GPTC’s EAGLE 2020 winner, Ruth Michael, was named as a Top 8 State Finalist in March.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress — social reformer Frederick Douglas once said. For Georgia Piedmont Technical College (GPTC) Business Administration program student and 2020 EAGLE delegate Ruth Michael, the struggle was exactly what set her future goals into motion.

“I came to the United States from East Africa, which is Eritrea, in 2004, searching for a new life,” Michael said, “and a higher education.”

Michael arrived in the United States without a high school diploma, which she was unable to obtain due to the Ethiopian and Eritrean War. And that was exactly where Michael knew she needed to start.

“I heard from my community that the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and GPTC offered courses to earn a GED [diploma],” she said. “So, in 2017, I set my sights on earning a GED, which would allow me employment and continue pursuing my goal.”

In Spring 2020, Michael was named GPTC’s EAGLE (Exceptional Adult Georgian in Literacy Education) delegate of the year, a prestigious award hosted by TCSG, in which she was also named as a Top 8 State EAGLE Finalist among Georgia’s 22 other technical colleges.

“It was such a great honor to be nominated as the GPTC 2020 EAGLE delegate,” she said. “At first, I was surprised, but later on I realized how much of an honor it was.”

As an immigrant, Michael was faced with obstacles to her success. “Although it was hard from the start [and] many of challenges with the language barrier and the culture made it difficult to come to this point where people are acknowledging my accomplishments…it was just like a light for me.”

Michael became the top Adult Education/GED program graduate for the 2019-2020 year and works part time in the Adult Education department. Additionally, Michael is the treasurer for the Student Government Association (SGA) and participates in SkillsUSA. “I wanted to be an advocate and encourage others,” Michael said. “Going through [my struggles were] hard, but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t know how to help other students.

“I believe that they trust me as they saw the challenges I overcame,” she continued. “Therefore,  I want other students to be inspired to change their path as I did and pursue their goals. Success is always a process; so, take risks and never give up.”

Written by Justin Clay