“I came here and took the Automated Office program from 1993 to 1994 and earned a diploma, and during that time, I was a college work-study student for Kathy Hightower. I came back to get my degree in Office Systems Technology from 1995 to 1996 and graduated, and I was a work-study for Kathy in the bookstore again.
I was hired in March 1996 to work in the financial aid office for a month with Dr. Sandra Davis and ended up working for a year. After that, I was hired to work under Phyllis Stoudenmire in Student Services from 1997 to 1998. I then applied for the position that I am currently in, and I have been working in the Physical Plant ever since 1998.
When I first started working here, we didn’t have buildings S, R or T. Student Services was in Building A, and Financial Aid was in Building B. The bookstore and café were in Building B. This college has grown tremendously, as have I. I was a teenager when I started here. I got married and had a child while working here, and now that child is graduating high school this year and he will be coming out here in the fall (2018).
The one event that stands out for me is the day I came out and turned in my financial aid papers to Teddy Weeks, who was over the Financial Aid office at the time and is Xennie Weeks’ brother. I did all my paperwork by myself with no help from my mom. He looked at me and said, ‘Do you want a job?’ and I said, ‘Yes,’ and that is when he took me to the bookstore and I met Kathy. Through that work-study job in the bookstore, I was able to make connections with the faculty and staff. That gave me a foot in the door, and if it wasn’t for that, I might not be here.”
Connie Gleaton, Administrative Specialist
Connie Johnson Bowman
“I was a tutor here in 1978, 1979. I got a call from Velma Randolph, who used to work in the finance department. She said the college was looking for a tutor. At the time, I wasn’t working. I had a bachelor’s degree in music education and I was doing sub work, so I said, ‘This is a great opportunity,’ and I decided to try it. I’m a math person, but I ended up tutoring reading, math and English. We were stationed where the Automotive shop is now, and I worked under Dorothy Allen. I went back to school and worked on my master’s in learning disabilities. After that, I decided, ‘OK, this is where I want be.’ I later went back to school and took all of the courses I needed for math so that I could teach it.
At one time, there was a choir at OCtech. I helped start it and helped direct it. That was an experience. It lasted for about four years, in the early 2000s. We would perform at the Christmas luncheon, and we sang at Dr. Anne Crook’s mother’s funeral. She loved the choir. There were students on the choir, and one student played for the choir. Dr. Jeffery Olson started the book club. We’d read and book, and then we would come together and discuss it. That was pretty neat. There was also a Weight Watchers group, led by Donna Kerr.
I’ll never forget when we were in our old cafeteria and we would bring covered dishes to share for our Christmas gatherings. It was just beautiful. We had field days. Students were involved with that, and we had the picnic area where the pond house is. We had hamburgers and hot dogs and chips and sodas and we would just have such a good time, with the music and everything. It was really fun. We even had baseball or softball. That was when Bobby Felder was here. She loved all of that. The camaraderie was good.
I remember watchmaking being here. It was one of the only programs like it in the U.S. My husband, Charles Bowman, even took it when he was out here. He was a tool and die maker and taught part-time in tool and die. That was before I came out here. We met in 1981 and got married in 1988. Then he started working at Koyo, which is JTEKT now. He’s retired.
I remember Mrs. Margaret Huff and her energy she always had. The library was full of books and that’s it. Students loved going there.
I remember teaching at night and then having a class at 8 o’clock the next morning. Everything was face-to-face in the learning lab, so you were always busy. It was like you were on roller skates because it was busy, but it was rewarding. I’m so glad for computers. All of our modules used to be on paper. We had files of them. If a student didn’t do well, then they would have to go back and reread the books. We had books and all sorts of resources that they would have to study from, and then once they studied from those books, they would have to take a module test. And once we did they module test and we would check it, they would then move on to the next module. And all of that was paper. Isn’t that amazing? And now they have put all of the resources on the computer and students can access them whenever and wherever they want.
It’s amazing how 40 years passes by so fast, and I can truly say it’s been great. I’ve had fun. I’ve taught some of the staff who now work at the college. I taught Mark Elmore, Jessie Singletary, Joan Moore and Elizabeth Rivers. I’ve also taught some of my high school classmates coming back to school and my fellow church members. I’ve counseled students and helped them gain knowledge and understanding of what math really is, and they’ve come back to tell me that they really appreciate what they learned. They’ll share their experiences and what they have learned through the years, and that’s a great thing to know. Some of them say I was hard. I had one student years ago who was late for class and came in drunk. I told him, ‘You know you’re not going to make anything out of yourself,’ but you know what? When I told him that, he got upset about it. He went in the Navy, got into a medical field and then theology, and he came back and told me, ‘You said I wasn’t going to be anything.’ That stood out in my mind. You get those students who come back and say thank you, and you appreciate that. I had an impact.”
