A child’s dream for the future took shape in the shadow of a large airplane, as Sebastian Betancur imagined that one day, he’d be sitting in the cockpit. When he learned that there are other people just as responsible for the plane’s safe operation and he matched that career aspiration with a knack for fixing things, Sebastian found his focus in aviation maintenance.
But by high school graduation, he had put that passion aside because he was the first in his family to attend college in the U.S., and the expectation from his parents and his high school counselors was that he would complete a bachelor’s degree. Sebastian majored in Computer Science at a four-year university and was nearly halfway through the program when he grew frustrated with a class project and realized the project was exactly what he’d be doing every day on the job.
By the time Sebastian enrolled in the Aircraft Maintenance Technology program at Greenville Technical College (GTC), he’d already invested about $15,000 in his college education thanks to the first venture, and he and his mother weren’t entirely sure how they were going to get by. A scholarship from Lockheed Martin alleviated that pressure, allowing Sebastian to pursue his true calling and helping him sleep better at night so that he could focus on his studies. Soon he’ll graduate and go to work for PSA Airlines as a mechanic, working alongside several of his classmates.
Stories like Sebastian’s are common for scholarship recipients. People with dreams and ambitions struggle to realize them until funding comes along that allows them to concentrate on their studies and excel. When Lockheed Martin and other companies invest in their future workforce by supporting the hopes of people like Sebastian, they create strong candidates for the many job openings available in the industry and the ability to impact a student’s economic standing.
Realizing the critical role that companies, individuals and organizations play in helping the college develop qualified students for local employment, the Greenville Tech Foundation will celebrated mobility by honoring three major donors at the 2019 Workforce Development Salute Thursday, October 3, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency Ballroom. Honorees along with Lockheed Martin are Dodie Anderson and the Jolley Foundation. This year’s honorees continue to provide a pathway for economic opportunity and upward mobility for Greenville Technical College students and their families. Together, these donors have funded programs that benefit more than 3,000 students annually and have contributed more than $3.5 million to the Greenville Tech Foundation.
Lockheed Martin”s support doesn’t stop with scholarships. The company has donated equipment and tools to ensure that Aircraft Maintenance Technology instructors have the most effective tools for teaching. They’ve also provided funds allowing Greenville Tech to create student veterans centers on four campuses, places where former service members can relax, study, get a free cup of coffee, communicate and form strong support systems with other student veterans on campus.
Dodie Anderson, who was also honored at the Workforce Development Salute, has donated $2 million to help transform a building on Greenville Tech’s Barton Campus into a center where students will find the resources and services to enroll and succeed. The Dreisbach/Anderson Student Success Center is intended to welcome, support and provide the tools to help people transform their lives through education.
Enrolling at Greenville Technical College as an adult, Dodie Anderson was hesitant to return to the classroom, having been told in high school that college wasn’t for her. In her first class at GTC, she found support from a history instructor, Dr. Norm Raiford, who built her confidence and showed her that she belonged on a college campus after all, that she could achieve and that she could set her sights even higher. Earning an associate degree at GTC in 1979, Anderson moved on to what was then the University of South Carolina-Spartanburg where she completed a bachelor’s degree. The knowledge she gained allowed Dodie and her husband Bob to grow their plywood manufacturing company into Anderson Hardwood Flooring, a well-known name in flooring products and services that they eventually sold to a competitor. Dodie’s gift pays forward the help she received as a student, making it possible for others to reach their goals.
With a mission of advancing efforts to eliminate the root causes and effects of poverty and discrimination that clearly fits with the college’s mission of transforming lives through education, the Jolley Foundation has been a strong supporter of the Greenville Tech Foundation for more than 20 years. Donations exceeding $645,000 have been instrumental in the success of students through the Jolley Family Scholarship, Bridges to a Brighter Future Endowed Scholarship, Health Sciences and Machine Tool Technology equipment purchases, and student emergency funds.
As the Workforce Development Salute honored these and other businesses, individuals and partners for their support of the workforce development and education efforts of the college, it also generated unrestricted funds to advance the college’s mission. The annual event highlighted the critical role that partnerships play in quality of education, applied learning skills and success of students who are well prepared to enter the workforce.
Learn more about the Greenville Tech Foundation’s Workforce Development Salute at: www.greenvilletechfoundation.org/2019-wds.php