Longtime Tri-County Technical College (TCTC) Commissioner Helen Rosemond Saunders was honored on June 12 with the Order of the Silver Crescent, the state of South Carolina’s highest civilian award.
Senator Thomas Alexander presented her with the award at a luncheon to celebrate her 30 years of service on TCTC’s governing board. Joining in the celebration were TCTC President Galen DeHay, fellow Commission members and family.
The honor is awarded by the governor to individuals who have made significant contributions through leadership and volunteerism and have been a lifelong influence on a region or community.
Commissioner Rosemond-Saunders has been an advocate for community and technical college education her entire career, said Senator Alexander. President DeHay added that the retired educator “is known for her determined efforts to improve the community and postsecondary education, particularly for minority populations and first-generation college students.”
“Her passion for education has been at the forefront of everything she has done in her professional career as an educator, in her community and while serving three decades on the TCTC Commission. She has impacted so many lives as she has guided students to success. She is a shining example for all to follow,” said Senator Alexander.
“This award is a recognition of her lifelong service to her family, her church, her community and Tri-County Technical College. I am so pleased the governor has honored her with the Order of the Silver Crescent and I am honored to present this award today,” Senator Alexander said.
In recognition of her tireless service to TCTC, the Oconee community and the state of South Carolina, the TCTC Foundation has established a scholarship in her name. TheHelen Rosemond-Saunders Scholarship is endowed and will support students of color who reside in Oconee County.
Mrs. Rosemond-Saunders was appointed to serve on the TCTC Commission in 1993. In 1997 she was elected vice chair and later served as chair from 2007 -2011. Currently she serves on the Curriculum and Instruction Committee. During her time as Commission chair, the College opened three community campuses, two QuickJobs Centers, and a state-of-the-art Industrial Technology Center.
As an advocate for those from low socioeconomic backgrounds with limited opportunity to pursue higher education, Mrs. Rosemond-Saunders championed the Connect to College program for high school drop-outs and has served on the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) Diversity Committee. Her leadership has greatly contributed to the success of Tri-County, which currently has the highest student success rate in the S. C. Technical College System and ranks in the top 1% nationally for successful student transfers.
At the state and national levels, Mrs. Rosemond-Saunders is a charter member, former chair and vice chair for the S.C. Association of Technical College Commissioners (SCATCC). She also served on its Executive Board. She currently serves on the Trustee Advisory Committee for the Association of Community College Trustees
(ACCT) and is past chair of the ACCT Diversity Committee and a past member of its Governance and Bylaws Committee. She spearheaded the development of the first Commissioner Academy to educate new Commissioners about their role in community college governance and advocacy.
She was named the Outstanding Trustee for the Southern Region by the national ACCT in 2017. She also received the Southern Region ACCT Trustee Leadership Award in 2017.
“I have dedicated my life to being a servant for God, the public, education and my community,” said Mrs. Rosemond-Saunders. “As a Commissioner, I am here to serve our students and our community. I share the community college story – beginning with students in elementary schools – telling them that a community college education is an option for everyone.”
She said she is proud of the College’s successes over the last 60 years, especially the establishment of community campuses which offer students in TCTC’s service area access to a quality education. “TCTC provides opportunities that are life changing. TCTC is the first choice for so many.”
Her tireless dedication to improving education at the local, state and national levels is shown in the countless hours she devotes to advocacy and special projects.
She played a key role in spearheading the construction of a full-scale reproduction of a one-teacher Rosenwald School on the Anderson Campus of TCTC. The campus is the site of the nation’s only full-scale reproduction of a one-teacher Rosenwald School. These schools were built in the early 20 th century for the education of African Americans in the rural South. In addition to her work with the Rosenwald School replica, Mrs. Rosemond-Saunders chairs the Retreat Rosenwald School Renovation Project Committee to raise funds to renovate and preserve an original Rosenwald structure from the early 1900s. She led the committee’s effort to attain status on the National Registry of Historical Places.
In recent months she has been working with local leaders in Seneca and her fellow Blue Ridge High School alumni to transform the building to become a hub for the community.
A retired educator, Mrs. Rosemond-Saunders began her career in 1967 with the School District of Oconee County and worked as a guidance counselor, home economics, and biology teacher. Since retiring, she has served on two School Improvement Councils and the District Diversity Committee. As a volunteer, she participated in a school district initiative to notify students who completed high school but did not receive a diploma because they did not pass all areas of the exit exam. New regulations now enable them to petition their school for a diploma.
She holds a bachelors degree in Home Economics from South Carolina State University, a masters degree in Nutritional Science from Clemson University, and 30-plus certification in Secondary School Guidance from Clemson University. She was selected as one of 12 distinguished alumni to receive the 2017 – 2018 Stellar
Alumnus for S.C. State University.
She is an active member of Pleasant Hill Baptist in Westminster. She has two adult sons, Delane and Jim Rosemond, two daughters-in-law, four grandchildren, and two great-granddaughters.
About Tri-County Technical College
Tri-County Technical College, a public two-year community and technical college serving Anderson, Oconee and Pickens Counties in South Carolina, enrolls more than 9,000 students annually and offers more than 70 major fields of study, including computer technology, business administration, mechatronics, nursing, and university transfer programs. Tri-County boasts the highest student success rate among two-year colleges in the state and ranks in the top one percent nationally for successful student transfers to four-year colleges and universities. To learn more, visit tctc.edu.