How To Succeed In A Place Like Dillon

One of the statements that I often hear from people who were brought up in Dillon and moved away (due to the lack of employment or career opportunities, cultural or entertainment establishments, and other perks and desirables) is “there is nothing in Dillon for me.” This statement has always rubbed me the wrong way due to the fact that those who say it are often inconsiderate, unappreciative, and down right forgetful of the fact that it took a place like Dillon to give birth to and to nurture them.  This is why I appreciate people like Dr. Kenneth Manning, who is arguably one of our most successful and prominent citizens, who has achieved both national and international acclaim.  Nevertheless, in spite of his great success as a scholar and tenured professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), one of the nation’s greatest institutions of higher learning, he has by choice and concern managed to maintain his connection and commitment to the community of his birth and rearing.  Also, there is a couple by the name of Kenneth and Anna Jane Smith, who left Dillon some years ago in pursuit of employment opportunities abroad.  Their pursuit proved to be successful and put them in a position of security where they could perhaps live anywhere in the nation comfortably for the rest of their lives.  We are very fortunate that they chose to come back to Dillon and are making an impact to inspire and to lift up others. They returned to the place of their birth and rearing where many former Dillonites have, through indifference, deemed as not being worthy of their concern or consideration.  I am not writing this because I am of the opinion that everyone who was born or brought up here should never leave for greener pastures or go where personal desires guide them; it is their right to choose.  Nevertheless, I want to help pull down and eradicate the idea and misconception that there is nothing in Dillon for which to remain or to which to return. I have been fortunate enough to travel extensively throughout this nation, as well as abroad.  In my journey, I have been to some of the greatest cities in the world and met, hobnobbed, and even befriended quite a few people of esteem and renown in various fields.  I have been privileged to be exposed to different cultures and have been cultured on a level that most folks only read or dream about.  However, in spite of all of this, I still find Dillon to be a most desirable place, despite of all the negatives, backwardness, and lack of opportunities that these people and former residents cite.  To me, Dillon will always be home.
In light of what we have already discussed, I did a random interview with a few African-Americans, who are quite accomplished and successful, who were born, reared, and still live in Dillon.  I wanted to find out how they succeeded in a place like Dillon, where they had to often compete on a playing field that was not level due to bias officials where the deck was stacked against them.  Here are a few of their formulas and secrets on how to succeed in a place like Dillon.
Sharon Ford McLain, who is the Director of the Operating Room Unit at McLeod Medical Center here in Dillon, said that her formula for success was “not settling; pushing through what they said I could not do and using every opportunity as a learning experience.”
Dr. Louise Goings is the Principal of South Elementary School.  I know her story and endeavor to succeed better than anyone else’s I interviewed.  She simply stated, “To succeed must be a mindset, a goal.  You must set your vision and go for it!”
Bobby McDuffie, a Financial Supervisor of Information Systems at McLeod Medical Center in Florence, as well as a successful entrepreneur in Dillon with quite a few business ventures, said his formula for success was “trusting God and my wife, as well as following sound counsel that my spiritual leaders and mentors gave us.”
Tonny McNeil, who is the first African American to hold the position of the  
Dillon County Economic Director, said his formula for success was “understanding my personal strengths and weaknesses; and in doing so, no one could tell me what I could or could not do.”  He further asserted that “in going out beyond Dillon and being exposed to how other people were doing things helped to prepare and to equip me to achieve the same things here in Dillon.”
Each of these people who shared their formulas for success was born and reared right here in Dillon.  Each of them are local and living examples that anyone who is willing to strive hard and hang in there can achieve his or her goals in Dillon or anywhere, regardless of biases and obstacles that may be in their path to success.  I have come to believe that I can accomplish anything that I am willing to work hard at, if I do not give up.  Far too many people will never succeed in Dillon or anywhere else because they are lazy and have no ambition or resolve.  This is especially the case for many of our young people who refuse to take advantage of the opportunities that are readily available to them.  It is a crying shame that many people from other countries have come to our area and are willing to pursue gainful employment at Perdue, Harbor Freight, and other places when many of our young people are hanging out on the corners as loafers, vagrants, beggars, and thugs.  It has come to my attention, from a reliable source that most of the people who showed up to get in on the groundwork of the Wyman-Gordon employment initiative were Whites and not from our area.  One young African American man, who was too lazy and foolish to go to the job screening, was reporting saying the reason he did not go was because he felt that all the jobs were going to Whites anyway, so there was no need in him wasting his time.  Of course, that is the opinion of a person who refuses to take the initiative and advantage of an opportunity when it comes his way.  Regrettably, this is the attitude of many who are always looking for an excuse to blame others for their failures.  It is no secret that Dillon is a difficult place to succeed and this is especially true if you are an African-American.  I will be the first to admit that racism, bias, and nepotism are still alive and well in our locale.  However, you can overcome these giants if you are willing to work hard, don’t give up, and make sure you are certified and prepared for every opportunity that might come your way.  When the door opens, be one of the first ones in line to enter.
In closing, please do not forget these final words:  If you can overcome evil and the enemy that dwells within you, nothing in Dillon or anywhere else can keep you from succeeding.

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