When Jessie Stanion left high school in California, she I did not expect to attend college. However, at age 23, living in Greenville, she decided to take night classes at Greenville Technical College. That decision ultimately led her to finish her studies at Greenville Tech and transfer to Furman, where she received the Alden Transfer Scholarship and graduated in 2014 with a degree in neuroscience. Stanion wrote about her educational journey in an op-ed for The Greenville News
Many people come to Greenville Technical College before going to a university. For Sarah Plyler, it happened the other way around. Halfway through her senior year as a mathematics and German major at Georgetown University, she decided to pursue medicine. Realizing that post-baccalaureate pre-med programs can be very expensive with few scholarships available, she decided to take required science courses at Greenville Technical College.
At GTC, she was surprised to find many other students who were changing fields. "I was not expecting the number of students who had already completed bachelor's degrees and were enrolling at Greenville Tech because they wanted to pursue a different field from their previous course of studies," she says.
By the time Plyler came to Greenville Technical College, the college had become a family tradition. "My sister and mother both attended Greenville Tech, my sister as an Honors program student and my mother as a computer programming student," she says. "They both had positive views of Greenville Tech's programs, so I came to Tech with high expectations that were fulfilled."
The Honors program offered an enriching academic experience and a small group of supportive friends. Classmates and professors encouraged and inspired her. When it came time to apply to medical school, her professors provided strong recommendations.
This fall, she'll begin her studies at the Medical University of South Carolina. "I feel confident and prepared to begin my medical courses in the fall," she says. "Greenville Tech was an affordable alternative that allowed me to achieve my goals."
Brad Eason knows numbers. Planning a career as an accountant, he's figured out that by starting his bachelor's degree at Greenville Technical College and transferring to Clemson University's Calhoun Honors College as a junior, he's saved around $8,000.
Saving money wasn't the only advantage for Brad, who plans to stay at Clemson and earn a master's degree before he takes the C.P.A. exam. He enjoyed the people he met in Greenville Technical College's University Transfer Honors program and small classes that allowed him to get to know other students and the instructors. "Honors gave me a better relationship with other students that I wouldn't have had otherwise," he says.
Brad, who was home schooled, learned about Greenville Technical College from his mother, who had majored in nursing there. Both he and his mom are big believers in the opportunities the college affords. "I think people should know about the option of going to Greenville Tech and transferring. It really opens the dream of college to everyone. I think it's a great opportunity that's right here in Greenville, " he says.
Brad is considering several options within the field of accounting. "I've recently been looking at forensic accounting, which deals with fraud prevention. I had never heard about it before entering Clemson. We had a guest speaker in one of my classes, and it sounded very interesting and new. I'd like to go into that or auditing," he says.
Whichever option he chooses, Brad is sure that with his abilities and the opportunities available, accounting adds up to a good career match.
Rashida Ali-Mubarek could have chosen any college when she decided to return to school. But this wife and mother of three - soon to be four - and Air Force veteran chose Greenville Technical College. Why? Reputation was one factor.
"Through the years, even when I was in the Air Force, I kept track of Greenville Tech. I knew what was going on, and I knew the reputation," said Ali-Mubarek.
Though the college's reputation has remained strong over the years, Ali- Mubarek says Greenville Technical College has changed along the way, too. "It's a real college now. When I say real college, I mean people in the D.C. Metro area where I applied at three schools have heard of Greenville Tech and they know the reputation," she said.
The University of Maryland at College Park is one of those schools where she has been accepted. Her plans are to earn a bachelor's degree in public health and a master's degree in maternal child health.
Taking at least a full load each semester, she plans to stick with it and finish as quickly as possible. "I'm 36 years old," she said. "I don't have the leisure of taking one or two classes here or there. I have to get it done. I have certain objectives for myself. I want an education. I want it very badly. At some point, I'd like to grow up and join the work force in my field."
When she reaches that point, she'd like a job that involves international travel. Her goal is to work for the International Red Cross or the World Health Organization, educating women about healthy lifestyle choices. "Whether we like it or not, we women are the backbone of society," she said. "And if you can educate women about healthy lifestyle choices, healthy eating and nutrition, and the importance of exercise they will in turn teach their children and their husbands, and it will help better the society as a whole."
Meanwhile, Ali-Mubarek is educating her own children about the value of education. Two are enrolled at Greenville Technical College's Child Development Center, and even though they're only 3 and 5, they ask their teachers for homework, so that they can be part of the family study group. Their 14-year-old sister has plenty of homework of her own as a student in Southside High School's International Baccalaureate program.
As Ali-Mubarek moves on, the only adjustment she anticipates is not having as much access to her instructors, something she's really enjoyed with Greenville Technical College's University Transfer Honors program. In other ways, she thinks the two environments are very much alike. "I know Greenville Tech is a two-year school, but is has a lot of the same things you would find at a four-year school to include the honors program, seminars, and visiting lecturers. We have the same type of environment that a four-year school has."
Michelle O'Malley wasn't an overachiever who checked out the Greenville Technical College Honors Program before she enrolled at the college. In fact, when she enrolled after about 20 years away from school, she took a couple of courses at a time and was surprised by how well she did.
When she was approached about the honors program, she was at first reluctant. Then she took an honors class, and she was sold. Now she uses that progression from underachiever to overachiever to inspire her sixth grade science students at League Academy.
"I try to encourage my kids not to let anybody tell them they can't do anything," she said. "I tell them the only person holding them back is themselves, and some people just have to work a little harder than others."
O'Malley also borrows from a broad range of teachers that she experienced as a student. Her least favorites were those who just lectured the whole class period while her favorites incorporated technology and hands-on activity into the learning experience.
Keeping sixth graders focused and interested can be difficult, so O'Malley makes sure that kids aren't just sitting there listening to her as their faces glaze over but instead have their hands on what they're learning about.
O'Malley had served as a substitute teacher when her own children were in middle school because she wanted to be around them at a time when some kids have a tendency to go off track. Now she knows it's right where she belongs. "I feel comfortable with middle school," she said. "Sixth grade is really the age I enjoy."
In Greenville Technical College's Honors Program, O'Malley got a great foundation for further education, a tradition she passes on to her own students. "I loved the Greenville Tech Honors Program," she said. "I thought it was interactive, I loved the small classes, and I liked the fact that the teachers cared. It was just a great experience."