Underwood, an automotive technology student, will now proceed to regional judging in Atlanta for two days in April. Nine finalists will be announced while in Atlanta and if chosen, Underwood will compete with the other eight GOAL finalists from the other state technical college campuses.
A panel of leaders from the business, industry and government sectors will interview finalists and choose one to be the 2012 state GOAL winner and the recipient of the GOAL medallion and a new car.
“I know a lot of fantastic students that attend Chattahoochee Tech. To be picked as the best of the best of them really means a lot to me said,” said Underwood, 32.
“It really shows what good work my teachers and professors have had along the way to help me grow as a student.”
GOAL, a statewide program of the Technical College System of Georgia, honors excellence in academics and leadership among the state’s technical college students.
Local GOAL winners are selected at each of the state’s 25 technical colleges, as well as the two state Board of Regents colleges with technical education divisions.
Underwood was working for Sears Auto Center when he realized it would be necessary to improve his knowledge of the automobile to grow as a service writer, helping incoming customers. In 2009, he began classes at Chattahoochee Tech. He said he currently has a 4.0 grade point average and plans to graduate with an associate degree this spring.
“I knew there’s a lot of opportunity for growth in the field of automotive repair,” he said. “Cars are constantly changing due to technology. I just needed to be able to communicate with the customers about their vehicles better and be able to communicate with the technicians.”
While attending classes, Underwood was promoted to assistant manager at the Sears Tire & Auto Center at Town Center mall in Kennesaw. He said he ultimately wants to become a shop manager, educator or trainer in order to pass his automobile knowledge to others.
But for now, Underwood has his eyes set on moving closer to becoming this year’s state GOAL winner.
“I know that Chattahoochee has never had a state GOAL winner and it’s about time we brought it home to Marietta,” he said.
Nominated by faculty, the four finalists from Chattahoochee Tech were chosen out of 32 nominees from various programs. A screening committee of administrators and instructors reviewed all the nominations and interviewed each of the students.
In addition to Underwood, the other three finalists were: Greta Samuels of Marietta, an early childhood care and education student; Kirk Browne Jr. of Dallas, a marketing student; and Sarah Strength of Marietta, a nursing student.
“Our judges had a really tough job,” said GOAL coordinator Lucylle Shelton. “They were inspired and touched by so many of the stories and things they learned from each of the finalists.”