Thursday, June 11, 2015

Grateful for the Hand-Holding

2015 Future Alumni Essay Contest
Runner Up
TTC Graduate, Donna Pilkerton

All of my past efforts to attend college have somehow been thwarted by life’s unexpected events. Just three months prior to high school graduation my step dad died from pancreatic cancer leaving my Mom to sell our home and for me to find a place to work and live. Two additional attempts to try for a college degree in psychology were also disrupted, however this time by my heath issues. Seeing this as an omen that it just wasn’t in my cards to further my education I reluctantly stepped away from my dream.

My joy was later resurrected when my husband and I were able to send our two sons onto college for their bachelor’s degree. They have since grown into fine, successful men; enough to make me proud that they have achieved a goal that at one time belonged to me. While I had tabled any more thoughts of enrolling in college, life directed me to another path as I have benefited from a successful career in the field of Accounting Administration.

In 2010 my husband and I relocated to Summerville from the Northeast. It was shortly thereafter that as a new South Carolina resident I began to notice the presence that Trident Technical College had within the Charleston area including their much publicized partnership with Boeing. I first became personally acquainted with Trident Tech when I took several non-matriculating courses at the Berkeley Campus near my home. Around this time I also became a hospice volunteer, a passion I have been involved in for several decades. It was then I thought to myself; why not give it one more chance? Why not review the TTC course catalog for a degree program in behavioral and social sciences?

Any school curriculum is only as good as the faculty who teaches its classes and I have to boast that without a doubt my time spent at Trident Technical College has been nothing short of amazing. When asked about how it feels to return to school since Richard Nixon held office (and we all know how that turned out), I simply smile and say that I am grateful for the “hand-holding”. From day one, I have been treated with nothing but kindness and respect by both faculty and my fellow classmates. No question that I have ever asked has been perceived as silly or ignorant as I am forever grateful for the many individuals who have helped me adjust to navigating through online classes, uploading you-tube video’s, and preparing PowerPoint presentations. Even my most challenging times were met with professionalism and respect.

What has TTC done to assist me with my goals? The instructors who have gathered beneath the umbrella of the TTC emblem have provided me with a foundation of knowledge to hopefully guide me to a career as a human services professional. My supervised field internship has afforded me the opportunity to apply my education in real world situations. While partaking in field assignments I have met and worked alongside healthcare and human service professionals in helping to assist clients to fulfill their personal area of need(s). It has been an honor and a pleasure to have been afforded both this level of exposure and hands on experience regarding client care.

Immediately following graduation I will momentarily breathe long enough to enjoy a visit with my fifteen month old granddaughter, Emma, who has stood patiently aside while grandma hit the books to accomplish a lifelong dream of earning a college degree. I will then move full steam ahead to search for career opportunities. I have worked hard and diligently these past two years to earn a Certificate of Gerontology and an Associate’s degree as a Human Services Generalist. I am also proud to say that I will be graduating this May as a member of Phi Theta Kappa. Although my employment career has been in the field of accounting as part of a management team, I look forward to a second career in the field of hospice or within the senior community, this time working directly with the client and/or their family.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the names of the Trident Technical College faculty who have been there and who have traveled this journey along side of me. Steve Kashdan has been both my instructor and student advisor. I have bent his ear with questions, concerns, ups and downs, laughter, panic attacks and yes, more questions. Susan Miller has been a constant pillar of support, confidence builder and a source of inspiration. And Dr. Geneva Fleming, whom I have taken several classes with, has also been equally patient, encouraging and understanding throughout my time at TTC.

As I close the final door leaving Trident Technical College behind me, I will continue to share with others the many wonderful experiences that have brought me to where I am today; an extremely ecstatic woman facing the unbelievable joy of knowing that I am embarking on a new journey; this time as a college graduate. I would be more that pleased to continue to serve as an advocate for TTC and the Human Services Supervised Field Placement Program whether speaking about my experience in the classroom as an intern, or as an advocate of dreams becoming a reality. Thank you for this opportunity to express my gratitude.

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