Scholarship-granting decision-makers typically look for qualities like academic performance, leadership, community service and communication skills when selecting those worthy of their support. Also important are passion, focus and a positive attitude.

The 208 students who were mailed scholarship awards recently at Piedmont Technical College (PTC) have those qualities in abundance. How they responded to the cancelation of the PTC Foundation’s Annual Scholarship Luncheon set for March 26 —speaks volumes about their character. 

“I looked forward to it. It seemed like such a nice event,” said Andrew Seegars. A funeral service major who received the L. Ruple Harley Sr. Memorial Endowed Scholarship, Seegars was less concerned about public recognition as he was humbled and grateful for the award. “I did get my certificate in the mail. It reminded me that I am on the right path and not to give up.”

Keenon Glenn, who is majoring in electronic engineering technology at PTC, is the recipient of the Game Changer Scholarship, which is awarded to a senior athlete at Greenwood High School. He had been looking forward to the luncheon as well but, like the upstanding athlete he is, took the cancelation in stride. 

“I was disappointed because I wanted to see everyone who was there and be able to network and get to know different people,” he said. “I viewed it as another learning opportunity.”

“Adversity challenges us, and the COVID-19 virus certainly has done that. We would much rather bestow these scholarship awards in person, not only because it affords public recognition for the students’ achievements, but also because it provides the generous donors an opportunity to meet the recipients of their scholarships,” said Fran Wiley, associate vice president for development at the PTC Foundation. “It’s truly a highlight of our year and an enjoyable event for our donors. We are all so proud of these fine students.”

The Foundation helps PTC students access various scholarship opportunities. Recipients represent a cross-section of talented individuals from the college’s academic programs. They help the state retain the best and brightest talent for its workforce and provide educational opportunities to those who otherwise may not have been able to attend college.

Megan “Gracie” Gilliland, a business administration/management major, is the recipient of the Paul DeLoache Memorial Endowed Scholarship, which is available to Saluda County residents. She has been so busy since social distancing policies were put into place that she hasn’t had much time to lament missing the luncheon. A PTC Presidential Ambassador and Enrollment Ambassador, she has been helping staff the Live Chat function of the PTC website to address students’ questions in real time. Given this cautionary environment, she is even more thankful to have the scholarship and for the opportunity to give back.

“I like being able to help people and relieve them of their worries through Live Chat,” she said. “And I am grateful to be able to get this scholarship because it did help out a lot this semester. I didn’t have to spend any money out of my pocket or my parents’ pocket.”

Marqueze Gilliard-Starks, an electronic engineering technology major, received the Manning Family Endowed Scholarship, which is reserved for a first-generation college student. 

“I applied because I knew Piedmont Tech always has scholarships, and there’s money out there,” he said. “My teachers said I had a good chance of getting one. I believe that if you work hard, you will succeed.”

Gilliard-Starks said his scholarship award went mostly toward books, “and I did get a laptop because I didn’t have one before.” 

Seegars also was able to purchase a laptop, and, at age 66, he’s adapting to all the new technology he’s had to learn. A few years back, after becoming disabled, he retired. Health conditions made it impossible to work. Also a pastor, he wanted to get back into the workforce with a new set of skills, and funeral service has been a good match for him. Since then, Seegars has been through a rehab program, lost 70 pounds and improved his health. The move to fully online coursework this semester took some adjustment.

“I’m doing OK. There’s a different rhythm to it. I prefer going in and talking to the instructors,” he said. “It took me a while to figure it all out, but I have my daughter here,” and she has helped. Seegars said he absolutely would apply for the annual Foundation scholarships again. “The PTC staff are very helpful. They make it easy. They help you use the tools and complete the process, which I greatly appreciate.”

Glenn says that receiving his scholarship provided “a good bit of motivation,” which also can be a real confidence-booster.

“It showed me that my hard work was paying off,” Glenn said. “I was starting to see the benefits of trying new things and doing the best I can with my classes. … It opened my eyes and showed me that I am on the right track.”

Gilliland says that when the world gets back to normal and businesses are back open, she plans to frame her scholarship certificate.

“I am proud of it,” she said. “It’s not something everybody gets. If you are lucky enough to get it, you want to show it off.”

2020 Scholarship recipients in Laurens County:

Malachi Amaker – Laurens County Chamber Cecil Davenport Memorial Endowed Scholarship

James Balentine – Norbord South Carolina Inc. PTC Golf Classic Scholarship

Kimberly Bickley - Laurens County Chamber Cecil Davenport Memorial Endowed Scholarship

Tina Boyd - Laurens County Chamber Cecil Davenport Memorial Endowed Scholarship

Mary Bunting – Bailey Foundation Endowed Scholarship

Faith Caton – Lena Wood Warren Scholarship

Katelyn Coffey - PTC Foundation Board Scholarship

Jordan Davis - Laurens County Chamber Cecil Davenport Memorial Endowed Scholarship

Madison Davis – Sterilite Corporation Endowed Scholarship

Kristina Dwyer – Laurens County Chamber Cecil Davenport Memorial Endowed Scholarship

Shelia Harris - Tour de Tech Scholarship

Kassidy Jennings – G.B. Elledge Endowed Scholarship

Chloe Lamborne - Bailey Foundation Endowed Scholarship

Kayla Lawson - Bailey Foundation Endowed Scholarship

Nathan Long - Fujifilm Manufacturing U.S.A. Inc. Scholarship

William Medlock – Norbord South Carolina Inc. PTC Golf Classic Scholarship

Latasha Pemberton - Laurens County Chamber Cecil Davenport Memorial Endowed Scholarship

Greer Reid – Laurens County Water & Sewer Commission PTC Golf Classic Scholarship

Amber-Gayle Thompson - Bailey Foundation Endowed Scholarship

Justin Vinson – Greenwood Corvette Club Scholarship

Felecia Woodruff - Bailey Foundation Endowed Scholarship