LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett Technical College has honored a local nursing student for excellence in academics and leadership.
Briauna Howard is the winner of Gwinnett Tech's 2012 Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership, which recognizes outstanding technical college students at each of the state's 26 technical colleges.
Howard started her education by pursuing a bachelor's degree in psychology, but after helping her husband battle brain cancer she realized her true calling was in healthcare.
"This is the field that I'm meant to be in," Howard said. "I'm meant to touch people's lives.
Howard said during her husband's stay in the hospital, the nurses there treated him so well that it made an impact. "I wanted to be that person making a difference in someone's life the way they were making a difference in mine," she said.
Howard enrolled in Gwinnett Tech's Registered Nursing program and has been a top student ever since. She was selected to serve as a student ambassador and is helping lead Gwinnett Tech's involvement in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
Nursing Instructor Theresa Roberts nominated Howard for the GOAL award. Roberts said Howard was the right choice because of "her ability to weather intense personal challenges while maintaining a positive outlook on life."
Added Roberts: "She is an outstanding student who works hard despite the demands in her personal life. She is the mother to two preschool-aged children, has a full-time job as the primary breadwinner for her family and juggles nursing school and family life seamlessly."
Howard currently is the medical secretary for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Gwinnett Medical Center. She works nights to keep up with her duties at home and courses at Gwinnett Tech.
Gwinnett Tech's other GOAL finalists are Bill Mabrey, air condition technology; Sheeba Virani, early childhood education; and Kimberly Horn, business. administration technology.