He doesn’t look like other students on the Piedmont Technical College (PTC) campus in Greenwood. The large, physically intimidating gentleman is a former Marine who has worked as a bodyguard, a bouncer and a security guard. At 51, he’s older than most of the students in his classes, but he is making fast friends right and left. However, at first, simply enrolling took courage.
“I was scared to death the first time I came here, but I got a lot of support from everyone,” said Reggie White, a PTC student majoring in human services and serving as a PTC Presidential Ambassador. “They give you the tools. They prepare you. They really care. They are doing an excellent job.”
That groundswell of support ― from faculty, staff and his fellow students ― solidified his decision to stay at PTC. The path that led him there was long and winding.
After graduating from Ninety Six High School, White attended about two semesters on a football scholarship at a four-year college. It wasn’t a good fit for him, so he left and joined the Marines, where he served for four years active duty and four years as a reservist.
Outside of the classroom, White is a hands-on father to 10-year-old Ryan as well as an avid volunteer.
“If I am not in school or taking care of my son, I am volunteering,” he said. While volunteering, White began to realize what he really wanted to do. After witnessing firsthand how social workers and counselors profoundly impacted people who needed help, he decided that was the profession for him.
“Going back to school was always on my mind,” White said. “I like to work with families, and I really wanted to finish my degree.”
Adjusting to student life, with its demands and homework assignments, hasn’t been a big struggle. White saw an opportunity to model good study habits for his young son.
“Sometimes we study side-by-side,” he said. “And we read books together.” White wasn’t much of a book fan until a PTC English instructor opened his mind to different forms of literature and inspired in him an interest in books for the first time.
White is certain that human services is the right choice. The capacity to help others had been in him all along.
“This is a calling for me,” he said. “It’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.”