A military veteran and a woman who spent her early years blind and deaf, received the highest honor the Lee County technical institutes can bestow on a student.
Cape Coral Institute of Technology named Ken Davidson as its student of the year, and named Briana Brewer, a recent graduate, the Fort Myers Institute of Technology student of the year.
Davidson, who graduated last week with his Electronic Technician's Industry Certification, maintained an A average while in the electronics technology program.
But it may have been what he has done for others that makes him really special.
"Just being nominated was quite an honor. I never knew about this award. It's just that when I got out of high school I wanted to be a teacher," Davidson said. "My mentality is, wherever I go, it's kicked in where I always tried to help."
Davidson, 47, was in the army for 11 years, and was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. There, he was instrumental in setting up an internet cafe for soldiers as well as organizing chess tournaments and classes. He still is involved in charity and social assistance work locally.
"We also set up a library there where we set up a couple thousand books and the Meridian Library System sent us a box of books every week," Davidson said.
Also, Ken organized a study group and created practice tests and put them online for his classmates to prepare for their industry certification test. Through these efforts, Ken assisted the electronics program to have the highest number of certifications ever.
"We do a lot of terminology, and I type it up on an internet site and they can do the matching on there, so it's like playing a game while you're learning," Davidson said. "It makes it easier than learning off index cards or off a piece of paper."
Teacher Brian Hart said the students have looked to Davidson as a big brother.
"He took right off with the program. He helped out the younger students. He asked them to talk to me, but they felt more comfortable talking with him and he never turned them down," teacher Brian Hart said. "He always went that little extra bit."
Davidson said he would like to work in the VA clinic so he could bridge his military time there. He added there are other places he would be interested in.
Brewer, a recent Early Childhood Education graduate, was blind and deaf for the first two years of her life. Despite that, she developed a successful and unique system for learning to read and write, and has published a book called "Bre's Way."
While at FMIT, Brewer achieved perfect attendance. She also earned the Florida Department of Children and Families' Certification and Early Childhood Professional Certification as well as Teaching Strategies Gold Basic Certification plus, the American Red Cross CPR/First Aid Certification. After school, she tutored two children in math, reading, and science.