CLEMSON --- Eight years ago when Business Services Director Donna Busha had a position to fill at Clemson Downs, she reached out to Tri-County Technical College accounting instructors to find candidates who could hit the ground running.

A 2002 accounting alumna herself, Busha knew the accounting curriculum and the caliber of graduates it produced -  individuals academically prepared to enter the workforce or to transfer to a college or university like she did.  Kayla Gibbs, at the time a senior accounting major from Easley, responded to instructor Brenda Mattison's announcement in class about the job opening and applied. 

"It was natural to reach out to Tri-County to help us fill that position," said Busha.  "Kayla was the best candidate we interviewed.  She was our pick.  We knew the quality of her education."  Gibbs earned degrees in both Business Technology and Accounting in 2008. In fact Tri-County alumna make up one third of the workforce at Clemson Downs, working in positions ranging from health care providers, to administrative assistants, to business office managers, to one of the marketing specialists.

"Tri-County Technical College produces graduates who share Clemson Downs's commitment to excellence-both in the expertise they display and the compassionate care they deliver to our residents," said Dr. John LeHeup, executive director for Clemson Downs. "As we expand our skilled nursing center to include private rooms and open the Upstate's first-ever standalone Memory Care Center, we anticipate our friendship with Tri-County to become even more mutually beneficial."

Both Busha and Gibbs chose accounting careers because they love numbers.  "I like to solve puzzles.  It appeals to my sense of detail and order," said Busha, a Westminster resident, who began her career as a respiratory therapist in the 1980s after earning a degree from Athens Tech.  After 15 years in the health care field, she opted for a career change and headed to vocational rehabilitation and later Tri-County.  At the age of 45, she earned her associate degree in accounting after several years as an evening student who held down a part-time job in the office of a construction company and raised a family.  She transferred to Southern Wesleyan University and was 50 when she was awarded her bachelor's degree in 2004 and embarked on a new career.  "I got the job of business assistant here, the job Kayla now holds, before I graduated.  Tri-County prepared me to seamlessly transfer to SWU," she said. 

Gibbs also held down a job while she was a student, working in retail.  She says she really wanted the Clemson Downs job after her interview.  "I literally cried when I received the call that I was hired.  It was the first job I ever had that wasn't minimum wage.  I love my job here.  I love accounting but I also have a real passion for the elderly residents. We're like a family here," she said.  Gibbs is back in school, this time pursuing a bachelor's degree in accounting/forensic accounting online through Franklin University.  "All 84 of my Tri-County credits transferred," she added.

Busha agrees that the sense of community, along with her love of numbers, her co-workers and residents, have kept her at Clemson Downs.  "After 15 years, it's still a challenge and a joy and gives me a sense of accomplishment every day."

Busha isn't the only Tri-County grad in her family.  Three of her four children attended Tri-County before transferring to other colleges and/or entering the workforce.   "It was a natural progression for them and for me.  Tri-County prepared all of us for where we were going," said Busha.