inspiration.

Natosha Banks-Nolley

Natosha Banks-Nolley is a proud graduate of the Adult Education program at Gwinnett Technical College. In 2018, Natosha decided to invest in herself and enrolled in the high school equivalency program at Gwinnett Technical College. With hard work and dedication, she earned her GED diploma in 2020. Earning her credential opened the door to many opportunities. Natosha is enrolled in Gwinnett Technical College to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts. She has the goal of starting her own catering business for large events and social gatherings. She has shared that she is grateful that the Gwinnett Technical College Adult Education program has made this a possibility for her and others. Natosha resides in Lawrenceville with her husband and their children. She shared that her children are her biggest inspiration.

Jalisa Marks

Jalisa Marks enrolled in the Atlanta Technical College Adult Education program after several attempts to complete her GED credential. While in the program, she reached the goal of obtaining her high school equivalency degree and an OSHA-10 Forklift certification and began pursuing an associate degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Jalisa said that Atlanta Technical College’s program helped her realize her true potential while helping her meet many generous people who were invested in helping her achieve her goals. Jalisa is a Georgia native and resides in Fulton County with her sons.

Toby Patten

Before Toby Patten began the West Georgia Technical College Adult Education Program, he worked in a restaurant earning $5.00 an hour. Toby was frustrated with his situation and felt he had missed his chance to be successful until his mother encouraged him to check out West Georgia Technical College. He was nervous because he didn’t complete high school beyond sophomore year, but Toby’s fears dissolved after attending his first class with the program, thanks to his enthusiastic instructors. Once his confidence kicked in, Toby didn’t want to stop at getting a GED diploma, so he enrolled in West Georgia Technical College to pursue a degree in Robotics and Engineering. Toby says his biggest inspiration is his mother, who raised four children and went to college while maintaining a career.

Angela Sevier

When Angela Sevier moved to Columbus, Georgia, in 2019, she decided to change her life. She entered the Valley Rescue Missions Women’s Addiction Recovery Program and studied for a high school equivalency diploma. She later registered for the Adult Education classes at Columbus Technical College for additional guidance and immediately began to see a difference. Angela said the program helped her understand and retain information while motivating her to succeed.

Angela accomplished her goal of obtaining a GED credential in July 2021, and she immediately enrolled in college to pursue an associate degree in Human Resources. She currently serves as a Program Assistant at the Women’s Addiction Recovery Center and a live-in staff member because she wants to inspire others facing life challenges. Angela says her daughter inspired her to start classes and earn her diploma.