Technical College of the Lowcountry’s motto “It’s working.” is true, according to the 2014 Commencement student speaker Yvonne Vicuna. In fact, even before she realized it, TCL was helping her make important business connections that would have lasting effects on her education and career.
In 2008, the Beaufort native was working as a construction coordinator in Bluffton when she lost her job during a company-wide layoff. Her husband Anthony had also just lost his job. Not knowing what step to take next, Vicuna decided the take a year off from work to explore her hobbies and life goals. She found herself heavily involved with her teenage son, Thomas, and his afterschool activities.
“During my time off I realized that my hobbies revolved around my son’s activities. That is when I decided that I wanted to work with children,” Vicuna said.
In 2009, Vicuna enrolled in TCL’s Early Care and Education program. While in class, in August 2011, Vicuna met the director of a local child enrichment center. The director offered her a job.
“I firmly believe that if I wasn’t in that class at that exact time, I wouldn’t have my job at The Baptist Church of Beaufort,” Vicuna said.
Vicuna admits that taking classes was difficult in the beginning but that she has grown as a person. “Because of TCL, my self-confidence has grown not only in my career but also overall as a person. I am more confident that I can accomplish whatever I set my mind on,” Vicuna said.
Balancing college classes, family time, club memberships and work was challenging.
“Being in school took a lot of sacrifice and long hours after work and over the weekends. I would often bring my homework and laptop with me to my son’s sporting events,” Vicuna said.
Vicuna’s time at TCL has also helped improve her teaching skills with her pre-school students and their parents.
“I can now look at an infant or toddler and know their milestones and what may need to be further accessed,” Vicuna said. “I have also learned how to earn the respect of parents and how to communicate with parents openly and honestly regarding their children.”
Cindy Adams, Vicuna’s coworker, has also noticed a great change in Vicuna’s confidence and teaching skills over the past three years of working and attending TCL.
“Yvonne is very pleasant and helpful to work with. She is a hard worker and a great team player. She is also very attentive with the children and always updates the parents about their child’s day,” Adams said.
Vicuna’s teenage son says his mother’s decision to go to college was very inspiring.
“I felt very proud of my mom. She proved that even if you don’t go to college right after high school, it is still an option,” Thomas said.
Vicuna received her Applied Science/Childcare Management and Early Childhood Development certificates in May and plans to earn her Associate Degree in Applied Science/Early Care and Education this fall.
After graduation Vicuna hopes to continue a career in education and eventually pursue a bachelor’s at a four-year college. Vicuna’s goal for the next year is to become a director of a preschool or daycare.
Vicuna encourages everyone; no matter their age, gender, ethnicity and marriage or employment status, to enroll at TCL because of the great experiences and opportunities the college has offered her throughout her time of enrollment.
“For people who think they can’t manage school and work full time, yes you can, it just takes a bit of time management, sacrifice and even creativity at times,” Vicuna said.
Vicuna concluded her student address by saying that TCL provides students with the tools they need to learn, grow and succeed in their future careers. “The motto is true… TCL is working,” Vicuna said.