Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tracy Bowie, a 2003 Business Technology (Accounting) graduate was honored as one of the College's Faces of the Decades. As part of the College's 50th anniversary celebration, an alumnus from each decade (1960s - 2000s) was recognized by President Booth at the May 7 spring commencement.

Tracy Bowie Honored as One of Tri-County’s Faces of the Decades


                                                  (By Lisa Garrett)

            Nine years ago, a proud and accomplished Tracy Whitten Bowie walked across the Anderson Civic Center  stage to receive her associate degree in business - with highest honors --  from Tri-County Technical College President Ronnie L. Booth.   This May she will make that walk again, equally as proud, to be honored as one of the College's Faces of the Decades.   As part of the College's 50th anniversary celebration, an alumnus from each decade (1960s - 2000s) was recognized by President Booth at the May 7 spring commencement.

            "It's an unexpected honor," said Bowie, who has maintained close ties to the college by serving on its Alumni Association Board of Directors for six years.  "I like being a part of the College.  Tri-County has a special place in my heart.  It's where I started," said Bowie, who today is executive director of Foothills Alliance in Anderson.  "I have always appreciated the faculty and staff's support," added Bowie, who was a single parent with two small sons when she began classes in 2001. 

            She began thinking about college in the late 1990s as a student at Pendleton High taking dual enrollment classes.  "I was college bound," she said, and after high school graduation began taking classes at Tri-County.  But after a semester of classes, she quit.  "Life happened," she recalls.  "I had to put college on the back burner." At 20 she had her first child and two years later she gave birth to her second son.  When he was three months old, with the help of Women and Children Succeeding (WACS), she returned to Tri-County as a single parent. 

            WACS helped with child care and served as an emotional support group for Bowie and other young women, many of whom were Tri-County students, also.   "I credit WACS with a lot -- not just financial but emotional support, as well," she said. Self esteem was a big hurdle for her at the time, she said.  "But once you realize your self worth and build on that, you can be successful in many ways." 

            She says the faculty at Tri-County helped in her journey, also.  "I had great instructors who helped to guide me along.  They got to know me as a person and knew my situation as a single mom.  One of my sons had the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) twice and had to be hospitalized for a week both times.  I was out of class but instructors helped me to keep up with my assignments. They understood and worked with me to succeed."

            Financial aid was another lifesaver, she said.  She received Pell grants and was the recipient of an Abney scholarship through the College's Foundation.  She also served as secretary of the Student Government Association and was a member of the Alpha Zeta Beta honor society. 

            Bowie graduated in 2003 as the outstanding Accounting senior with a 4.0 GPA and was hired at Tri-County as a financial aid administrative specialist for six months when she accepted a job as a bookkeeper/accountant for Anderson Interfaith Ministries (AIM).  "It was a test of faith," she said.  "I left Tri-County in a full-time position with benefits, and went to a non-profit part-time job with no benefits.  I believed in the program. That's where God led me."  Several months later, the job became full time and she was named a program coordinator at AIM where she put together work training programs for women.  Over the eight years she was at AIM, she was a program manager for every program, including the WACS program.

            While she was at AIM, she decided to continue her education at Anderson University where she earned a bachelor's degree in human resources and human services in 2007.  She continued to work full time while attending college at night.  "It was a goal of mine to be an executive director of a non-profit agency," she said. Once she earned the degree she was named assistant director of AIM.  She also became certified in non-profit management through Winthrop University.  Last year she was named one of the top 20 Under 40 Leaders by the Anderson Independent-Mail in 2011.

            When she heard about job opportunity at Foothills Alliance late last year, she thought it would be a perfect fit for her and applied.  Five months ago she was named executive director.  "For me it is an honor and a blessing to do what I do," she said.  Foothills Alliance is a non-profit agency that encompasses three programs: Sexual Trauma Center, Child Advocacy Center, and Prevent Child Abuse. The mission of Foothills Alliance is to provide child abuse prevention initiatives in Anderson County and crisis intervention services to child and adult victims of sexual assault in Anderson and Oconee counties and to serve as their advocates in the community.

            "Looking back, I'm proud of what I have been able to do.  I believe in continuous learning because for me education doesn't end when you walk across that stage. Life is all about continuing to grow and continuing to learn. I learn something new every day and plan to continue to do so."

            Bowie, her husband, Michael, and their three sons, Jacob, 16, Devin, 10, and Tyler, 13, live in Townville.


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