The multipurpose building at Piedmont Technical College in Greenwood was the setting for the finale of hours of study for more than 350 Piedmont Tech graduates who took center stage in two commencement ceremonies.
Dr. Ray Brooks, president, welcomed graduates, family and guests to what he called “milestones in the lives of these students.”
“Even though times are tough in this country and all around the world right now,” Brooks said, “we still live in one of the greatest countries in the world because of one single thing and I think that’s opportunity.”
Brooks was followed by the commencement speakers. The afternoon address for Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, business and public service, engineering and industrial technology graduates was delivered by two graduating students: Jode Robinson, a mechanical engineering technology transfer certificate student form Johnston; and Jean Williams, a computer technology graduate from Newberry.
Williams told fellow graduates her trip to Piedmont Tech had been a long one, including many years behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler, becoming the first female deputy with the Newberry County Sherriff’s Office and data entry.
“As I graduate today, I still have questions about my future,” she said, “but I feel that Piedmont Technical College has prepared me to travel down this new road.”
Robinson said the expectations that have been faced and met do not stop here with this graduation.
“The most valuable asset earned here at Piedmont Tech is not the friends, the memories or even the degree, rather it is the experience gained,” he said.
Speakers for the evening ceremony for health science and nursing graduates were Cynthia Simpson, a nursing major from Abbeville; Sonia Woods, a practical nursing graduate from Abbeville; and Graham Wright, a cardiovascular technology major from Greenwood.
Simpson said she wanted to talk to the graduates about a topic she knew each faced and something she personally knows about and that is fear.
“Fear is a terrible thing. And it can keep us from reaching our true potential. I believe that everyone has the potential to be something great and if you don’t succeed the first time, don’t let it become a stumbling block but use it as a building block to your future,” she said.
Woods talked about how she felt when asked to speak at graduation. She really didn’t think she could do it because she was always a behind the scenes person. She found out it wasn’t as bad as she really thought.
“In our moments of weakness, fear and uncertainty can get even the best of us. I am honored to stand before this group of graduates,” she said. “We have chosen to become health professionals and dedicate our lives to a life of service.”
“We have a common ambition and that is to heal and to help,” Woods added.
Wright shared his story of how he ended up as a Piedmont Tech student right out of high school and into his field of study – cardiovascular technology. What helped get him through his classes and clinicals was always being prepared and telling himself that he could do better.
“Preparation is the key to success. Preparation takes willingness and it also takes sacrifice,” he said.
“We must be lifelong learners because in the healthcare field that is essential. I feel that we, as graduates of Piedmont Technical College, are all well prepared for our careers and I know that we will be successful in all that we do,” Wright said.
Several graduates were recognized for highest academic achievement within their counties of residence. Winners included Genene P. Bowers of Newberry County who majored in radiologic technology.
Presenting this year’s graduates were Becky R. McIntosh, vice president for student development, and Andy Omundson, dean of student services. Certificates, diplomas and associate degrees were conferred by Brooks and Susan Timmons, vice president for educational affairs, with assistance from board chairman William Whitfield; Donna Foster, dean of arts and sciences; Jerry Alewine, dean of health science; Rosalie Stevenson, interim dean of nursing; Sissy Copeland, dean of business, information technologies and public service; and Keith Lasure, dean of engineering and industrial technologies.
The macebearer was Delmar Brewington, 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. Dr. Richard Barbare, English instructor at PTC and an ordained Presbyterian minister, delivered the invocation and benediction for the afternoon ceremony and Janean Reish, nursing support counselor at PTC, delivered the invocation and benediction for the evening ceremony.