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Brittanie Elmore and Kelsey McNeely

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Brittanie Elmore

Tri-County Technical College’s Anderson Campus opened in 2007 with a goal of bringing its services closer to Anderson residents, increasing community involvement, and expanding educational opportunities. The intent was and still is to offer the services and programs where people live and work. 

“Initially, it was all about easier student access to the college; now it’s about student success and helping people of all ages to reach their educational and life goals,” said Tim Bowen, TCTC’s senior director of community campuses, who for years was director of the Anderson Campus.

The Anderson Campus has provided all of that and more for Brittanie Elmore, 20, of Anderson, who has taken her general education requirements (for the associate degree nursing program) at the Anderson Campus, which is located just five minutes from her home.

With a LIFE scholarship, Pell grant and two Foundation scholarships (endowed by the Abney Foundation and AnMed Health), she has paid zero dollars out of pocket.  “Because of that I’ve only had to work two to three days a week, which has given me more time to study,” Brittanie said.  In addition to the financial savings – she will graduating debt free -  she says the instructors teach a challenging curriculum that is preparing her for a career in health care.

“There are no negatives,” said Brittanie, a 2019 graduate of Westside High School.

She transitioned to the associate degree nursing program in January which is taught at the Pendleton Campus, but she is taking microbiology and university transfer math at the Anderson Campus this summer.

She was aware of the caliber of classes offered by Tri-County when she was a high school dual enrollment student, taking English 101 and Math 120 at the Anderson Campus.  She said it was a valuable lesson in preparing for college. “I had to stay on task with assignments and it helped me to be organized. I learned how to stay on track academically,” she said.

Once she enrolled as a freshman at Anderson, she wanted to take as many classes as possible because of the short commute, but also because she was thriving in the small, quiet campus environment.  “The faculty and staff are so helpful,” she said.

She never once questioned her decision to choose Tri-County over a four-year university she was accepted to.  In addition to monetary savings, she knew she was enrolled in an excellent associate degree nursing program whose graduates’ scores surpass state and national pass rates on the state certification exam (NCLEX-RN).

“Everything worked out.  I changed my plan but it’s a much better plan,” said Brittanie.

Kelsey McNeely Finds Strong Support System at Tri-County Technical College

Longtime Tri-County Technical College Career Counselor Butch Merritt says Kelsey McNeely has all the qualities and characteristics that will make her an effective and impactful professional counselor.

“She is an active listener and she is open and accepting.  And, she is empathetic,” Merritt said about McNeely, who will graduate May 11 with an associate in arts degree and will transfer to Clemson University. Her goal is to become a clinical psychologist.

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Kelsey NcNeely

McNeely says she is dedicated to being to other children what she needed when she was a child, living in single-parent home where she says negligence and drug abuse in the household led to her being placed in multiple foster care homes.  As an adolescent she struggled with mental health issues and sexual abuse that led to self-harm and several suicide attempts. “Back then I didn’t want to be alive,” she said. 

“I just always wanted to be happy and find a purpose in my life,” she added. 

She has found both and wants to guide others to find theirs.

“A good, caring counselor can do that,” she said.

So can a strong support system, which she found at Tri-County Technical College’s Anderson Campus after enrolling there after graduating from Westside High School two years ago.

She took advantage of free tutoring, which resulted in excelling in her studies and a spot on the President’s List (all A’s).

Education wasn’t always a priority for McNeely, who was placed into foster care beginning at age eight. She later returned to her mother’s home for a short while until going to live with her older brother for a year. Her grades were poor –until she entered the 10th grade and came to the realization that education was her way out. 

She made all A’s and B’s her sophomore year and by the junior and senior years, she was making all A’s. “I set a goal. I wanted to feel better about myself.  It was personal,” she said.

 She took a dual enrollment class her senior year and aced it. 

Suddenly college became a possibility.

Tri-County’s Anderson Campus was close to her home so she enrolled.

“I surprised myself.  With guidance and a tutor, I learned how to be a better student.  I learned how to learn,” she said.

“Tri-County was the best choice for me. It gave me a foundation. Now I don’t need tutors, I can do it on my own.  I learned how to be a college student,” said McNeely, who also is a work-study student.

She credits her success to the smaller classes, along with caring instructors and tutors who became mentors.

“Every time I have a question, I think of Butch Merritt,” she said. 

“Kelsey is smart and determined and pushes herself.  She won’t settle for anything less than an A.  She learned that a lot of college is honing your interpersonal skills, asking questions and listening.  She has done very well,” said Merritt. 

Debbie Thrasher has no doubt that she will continue her success in her studies at Clemson. “Kelsey hasn’t let life get in her way. She knows what kids are going through because she struggled herself.  She hasn’t accepted what life handed her.  Instead she wants more and has grown leaps and bounds and will graduate from TCTC with a 4.0 GPA,” said Thrasher.

“I’ve worked hard in my studies and on myself. I want to turn my negatives into somebody’s positives,” said McNeely.  “I was alone a lot as a child.  I grew up quickly.  It made me resilient. From birth to 18, it was a learning experience with lots of trial and error on everyone’s part.  At age 20, I have a different life ahead of me.  I have accomplished a lot and I am looking ahead,” she said.

“Kelsey is a very considerate and compassionate young lady. She takes her work-study position here at the Anderson Campus very seriously and is always willing to assist me and others whenever needed,” said Jo Ann Fant, the campus’s office manager. “I am so very proud of Kelsey and the achievements she’s accomplished while earning the associate in arts degree.”

McNeely and her fiancé recently bought a home that they are renovating. 

There will be lots of photos taken on graduation day because she wants to remember the moment – the day she thought would never happen. “I will hang the photos in my new house and send everybody a copy,” she said.

“I will be sad when I leave Tri-County. It feels like home and it’s hard to find places that feel like home to me. Everyone supports each other. It’s like a big family.  It’s what every work place should be,” said McNeely.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, her goal is to earn a master’s degree and become a licensed professional counselor. “I want to work in clinical psychology with children,” she said.

After graduating, she plans to work at a mental health office and later own her own practice. 

“Kelsey will do well at Clemson and one of these days she may come back and work at Tri-County,” said Merritt.