ATC Students Recognized for Leadership, Service at Awards Night Ceremony
Ashley Morgan (second from right) was the recipient of the George H. “Buck” Grant Award during Aiken Technical College’s annual Awards Night ceremony. She is pictured with (from left to right) Dr. S. Vinson Burdette, Vice President of Enrollment Management; Dr. Susan A. Winsor, ATC President; and Dr. Hermecender Walton, Dean of Health Sciences.
(April 25, 2016, Aiken, SC) Don’t let your doubts keep you from reaching your full potential.
It was the message Charles Barber shared with students during the Aiken Technical College’s annual Awards Night on Thursday.
Barber, an ATC math instructor and alumnus of ATC, shared his personal story of challenges and triumphs with attendees.
At 17, he decided to drop out of high school. Upon his parents’ urging, he enrolled at ATC to work toward his GED. A short-time later, he decided to drop out again and returned to high school. It was a cycle that repeated a few more times, said Barber.
By the time he was 21, he had dropped out of high school three times and had stopped taking classes at ATC three times.
“I felt completely defeated. I had thoughts in my mind such as ‘I can’t do this’, ‘there’s something wrong with me’, ‘I’m going to have to let it go’,” he said. “So I did. I moved forward with my life but with the lingering feeling of unfinished business.”
A few years later, he decided to return to the classroom and received support in his decision.
“I took one class the semester and did well. The next semester I took two classes and did well,” he said. “Before long, I was on my way but the problem now? I had no idea what I wanted to do.”
One day, a classmate asked if he knew anyone interested in tutoring math. He liked the subject and saw it as a great opportunity.
“After a couple of semesters I realized, I really do enjoy math,” said Barber. “Eventually I transferred to USC Aiken and earned my degree in math. The day I graduated, the department chair at Aiken Tech called and asked if I would be interested in coming here to teach.”
Again, he had his doubts but decided he would give it a try.
“By the end of the first semester, I realized I had found my calling,” he said.
Over the years, doubts would come back, such as when he decided to return to graduate school, but having people who supported him made a difference and encouraged him to reach his potential, he said.
After sharing his story, Barber encouraged students to thank those who have supported them and to not let doubt stand in the way of their success.
“My hope is that all of you will use tonight as a springboard into long healthy lives and successful careers,” told the audience.
The annual ceremony recognized student leaders for their work and dedication during the 2015-16 school year. Recipients of scholarships for the 2016-17 year were also announced.
Ashley Morgan, a radiologic technology student, was the recipient of the George H. “Buck” Grant Award. The award recognizes a graduating student who has at least a 3.0 grade point average, has contributed to the College through extracurricular activities, and has the potential to enhance the College’s image in the future.
Gerry McKie, an Associate of Arts student, received the Student Service Award which recognizes a graduating student who has made outstanding volunteer contributions to the College, the student body and the community.