Good Things in Threes at Augusta Tech

Meet the O'Neal family of Augusta, Georgia, with three members graduating from Augusta Technical College degree programs in 2020: Keyarda, Kenya, and Maria.

They say good things come in threes.

In the creative arts, the rule of thirds speaks to alignment in visual design, film, painting, and photography.

There’s also the term three-dimensional, meaning having or appearing to have length, breadth, and depth.

Smiling African American male with dreadlocks wearing a black graduation gown, black graduation cap with gold tassel, gold necklace and a blacks shirt; hand is spread out; center: Caucasian female with brown hair wearing a black graduation gown, black graduation cap with a gold tassel and a gold stole with a logo, left: smiling, female with golden brown hair wearing a black graduation cap, black graduation gown; hand is spread out; group is standing in front of a treeAnd then there’s the O’Neal Family of Augusta, Georgia, with three members graduating from Augusta Technical College degree programs in 2020: Keyarda, Kenya, and Maria.

Keyarda O’Neal is a former servicemember and May 2020 graduate who decided to pursue an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Cybersecurity after transitioning out of the military, due to the rapid growth and opportunities in the field. While in school, Keyarda served as an ambassador for Augusta Tech to help share information and her experience with prospective students. Keyarda says she, her brother, and her mother motivated each other “to keep striving and remain focused” as they all pursued challenging degree programs. She is currently seeking opportunities for employment and plans to further her education and earn a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity.

Kenya O’Neal graduated in May 2020 with An Associate of Applied Science in Nuclear Engineering Technology. He decided to pursue this field because of a love for math and science, and after a semester of learning about nuclear plant theory, he knew the program was for him. Along with his studies, he served as a work study student in Admissions and Counseling Services, and also as a student ambassador and Vice President of the Student Government Association (SGA). “It was an honor to meet and get to know so many Augusta Tech students and faculty,” said Kenya, and “to travel to different high schools and speak to younger students about their future after graduation.” Since he graduated, Kenya is working a full-time job in retail management and seeking an opportunity to work in his field of study.

Maria O’Neal, the mother of the family and an upcoming August 2020 graduate, calls herself a nontraditional student “with a bachelor’s degree from a four-year university as well as graduate classes,” and management experience at a large retail sporting goods store - which had not yet satisfied her professional desires. She always loved mathematics and science, and interestingly, her daughter’s significant other was a student who introduced both her and Kenya to the Nuclear Engineering Technology program at Augusta Tech! Maria says “I am currently an intern at Plant Vogtle [in Waynesboro, Georgia] and hope that I will have the opportunity to work at the plant and go through the System Operator in Training Program in the future. The internship has reassured me that I have picked the right program. I love the nuclear culture, and I am so excited to be part of creating clean energy. I am proof that it is never too late to pursue your dream and further your education.” Further, Maria says “attending classes with my son was also great; we were able to study together and encourage each other when classes got tough. It is a great feeling to be able to graduate with both of my children and say, ‘WE DID IT.’”

All three O’Neals – Keyarda, Kenya, and their mother Maria – successfully completed Spring Semester amidst the unprecedented circumstances of COVID-19, and all three plan to walk proudly in the Commencement Ceremony in October 2020. Good things really do come in threes.

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