VALDOSTA – After nearly a decade in the making, Wiregrass Georgia Technical College’s Valdosta campus unveiled the new Edward and Rhonda Mark Health Sciences Building this week.
Wiregrass President DeAnnia Clements said the 96,100-square-foot building provides much-needed up-to-date, high-tech classrooms and lab space for the college and will house programs including, but not limited to nursing, nursing technician, dental assisting and a new chemistry curriculum.
The Marks said they were inspired to give back to the school following a tour when the school was known as the Valdosta Technical Institute.
“There were so many programs and so many students in one relatively small building. They were doing a lot with not much space and they were doing a really good job of it,” he said.
“I came back for a second tour in the 2000s when she was president, and after that tour, Dr. (Tina) Anderson (former Wiregrass president) showed me her administration’s vision for the building that we see today. I decided to do my own informal survey of all the people who help me take care of my patients; 90% of them received an education at Val Tech.”
Edward Marks said an opportunity to help the community was staring him in the face, and he and his wife spent the next several years ensuring that a newer health science complex would come to fruition.
Clements said it wasn’t the construction of the building that took up the bulk of its development but carefully crafting its design to accommodate its new state-of-the-art medical labs to help with hands-on learning.
“Edward and Rhonda officially pledged their support for the college in 2014. No one could have predicted how the demand for health care professionals would increase in what seems like overnight,” she said.
“I’m grateful for visionary leaders. President Anderson, who retired last year, always saw the need to update our training spaces at the college. It is thanks to her diligence and the Marks’ dedication that we’re seeing the beautiful campus in front of us today.”
So far, the student reaction to the new training space has been positive. Sharyshma Reynolds, a student receiving her associate of science in nursing this May, said the new building has enabled her and her peers to learn at full capacity and gives them practical experience for the workforce.
“We started out in January of 2021 in the older building, which was smaller, so that forced us to start at a virtual capacity because we weren’t able to social distance. This building has been a blessing for us to be able to learn at full capacity and give us everything we need to get by. The labs are phenomenal,” she said.
Edward Mark concluded the program by urging the community to look into Wiregrass’ “other impressive programs” by touring the facilities.
“Today is all about the new Health and Sciences building but Wiregrass as a whole has amazing educational and training opportunities. It would be best if everyone here were to look into them,” he said.