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January 23--  A 46-year-old former military policeman and Oakland, California police officer is the top student this year at Southeastern Technical College.

{mosimage}Timothy Jackson from Swainsboro, right, with STC President Dr. Cathy Mitchell, won the Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) award in ceremonies on the college campus in Vidalia.

He says the welcome he received when he was doing his college search helped him decide on Southeastern Tech.

"It was overwhelming.  Everybody just took the time and they were very friendly.  They didn't make me feel like they just wanted to get another student in, but that they really wanted me to succeed.  I couldn't ask for any better," he said.

Jackson returned to his native state of Georgia after a leg injury forced him to leave law enforcement.

"It was a tough decision because I was getting out of my comfort zone.  In the military I was a police officer and after I got out I worked for the police department in Oakland.  All I knew was law enforcement so it was a little scary to go back to school, but once I got in it and started rolling and got with the instructors, it was fine," he said.

When he graduates, Jackson hopes to work at a Veterans Administration hospital. "I'm a veteran and I think it's remarkable what our men and women do for this country.  I want to give a little back and just say thank you," he remarked.

Jackson was nominated by Kerry Dunn in STC's Radiologic Technology program.

"He works hard.  He never gives up and honestly he gets along with everyone.  He has a great work ethic and they love him in clinics because he is great with patients," she says.

Dunn's wife is a doctor in Swainsboro and they have two girls.

Next he competes for the statewide award against students from other technical colleges.  He also receives a $26,500 scholarship from DeVry University to pursue his bachelors degree.  Catherine Doyle from DeVry was present at the Vidalia ceremony to present the scholarship.

Other finalists in the STC competition were James Edenfield from Swainsboro, Sarah McLeod from Glennville and Caitlyn Pittman from Lyons.