Natalie Wilson-Downs '13

 Natalie Headshot


GGC alumna, Natalie Wilson-Downs, has a true love for GGC.

“I feel like I AM GGC because I represent what it stands for,” She said. In her career as an employee in the GGC Financial Aid office, she is able to share the experiences she had as a GGC student with others on campus.

“I am a Grizzly and assisting fellow Grizzlies in becoming successful is what makes me GGC,” She said. Recently, Natalie was awarded a Top Claw Award, which is presented to GGC employees who go above and beyond in all that they do.

Natalie likens her life’s accomplishments and successes to a pyramid – with GGC forming the base.

“The base of a pyramid is the foundation and building block for all that comes after. It has to be the strongest in order to support everything else. It was the small classrooms, passionate professors and the overall goal of GGC to see me graduate that built the fundamentals of my success.” Natalie noted Drs. Ronald Hunter and Wayne Gillespie as two professors who challenged her to “be more” and strive for excellence in all that she did.

Not only does Natalie support GGC by being a dedicated alumna and employee, but she also supports GGC financially.

I give back to Georgia Gwinnett College because someone gave for me. My junior year was a year of long hours. I was taking several classes in one semester and could not afford to purchase a laptop. I was in the GGC Library from open to close that summer semester doing homework, writing papers and taking online quizzes. At one point during that semester the Financial Aid Director approached me and asked if I would like to be considered for a scholarship, and of course, I said yes. With the help of the scholarship, I was able to purchase a much-needed laptop. I also give to show pride in where my bachelor’s degree comes from. I want GGC to be long-lasting and continue to grow, so I give.

– Natalie

Want to join Natalie in making an impact on the lives of GGC students? Learn more and make a gift online or by calling the Office of Advancement at (678)407-5551


John Maison '15

 John Maison Headshot


Recent GGC alumnus, John Maison, has a true passion for GGC. After his graduation in 2015, John’s journey came full circle when he accepted a position as the Veteran Success Coordinator at GGC. In this role John is able to share the experiences he had as a student veteran with other veterans on campus. Not only does John support GGC through this position, but he also supports GGC financially.

I give back to Georgia Gwinnett College because I believe in the brand of GGC. I truly respect what the men and women of GGC have done over the last decade. These pioneers have been able to make college affordable without lowering the quality of the education. Because I give back to GGC, my daughter is also able to receive the same life-changing education as I did

– John

When deciding which college to attend it was simple for John. The fact that GGC was close to work and home and military friendly made it the ideal choice. It also helped that it was a new college with fresh ideas.

I knew GGC would be the best fit for me when I learned it was not only a new four-year institution, but also modeled after the Army Military Academy. How could I not be excited to attend a college that was so similar to the type of organization I was used to?

– John

Georgia Gwinnett College was able to change John’s life for the better through education and real-world experiences gained from courses and special professors like Dr. Atul Saxena.

In many classes I was able to learn alongside other veterans. This was a special experience that I’m not sure I would have found elsewhere. GGC has changed my life in so many ways. I now have the education and experience to apply and seek the employment that I want to have. I have the opportunity to have a career, not just a job.

– John

Want to join John in making an impact on the lives of GGC students? Learn more and make a gift online or by calling the Office of Advancement at (678) 407-5446.



Lawana Haynes '10


When Georgia Gwinnett College alumna Lawana Haynes moved to Lawrenceville, Ga. from Houston, Tex., she had no idea what was in store for her. Her husband’s new job was the reason for the move and since she had two young children, she put her career on hold and became a stay at home mom. However, she did plan on returning to work one day. When that day came, she realized that life had changed. The job she left behind hadn’t required her to have a degree, but when she began looking for work, many companies wanted candidates with a degree. GGC became the perfect opportunity for Lawana. As a 2010 graduate from the School of Liberal Arts, GGC afforded Lawana the chance to earn her bachelor’s in psychology while allowing her to keep her family together despite two relocations. “

The small class sizes, the program that was offered, and the proximity of GGC, was just what I needed as someone who had been out of the workforce for several years with a young family and a husband who traveled a lot. GGC was new and receptive to me as a non-traditional student.

– Lawana

Being a non-traditional student and the access that GGC offered was not about scores or finances for Lawana, but instead about the location and the programs. While attending GGC, Lawana presented at a symposium held at Virginia Commonwealth University during her senior year. She collaborated with classmates, received feedback from colleagues, and researched generational patterns within age groups regarding attitudes towards money and finances. The basis of the research was to discover how people spend their money on luxury items, savings, and necessities from generation to generation. This research was important to Lawana because she values education.

Education is a necessity. In my master’s program, I saw the theory behind where students of low income who are high achievers have less of a chance of completing college, compared to students who are low achieving but have high income. Those in the latter group have an increased chance of completing their degree. A lot of the students who do succeed from the first group are first generation students. Students need to have access to an education that fits their needs. GGC offers that type of access.

– Lawana

Lawana enjoyed GGC so much that she started working at the College after she graduated. Since then, she has been able to move up in several positions in a short period of time; another opportunity that has been afforded to Lawana because the College was new and different from other institutions. GGC’s uniqueness has transcended across two generations in Lawana’s family. Her two children have taken courses at GGC and her husband has been involved as a community partner in GGC’s African American Male Initiative, a program which Lawana once directed. Because of every opportunity that GGC has allowed Lawana to partake in, she gives back.

