When your community and its college have your back

Venturing into the world of postsecondary education can be scary. Aside from the challenging coursework, the cost can seem daunting. But more than ever before, education beyond high school has become a necessary step for a rewarding career. Recognizing this need and the value of a well-trained workforce, the Greenwood County business community and forward-looking citizens created the Greenwood Promise ― a unique scholarship program designed to help Greenwood County high school graduates begin their college studies tuition-free.

Phase One of the Promise provides funding for students to earn up to an associate degree at Piedmont Technical College (PTC) by paying the remaining tuition after other funding options (other scholarships and grants) have been exhausted.

Launched in 2017, the Promise is already making a powerful impact. To date, 43 students have needed Promise funding after all state and federal aid, with awards up to $1,675. Scholars are attending classes tuition-free and planning their futures with confidence. They also have a keen appreciation for the education they are receiving.

Emily Cannon anticipates a bright future in nursing thanks to her Greenwood Promise scholarship and the encouragement of her family. In high school, the gregarious teen earned good grades, was co-captain of her basketball team, and served on the yearbook committee. She was encouraged toward nursing by her aunt, who is a home health nurse.

“I really was worried that pursuing a bachelor’s in nursing would be too hard, but I realized that as long as I took it step by step and applied myself, I would be fine,” she said. Cannon is taking transfer courses at Piedmont Tech and plans eventually to transfer to a four-year university for her bachelor’s. “I graduated a year early from high school and didn’t want to jump into the university setting. I thought Tech was a good transition from high school and later to university.”

The Greenwood native and pastor’s daughter is confident that her education at PTC is preparing her to achieve her goal of working in obstetrics or neonatal nursing care. She remains very involved in her church and is careful to realistically manage her expectations. “I feel like I am very competitive in terms of academics. That has helped me along the way,” she said.

Cannon feels fortunate to have the empowerment that comes from her PTC education, her family and her faith, and she is thriving in her studies.

“Both of my parents have always pushed me to go after my goals, and they have supported me in every decision I have ever made,” she said.

Noel Johnson, a business administration major, also received funding through the Promise in the fall. Because she’s only 18, she appreciates the flexibility a technical college education offers to a young person still exploring her options.

“That is why I love Tech,” she said. “I can take the general classes I need while I’m thinking through different careers.”

Johnson sees herself working in a marketing- or accounting-focused environment. “Math was always my favorite subject in school,” she added.

The Johnsons are keeping technical education all in the family. After years overseeing her daughters’ online public education, last year Johnson’s mom, Jill, completed the SC Manufacturing Certification program at PTC. Today she works for Woven Electronics in Simpsonville, a supplier of cable harnesses and connectors to military, aerospace and commercial customers. Seeing a PTC education help her mother achieve her career goals has emboldened Johnson to do the same.

“My parents have always encouraged hard work. I was on the President’s List last semester,” Johnson said. “They are never hard on me about my grades, so long as I try my best.”

For more information about Greenwood Promise, visit www.greenwoodpromise.com. To learn more about educational opportunities at Piedmont Tech, visit www.ptc.edu.

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