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When Jonah Gonce signed up for Piedmont Technical College’s free Test Drive program, the last thing he expected was to get intimately acquainted with the Bee Gees’ 1977 disco hit “Stayin’ Alive.” But he soon learned that the tempo of that fast-paced song is perfect for chest compressions while performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Gonce, now in his first semester working on an associate degree in nursing at PTC, chose the health care Test Drive path last fall, completing the two-week program with a CPR certification and a $250 tuition credit.

I always wanted to become a nurse. It was my dream,” the 33-year-old student said. But the constant responsibilities of working and supporting a family with five children left him feeling that college might not be really an option. “The Test Drive showed me that I could do it.”

Before Test Drive, Gonce was working full-time at Velux in Greenwood, where he also served on a workplace safety committee. He felt it wasn’t ideal to serve in this capacity without having CPR training. So obtaining CPR certification through the risk-free Test Drive was an impetus that made perfect sense. The experience, however, changed his entire career trajectory. Feeling that there is no time like the present, he quit his job and enrolled in the PTC nursing program.

Everything was presented where I could understand it,” he said.

College staff helped navigate through course requirements and paperwork. They made it easy. Now that he’s in the classroom, the real work is beginning.

So far, it has been tough,” he said. “It’s a whole lot of information.”

Gonce said he would like eventually to pursue a bachelor’s in nursing by transferring to a four-year college after earning his associate degree.

PTC offers two Test Drive paths: Health Care or Industrial and Engineering. Those who complete the free training will receive either a CPR or forklift certification. The next available Test Drive sessions will run Tuesday and Thursdays, February 19-28, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., with a Saturday session on March 2 at 10 a.m., at the PTC Lex Walters Campus-Greenwood.

The sessions offer participants an opportunity to try out some of the college’s education and training options and obtain industry-recognized certification in a skill that can be applied immediately.

Gonce is glad he test drove PTC last year and looks forward to completing his nursing degree. So what was the one thing that most motivated him finally to enroll?

To be honest, it was the $250 credit toward tuition,” he said. That, and the unexpected disco beat, certainly got his attention.

For more information about PTC Test Drive, visit www.ptc.edu/testdrive.