Graduate Spotlight - University Transfer

Being open to detours leads to success

ut-PruittAmanda Pruitt worked in the International Education Office at Greenville Technical College while earning an associate degree. That experience led her to apply to be part of the Ship for World Youth program, traveling to Japan, Oman and India over a two-month period to promote diplomacy and peace. 

A student in the Honors Program, she graduated from Greenville Technical College in 2007, went on to Furman University, earning a bachelor's degree in Religion and Asian Studies in 2011. Now she's enrolled at Duke University, where she's pursuing a master's degree in religious studies, and learning from Richard Jaffe, whose research centers on the development of Japanese Buddhism from the sixteenth century to the present. While she has pursued an education, Amanda has encountered many struggles as the mother of two has juggled work, school, and family. Her advice to others: "Just keep pushing through it, and eventually you'll succeed no matter what. You may not get what you wanted. Instead, you may get what you didn't know you wanted, so be open to the detours in life."

Long road takes leads to right direction

ut-CruellFor most of Malcolm Cruell's eight years, he has known his Mom as a student. Though he doesn't care too much for homework himself, he's seen his mother complete plenty of it, study for tests, and finish assignments. Risa Cruell enrolled in college classes before becoming pregnant, dropped out for about a year, and then came back when Malcolm was a year old. Since then, she's been employed full-time while studying toward an associate degree that will transfer to a four-year university. 

Cruell worked in textiles for years, moving from plant to plant as closures and layoffs left her searching for another opportunity. By 2002, she had found what she thought was a secure textile position, earning more money than ever before in her career. A layoff that year took her by surprise and convinced her to figure out what to do beyond textiles. She had already started taking classes at Greenville Technical College, and began to gravitate toward special education, knowing it would challenge her while giving her the chance to make a difference in the lives of special children.

If the choice of a new career was a difficult one, making a college selection was easy. "Greenville Tech fit me and the needs I had as a student," she says. "I liked the availability of classes with day, evening, and weekend choices, and I liked the class size, which didn't allow me to get lost in the shuffle."

Cruell, who has now transferred to USC Upstate, will soon complete her degree in education. But her educational path will be far from over, and that's fine with Malcolm. His hope is to have her teach at his school.

Charter school grad finishes USC in 3 years

Andrew Cron graduated from Greenville Technical Charter High School in 2006. Thanks to the college credits he earned along with his high school diploma, he was able to complete a bachelor's degree in three years.

Cron, who started out at University of South Carolina as a double major in math and business, thought the business aspect would interest him and only added math because he was good at it. He quickly discovered that he really liked statistics courses and really disliked business courses, so he changed his major to math and statistics.

The only disadvantage, he says, of entering college with nearly three semesters in credits, was that other freshmen got to start out in general education classes while he plunged right into statistical theory. The cushion, however, allowed him to pursue other interests. "It gave me a lot of freedom to take several classes in biology and genetics that I didn't get credit for, but I had hours to spare, and it was something I wanted to learn," he says. "I still graduated early because I had so many extra hours."

Cron has now started work at Duke University on a Ph.D. in statistics. His hope is to work with biostatistics, applying that to medical research, either in the pharmaceutical area or in genetics.

The head start on college he earned through taking Greenville Technical College classes while at the charter school will allow Cron to finish his Ph.D. studies by the age of 25. Still, he says, what he did is fairly common at the Charter School. Cron's fiancée earned an equal number of credits and even though a college switch caused her to lose a few credits, she also graduated early. In fact, Cron says, many of the charter school students in his class finished with between 25 and 35 credit hours.

USC Upstate education major starts at GTC

Roy Schlaudt is a student at USC Upstate in Spartanburg, but he lives in Greenville. So whenever he can, Schlaudt picks up a course requirement at Greenville Technical College. It saves him time, and it saves him money.

Schlaudt is earning a degree in middle school education. With that age group, he says, education is critical. "This age group requires maybe a little more training and understanding of what the kids are going through," he says.

With two children in high school, Schlaudt wishes he'd had the advantage of this information when his own children were of middle school age. The curriculum, he says, has included two semesters spent on the unique social, emotional, and intellectual needs of middle grade students. "When they're behaving erratically and your normal response would be punishment, you gain some understanding as to what lies behind that behavior so that you can pause to think about the situation before reacting," he says. "It gives you perspective."

Schlaudt, whose background has included owning a motorcycle dealership and serving as the general sales manager for an automotive dealership, says the key to success with middle school students is preparation. "These guys are really smart, and if you haven't taken the time to prepare, it's like a bad comedy act," he says. "They will absolutely tear you to pieces if they sense you don't know what you're talking about."

Education courses, he believes give you the tools to develop a structure so that preparation can pay off. "If you run into a snag, rather than waste valuable time, you have a plan that allows you to move on," he says. "It gives you a roadmap of what's going to happen."