Piedmont Technical College honors graduates during commencement


More than 300 Piedmont Technical College graduates for two commencement ceremonies were welcomed to celebrate their accomplishments.

NEWBERRY COUNTY — The James Medford Family Event Center at Piedmont Technical College welcomed more than 300 Piedmont Technical College graduates for two commencement ceremonies to celebrate their accomplishments.

Dr. Ray Brooks, president, welcomed graduates, family and guests to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates.

“We’re here tonight to celebrate hard work, dedication, dreams and realization of those dreams for each of you,” Brooks said. “You’ve come a long way and you’ve overcome a lot of obstacles, but you’ve made it to this step. This is not the end, this is the beginning.”

Brooks was followed by the commencement speakers. During the afternoon ceremony for business and information technology, public service, industrial and engineering technologies, graduates were addressed by Malaurie Hullings, an engineering graphics technology and Associate in Arts graduate from Plum Branch; and Kenneth Washington, a mechatronics major from Hodges.

Hullings began her experiences with Piedmont Tech as a dual enrollment student at McCormick High School. She completed two degrees and is returning in the summer to pursue a third. She encouraged her fellow graduates to take the opportunity and make it their own new beginning.

“Whether it’s a new degree program like mine or the beginning of the workforce, don’t settle for anything less than whatever creates passion inside you,” she said. “Every graduate sitting before me deserves the best. We’ve worked hard; we deserve this and we deserve everything that follows.”

Washington shared the experiences within the workforce that led him to enroll at Piedmont Tech. He commended the graduates for overcoming the many challenges they faced on their journey.

“Regardless of the road we traveled, this day belongs to us,” he said. “We’ve been clothed in the robes of knowledge and crowned with the cap of understanding. As we prepare to move forward from this commencement ceremony, we will pursue our different paths and forge our own way.”

Graduates at the evening ceremony for Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, health science and nursing were addressed by three graduating students – Megan Strutko, an Associate in Arts graduate from Greenwood; Juanita Gilchrist, a human services major from Greenwood; and John Calhoun, an associate degree nursing major from Silverstreet.

Strutko, as the oldest of four children, knew paying for her college education would be her responsibility. Her father encouraged her to look to a community college for the first two years and she reluctantly enrolled at Piedmont Tech.

“After doing my own research into tuition costs, living expenses and book costs, I knew paying for college was no joke,” she said. “I quickly realized the decision to attend Piedmont Tech was the best thing I could have ever done for myself.”

Gilchrist first came to Piedmont Tech in the 1970s. She graduated from the secretarial sciences program and worked for several businesses before enlisting in the United States Navy. After completing 20 years of service, she returned to PTC with the goal of earning her degree in human services so she could continue to help others.

“Piedmont Technical College has played an important role in my life, helping me fulfill my dreams 40 years ago and today,” she said. “I wish much success for each of you today and hope you will learn to fulfill your dreams in the future.”

Calhoun spoke of the visions of the successful future that each graduate held. He encouraged the graduates to look to themselves for strength in the years to come.

“When things don’t go your way, think not about some neat quote you found on the internet. Don’t waste a bunch of time thinking about how your best friend or your cousin or Michael Jordan got through their challenges. Think about you,” he said. “You are your best motivational quote. You created your quote when you built your vision for your future and decided no one and nothing was going to stand in your way.”

Presenting this year’s graduates was Andy Omundson, associate vice president for student affairs. Certificates, diplomas and associate degrees were conferred by Brooks and Dr. Jack Bagwell, vice president for academic affairs, with assistance from board chairman Y. J. Ahn; Dr. Bradley Griggs, dean of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Jerry Alewine, dean of health science; Tara Harris, dean of nursing; Sissy Copeland, dean of business, information technologies and public service; and David Kibler, interim dean of engineering and industrial technologies.

The macebearer was Tracy Wright, faculty senate president. The mace was designed by members of the faculty and staff and presented to the college in 1991 by PTC’s Alumni Association. Music was provided by Emerald City Brass. Rev. Charles Sprouse, pastor of First Baptist Church 96 in Ninety Six, delivered the invocation and benediction.

Newberry County

Chappells: Heather M. Ek, associate in applied science, major in administrative office technology, medical concentration.

Kinards: Latosha Nicole Johnson, associate in applied science, major in general business, accounting concentration.

Little Mountain: Joyce Lee Bannister, associate in applied science, major in administrative office technology, medical coding/billing concentration; *Cynthia Fitzpatrick, associate in applied science, major in early care and education; Reagan Hope Frick, associate in applied science, major in electronic engineering technology; **Steven Austin Harris, diploma in applied science, major in welding; Lauren Michelle Hook, associate in applied science, major in administrative office technology, medical coding/billing concentration; Frances W. McGinn, associate in applied science, major in administrative office technology, medical coding/billing concentration; Stevie Abigail Smith, associate in applied science, major in veterinary technology; and Courtney Diane Swafford, associate in applied science, major in general business, accounting concentration.

Newberry: Kody Coleman Brown, associate in arts; Melissa Leigh Danielsen, associate in applied science, major in veterinary technology; Erin Michelle Davenport, associate in applied science, major in early care and education, infant/toddler care concentration; Pia Valene Dolman, associate in applied science, major in administrative office technology, medical concentration; Janeyatte L. Gary, associate in applied science, major in criminal justice; Charlene Nichole Hester, associate in applied science, major in nursing; Crystal Shanta Houseal, associate in applied science, major in general business, accounting concentration; **Rebecca Elizabeth Kinard, associate in applied science, major in engineering graphics technology; Charles Alexander McJunkins, associate in applied science, major in computer technology, programming concentration; Tessa Michelle Meetze, associate in applied science, major in veterinary technology; Benjamin Derrick Moore, associate in applied science, major in criminal justice; Vanessa Andreana Moran, associate in applied science, major in nursing; ***Brandon Lee Simon, associate in applied science, major in mechanical engineering technology; *Donna Smith Vincent, associate in applied science, major in general business, office management concentration; **Keshia Leann Williams, associate in applied science, major in general business, management concentration; and Eugene F. Workman, associate in arts.

Pomaria: Kristen Dawn Craddock, certificate in accounting.

Prosperity: Sara Crim, associate in applied science, major in general business, accounting concentration; Elizabeth Sidney Fulmer, associate in applied science, major in administrative office technology, medical coding/billing concentration; Barron Andrew Roberts, associate in applied science, major in heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology; and **Caitlin Diane Stockman, associate in applied science, major in computer technology, network concentration.

Silverstreet: Korysa Lavisha Perry-Davis, associate in applied science, major in general technology, medical assisting concentration.

Whitmire: Faith A. Long, associate in applied science, major in nursing; and Jessica Wicker Weathers, associate in applied science, major in nursing.

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