Madison Rankin still thinks about – and is inspired by – two simple, yet impactful sentences her former instructor Meredith Dickens said to her following an end-of-the-year portfolio presentation she made in 2022 prior to graduating with her Early Care Education degree.
“You are a trailblazer and are innovative and you will see great rewards for your work. You make every class experience fun and you can take an idea and turn it into a production,” said Dickens.
“Mrs. Dickens also posted her comments on Facebook and I took a screen shot of the post. It made a huge impression on me. I have referred to it from time to time over the past year,” said Rankin.
Dickens’ words proved to be right on target.
In May Rankin was the first Tri-County Technical College (TCTC) graduate to enroll in TCTC and North Greenville University’s (NGU) new first-of-its-kind articulation agreement.
This new partnership enables TCTC students to transfer to NGU’s Educational Studies online bachelor’s degree program.
What makes this partnership unique is that all course credits associated with Tri-County’s Associate of Applied Science in Early Care and Education degree program transfer to NGU’s Early Childhood Education bachelor’s degree program. Plus, Tri-County students who transfer to NGU’s online bachelor’s degree program are eligible for a 10% discount on tuition. The flexibility associated with online courses is particularly valuable to Tri-County students who are often balancing school with work and family obligations.
“Early childhood education is an essential building block of a child’s future success, and the demand for these types of educators continues to grow. As a community college, it is Tri-County’s role to meet the workforce needs of our region,” said Dr. Jackie Blakley, dean of TCTC’s Business and Public Services Division. “We are proud to partner with North Greenville University to create a pipeline of early childhood educators who can serve our region while ensuring a seamless transition for our students.”
With all of her TCTC credits transferring to NGU, Rankin entered the completely online program in the fall of 2022 and will complete her bachelor’s degree in a year and a half (December 2023).
“In my search for a bachelor’s degree program, I learned that most degrees would take three to four years to complete, were costly and consequently out of reach for me,” she said. “I ran across NGU online and discovered a pathway to a four-year degree that I couldn’t say no to. NGU was the best decision for me in every way. I made the right choice.”
Rankin plans to pursue a job as an elementary school teacher following graduation from NGU and her long-term goal is to open a day care center for children not accepted into pre-K.
She always aspired to enter the field of education and took early childhood education classes at the Hamilton Career Center and participated in hands-on clinicals at Walhalla Elementary. “That experience really solidified my career plan,” she said.
She was accepted to Charleston Southern University and qualified to join the dance team and was headed there when her grandfather’s health declined. She chose to stay home to be close to family and enrolled at TCTC in 2020.
She attended two years of study at no charge with the help of Foundation scholarships, HEERF funds, a LIFE scholarship and a Pell grant. “I graduated debt free. It was amazing,” said Rankin.
“When I was considering colleges, TCTC was always an option,” the Walhalla High graduate said. “I expected a top-notch ECE program,” she said.
What she didn’t expect was the personal connection made with Dickens and other faculty during her time as student and later as an alumna.
“I also gained confidence I didn’t have. I learned to participate in discussions and ask questions. Mrs. Dickens makes it a priority for students to express themselves through hands-on learning, creativity and class discussion,” said Rankin.
“She is still helping me to build my educational foundation,” she added.
“Honestly, I was scared I wouldn’t feel a sense of community at NGU like I did at TCTC but NGU is very close to what I felt at TCTC,” said Rankin.
“Mrs. Dickens made a big impact on me. She taught me a lot about education but also showed me what kind of educator I want to be and who I am as a teacher and a person. She really cares about students’ well-being, both in and out of the classroom. When my grandpa passed, she knew I was struggling and she was able to help me to take the time to deal with the loss in my family,” she said.
“Because of her I’m a better student and will be a better teacher,” said Rankin.