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Columbia Business Monthly

MTC Awards More Than 2,200 Degrees, Diplomas, And Certificates

May 10, 2018 03:08PM ● By Kathleen Maris

Photo: MTC President Ronald Rhames presents MTC’s oldest graduate, Annie Dillard, with her Associate in Arts Degree.

Midlands Technical College (MTC) awarded more than 2,200 degrees, diplomas, and certificates to students from more than 100 academic programs during its commencement May 9, 2018, at the Colonial Life Arena. At the ceremony, 92-year-old Annie Dillard set the record as the oldest person to ever graduate from MTC, and almost 50 dual-enrolled high school students received college degrees and certificates, making them the largest group of youngest graduates in MTC history.

“It was an honor to present degrees to the class of 2018 and to share this special event with their friends and families,” said MTC President Dr. Ronald L. Rhames. “They have earned the respect and admiration of the college’s faculty, staff, and commissioners. Their dedication, determination, and commitment to education have made it possible for students to achieve their goals and be a part of this amazing evening.”

Ninety-two-year-old Annie Dillard, the owner of a hair salon for more than 30 years, decided she wanted to learn more about what was going on in the world and wanted to surround herself with people of all ages.

“In every class, I was the oldest,” said Dillard, who received her Associate in Arts Degree, “but I’ve been blessed, and I’m still being blessed.”

Dillard said attending MTC classes and interacting with young minds helps keep her sharp. 

“It’s a wonderful place to attend. I enjoyed it so much, I signed up to come back for more classes this summer,” said Dillard.

Almost 50 graduates, some as young as 16, were dually enrolled at MTC and their high schools and received MTC certificates and degrees during the ceremony.  MTC has a dual-enrollment program for students to take college classes while still in high school.

“We had a number of students who received college associate degrees and certificates the same year of their high school graduation,” said Rhames. “These courses can save them thousands of dollars in tuition costs and can shorten the time it takes to earn a college degree.”

Several Midlands school district superintendents were on stage to congratulate their students as they received their college credentials.

The 2018 commencement also continued a tradition started at last year’s ceremony. For the second time in the college’s history, MTC awarded honorary associate degrees in humane letters to outstanding friends of the college. Colleges and universities traditionally use the designation humane letters to recognize the recipients’ service to their community, philanthropy, and achievements beneficial to their fellow citizens.

Rhames and MTC Commission Chair Garry Powers presented the honorary degrees to Charles “Chuck” Beaman, CEO of Palmetto Health, and Marion “Lex” Knox, Jr., chairman and CEO of Terminix Service, Inc. Both are past members of the Midlands Technical College Foundation Board.

“Chuck and Lex have been valued friends of the college,” said Rhames. “So many students have benefited from their work on the MTC Foundation raising money for scholarships and new equipment. I’m happy to recognize the generous support with these honorary degrees. MTC is honored to be the beneficiary of the advocacy and support of many leaders in our community.”

Two retiring MTC vice presidents also received honorary degrees for their combined 80 years of service to the college. Dr. Ronald L. Drayton, vice president for Academic Affairs, and Sandi Oliver, vice president for Student Development Services, received honorary degrees in humane letters in recognition of their exemplary, dedicated, and selfless service to MTC and its students.

The college also recognized the 2018 MTC Distinguished Alumna, Tammi Byrd, for her extraordinary service to the community. A 1979 graduate from MTC with an Associate in Science in Dental Hygiene, Byrd used her entrepreneurial spirit to open her own company and become a state, national, and international leader bringing dental services to those in need.

The commencement speaker was Major General John P. Johnson, commanding general at U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson. During his time at Fort Jackson, Johnson has been an enthusiastic supporter of the college, including the establishment of the MTC Veterans Career center on the Beltline Campus.

Nicole McCune, president of the MTC Student Advisory Board, thanked all those who helped the graduating class make it to this day.

“Thanks to the faculty and staff for their many opportunities that enabled students to increase their knowledge and make the most of their learning experience,” McCune said. “Whether my fellow graduates chose MTC for the small class sizes, the many opportunities, or the talented instructors, I hope they were, as I was, completely satisfied with the entire experience the college provided.”