Quincy Nolan is a self-employed real estate appraiser who enrolled in Greenville Technical College's Management and Marketing programs 12 years after he graduated from high school to improve his business knowledge. For him, going back to school was easy because he doesn't see what he's doing as studying for tests and assignments but as a way to invest in his future.
Investing in things of value is what Nolan wants to do for a living. Over time, he plans to implement what he's learning in classes that include Small Business Management, Accounting, Principles of Economics, and Advertising and Marketing. His ultimate goal is to become a real estate investor and to find ways that low-income families can reap the benefits of owning real estate.
Nolan, who will graduate with two associate degrees this spring, said his favorite class has been Personal Finance. "Not only did I pick up things that helped me in my business, that class helped me with life decisions and personal goals in finance," he said.
Nolan sees a technical background as good preparation for the direction in which Greenville's economy is heading. "The focus in Greenville is shifting toward jobs that require technical backgrounds and away from jobs of the past that were basically production work," he said. "The boost in the economy in Greenville is linked to the educational system, especially Greenville Tech. The knowledge and experience that you can receive here is probably underrated."
Nolan gives his education high marks. "All of my instructors have brought a lot of logical thinking and common sense to teaching," he says. "The courses are a good foundation for any business."
After hitting a "brick wall" in the field of human resources, Sandy White enrolled at Greenville Technical College in 1990 with the goal of earning an associate degree. With this degree, she would be able to break into management.
About the time she finished that first degree, however, the rules of the industry changed and she realized a bachelor's degree would be required. So White went on to earn that degree as well, which led to promotions in her career as she advanced her education.
White hasn't stopped since. After the associate and the bachelor's degrees came a Masters in Human Resource Development, a Masters in Management, and now a Masters in counseling. She also plans to start working toward her Ph.D. soon.
"All of my education and work experience have gone hand in hand," said White, vice president of administration for the Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce, "but the associate degree at Greenville Tech was my stepping stone."
Through her career in human resources, White often talks to colleagues about their educational plans. She encourages those who are hesitant about taking the first step to start slowly and go from there.
"Enroll and take your first class knowing that you have to get back into the swing of things," she said. "Take your time. The next semester, maybe take one class again. Then if you think you're doing better and you jump right in there, and it's going great, take two classes."
Though she isn't finished being a student yet, White has also entered the classroom from another angle, as a teacher for Greenville Technical College and Walden University. At Greenville Technical College, she uses some of the same textbooks used by bachelor's degree students, which she says is a plus for students planning to go on to the next level.
Even more important, she says, is that instructors bring the experience they've gained through years in business to the classroom, where examples come from work rather than from the textbook. That, she says, helps students do what she did - take the first step.
"Greenville Tech was a stepping stone for my future," she said. "It started everything off for me."