Building a better future

For months Larry Bennett was nervous. A heavy equipment operator for a South Carolina paper manufacturer, Bennett knew his way around the production line. 

“And I knew the situation wasn’t normal,” he says. “I saw veteran managers leave, watched equipment sit idle, and I was routinely sent home because of a lack of work.” 

Bennett knew he needed to do something, take matters into his own hands. 

“I had long discussions with my wife and other family members,” he says. “We all realized that things at the plant were changing, and I needed to be proactive about my future, especially since we just had our first child.” 

An expert at operating heavy machinery, Bennett started a part-time land clearing business and applied to the University of South Carolina Lancaster. After completing the first semester with excellent grades, he was fully committed to earning his bachelor’s degree as soon as possible. He started taking up to seven classes at a time, even in the summer. 

“The business, the baby and school keep me pretty busy,” he says. “It’s a good thing I don’t need much sleep. I get most of my schoolwork done late at night. My wife and family have all been right there the entire time. I know I wouldn’t be this close to graduating this fast without them.” 

And because USC Lancaster is a Palmetto College campus, Bennett is taking online classes to keep him on the fast track towards a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership degree. 

Launched last year, Palmetto College offers an affordable, convenient way to earn a four-year degree by bringing all the resources of the USC system to combine the quality of a USC degree with the flexibility of online learning. Students who have earned at least 60 hours of college credit and meet degree-specific grade point requirements can pursue a range of degrees, such as elementary education, liberal studies, business administration, human services and nursing (R.N. to B.S.N.).

“My adviser and professors at Lancaster are always there for me,” he says. “Night or day, I know I can count on them for solid advice.” 

With one more semester to go, Bennett is looking ahead to a new career and a better future for him and his family.

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