Lorraine Ross excelled at accounting in high school, and she knew that eventually that was what she wanted to do. It just took her awhile to find the time and the opportunity.
Once she enrolled in Greenville Technical College's Accounting program 10 years after high school graduation, she knew her natural ability with numbers was still there.
"I sailed through accounting," she says. "It was like I could go to class and not even take notes - just sit there. But biology - that was a different story."
Once she transferred to USC Upstate through a two-plus-two agreement that allowed her to enter the university as a junior, she felt well-prepared.
"I felt like I was very well-prepared, but I missed Greenville Tech," she says. "I missed the compassion from the teachers. They were more like friends and were eager for you to learn rather than the type of instructor who thinks you get it or you don't."
Now working as a member of the inside sales force with Toshiba Business Solutions/Carolinas, Ross uses her accounting skills every day on the job. She keeps her own books, uses debits and credits, and completes small tax forms during tax season.
Going back to school, though, gave her more than accounting knowledge. She gained confidence in herself and courage to try new things.
With no regrets about pursuing her first career choice, Ross encourages others to do the same. "I'm doing exactly what I want to do," she says. "Never give up on your dream."
Patricia Stevenson knew her career would involve numbers early on. While still in high school, she used early dismissal to work at a bank.
Later she realized that even though she'd worked in and around accounting since she was 17, a degree would give her a more complete understanding of the underlying accounting functions and processes that technology often automates, which would in turn increase her earning potential.
So after moving to the Upstate from Minnesota, Stevenson enrolled at Greenville Technical College where many of the credits she had earned years back in Ohio were accepted.
Before she graduated from the accounting program, Stevenson had lined up a job with Elliott Davis. "After interviewing with them, I realized that Elliott Davis was a good fit for me," she says. "It all fell into place."
As an account specialist with the firm's Business Services Group, Stevenson provides clients with a broad range of accounting services including accounts receivable and payable, payroll, bank reconciliations and specialized activities.
"I enjoy working with my clients, often at their locations, and helping them meet their business goals," she says.
Stevenson says her classes provided practical information. "I know that every single class, and I mean every class I took, applies to my job now," she says. "There's no fluff in the program."
Stevenson says the degree has been a big step forward. "The degree had a huge impact on my career," she says. "I could have put myself in that state of mind that I didn't need to keep going forward and actually have a degree."
Now Stevenson has plans for the next step. She wants to earn a bachelor's degree in accounting through a Greenville Technical College agreement with Franklin University.
"I feel like a degree gives me the knowledge and self confidence I need to evaluate which career goals are best for me, and Elliott Davis is an awesome support in helping me to reach those goals," she says.