I give because someone gave for me. Someone sacrificed for me; someone made a way for me. You give because no man is an island; no one can do it on their own. We all need assistance from time to time. I’m obligated to give back as others have given for me. GGC is a great way for me to share my experiences. When you make it, as you make it, you are expected to give back; not always money, but also time and experiences.

– Lawana

Want to join Lawana in making an impact on the lives of GGC students? Learn more and make a gift online or by calling the Office of Advancement at (678) 407-5446.


Homero Gonzalez '11

Homero Gonzalez

12-time Emmy Award Winner and Georgia Gwinnett College alum, Homero Gonzalez attended the College when there were about 300 students and only one restaurant. He remembers how he met a lot of great people at that little restaurant. It was at GGC where he took his favorite classes – marketing and advertising – taught by Dr. Ansertvitz’, which led him to successfully start his own marketing firm, ULTIM Marketing.

Homero’s parents left everything behind in their native country of Mexico, to give him and his brothers the education they believed their children deserved. He first learned about GGC during a visit while he was in high school. Even though GGC was brand-new and still going through accreditation, Homero decided to attend because he truly believed in its mission and vision. He had originally planned to leave after completing his core classes, but now he is grateful that he stayed.

Professionally, GGC gave me the foundation to enter the real world and succeed. Personally, it changed my entire family. I was the first in my family to attend college, and the first to graduate. Consequently, my two brothers attended and graduated from GGC as well. I like to say that GGC gave my parents a house full of grizzlies.

– Homero

Homero knows there are many students who share stories similar to his own, students who are first-generation college students and despite not having all of the necessary resources to be successful, they fight on a daily basis to build a brighter future for themselves and their families. He believes these students deserve to accomplish their goals so that they too can experience how he felt when he walked across the stage to receive his degree.

Even though I will never be able to repay my parents for all they have done for my siblings and me, the day of my commencement, I felt like I was finally able to show them that their sacrifices were worth it. Giving back to GGC has allowed me to thank those who helped me along the way by paying forward the support I received as a student.  We are all responsible for the success of our community; if we want to thrive as a whole and see an improvement in our society, we must contribute to the success of others. Through our donations, we are enabling students to gain an education; and no one will ever be able to take it away from them. GO GRIZZLIES!!

– Homero

Want to join Homero in making an impact on the lives of GGC students? Learn more and make a gift online or by calling the Office of Advancement at (678) 407-5446.

Daryouch Aziz '08

Daryouch Aziz

Daryouch Aziz, the very first student to graduate from GGC, considers earning his degree as one of his biggest accomplishments. A Class of 2008 alumnus and GGC pioneer, Daryouch shares his favorite experiences were establishing student organizations and activities such as the Student Government Association while working with a limited number of students to become somewhat like a family.

Coming back to campus for pivotal moments like the library dedication in which the library was named after Dr. Kaufman, the founding President of GGC, brings back a flood of memories for Daryouch.

I spent a lot of time in the library, in between classes, and even when classes were not in session. It was pretty much my favorite place. We couldn’t have chosen a better person to name the library after other than Dr. Kaufman.

– Daryouch

Daryouch was originally drawn to GGC because of its convenient location, but after researching the founding members and their backgrounds, he knew that GGC was the best place to get his education. Years later, he knows that attending the College was a great decision.

GGC has given me the knowledge to become better in my career and help my community. By giving back to GGC, I am able to help the current and future students by providing access to the same opportunities I was given. Each time GGC graduates a successful class, these students become productive citizens working towards making the world a better place. Knowing that I am contributing to something bigger than me makes me feel good because GGC is such a great school.

– Daryouch

Want to join Daryouch in making an impact on the lives of GGC students? Learn more and make a gift online or by calling the Office of Advancement at (678) 407-5446.

Jonelle Faal '11

Jonelle Faal

One of Georgia Gwinnett College’s first freshman class students of 2007, Jonelle Faal '11 recalls what GGC was like “back then.” She was intrigued by “the campus of tomorrow” because of the opportunity to be a part of a community initiative from the ground up. After being a part of GGC since its early days and watching it grow, Jonelle has many memories, which bring a feeling of nostalgia whenever she visits different places on campus. When she sees the campus filled with a robust student body, it reminds her of the college’s vision, and how her class imagined what GGC would one day become.

Jonelle credits GGC as the springboard to her successful career in Commercial Real Estate. Her BBA with Finance concentration provided her with the core business acumen to stay relevant in a competitive industry and inspired her to pursue a specialized Master’s degree in Real Estate. Jonelle’s undergraduate experience at GGC was unique. 

I never could have imagined that part of my undergraduate experience would involve throwing on a hard hat, digging dirt to break ground, and participating in ribbon cutting ceremonies for new buildings such as the library, Student Center, and Student Housing. This sparked a passion; and the connection between that passion and what I was meant to do in life, happened on GGC’s campus.

– Jonelle

Whenever she can, Jonelle graciously donates time, resources and funds to GGC because she is grateful for the opportunities GGC has afforded her. She believes that the college is a unique concept, and its comprehensive student engagement model is working miracles for students who once thought a college education was unreachable. Her goal is to help to continue GGC’s mission, and to ensure the same opportunity is available for the next generation, and every generation after.

We rise by lifting others, and our success is truly measured by the lives we touch. My success was fostered on GGC’s campus because, in my time of need, someone believed the same. GGC provides a platform where even the smallest donation can have a major impact. Whether you give $5 or $500, you can be confident your contribution will change someone’s life.

– Jonelle

Want to join Jonelle in making an impact on the lives of GGC students? Learn more and make a gift online or by calling the Office of Advancement at (678) 407-5446.