Connie Johnson Bowman, Retired Math Instructor
“I have been employed for 42 years as a draftsman and designer as a result of the associate degree I obtained from OCtech. I was fortunate enough to work under the late Frances Ballentine in the school’s multi-media department while I was a student there. I helped generate slide presentations for use in the classrooms, and did photographic work for the school yearbook and newspaper. I was also student council vice president my second year. I currently work with McCall-Thomas Engineering in Orangeburg as a designer-draftsman and am a candidate for S.C. House District 66. My OCtech experience was one of the highlights of my life.”
Tom Connor, Engineering Graphics Technology, Class of 1975
“There was a family atmosphere among the faculty and staff that I hadn’t expected. Everyone knew everyone else, and the college provided so many opportunities for us to interact with and appreciate each other, from cookouts at the pond house to departmental competitions. No one ever used to leave for another job because there was no place better than this. I remember the yearly gatherings at Buckridge Plantation and how much fun we all used to have. I remember Linda Ash and the canteen that used to be in B Building attached to the bookstore when almost everyone used to eat there. I remember before S Building, when you could walk down a long covered sidewalk lined with picnic tables full of happy, engaged students.”
Anthony Williams, Speech and Humanities Instructor
“I first saw Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical Education Center the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving, 1968. I had just exited I-26 onto two-lane 601, driving toward downtown Orangeburg. I was on my way to a job interview with Applied Engineering Company, after seven years as a pilot in the United States Air Force. My next encounter with Orangeburg-Calhoun TEC came as I enrolled in a 1970s night class on the National Electrical Code. I figured this class would help me at Applied. I was the only applicant for this course, so I was placed in the house wiring class. I still have the textbook. I left Applied in 1989 and attempted to learn all I could about computers. OCtech was the place. I took every course available in the next three quarters. Windows was not here, yet. Hugo came through that September. The next nine years, I worked locally as a maintenance engineer and as a design/construction engineer in the Southeast. The day following Labor Day, 1998, I saw The T&D ad for an instructor with Continuing Education at OCtech. That afternoon, I faxed my resume, applying for that position. My interview followed, but the size of the campus had grown so much, I got lost twice. I came to work October 1998 in Building N. Growth kept on coming, with buildings S and R. I retired at the end of 2009. In 2010, I became an adjunct, and still instructed in N. I am now in T. The campus is still growing.”
Chick Smith, Orangeburg
“I graduated from Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School not knowing what I wanted to do. I had one or two years of mechanical drawing in high school and just happened to come to Tech’s campus with someone else and said, ‘I’ll try that,’ so I signed up for Engineering Graphics Technology. We used drawing boards then, and the instructor was Larry Bly. He taught the seniors, and Mr. John Wannamaker taught the freshmen.
Everybody knew everybody at Tech. I remember driving through the middle of campus when I was a student here. They were building the hospital next door at the time. We watched the steel going up. This building (Building N) wasn’t here. Our classes were held where Computer Technology is now. The senior lab was a small room on the back of Building C. The auditorium wasn’t here. The landscaping was different. The cafeteria was where the bookstore is now. We had a watchmaking program, and it was a big deal, but the technology just went away. It’s a lost art that nobody teaches anymore.
I’d say every program tries to cover as much material and things you’re going to see in the workforce, but when you get out, there’s always additional training for what you’re going to do, depending on where you go to work. I had a good foundation when I left here, and it helped me succeed. Coming back, I do the same thing – I try to cover as many areas as I can. There’s so much software, you can’t cover it all, but you try to give students a basic foundation to help them be successful. Every time I do something, I think, ‘What would Larry Bly do?’ because he was the best instructor. Back in the day, we did everything on a drawing board, and when we thought we were done, we would untape it, and Mr. Bly could spot our mistakes before he even got to us. I’m almost getting to that point now. You get used to what students have problems with, and that’s the first thing you look for, so now I kind of know what the secret is. I’m not as good at it as Mr. Bly was, but I’m getting there.
After I earned my associate degree, I went to work for International Reinforced Plastics. The guy who hired me did a lot of work previously all over the world, and before long, he helped me get a job where I got to see the world. We spent almost a year working in Boreno, Indonesia, building paper mills in the middle of the jungle. I’ve been to China four or five times and Singapore, too. Before coming to OCtech in summer 2007, I was living here and working for the Department of Environmental Protection in New York City as a contracted quality control inspector. I would go wherever equipment was being fabricated – I could be working in Texas for a few weeks, then Kansas, California, Mexico, all over the place – and I would fly home on the weekends. It was good money, but my job as OCtech’s Engineering Design Technology program coordinator is the best job I’ve ever had.
When we have campus tours, I show the students what we do in Engineering Design, but I kind of leave it like there’s a lot of good programs out here. You’ve just got to find something you enjoy. It’s not all about the money – you want to be happy doing what you’re doing. A lot of students come out here and they’re like me. They don’t really know what they want to do. I tell them just find something you like and do it. That’s what I did, and it worked.”
Engineering Design Technology Program Coordinator
Engineering Graphics Technology, Class of 1980