Great American workers often use their hard work as a springboard to new adventures and opportunities. Such is the case with Penelope Graben, winner of this year's Brawny Industrial® brand Great American Worker Contest. Penelope, a veterinary technician from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., who is studying to become a veterinarian, was selected from among 10 finalists in the contest and is the winner of the grand prize, a new Ford® F-150.

Every year, Georgia-Pacific Professional sets out to find the men and women whose ideas, hard work and dedication make a difference every day on the job and in their communities. In doing so, the company undertakes a national search, including the review of many heart-felt nominations, the selection of 10 finalists and a call for the public's votes to help select the winner. Of the 10 inspiring finalists in this year's contest, Penelope received the most public votes.
"I feel extremely grateful and really excited to be selected," said Penelope, who worked five years as a vet tech while earning her undergraduate degree in medicinal biochemistry at the University of West Florida. Since entering the contest, Penelope was accepted and has enrolled in a doctor of veterinary medicine program. "I plan to graduate in December 2016 and would like to go into mission work once I pay off my student loan."
While working and going to undergraduate school in Florida, Penelope assisted in teaching organic chemistry and biology labs as a second job. In addition, she volunteered with a local animal shelter and a local horse rescue program. That is the kind of dedication that is honored by the Great American Worker contest.
"I feel the hours and years I have spent working as a vet tech have really given me the discipline I need to obtain my doctor of veterinary medicine degree, and will help me apply the things I learn in the program to real-world situations," Penelope said. "I am so grateful to Brawny Industrial and to everyone who voted for me for helping me realize my dream. And I am honored to be among all the outstanding workers who were finalists in this year's contest."
The 2013 Great American Worker contest drew entries from a diverse range of dedicated workers who care about their jobs, their families and their communities. "We learned about police officers, welders, safety advocates, aircraft mechanics, business owners and managers, utility linemen and freight company drivers," said Alex Volpe, Georgia-Pacific Professional vice president – towel and wiper category. "Among these talented workers, Penelope stood out as an individual with big dreams and the intelligence and initiative to make them a reality. The number of popular votes she received was a testament to the support she has from her family, friends and community around Fort Walton Beach."
The Great American Worker contest recognizes those who exhibit safety and productivity on the job while contributing initiative and leadership to create a stronger community. Think you or someone you know could be the next Great American Worker? Stay tuned for information about the 2014 search and learn more about Penelope's story by visiting
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