NETC tour offers students a glimpse of the future

Shifflett: ‘You gotta make your time count’

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

CHERAW, S.C. — We get only one chance at life on this spinning ball of dirt and water. Don’t let it go to waste.

That’s the message Alex Gossett Shifflet and others at Northeastern Technical College told some 400 area high school students during a day-long Future Focus campus tour on Wednesday in Cheraw. The idea was not to sell them on enrolling at NETC but having a plan, any plan, beyond high school.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Mark Knockemus, English and Religion instructor, helps high school students begin to focus on their future.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Mark Knockemus, English and Religion instructor, helps high school students begin to focus on their future.

Shifflet, a theater and speech instructor, asked one student to come to the front of the group and give “Skinny,” a toy skeleton relaxing in a tin of sand, a high five.

“You know what? You can’t. He’s dead,” Shifflet said.

Shifflet said Skinny was there to remind everyone that despite our role on earth, we all end up in the same place.

“I wasted time, and now doth time waste me,” Shifflet said, quoting William Shakespeare. “I don’t want you guys to waste your time.”

She asked Jenna what her plan was. With a little coaxing, Jenna determined she wanted to be a nurse within five years and, with a decade, have a family at home.

“Guess what? This takes planning,” Shifflet said. “This doesn’t just fall in your lap. You gotta make your time count while you’re here.”

Shifflet said she knew while in high school she wanted to teach. So she attended Coker College, then obtained her master’s degree from the University of South Carolina.

“I’ve been teaching ever since,” she said.

Real life, she said, isn’t that different from life on a stage. It’s full of improv.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Alex Gossett Shifflet acknowledged that "life's gonna happen," but a plan goes a long way.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Alex Gossett Shifflet acknowledged that “life’s gonna happen,” but a plan goes a long way.

“Life is gonna happen, Shifflet said. “But if you have a plan, have a goal, at least you’re working towards something.”

Annie Patrick, NETC’s college success instructor,  helps match students with services on campus that can aid them in their studies and transition to college life. She said with proper planning, students can leave NET debt-free. But the students themselves need to do their share.

“We’re here to give you the help that you need,” Patrick said. “You have to have the confidence. If you don’t, nobody else will.”

Patrick also encouraged students to “protect their grade point average.”

“It follows you,” she said. “You don’t ever want to relax.”

The mini-sessions at each station, as students rotated from each, were a mix of monologues and interactive discussions. Each group that visited English instructors Mark Knockemus and Elizabeth Dutton, or criminal justice instructor Marc Weiss, had varying degrees of interest in the specific subject.

Shifflet realized that’s part of the point — and part of the reason and need for the campus tour.

“They’re young,” she said. “They’ve got their whole world ahead of them.”

Clayton Clark was sold on NETC a long time ago. The college sophomore is nearing the finish of his first two years of study in criminal justice under Weiss. The Bennettsville native plans to transfer to USC and aspires to work in a distort attorney’s office or other government job.

Shannon Justice | Northeastern Technical College.

Shannon Justice | Northeastern Technical College.

“I thought about the FBI, but I kind of like the drug side of things,” Clark said.

Valerie Gargiulo, NETC’s dual enrollment coordinator, talked with students about how they don’t need to wait until they graduate high school before they take college courses. So long as their academic affairs are in order, they can enroll as early as the summer before their junior year.

Gargiulo talked about $300 NETC scholarships available at upcoming homecoming football games. She said you can’t win if you don’t enter. That’s kind of what Shifflet said, except she was speaking about the broader game of life.

Filed in: Cheraw, Education, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News

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