Like many nontraditional students at Piedmont Technical College (PTC), Angela Butler did not follow a direct path to her college degree.
“I didn’t excel in school. I just wanted to get by and graduate,” she said. “I have done many, many different ‘careers’ from the time I was 16. … I had a contract with Greenwood Mall for many years doing Santa and Easter Bunny pictures. It was a seasonal position. I found everything from working in a manufacturing plant to a day care center.” She also worked as a classroom and lunchroom volunteer while her children were in school.
For several years, Butler helped operate a multi-media production company with her husband, Eric. Her mother-in-law owned a Merle Norman store in Honea Path, where Butler also worked. After her mother-in-law retired, Butler took over managing the cosmetics business. Her daughters also worked there through their own college years.
Butler managed the Merle Norman store until 2020, when COVID hit, and her mother-in-law sold the business.
“My husband and I had a long conversation. He said you have always wanted to get a degree. Go for it!” she recalled.
Butler had enrolled very briefly at PTC in 1992 but quit almost immediately after her grandfather passed away. Both of her daughters hold college degrees. Her eldest, Allie, graduated from Lander in 2018 and is an inside sales representative at VELUX America LLC. Her youngest, Hannah, graduated from PTC in May of 2020. She is a registered diagnostic cardiac sonographer at St. Mary’s Sacred Heart Hospital in Lavonia, GA.
The prospect of re-enrolling in college was more than daunting for Butler.
“After a lot of thinking and praying and freaking-out moments, I decided I was going to do this, and I was going to do this right,” she said. At first, she worried constantly and became obsessive about studying. Eventually, she found balance. “I am now following in the footsteps of my children. I look forward to seeing what the degree brings.”
Ultimately, Butler decided to major in administrative office technology (AOT) with a medical concentration. She has always had a fascination for medicine.
“My mom passed away from ovarian cancer in 2013,” she explained. “I spent a lot of time with her going to appointments and sitting in the chemotherapy room with her. I really admired the way the providers and office staff worked together as a unit.”
Because she enjoys computer, administrative, and front-office customer service work, and considering her high regard for children, Butler said she hopes to find a position with a pediatric medical practice.
“I loved the mall job so much because I love kids. I worked with kids from newborn on up,” she said. “I literally watched them grow up working there because they came back year after year. It was a fun experience.”
A PTC Foundation Strom Thurmond scholarship recipient, Butler noted that the recent no-cost tuition opportunities at PTC also have been a big draw.
“PTC has made it easy to get in there and do what I needed to do, with so many financial options from scholarships and free tuition to book vouchers,” she said. “It’s amazing to me what is available.”
Butler said she feels very accomplished with what she has achieved so far at PTC.
“The online classes have been amazing. I love being able to go at my own pace, sitting down in front of a computer and actually getting the work done.” Unlike her high school days, she is able to focus as a mature student. “I am taking it seriously now, because it means more to me now.”
Family and friends mean everything to Butler, and their support has been pivotal in her success. “My husband and kids are always pushing me,” she said. “They say trust yourself. You got this!”
To learn more about the AOT Program at PTC, visit www.ptc.edu/aot.