Date: March 1, 2021
(By Lisa Garrett)
Mother and Son Graduate at Spring Commencement
PENDLETON, SC-- Dustin Addis, age 29, and his mother, Lynn Addis, age 50, are both first-time college students and will graduate at Tri-County Technical College’s May 11 spring commencement ceremonies.
Although there is a 21-year difference in their ages, their stories are strangely similar.
Both waited years after high school graduation before returning to the classroom to pursue their dream degrees.
Both were the oldest among their classmates at Tri-County - Dustin in heating, ventilation and air conditioning classes and Lynn in the associate degree nursing program.
Both maintained high GPAs throughout their time in college. Lynn scored all A’s except one B. Dustin earned all A’s except two B’s.
Here is where their stories diverge.
Lynn, who “loves learning,” was an A student in the 1980s at Seneca High School. Dustin, on the other hand, admits he was a straight D student at Walhalla High School. “I didn’t care and I was barely passing in high school,” he said.
His mother chalks it up to immaturity, not aptitude.
Dustin agrees. “I knew I had it in me,” he said. After four years in the Navy, he and his wife and children moved back to Walhalla, and he began working for his father at Addis Heating and Cooling Services. He decided to enroll at TCTC to hone his HVAC skills. “I knew the how but I didn’t know the why. I wanted to learn the craft. I wanted the degree and the knowledge that comes with it,” said Dustin, who attended TCTC on VA education benefits and will graduate debt free.
The first semester he surprised both of them when he made all A’s. “There is a big difference when you want to do something instead of being told to do so. This time it was a choice. I chose to come to TCTC. I set goals, and I maintained them.”
Lynn spent her early adult life working full-time in manufacturing, being married and raising four sons. Later she and her husband owned and operated a restaurant in Walhalla for 11 years. After the sale of the restaurant, she decided to finally pursue her education to become a nurse. Being encouraged by her husband to go after her dreams, she started by becoming a certified nurse aide and worked at a nursing home and a hospital.
“From the time I was a child, I always wanted to be a nurse,” she said. She enrolled at TCTC at age 45 and began taking comprehensive studies classes to refresh her math skills.
She says the instructor and the students welcomed her with open arms. “Some of the younger students called me mama. She spent the first three years taking prerequisite classes and working as a certified nurse aide at Oconee Memorial.
“The classes and the clinicals were challenging,” she said. ”I worked on school seven days a week.”
She took her last exam on April 29. The next day she received a text from her supervisor at Oconee Memorial asking her to work that weekend and attached information about applying for a full-time nursing job. “I’m starting the career I always wanted,” she said. “After 50 years I’m finally doing what I wanted to do my entire life - be a nurse. It’s exciting. I’m also looking forward to spending more time with my husband and five wonderful grandchildren.”
Although Dustin is glad to have a degree in hand, he is more excited for his mother.
“I’m very proud of her,” he said.
Looking back, both say the instructors will be what they remember most about TCTC. “They are all great. They have an open-door policy. They love what they do. They were born to teach,” said Lynn.
Dustin agrees. “They were always there to answer questions and will be after graduation. They’re pretty awesome.”
Dustin plans to work with his father and uncle at the HVAC company Atmospure Mechanical and will enter TCTC’s business management program this fall to expand his accounting and management skills.
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 tctc.edu.