(Media release from Georgia Northwestern Technical College):

A social worker who graduated from Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) channels the strength she developed through her own hardships to help disabled adults overcome hurdles to gainful employment.

Jill McBee, a rehabilitation counselor 1 at Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency in LaFayette, said she helps disabled adults to go back to school, to get the services they need to return to work and to find jobs.

“I am a domestic violence survivor,” McBee said. “When I had no luck finding a counselor to help me understand why I kept going back to my abuser, I applied for the social work program at GNTC. I decided that there must be a great need for counselors because I couldn’t find one, so I decided to become one!”

In October, GNTC will celebrate its 60th anniversary of providing quality workforce education to the citizens of northwest Georgia. Successful GNTC graduates are being spotlighted in a series, leading up to the anniversary’s observance.

McBee, a Walker County resident, graduated from Rossville High School in 1986, got married, had children, got divorced and then married a younger man, whom she described as “very controlling and abusive,” she said.

“I gave up custody of my children to their father, moved out of my house, put everything in a storage unit and sold the house,” she said. “I lived in my car for four months until I met a couple who offered me a room. They encouraged me to go back to school to study social work.”

She enrolled in the Social Work Assistant program on the Walker County Campus in Rock Spring, she said.

Her abuser stalked and attacked her, and followed her onto the campus while she was a GNTC student, she said, adding that Pam Turner, director and instructor of GNTC’s Social Work Assistant program, helped her develop a safety plan. McBee got a Temporary Protection Order and alerted GNTC Police that her abuser had followed her in the school in case he followed her there again.

“There were times I questioned if I could be a counselor or if I could advocate for other people when, at the time, I was so broken,” McBee said. “In that brokenness, I learned that my journey was a building block to my future. Pam Turner, as well as all of the other instructors at GNTC, poured their hearts out to me; some knew my struggle when others did not have a clue.”

Turner recognized her grit and hard work, nominating McBee for the college’s Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) in 2018. McBee was a semi-finalist.

“Jill is strong, courageous and determined. She sets her goals and works for them,” said Jerry Campbell, a therapist who worked with McBee on some issues and is proud to have been part of her journey. Campbell operates a private practice as a counselor and also serves as a therapist with the Children’s Advocacy Center for the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit; he formerly was a counselor at the Center for Hope.

McBee earned certificates specializing in Addictions, Domestic and Family Violence, and Eligibility Determination at GNTC. She graduated from GNTC with a Social Work Assistant diploma in 2017 and her Social Work Assistant associate degree in 2018.

Matthew Salmon, interim district manager for Vocational Rehabilitation District 1, supervises McBee. He said she has been a great addition to that team, draws on her experience and education and frequently advises fellow counselors how to proceed with clients.

McBee said Turner encouraged her “to reach for the stars” after she graduated from GNTC and to continue her education. She attended Indiana Wesleyan University online for her bachelor’s degree and then University of Pikeville for her master’s degree.

She is being coached by Academic Coaches of World Changers to help her prepare for her licensure; Turner founded that coaching group. McBee said she is studying for her Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) exam while also performing supervised hours to prepare for her Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) exam.

She needs 3,000 hours and 120 supervised hours before she can take the LCSW exam, which she expects to do in the next two-and-a-half years to become the counselor she was looking for, she said.  

“Jill is amazing,” Turner said. “Our relationship has gone from student-teacher to that of peers. I have had the pleasure to watch the quiet student who rarely said anything grow into a social worker who changes the world on a daily basis.”

Turner said, “I am glad that GNTC was one of the places that gave her the experience she needed to be a Master Level Social Worker.”

The courses at GNTC taught her how to interview clients and how to advocate for them, McBee said. Those skills and experience prepared her for her current job, where she has worked since July.

“The coursework at GNTC not only gave me the confidence and the strength I needed to move on with my life and a great foundation to move on with my career,” she said, “but also helped me find myself, kept me safe and taught me how to share that with others.”

Salmon said he is grateful for the educational foundation McBee received at GNTC’s Social Work program.

“I am amazed by her knowledge of the field and her ability to be a great case worker,” he said.

For more information about GNTC’s Social Work Assistant program, contact us Monday through Friday, 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., at (866) 983-4682 or visit