Access to a quality education far transcends geographical proximity or financial status. On top of these circumstances, many students have additional unique conditions to overcome that could be physical or neurological in origin. Often their challenges are not immediately visible.
Students may have difficulties with mobility, hearing, vision or speech, as well as less obvious impairments such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or emotional disorders. Appropriate accommodations are available to assist any PTC student who has a documented disability. To receive services, students report to the campus student disability counselor and provide appropriate documentation of their disability.
Dillon Greenway has his own word for the movement difficulties caused by cerebral palsy ― “annoying.” A word the upbeat 21-year-old does not have in his vocabulary ― “can’t.”
“I admit that writing (typing) papers is difficult for me,” he says. “It takes me a while. My teachers will tell you that I may not get it done the quickest, but I at least try my best and make good solid grades.”
Greenway’s ultimate goal is to teach history in Greenwood-area schools. He feels that PTC has prepared him well to advance his education. “The best thing about Piedmont Tech is that everyone is friendly, and the teachers are really accessible,” he said, adding that his PTC instructors have reasonable office hours and will go out of their way to be available. “They will absolutely work with you.”
This fall, Greenway transferred to Lander University to work on a baccalaureate in history with teacher certification. He entered Lander completely debt-free thanks to the efforts of SC Vocational Rehabilitation officials, who secured comprehensive financial aid for him.
To date, VR has served more than 36,000 individuals with pre-employment and related services. More than 7,000 went on to full-time employment. Competitively employed consumers pay about $4 in taxes for every $1 spent on their rehabilitation. These employed consumers repay the cost of their vocational rehabilitation in less than five (5) years. That’s a 21 percent annual rate of return on taxpayer investment.
Brenda Dailey, a counselor in the college’s Counseling and Disability Services Division, noted that access to VR services is now consistently available on campus three days a week thanks to a new partnership between PTC and VR. Through the arrangement, PTC provides VR with dedicated office space adjacent to the college’s Enrollment Center. VR office hours on campus are 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.
“This partnership is so important because it provides more opportunities for collaboration with VR and to introduce students to the representatives from the agency here on campus,” Dailey explained. “It’s so much better than telling them about VR and expecting them to drive or find transportation to the local VR office. That alone could be a disincentive to following up with VR. And the benefits they could access are significant, ranging from financial aid to provision of assistive technologies, such as special keyboards, smart pens or wheelchair adaptations. All of these things will enhance their prospects for success at PTC.”
The VR partnership is part of a larger initiative called Community Connection in which PTC is working with local service organizations to bring them to campus on a regular basis so students can access them more easily.