Kimberly Horn, a student at Gwinnett Technical College, won the school's 2013 Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership.
By Clare Morris
Like typical college students, Kimberly Horn doesn’t get a lot of sleep, but it’s not because she’s pulling all-nighters or attending wild frat parties. This determined business administrative technology major at Gwinnett Technical College makes every minute of her education count, both on and off campus. What keeps her focused is one goal: to attend law school.
Reaching that professional goal would take Horn a long way from the days when she dropped out of high school.
“I left at 16 and wound up getting my GED,” Horn said. “But a few years ago, I realized any job I could get would be a terrible one. I wouldn’t get ahead doing what I was doing.
“When I got laid off from a job in an antique shop, I was unemployed for about a year and a half. When I sent out résumé No. 150, it was obvious I was not a candidate people were looking for. And I knew it would take a good degree of education to get the job I wanted.”
Horn’s search for a school that was close to her Suwanee home, affordable and offered the training she wanted led her to Gwinnett Tech, where, after a 20-year absence from the classroom, she enrolled in 2011. While majoring in business technology, she has taken enough classes to minor in cyberspace security. Recently, she added a load of criminal justice courses and still maintains a 4.0 GPA.
But Horn hasn’t limited her collegiate experience to the classroom. She has worked part time on weekends, was vice president of the school’s student leadership committee, started a campus Toastmasters chapter and served as an ambassador at orientations and events for new students. She also managed to squeeze in some volunteer hours with Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful.
Last year, Horn’s teamwork skills earned her the honor of outstanding student in the business program. But the biggest recognition Horn has received came recently when she won the Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership.
“It’s a speech competition with the theme, 'Why you decided to go to technical college,’ ” she said. “I had to talk about how studying here was going to improve me and my impact in the community. I talked about the practical, competitive job skills I’ve learned and how I’ve developed self confidence to be a good employee and been challenged to be a great leader.”
The honor came with a $26,000 scholarship to DeVry University that will allow Horn to continue her studies.
“I had no money at all when I came here,” she said. “Now, I’ll be able to pursue my degree, and I hope to do well enough to win more scholarships.”
A few weeks ago, Horn got a jump-start on putting her college learning to work when she took on a part-time job as the assistant to a manufacturing company’s chief financial officer .
“They wanted everything I just learned — Excel, PowerPoint, etc.,” she said. “I’d taken every one of those courses, and now it’s 100 percent applicable.”
Along with looking forward to a spring graduation, Horn is tweaking her speech for a regional contest later this month. The winner of that contest will go on to a national competition.
“The state winner will present [his or her] speech to the General Assembly and represent technical education for one year,” she said. “But it’s also a chance to share my story.”
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