Pops of anniversary gold sparkled amidst the sea of black graduation garb. Palmetto trees waved hello while the setting sun said its slow goodnight to the Beaufort River breeze. The stage was set for the Technical College of the Lowcountry’s 2018 Commencement.
TCL honored 326 graduates at the graduation exercises held on Friday, May 11 at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in downtown Beaufort, S.C. The graduates received a total of 468 associate degrees, diplomas and certificates in health sciences, business, industrial technologies and transfer programs. See the list of graduates here.
This year’s commencement was particularly noteworthy, as 2018 marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of The Mather School and the 50th anniversary of the Technical College of the Lowcountry. The Mather School, founded in 1868 to educate the daughters of freed slaves, educated and empowered countless individuals for 100 years. In 1968, The School property was given to the state of South Carolina and became TCL.
Guest speaker and Mather alumnus Rufus Pinckney highlighted the mission and impact of The Mather School and recognized 98-year-old alumna Johnnie Watts Bampfield James, Class of 1936. Pinckney also offered special thanks to the graduates.
“150 years after The Mather School story began, I am so grateful to see that the Mather spirit continues to live through your achievements,” he said.
President Richard Gough applauded the class’s diversity and perseverance and encouraged them to continue the college’s legacy.
“TCL’s network, which includes you and other alumni, students, faculty and staff, will help ensure a thriving community for another 150 years, no matter what,” Gough said.
The class included 21 high school seniors who earned enough credits through the Early College Credit Opportunities program to graduate with college certificates and associate degrees. One such student, Jasiah Ballenger, served as the 2018 Student Speaker.
Ballenger, a senior at Whale Branch Early College High School, earned two associate degrees and three college certificates three weeks before graduating high school. She encouraged her fellow graduates to be conscientious and diligent in using their time and talents.
“Promise me one thing: in every way, take advantage of your time because we never know when our clock may run out,” she said.
Dan Wood, a TCL alumnus and Bluffton Town Councilmember, delivered the keynote address.
“The most exciting time of your life begins today,” he said. “You are our next entrepreneurs, career professionals, and our future community leaders. These are exciting times. This is your time.”
Hilton Head Island resident and philanthropist Liz Clist received the 2018 Presidential Medallion. Recognized as TCL’s top award given to a community citizen, the Presidential Medallion honors a distinguished community leader who exhibits enthusiasm, integrity and perseverance beyond the ordinary to help build a better and stronger community.
“Liz’s heartfelt philanthropy to the college and the community perfectly exemplifies the values we the College encourage,” Gough said.
Statement of Non-Discrimination
The Technical College of the Lowcountry is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all qualified applicants for admissions or employment without regard to race, gender, national origin, age, religion, marital status, veteran status, disability, or political affiliation or belief.