Piedmont Technical College (PTC) held its winter graduation on Dec. 13 at the James Medford Family Event Center in Greenwood. One hundred and twenty-three (123) graduates walked across the stage to receive their degrees and shift the tassel hanging from their caps. Two graduation speakers expressed gratitude for their blessings as well as appreciation for the encouragement they received from teachers and fellow students.
Yulissa Alvarez of Newberry noted that her parents did not have the same educational opportunity in Mexico that she has enjoyed here in the United States. But their guidance, faith and support have helped her persevere and take pride in her Hispanic culture while working toward her associate in arts degree.
“They opened my eyes to see firsthand the poverty level in their home country when we travel to Mexico,” Alvarez said. “This has completely changed me.”
The experience reinforced her determination to focus on her goals and dream big.
“Enrolling into Piedmont Tech the fall after graduating from high school led me to be surrounded by people who wanted to learn,” she said. “The people sitting in my classes don’t realize the influence that they can have on others. Seeing how parents juggled their kids, jobs and school motivated me. If they could do it, so could I.”
Alvarez plans to enroll next spring at the University of South Carolina to study mass communications and earn her bachelor’s degree.
Life has thrown a few curve balls to Natalie Wynn, who received her associate in applied science with a major in business administration. Raised by a single mother in McCormick, she became a cosmetologist, got married and had two beautiful boys. The marriage did not last, however, and she found herself a single mom, just like her own mother.
“I felt like my dreams were disappearing right before my eyes,” Wynn said.
Fate wasn’t finished with her yet, though, and sent her the man to whom she has been happily married now for seven years. And she has her degree, which she intends to harness in growing her salon, Anointed Hands, and one day to opening her own cosmetology school.
Throughout her time at PTC, Wynn says she has been lucky to have amazing instructors and others who kept her motivated in school.
“I will always remember being surrounded by people who were concerned, caring and determined to help me reach my full potential,” she said. “… Always remember, the race is not given to the swift, nor to the strong, but to the one who endures until the end. Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations!”