Date: May 111, 2021
(By Lisa Garrett)
Four of Six Terry Family Members are TCTC Students;
Mother and Daughter to Graduate
PENDLETON, SC --- This semester four of the six Terry family members have taken classes on various Tri-County Technical College (TCTC) community campuses.
Mary Terry, the mother, a part-time proctor in TCTC’s Assessment Center, who also homeschools her two high school children, will graduate May 11 with a 4.0 GPA and a degree in business administration.
Daughter McKaylah, age 21, managed a full-time job as an ophthalmic technician in Greer over the past nine months while completing classes at the Pendleton campus and online for an administrative office technology degree with a medical emphasis.
Son, Luke, 19, is a TCTC student taking university studies classes before transferring to Clemson University to study business administration. His younger sister, Emmaline, 17, is a dual enrollment student this semester at the Easley Campus and takes online classes.
The youngest, Seth, 16, begins dual enrollment classes this fall.
Their father, Brian Terry, is a 1994 alumnus of TCTC’s industrial electronics technology program and is employed as a technician in the research and development department at Iron.
“It truly is a family affair,” said Mary. “McKaylah and I are graduating in May and others will follow,” she said.
Mary has home schooled all of the children and she encouraged them in their junior year to take dual enrollment classes to help bridge the gap between home schooling and public high school.
Graduation day is big deal for both Mary and McKaylah but for different reasons.
Mary, an honor student in high school and again when she re-entered college 20 years later, maintains a 4.0, loves reading and learning and feels a real sense of accomplishment by earning the degree. She enrolled in college to study bio-medical research out of high school but the financial burdens of a private university became unmanageable and she took a semester off at age 19. She got a full-time job, with the intent of returning to finish her degree. She married Brian the next year, they started their family and she never went back to college.
“I always wanted a degree,” said Mary, now 40. “I wish I had finished back then but I was a first-generation college student so I wasn’t aware of the advantages and options that technical colleges offer,” she said.
“Returning to college was always on my radar. When I started working at TCTC, I realized I can finally achieve this,” said Mary, who began taking two classes per semester and working part time while continuing to homeschool her younger children.
“I’m not like Mom,” said McKaylah, who, on the other hand, is a self-described ‘average’ student, who doesn’t share her mother’s love of academics and struggled with finding the right career choice. She took dual enrollment classes in high school and after graduation, initially she was enrolled in a health care major at another college. She transferred to TCTC and majored in surgical technology. “I realized again it wasn’t the right program for me. I also knew giving up was not an option,” she said, so she discovered administrative office technology. Her grades vastly improved, as did her interest in college. She maintained her job at Ingles until last August when she accepted a 40-hour a week position as an ophthalmic technician at Southern Eye Associates in Greer.
“Once she found something that interested her, her grades soared and balancing college and driving to a job in Greer didn’t seem so difficult,” said Mary.
“I enjoy my job,” said McKaylah, who is a technician and scribe. There are 10 doctors in the practice and works for one doctor - one half of the day as a technician working with patients, and the other half as a scribe documenting his notes via an iPad.
She will begin studying to become certified as a certified ophthalmic assistant within the year. The hours of studying she once would have dreaded, she says she now looks forward to.
“I’m so proud of her for finding her way but also for persevering through some difficult times,” said Mary. Last year McKaylah tore her ACL and needed outpatient surgery to repair it and her meniscus. She was in a brace from her hip to her ankle for three months. She pushed through on crutches and later needed additional arthroscopic surgery and was back on crutches for a short while.
“I made it through,” said McKaylah, who surprised herself by making the dean’s list. “I finally found what suits me and earned a college degree and valuable work experience the same year.”
Mary has enrolled at Liberty University and will receive a business administration degree in December.
About Tri-County Technical College
Tri-County Technical College, a public two-year community and technical college serving Anderson, Oconee and Pickens Counties in South Carolina, enrolls more than 9,000 students annually and offers more than 70 major fields of study, including computer technology, industrial electronics, mechatronics, nursing, and university transfer programs. Tri-County boasts the highest student success rate among two-year colleges in the state and ranks in the top one percent nationally for successful student transfers to four-year colleges and universities. To learn more, visit tctc.edu.