Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Earning their degrees simultaneously is a big accomplishment for Mischelle and Philip Weidman, who enrolled in the business management program at Tri-County two years ago. 

Easley Couple to Graduate with Business Degrees


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                        5/1/2012

                                                                                                (By Lisa Garrett)

            EASLEY --- Mischelle and Philip Weidman, happily married for 26 years, are polar opposites in how they approach just about everything, including how they pursued the same goal for the past two years-a degree in Business Management at Tri-County Technical College.

            Being a 30-year Air Force Reserve veteran who taught aircraft maintenance classes on a regular basis, Philip's study style is more methodical.  He identifies tasks to complete and approaches them systematically and analytically.  He often took hybrid courses.

            Mischelle, 44, is less structured, but more intense.  A stay-at-home mom who later worked as a medical receptionist, she takes a more free- style approach.

            She reads the textbooks and goes over her notes daily; he listens to class lectures and takes copious notes.  She would spend a week studying for a test while he read over his notes right before the exam.  Ironically, they would make very similar grades.   While they were on the same journey of earning their first college degree, each went about it differently -- even down to the way they plan to walk across the Anderson Civic Center stage at the College's May 7 commencement.  Mischelle will walk slowly and proudly, while Philip, 45, will have to refrain from dancing. 

            Earning their degrees simultaneously was a big accomplishment for both who enrolled in the business management program at Tri-County two years ago. 

            He spent 23 years at T & S Brass and Bronze Works in Travelers Rest as the lead set-up manager. He took leave from the company in 2003 when, as an air force reservist, was called to active duty.

            After working as an active duty aircraft mechanic in Charleston for six and one half years, he returned home to Easley and retired in January after almost 30 years of service.

            When Philip came off of orders, he was unable to find a job and went on unemployment while looking for work.  "I knew I needed a new career," he said. "So did Mischelle.  That's why we enrolled at Tri-County Technical College."

            Mischelle, who, for years, had stayed home to raise their three children, says,  "I put college on the back burner until our sons, now ages 25, 23 and 19, were self sufficient.  It was the perfect time."  After 10 years of working as a medical receptionist, she began to look at new careers.  "I quickly found that you need at least an associate degree for any job," she said.

             Initially, Philip planned to start his own engraving and trophy business because one of his extra duties in the Air Force had been to engrave plaques for retirements and other special ceremonies.  When he retired, the recession hit hard, jobs were scarce and the opportunity for college presented itself.  Things began to turn around and last November, with his career experience, he secured a job as a machinist at Rexall Bosch in Fountain Inn.  His 12-hour shifts (7 p.m. - 7 a.m.) led him to take online classes to finish his degree. 

            Earlier this year he was named the Outstanding Business Management graduate at the College's awards ceremony.  He is taking two more classes to complete a second degree in banking and finance.  He hopes to work his way up at Rexall Bosch to team leader or a supervisory position.

            "Philip was chosen for the award based on his academic performance and his leadership skills," said Meg Allan, business technology department head.  "He was present on all levels in class and was always willing to help others.  He was always engaged and helping others to get engaged. For that reason, I always tried to put someone who needed guidance on his team during class projects.  He really set an example for the team. In the classroom, he really got the conversation rolling and was a role model for the young folks struggling to balance their lives."

            Bob Massey, an adjunct instructor who taught Philip and Mischelle, says both are "ideal students.  They were well prepared, they participated in class and made high grades.  They were serious about college and set an example for the other students." 

            Mischelle, after a summer break, will return to Tri-County in the fall to take criminal justice classes.   She wants to work in crime scene investigations.  "I know I can use my Business Management degree in any job I have.  It helps to know how a business works in order to be a better employee," she said.

            Their youngest son, Sean, a management trainee at Zaxby's in Easley, will enter Tri-County this fall. 

            Both Weidmans are anxious to cross the stage to receive their diplomas.  "It's another chapter," he said.  "For me it's a real sense of accomplishment --  for both of us," said Mischelle.

            "They worked really well together," said Meg Allan, who taught Philip and as a result, got to know Mischelle.  "A husband and wife team, taking classes together and helping each other out, constitutes a cohort.  They are each successful in their individual approaches and attitudes toward their academics, but collectively, they are dynamite.  Our college embraces the culture of cohorts and their story is an example that it works."


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