Twenty-nine-year-old Shay Sheha immigrated to Georgia from Zanzibar two years ago and has already made a huge impression. So much so that he has been named the 2022 EAGLE (Exceptional Adult Georgian in Literacy Education) winner for Georgia Piedmont Technical College. He will head to Atlanta this March to compete against winners from other schools in the Technical College System of Georgia. The statewide winner will be an advocate for Georgia, touting the many benefits of adult education services.

Sheha is enrolled in the ESL (English as a Second Language) program while working at a local Amazon facility. The instructional coordinator for GPTC’s adult education program Mary Baxter said nominating Sheha was an easy decision.

“Since he started our program, Shay has stood out as an exemplary student,” Baxter said. “He is a good communicator and thoughtful contributor during class, supportive of his classmates, and has pursued each opportunity offered to him, including a cybersecurity fundamentals training program.”

The special training program provided Sheha with the focus he needed to choose a career path.

“In this class, I got a chance to do projects and learn from other students,” Sheha said. “The program made it possible for me to meet some IT (Information Technology) associates at my job and to apply the knowledge I learned in class by shadowing the IT department for a few months.”

Shay Sheha
Shay Sheha is Georgia Piedmont Technical College’s EAGLE winner for 2022

As if absorbing IT training and learning English isn’t challenging enough, Sheha came to the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic where traditional face-to-face instruction wasn’t an option for a long time. He recalls getting guidance from his first teacher, Jan Kent.

“She gave me some helpful advice for things I could do outside of the classroom, such as watching YouTube tutorials, reading articles, and listening to podcasts. These suggestions, along with attending classes virtually, really helped me improve,” Sheha said.

Sheha was humbled and honored to be named GPTC’s adult education student of the year.

“I think that the programs are essential for immigrants since they really prepare you and give you the tools to become a good contributor to the community,” he said. “No matter what happens, I feel like a winner already.”

Once he completes the ESL program, Sheha plans to earn his high school equivalency and enroll in classes at Georgia Piedmont Technical College with a focus on IT and cybersecurity.

GPTC will announce its GOAL (Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership) student of the year and instructor of the year in late January.