Vivien Felarca DSC1317

Press Release                                                                                       

Date: July 10, 2021

Contact: Lisa Garrett,

By Lisa Garrett

Editor’s Note: Since this article was published in 2020, Vivien Felarca graduated from TCTC with a Mechatronics degree and is a full-time BMW employee. She returned to TCTC to study Manufacturing Management and Leadership and earned her degree in December 2023. She currently is enrolled at USC Upstate where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in BASc Advanced Manufacturing Management.  She is an active member of the Army National Guard where she has served as a Behavior Heath Specialist since 2013. 

BMW Scholar Puts Career Plan in Place

When Vivien Felarca graduated from T.L. Hanna High School in 2013 she admits she wasn’t academically or emotionally ready for college. 

“I knew back then I wouldn’t have taken it seriously. I needed a structured environment so I enlisted in the Army National Guard, completed 36 weeks of basic and job training and relocated to Chicago to begin a part-time position as a behavioral health specialist,” she said.

“Being on my own and in the Army matured me,” she said. When she relocated back to the Anderson area as a single parent of two daughters in 2015, she moved in with her parents and began getting her life settled. “But I didn’t have a plan,” she admits. While weighing her options, she accepted a full-time job in the logistics department for MAU, which provides staffing solutions for the BMW manufacturing plant in Greer, and began to contemplate enrolling in college.

Initially she didn’t know what she wanted to study but she was sure about one thing. “I wanted to be a model for my girls and show them if I can, they can.  Enrolling at TCTC was scary, a big decision and very intimidating,” she said. 

While working at MAU, she noticed a group of BMW Scholars in the body shop. It was then that she set a career goal – she wanted to join them one day. “I always said to myself I would be proud to be a member of that team.”

She learned more about the BMW Scholars program which allows selected students to attend class full-time while working part-time at BMW.  The program gives students a chance to pursue their education, gain necessary hands-on experience, earn an hourly wage, and become viable candidates for positions at BMW. During this process, BMW assists with students’ tuition, books and supplies. Students must be full-time and maintain a minimum 2.8 GPA. 

She wanted to complete an application but needed help.

“My National Guard family and folks at Tri-County really came through for me.  My success coaches Brittany Talbert and Foster Sims talked me through the process and problems. I had doubts. I especially doubted myself. Brittany and Foster gave me interviewing and test-taking tips and general encouragement that helped to build my confidence. They didn’t doubt me,” she said.

She filled out the application and waited. “It was nerve wracking. I finally received an e-mail that I had secured an interview and tour of the Greer plant.” 

She distinctly remembers the moment she learned she was accepted into the BMW Scholars program. “I was sitting in my car in the Dollar Tree parking lot and received an e-mail. I literally bawled when I read the acceptance letter. They were pure tears of joy. It was my happiest moment in a very long time. It was a true vote of confidence,” she said.

At that moment, she knew that her life would change for the better.

In August she entered her second year in TCTC’s mechatronics program along with working at the BMW plant.

“This is a pathway to being a permanent employee while working on earning a college degree,” she said.

One of the biggest bonuses is that it is at no cost. She says resources are making college affordable and accessible for her. With full VA benefits and the BMW Scholars book allotment, she is attending college free of charge and will graduate with no debt. “And a peace of mind,” she added.

While preparing to enroll in classes, she also learned about another program that allows low-income student parents to receive child care/aftercare for their children ages birth to 12 years. Child Care Access Means Parents In School (CCAMPIS) is a new initiative at TCTC and is funded by a four-year $378,680 grant received last year from the U.S. Department of Education. The College has partnered with 17 licensed childcare providers in the tri-county area to provide child care/after school care which makes college possible for Felarca, whose daughters are ages 4 and 6.

“Before, I was living life day by day,” she said. “Now, I have a plan in place. That is one of the things I am most proud of. Now I am successful in all areas of my life -- as a parent, a student, an employee and a guardsman.”

About Tri-County Technical College

Tri-County Technical College, a public two-year community and technical college serving Anderson, Oconee and Pickens Counties in South Carolina, enrolls more than 9,000 students annually and offers more than 70 major fields of study, including computer technology, business administration, mechatronics, nursing, and university transfer programs. Tri-County boasts the highest student success rate among two-year colleges in the state and ranks in the top one percent nationally for successful student transfers to four-year colleges and universities. To learn more, visit