Stacey Gardner was looking for stability in a second career when some colleagues in the first lost their jobs as they approached retirement. So after 26 years in automotive textiles, Gardner went to Greenville Technical College's Pharmacy Technician program.
Working full time, going to school full time, and being a husband and father of four make for a very busy schedule. "If a quarter gets dropped in the wrong place, whoa," Gardner said. "Everything has to be scheduled."
In addition to having a skill he describes as something nobody can take away from him, Gardner appreciates the fact that as a pharmacy technician, he deals with the public on issues that truly matter.
"In my first career, you never dealt with the public, and you dealt with routine items. You weren't dealing with something that was major in someone's life. But in this field, you can affect someone's life not only with your personality but with the way you do your work," he said.
Gardner's daughters, who range in age from 9 to 21, get to see their dad reach a goal. It's important, he said, that they know that reaching that goal has taken a lot of hard work. For him that has meant taking one day at a time and one week at a time, achieving what he needs to in that period of time, and continuing.
Starting a new career chapter is both challenging and exciting. "There are times when you think you can't make it, but it's been exciting just seeing that it's not something I couldn't achieve," he said.
Angel Morgan graduated from Greenville Technical College’s Pharmacy Technician program and began work at St. Francis Hospital soon after. Her new job is exactly what she wanted. She works second shift, enjoys the people, and feels comfortable with her job skills.
At age 20, she’s far more settled than many of her friends. “A lot of my friends are just now in their second year of college, and they really don’t know what they want to do,” she said.
Even though she’s decided on a career, Morgan feels confident that with many changes on the way for her field, it will always be exciting. Once, she said, only a pharmacist could check the work of a pharmacy technician. Now that technicians are required to have more education, certified technicians can check the work of their peers. This gives technicians more responsibility and frees up the pharmacist’s time so that the operation can be more productive.
Morgan, who was unsure of her plans when she left high school, found the pharmacy field through a job at Eckerd’s. “I really enjoyed that job, so I decided that if I like what I’m doing, why not go to school for it? I checked online, and it turned out Greenville Tech did have the Pharmacy Tech program,” she said.
She recommends that other people who aren’t sure of their career plans follow a similar path of trying out careers through work experience. “Try a couple of different things, and see where it leads you,” she said. “Going through high school, I had a couple of different jobs that could have taken me different places. I got into pharmacy, and that’s what I really love.”