To avoid trying to drink from life’s proverbial fire hose, Dennis Hoechst has had to sort and manage his goals by pursuing them pragmatically, one at a time. He learned to do that living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and gave Piedmont Technical College graduates a glimpse into his journey during his commencement address.

Growing up with ADHD, I think I pushed all the boundaries of ‘a mother’s love,’ and yet she sits in the audience today, watching her baby achieve his goal,” Hoechst said. “Thank you to my family, on earth and in heaven. I am here today because of you.”

Inspired by his mother’s example, Hoechst followed her into the nursing profession. He worked full-time as a licensed practical nurse while studying for his associate degree in nursing-transition. Having an older brother with Parkinson’s disease reinforced his determination to work in health care. The 45-year-old married father of two in July became a first-time grandparent. He and his spouse, Tim, live in North Augusta with their four dogs.

Despite working full-time and juggling a packed course load, Hoechst said his relationships with teachers and fellow students helped him persevere.

My bonds kept me on task, motivated me, encouraged me, and, in the end, my classmates became extended family,” he said. “Here at Piedmont Tech, the instructors have the students’ best interest at heart. I’ve seen all my instructors go above and beyond for the entire class and the individual student. Their dedication to our success has renewed my passion for learning and my drive to continue my educational journey.”

More than 250 graduates turned their tassels at the event. The day’s other commencement speakers were: Alayjah Davis, who received an associate degree in radiologic technology; Roman Mulkey, who received an associate in arts degree; and Reginald White, who received an associate degree in human services.

Davis, of Calhoun Falls, expressed that everyone’s educational journey can be meandering and full of ups and downs. Her path went through Clemson University and Lander University before she enrolled at PTC. She started out studying elementary education but soon discovered another passion.

During my time at Lander, I had a procedure done at the Imaging Center in Greenwood, and I remember being so interested and thinking, I would love to do this,” Davis said. “Being able to actually see the bones and organs inside of the body was amazing.”

She asked the radiologist about the profession and took steps to enter the field.

Mulkey, of Batesburg-Leesville, celebrated the rich diversity at PTC in his speech.

What makes Piedmont Technical College so special and unique is that it takes people from all backgrounds, no matter their age, race, ethnicity or their history, and places them together in an environment centered around learning and the pursuit of dreams,” he said.

The history buff plans to transfer to the University of South Carolina Aiken to pursue a degree in secondary education with a minor in social studies.

Mulkey praised PTC’s faculty for its commitment and caring: “Thank you to all the teachers who spent countless hours replying to our emails, helping us inside and outside the classroom. Thank you to the teachers who drove from campus to campus, across interstates and cow pastures, to make sure we received a quality education that will take us far in life.”

White, a former Marine and longtime security officer at Sports Break in Greenwood, grew up in Ninety Six. The 52-year-old single father of two more than lives up to his calling to help others. White volunteers his time and talent to Greenwood County First Steps, the 8th Judicial Circuit and Disabled American Veterans.

Without question, being an older student among those half his age while working full-time was not easy. He had hesitated returning to college, believing it would be too hard. However, his desire to be a positive example to his youngest son helped compel him to enroll.

Many days I wanted to give up,” White said. “I think many older adults like myself can understand how challenging it can be to work, take care of your family, and try to manage your self-care and well-being.”

White will be attending Limestone College to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work and hopes to continue his education with a master’s in the field.

We have a wonderful community in Greenwood County, and I am committed to staying right here and serving in our community,” he told his fellow graduates.

He had only words of encouragement for his peers considering college later in life.

I would say to any working or non-working older adult, if you have the desire to further your education and the will to effect positive changes in your life and your family’s life, come to Piedmont Technical College and put your dreams into action,” he said, concluding with this advice to the graduates assembled at the Medford Center: “Take pride in how far you’ve come. Have faith in how far you can go. But don’t forget to enjoy the journey.”

 

List of Laurens County Graduates

 

CLINTON – **Danielle Bell, associate in applied science, major in early care and education; Bailey Elizabeth Osborne, associate in applied science, major in cardiovascular technology, invasive concentration; Taylor Marie Palmer, diploma in applied science, major in practical nursing; Randi Renee Peterson, associate in applied science, major in nursing; Kayla D. Spearman, associate in applied science, major in nursing; Adkinnea Sanquee Thompson, associate in applied science, major in business administration, management concentration; Melia Blake Waters, diploma in applied science, major in medical assisting; and **Christopher William Worthy, associate in applied science, major in mechatronics technology.

 

CROSS HILL – Amanda K. Elgin, diploma in applied science, major in practical nursing; and Ashley Tengan, associate in applied science, major in nursing.

 

FOUNTAIN INN – Phaedera D. Crumpton, associate in applied science, major in nursing; and Amanda Nicole Staton, associate in applied science, major in respiratory care.

 

GRAY COURT – Ashley C. Braman, diploma in applied science, major in practical nursing; Jasmine Rosha Irby, associate in applied science, major in nursing; and Courtney Elizabeth Luster, diploma in applied science, major in medical assisting.

 

LAURENS – Cameron Deshun Boyce, associate in applied science, major in general technology, digital rendering and gaming development concentration; Kayla Mckay Burns, associate in applied science, major in nursing; Kealah Harris Cheshire, associate in applied science, major in nursing; Grayson L. Cooper, associate in applied science, major in funeral service; Katrina Lynn Cunningham, diploma in applied science, major in practical nursing; Mikevious Cunningham, associate in applied science, major in heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology; Shibion D. Ezell, diploma in applied science, major in practical nursing; Kambrea D. Gosnell, associate in applied science, major in general technology, advertising design with photography concentration; *Heavenly Angel Hernandez, diploma in applied science, major in medical assisting; Keytavius D. Higgins, diploma in applied science, major in practical nursing; Shirby Lishac Hunter, associate in applied science, major in business administration, management concentration; Raymond Edwin Macht IV, associate in applied science, major in computer technology, network concentration; Kenneth Pritchard, associate in applied science, major in radiologic technology; Jose E. Santos, diploma in applied science, major in practical nursing; Dantavius Z. Taylor, associate in arts; and Melinda Jade Vance, associate in applied science, major in general technology, pharmacy technology concentration.

 

MOUNTVILLE – Chandra L. Cook, associate in applied science, major in early care and education; Tyler J. Kelly, associate in applied science, major in horticulture; and *Samantha Brooke Smith, associate in arts.

 

WARE SHOALS – *Anagrace H. Crawford, diploma in applied science, major in medical assisting.

 

WATERLOO – Amanda Lynn Eubanks, associate in applied science, major in nursing; Tamera Alexis Thompson, associate in applied science, major in cardiovascular technology, adult echocardiography concentration; and Connor Young Wilson, associate in applied science, major in mechatronics technology.

 

***Summa Cum Laude-4.0 **Magna Cum Laude-3.75-3.99 *Cum Laude-3.5-3.74