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OTC’s GOAL Winner Erica Deaton Finishes As State Finalist

Last updated on October 24, 2020

Erica Deaton, Ogeechee Technical College’s 2020 GOAL winner, finished as a regional finalist in the state GOAL competition Tuesday, September 29.

“I am honored to have served as Ogeechee Tech’s GOAL representative…,” said Deaton after the state GOAL winner was announced. “I may not have won the state competition, but I had the opportunity to learn a lot about myself in the process and make some new friends along the way. I am humbled by all of the support and encouragement I have received from my community, and especially from the faculty, staff, and students at OTC.”

As OTC’s GOAL winner, Deaton competed at the regional level against students from six other technical colleges and was announced one of nine state finalists back in August. In her competition speech she explained that her journey back to school was ignited by a gift from her husband and nurtured through fond memories of her childhood.

“For years my husband had encouraged me to go back to school and finish my degree. He had even been kind enough to gift me with his post 9/11 Gi Bill,” she explained. “Growing up, my childhood had centered on Sunday afternoons spent at my aunt’s house, where my entire family would come together to share a meal, tell stories, laugh… with this passion in mind, I began to seek out programs in culinary arts, and that is how I found Ogeechee Technical College.”

For Deaton, food is about more than taste, it’s about community. “I feel like we live in a very divisive time, but food is something that brings us together. The ingredients and techniques may differ from person to person or culture to culture, but the emotions that we feel when we sit down and share a meal with someone, well that is something we can all understand.”

Bryan Richard, OTC’s Culinary Arts instructor, nominated Deaton for the GOAL competition and knew she would be an excellent candidate. “I have been Erica Deaton’s instructor for the past two years and throughout her course of study Erica has demonstrated a determination and a commitment that exceeds her peers,” said Richard. “Her devotion to her studies, the Technical College System of Georgia, and ultimately the Culinary Arts profession, is an inspiration to her classmates as well as a confirmation to me as her instructor.” 

Erica Deaton will have the opportunity to continue to share her story on behalf of Ogeechee Tech at various local events, whether in-person or virtual. After graduating, she hopes to one day own her own food truck, but ultimately would like to realize the dream of opening her own restaurant.

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