Revised First Generation Burtons And Dr. Dehay DSC9948
President Galen DeHay and Burton family

Press Release                                                                                        

Date: November 4, 2022

Contact: Lisa Garrett,

(By Lisa Garrett)

First-Generation Scholarship Established in Honor of President DeHay

PENDLETON, SC – A TCTC Foundation fundraising appeal sent out last year about establishing a scholarship for first-generation college students as a way of honoring President Galen DeHay truly resonated with many faculty, staff and community friends.

Within months, contributions from 62 donors exceeded the $25,000 required to endow the scholarship that recognizes President DeHay, who is the first in his family to graduate from college.

“I was amazed and so grateful for everyone’s generosity,” said Dr. DeHay, who knows firsthand how scholarships can alleviate barriers to education. He entered Clemson University thanks to several scholarships from the Abney Foundation and a builders group in Charleston, his hometown.

“Without those scholarships, my freshman year would have been an impossibility,” said Dr. DeHay, who was raised in a single-parent home.

“We want to serve more first-generation students at TCTC.  Education is a tried and true pathway to a better life. So many faculty and staff, who also are first-generation students, told me they gave to the scholarship because it made them think about what education did for them. It’s a way to help others. Many gave generously because it was personal to them so they want to give others a hand up.”

Richard and Tina Burton had always given to the TCTC Foundation and were proud to support various programs and scholarships at their alma mater. The couple are both employed at TCTC - Tina is recruitment support specialist and campus visit coordinator for the College’s Recruitment, Admissions and Orientation department, and Richard is program director for Mechatronics.  

Both are first-generation college students who were the recipients of financial assistance. When Richard Burton enrolled at TCTC in 1991, tuition was around $200 per quarter and was manageable but increased when the College converted to the semester system. That year his mother passed away and he took on a part-time job to help his father. He qualified for Job Training Partnership Act funds which covered the cost of tuition and books and allowed for a small travel stiped.  “It helped me and my dad tremendously. Without JTPA, I would have struggled to finish my degree. It reduced the financial burden for my father, and I knew I could finish the degree in two years and go straight into the workforce,” he said.

“College was a big deal to both of us,” said Tina Burton, the 1994 outstanding graduate for Administrative Office Technology, whose education was funded by her grandmother. Their daughter, Jena, also attended TCTC and was the recipient of a Pell grant and two scholarships enabling her to graduate debt-free like her parents. “When the appeal came out about the scholarship, it became very personal for us,” she said. “We asked each other, how can we not give back to TCTC? Look what it did for our daughter and our family. TCTC has a special place in our hearts and our TCTC education changed our lives.” 

“Both of us benefited because our TCTC degrees opened doors for us,” added Richard Burton. “The DeHay First Generation Scholarship honors a person we admire who also was a first-generation student who worked his way up from instructor to president.” 

Dr. Beverly McAdams director of the Anderson Campus, immediately responded after reading the e-mail appeal. “I’m also a first-generation graduate and realize the importance that higher education had on my life.  I’m the youngest of five and one of two siblings to graduate from college. College was never a possibility in my mind but a scholarship made it possible,” said Dr. McAdams, who credits her high school guidance counselor with helping her to navigate the college admission and scholarship application processes. “Receiving a scholarship as a participant in the E.B. Kennedy Scholarship competition was the determining factor for me to attend Erskine College,” she said. 

“I relate to the first-gen students at TCTC because I was one. Education is do-able when they have a support system and financial support,” said Dr. McAdams, who began her career at TCTC as a transfer counselor in TRIO. “It became a part of my mission to work with students who were like me. That’s what drew me back to TCTC,” she said. 

Chris Johansen, director of operations at Arthrex and a member of the TCTC Foundation Board, said he contributed to this specific scholarship because of his admiration for Dr. DeHay and his work in the community. “This scholarship is an investment in the College and the community. It’s also a way of recognizing Dr. DeHay’s leadership and his commitment to students. That is what he is all about. His heart is with the students and their successes.”

 “At Tri-County, we are especially proud of the opportunities we create for first-generation college students,” said Grayson Kelly, vice president for institutional advancement and business relations. “The College has been in the business of changing lives and family trajectories for more than half a century. Through the DeHay First-Generation College Student Endowed Scholarship, we can continue to serve our first-generation students by providing financial support so they can embark on a new and exciting journey – a journey that will lead to a better life.”

To donate to the DeHay First-Generation College Student Endowed Scholarship, visit

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, industrial electronics, 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