NETC Alumna ‘Geared Up’ For Education
Cynthia Hulon uses herself as an example of a life-long learner when talking to students at JV Martin Junior High School in Dillon about their educational and career plans.
Hulon is a graduation coach for GEAR Up, a federal grant program of the Commission on Higher Education. Her resume, however, is as diverse as the Yellow Pages. She has been a certified dental assistant, served as an administrative specialist with the S.C. Department of Transportation and then S.C. Probation and Pardons, worked as a medical unit administrative assistant at a state prison, and been a career specialist within the public school system.
Throughout all these career changes and advancements, Hulon said education has been key to achieving her goals.
Hulon earned an Associate of Business Management from Northeastern Technical College by going back to school as a nontraditional student: a working woman with a family and home to take care of.
“I was working at Evans Correctional Center in Bennettsville in the medical services unit when our office was outfitted with new computer programs,” Hulon said. “I recognized my lack of computer knowledge and that I needed to learn a new skill set, so I began taking my first college classes in the evening. I was still working 40 hours a week, but I had the support of my husband, and our two kids were in school and old enough to look after their basic needs.”
At that time, NETC was called Chesterfield-Marlboro Technical College and had not established its Dillon Community Campus, so classroom space was made available at Dillon High School.
“We were a small group of students going through the business program, so we received individualized attention from our instructors at NETC,” Hulon said. “They worked with us to make sure we had the courses we needed to graduate. NETC’s faculty and staff members are very friendly and accommodating, and they really care about their students.”
Once Hulon had the associate’s degree under her belt, she decided to keep going with her education. She transferred to Coker College the following semester and earned a Bachelor of Science in business management. In 2006, she was able to hang another diploma on her wall: a Master of Education from Cambridge College in Boston.
Hulon took a position with the Dillon County School System as a school-to-work coordinator in 1999, which led to her current role as graduation coach with the GEAR Up program.
“I was very interested in the GEAR Up program when JV Martin Junior High was selected as one of 24 schools in South Carolina to receive the grant,” Hulon said. “It allows me to focus my attention on a specific cohort of students and interact with them more closely.”
Hulon has 239 seventh-graders on her watch, so to speak. She is to motivate them to stay in school and help them obtain the skill set they need to be successful in their career of choice. She will stay with the same group for the next five years until they graduate high school.
“The goal of the GEAR Up program is to increase the graduation rate and grow the number of students going into post secondary education,” Hulon said. “My personal goal is to know each student and what they’re going through by the time they graduate and know what they need to meet their future goals.”
Hulon is the first in her family to go to college.
“I didn’t think my family could afford to send me off to college. Plus, I had already met my husband and was planning my future family,” Hulon said.
Hulon is married to Major Hulon. They have two grown children and five grandchildren. “When I did begin to pursue higher education, NETC made it affordable and convenient to go to college.”
Hanging next to the three college degrees in Hulon’s office are a number of certificates and leadership awards from workshops and programs she has attended over the years as her career path has developed. “I’m an example of a life-long learner whose many career and educational experiences has prepared me for new opportunities when they presented themselves,” Hulon said. “I tell my students graduating high school is their first goal, but they should never stop learning.”
Hulon said she appreciates the role that NETC has played in her life and its potential to be a pathway for others for life-long learning and advanced career opportunities.
Begin your pathway to a future this fall. Application deadline for fall semester is August 1. Admission applications may be picked up and submitted at the Pageland Community Campus located at 815 S. Pearl St. Admission applications may also be filled out and submitted online by visiting www.netc.edu, clicking on “Admissions” and then clicking on “Apply Online Now” in the box on the right side of the page. For more information, call NETC at (843) 672-3700 or toll free (800) 921-7399, or visit www.netc.edu.