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Guidance Counselor Training

From left, Howard Middle School Guidance Counselor Shayla Newton, Technology Center School Counselor Keena Wilson, Technology Center Assistant Director Beverly Holiday and High School for Health Professionals Assistant Principal and Guidance Counselor Kevin Lewis receive a rundown on the Mechatronics Program from Richard Murphy, Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College’s dean of Computer, Engineering and Advance Manufacturing.

Local high school guidance counselors attending a workshop at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College say the institution is a ladder and a pipeline, educating students and leading them into successful careers.

Xennie Weeks, who’s facilitating the two-week Guidance Counselor Leadership Institute, said it is designed to make counselors aware of what the college offers, “so they can better further their students’ education.”

President Dr. Walter A. Tobin noted that OCtech enjoys a mutually beneficial partnership with local schools.

“The Guidance Counselor Leadership Institute is designed to foster that relationship, bring greater awareness to the programs and services we offer, and assist both of us in achieving our goals of increasing the educational attainment of Orangeburg and Calhoun counties,” Tobin said.

Beverly Holiday, a counselor at Orangeburg Consolidated School District Five’s Technology Center, said the workshop was “an eye opener” for her.

With OCtech being right down the road, “you would think that we’d know these things, but I did not know the wealth of programs and things they offer,” she said. The college offers about 90 different academic programs.

Taylor Riley from Orangeburg Preparatory School noted that she likes the positive atmosphere at OCtech.

“They’re ready to answer any questions that you have, to tell you everything they can about their area of expertise, which is really important because our job is to help students when we go back to school to know what to do with their lives,” she said.

She was impressed with everything she saw, but the Nursing and Health Science Department stands out.

Riley noted, “the mannequins – the wonderful technology that allows students to get their hands on and practice simulations so that when they go in and practice on a real person it won’t be so foreign to them and they’ll be prepared.”

Patricia Hampton, junior counselor from Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School, said the workshop is equipping her with information to help her better prepare students for the future.

“They come to on to provide them with the information they need to further their experiences and education,” she said.

The thing that amazes her most is the number of programs offered at OCtech.

“My mother attended OCtech, and I didn’t know about the programs and the programs within the programs,” she said.

For example, students can earn degrees in the nursing program, but they can also earn various certificates within the nursing program.

“The salaries they can earn with just a certificate are just amazing,” Hampton said.

Senior Counselor Yolanda Johnson from Orangeburg-Wilkinson said the workshop gave her information about career opportunities that a lot of people don’t know about.

Students know about they can be a lawyer, a doctor or an engineer. But what they may not know is that the engineer needs someone to run machines and do other things before he can do his job.

OCtech knows about all these other jobs, Johnson said. And while the employees are operating the machines, they can be preparing to advance into other job opportunities.

“This school is a ladder. Students can start at the bottom and climb on up the ladder to the job they want,” she said.

Dee Edwards, counselor at Branchville High School, said she’s confident about recommending OCtech to her students.

“I was most interested in knowing these young people can come to Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and earn a two-year degree and make more money than I have made since I’ve been in education for over 30 years,” she said. “It’s amazing to me. I did not realize that two-year degrees can afford you that kind of stability.”

Edwards said she was also impressed with the passion and knowledge of all instructors.

“I am confident that sending our students here to Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College will be one of the best moves they can make in their professional careers,” she said.

Keena Wilson from the Technology Center said OCtech creates a “pipeline” that begins in middle school and leads students all the way from middle school through high school and college to successful careers.

She introduces students to career opportunities when they’re still in middle school.

“When they’re in high school, they can start taking courses in the Middle College,” Wilson said.

They can complete their education at OCtech, transfer to four-year colleges or go into the workforce, she said.

Wilson noted that the college partners with industry to bring different companies in to talk with students about their careers.

Weeks said OCtech does not graduate students and turn them loose. The college also helps them move into the workforce, he said.

It does more than provide students with an education, he said. “It provides an education in a family type of atmosphere.

“This is a family college,” he said. “It is a place for everyone. If you want to be involved, we have a place ready for you.”

Contact the writer: dlinder-altman@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5529.

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Contact the writer: 803-533-5529

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