PENDLETON --- Tri-County Technical College Commissioner Helen Rosemond-Saunders is the recipient of the S.C. Association of Technical College Commissioners award.  She will be honored as the state's Commissioner of the Year later this fall.

An Oconee County native and retired educator, Mrs. Rosemond Saunders was appointed to serve on the Commission in 1993.  In 1997 she was elected vice chair and later served as chair from 2007-11. Currently she serves on the Curriculum Committee.

The Tri-County Technical College Commission is the College's governing board and is comprised of nine members representing Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties.  Members are appointed by the Office of the Governor.

 "I have dedicated my life to being a servant for God, the public, education and my community," said Mrs. Rosemond-Saunders.  "As a commissioner, I am here to serve our students and our community.  I share the community college story - beginning with students in elementary schools -  telling them that a community college education is an option for everyone."

"Helen's record of longstanding advocacy and service to the College and higher education across the South Carolina and the nation speaks for itself," said Dr. Ronnie L. Booth, president of Tri-County.

          "She is known throughout the tri-county area for her determined efforts to improve the community and postsecondary education, particularly for minority populations and first-generation college students. She is a woman of action, not words, and embodies the vision of the College - 'Passionate people transforming lives and building strong communities one student at a time,'" he added.

"This award is long overdue," said Tri-County Commission Chair John Powell, who also represents Oconee County on the board.  "Helen is one of our hard working, faithful board members. Her wisdom in making lives better is one of her great strengths. I am proud to serve with her."

At the state and national levels, Mrs. Rosemond-Saunders serves as vice chair for the S.C. Association of Technical College Commissioners (SCATCC) and is a member of the Governance and Bylaws Committee of the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT). She is past chair of the ACCT Diversity Committee.

Mrs. Rosemond-Saunders is a charter member of the S.C. Association of Technical College Commissioners and a member of its Executive Board.  She spearheaded the development of the first Commissioner Academy to educate new Commissioners about their role in communication college governance and advocacy. The training includes the history of two-year colleges, the evolution of the Technical College System in South Carolina, the responsibilities and duties of an effective Trustee and the role of the Trustee in advocating on the state level.

"Her tireless dedication to improving education at the local, state and national levels is clearly shown in the countless hours she devotes to advocacy and special projects," said Dr. Booth. 

She played a key role in spearheading the construction of a full-scale reproduction of a one-teacher Rosenwald School on the Anderson Campus of Tri-County Technical College.  The Campus is the site of the Nation's only full-scale reproduction of a one-teacher Rosenwald School. These schools were built in the early 20th century for the education of African Americans in the rural South. 

In addition to her work with the Rosenwald School replica, Mrs. Rosemond-Saunders chairs the Retreat Rosenwald School Renovation Project Committee to raise funds to renovate and preserve an original Rosenwald structure from the early 1900s. She spearheaded the committee's effort to attain status on the National Registry of Historical Places and currently she is seeking funds for Phase II of the renovation. She often presents "The Retreat Rosenwald Story" to civic clubs, county libraries, social clubs and museums in the area.

Mrs. Rosemond-Saunders began her career in 1967 with the School District of Oconee County and worked as a guidance counselor, home economics, and biology teacher. Since retiring, she has served on two School Improvement Councils and the District Diversity Committee. As a volunteer, she participated in a school district initiative to notify students who completed high school but did not receive a diploma because they did not pass all areas of the exit exam.  New regulations now enable them to petition their school for a diploma. 

"Helen has been an advocate for community and technical college education her entire career.  She has worked quietly behind the scenes and publicly through her advocacy efforts on the S.C. Association of Technical College Commissioners. She has had countless conversations with elected officials and business and industry leaders about our mission and purpose, our ability to support their needs, our need for their support - the list is endless.  We likely will never know the extent of her influence over the past twenty-two years, but there is no doubt that these conversations have opened doors to new opportunities," said Dr. Booth.

She is an active member of Pleasant Hill Baptist in Westminster.

Mrs. Rosemond-Saunders has a bachelor's degree in Home Economics from South Carolina State University, a master's degree in Nutritional Science from Clemson University, and 30-plus certification in Secondary School Guidance from Clemson University.