After six Georgia Northwestern students became national qualifiers in 2016 and 11 earned spots in 2017, no one expected the bar to go up much higher.

Except for the team itself, of course.

When the competition floor finally slowed to a stop in Atlanta, Georgia this past weekend, 13 Bobcats had earned spots on the GNTC team headed to nationals in Baltimore, Maryland the week of June 23. The event will be held during the National Leadership Conference this summer.

The theme for this year’s state competition was “Step Up, Stand Out!” GNTC PBL Advisor Dione Waddington stated just after the awards ceremony, “That’s exactly what they did. They stepped up and stood out.” GNTC qualified 13 of its 15 students who had earned spots in Atlanta. And, 14 of those 15 placed in at least one event.

Those qualifying for national spots were Alejandro Cruz of Chatsworth, Georgia and Jesanyelis Gonzalez of Dalton, Georgia (1st– Business Ethics); Bryan Tapia of Rome, Georgia and Marvin Tomas Gaspar of Rome, Georgia (2nd – Business Ethics); Sprite Dyer of LaFayette, Georgia (3rd – Computer Concepts); Sprite Dyer of LaFayette, Georgia (2nd – Cyber Security); Thomas Scott of Adairsville, Georgia (1st – Entrepreneurship Concepts); Cynthia Kirk of Rockmart, Georgia (1st – Financial Concepts); Bradley Ramirez of Dalton, Georgia and Carlos Miranda of Ringgold, Georgia (1st – Hospitality Management); Bradley Ramirez of Dalton, Georgia and Carlos Miranda (3rd – Human Resource Management); Kelly Cook of Rome, Georgia, Thomas Scott of Adairsville, Georgia, and Byron Campos Gomez of Calhoun, Georgia;  (1st – Integrated Marketing Campaign); Allie Long of Ringgold, Georgia (1st – Information Management); Cynthia Kirk of Rockmart, Georgia (3rd– Macroeconomics); Marvin Tomas Gaspar and Bryan Tapia (4th – Management Analysis and Decision Making); Allie Long of Ringgold, Georgia (5th – Management Concepts); Kimberly Glover of Rocky Face, Georgia (2nd – Management Concepts); Maria Nichols of Dalton, Georgia (5th – Networking Concepts); Kimberly Glover of Rocky Face, Georgia (3rd– Organizational Behavior & Leadership); Kelly Cook of Rome, Georgia (1st – Small Business Management Plan); and Byron Campos Gomez of Calhoun, Georgia (1st – Social Media Challenge.)

Dyer and Tapia are returning competitors on the national stage. Both qualified for the National Phi Beta Lambda professional skills competition held in California last summer. Kirk competed in the state level competition last year but missed out on the trip to nationals. This year, Kirk and 12 other Bobcats will be preparing for the big event in New England the fourth week of June.

In total, GNTC would take home 20 awards for their business skill knowledge and career-related performances in Atlanta, Georgia. Competitions against the best in the state tested the understanding of dozens of career paths.

On the national stage in 2017, GNTC’s Selena Spivey finished 8th in the nation in Computer Animation, Elisabeth Harp finished 8th in Networking Concepts and Ronal Bueso and Jonathan Herrera earned a top 15 finish in Business Sustainability. Colleges from the University of Alabama, to the University of Nebraska, to Georgia Northwestern Technical College went head to head in competitions testing career skill abilities in dozens of different areas of expertise.

Advisors for the award-winning PBL squad are GNTC’s Waddington, Patty Hart, and Mark Upton. PBL, along with the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), is the largest and oldest student business organization in the nation. Students will participate in more than 55 business and business-related competitive events at the NLC. This year marks the 76thanniversary of the professional skills organizations.

GNTC offers more than 200 other programs online and on-campus. Campuses are located in Ringgold (Catoosa County Campus), Rome (Floyd County Campus), Calhoun (Gordon County Campus), Rockmart (Polk County Campus), Rock Spring (Walker County Campus), and Dalton (Whitfield Murray Campus).