GGC student Kelly Mestas overcomes the odds


Georgia Gwinnett College’s (GGC) Kelly Mestas will join more than 460 other students who will graduate at GGC’s commencement ceremony, scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, at the Infinite Energy Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth. For her it was a long journey.

“You’ll never amount to anything.” “You’re not good enough.” “You can’t do it.” 

Those were the messages that the little voice in Kelly Mestas’ head kept repeating to her. Mestas graduated from high school as a single mother with a five-year-old son. Yet even after achieving that milestone, the little voice kept pestering her. Its negative implication was something that she felt defined her. 

Until she decided to do something about it. 

Mestas, who today is a business major with a concentration in international business, decided that she didn’t want to become what she called “another statistic.” So after working for a few years, she decided to further her education – and forge a brighter future for her and her son. 

When her first foray into higher education did not work out, she did more research and decided that GGC would better fit her needs. 

“I remember being nervous about applying,” she explained. “I thought the hardest part was going to be to get in. I soon realized I was wrong.”

Mestas entered GGC as a freshman in 2016. She loved the diversity of the student body and the variety of classes available to her. She rediscovered her roots in her Linguistic Diversity class. She fell in love with the French culture in her French language class. She overcame her fear of public speaking in her Communicating in Business class. And ever so slowly, the little voice that quelled her confidence for most of her life gave way to determination. 

“These classes were giving me the skills I wanted in life. There were many moments where I was awestruck. My classes became doors that opened to many possibilities, or gave me opportunities to learn outside the classroom.” 

One of those opportunities was her participation in a study abroad program, led by GGC’s School of Business. Mestas traveled to France where she immersed herself into the French culture using skills she learned in the classroom.

During that time, she met new people. She expanded her skill set. She gained new perspectives that will last a lifetime. 

Not everything was easy. There were many times when the negative voice gained traction. Mestas suffered through the loss of loved ones. She thought about transferring to another institution. While she was a student, she worked part-time. Both time and money were tight. She thought about quitting school and going back into the workforce. 

“It’s true when people say that ‘you’re your own worst enemy.’” But Mestas learned that she could also be her biggest supporter. “I believed that I could, and it got me through the rough spots.”

The voice that used to tell Mestas the she couldn’t, now tells her that she can and she will. 

The future looks bright for Mestas, who wants to pursue her master’s degree and someday a doctorate. “GGC gave me a path and opened possibilities,” she said. “I’m really grateful for the opportunity.”

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