Elease Dillard

Bachelor of Science in cell biology, biotechnology concentration, 2015Elease Dillard

Founder and owner, The Student Navigator
Host, Break the Odds

Describe what you do and how GGC may have played a role to prepare you for success in your job.
As the founder and owner of The Student Navigator, we navigate students towards funding their education, debt-free. I also host the show, Break the Odds. The show’s platform helps individuals break the odds in their life, family, career, and communities.

GGC Prepared Me Academically

As a student, I enrolled in an elective offered by the GGC Honors Program (taught by Dr. Doug Johnson) that was about how to be a global change agent. It was during that course that I began to really reflect on how I could make a positive difference in the world. In addition, I took business electives that provided me with a behind-the-scenes glimpse of owning a business.

Fast-forward to two weeks before graduating from GGC, I gave a speech on campus about how I funded my entire college education debt-free without taking out any loans along the way. After my presentation, the response I received from students made me realize that many students lacked a go-to resource to navigate them towards funding their education debt-free. I decided to change that and founded The Student Navigator to serve as that go-to resource for students. It was that speech at GGC, coupled with business and leadership courses that I took that inspired me to start my own business to make a positive difference.

A Supportive Network

When The Student Navigator was a semi-finalist for a Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce Pinnacle Small Business Award, the GGC community was so supportive and spread the word with their network to vote for The Student Navigator. The same happened when my book Funding College Debt-Free was released – the GGC community cheered me on and shared it with their network. My book became the #1 New Release on Amazon for its category.

Leadership Opportunities and Community Involvement

Lastly, GGC provided many opportunities to get involved on campus which prepared me for my public speaking career and how to be a leader in the community. Now, I host the show Break the Odds where I have the opportunity to interview industry experts and individuals who are also making a positive impact in the world and serving as a leader in their family, career and communities. The show now has an international audience.

Has your life changed since graduation, and if so, how has earning a degree contributed to that change?
When I crossed the stage debt-free and officially earned my degree from GGC, I had a blank canvas and the freedom to fully go after my dreams without the burden of student loan debt.

I have since become a business owner, author, speaker, and now a host.

While earning my degree (cell biology, concentration in biotechnology), I had the opportunity to do neuroscience research for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and also for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Although I am a business owner, I speak and share my knowledge about STEM with youth and teens in the community. I also have been selected to serve on an advisory board for an upcoming research center.

Why do you give back to GGC through donations and volunteering your time?
The experience I had at GGC was truly life changing. The support I experienced from GGC faculty and staff made a huge impact in my personal life, academic success, and now career. I want to pay it forward and be a part of making GGC even greater for the next generation of students and alumni.