It was when Sherry Crane of Commerce began helping her teenage daughter consider college that she had her “lightbulb” moment.
“I felt kind of like a hypocrite to myself,” she said. “I never went back and did this. That was actually the motivator to get me to go back to school.”
Crane enrolled as a business administrative technology student at Lanier Technical College in fall 2012. She sees herself in an administrative position, a role she assumed while running a business with her husband in the early 2000s.
“We were very successful in that, but we were tied to the construction and housing industry,” she said. “When things started taking a turn there, we knew that we were probably going to close that business.”
She managed to find other work, but wasn’t enthusiastic about following anything as a career path.
“I love what I did with our business,” she said. “I like the paperwork. I like the administrative portion. I liked all of that, and found a degree that catered specifically to what I enjoyed doing, and so enrolled in Lanier Tech.”
Crane was named the college’s winner of the Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership at Tuesday’s Gainesville Lions Club luncheon.
The award is part of a statewide program of the Technical College System of Georgia to honor excellence in academics and leadership. Local winners move on to regional judging; they will then move to the state competition, the winner of which will be announced in April.
For being the Lanier Tech GOAL recipient, she will receive a monetary award, a plaque and an iPad. The state winner will receive a new car, courtesy of GOAL sponsor Chevrolet.
“I was speechless,” she said about learning she had won. “Most anybody who knows me will tell you that is odd. I’m usually not at a loss for words. I was excited, I was honored, I was humbled to no end.”
She had always contemplated returning to school, but life “got in the way” during multiple moves, getting married and having children.
She said her daughter is her main motivator in returning to school and attaining her education.
“There are some things that are going to be out of your control,” she said. “Your education is always in your control, no matter when you do it. It’s easier to do it when you’re young. I’ll tell you, it’s a little harder when you’re 40.
“But I wanted her to have something, to be able to think about what I told her and put it with the actions that I showed her. I hope it will benefit her down the road. I know it has definitely benefited me over the last couple of years.”
Crane, who is set to graduate in spring 2015, hopes she can use this position to be a positive voice for technical schools, and to inform people from all backgrounds about the opportunities out there for them.
“If there’s one high school graduate out there or even another 40-something-year-old mom who wants to do something different ... if I can give them the courage to step out of that comfort zone, I think I’ve been a great success as the GOAL winner for Lanier Technical College,” she said.