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, Dillon County sheriff. 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.
Tags: Individualized Attention
Taking classes at Northeastern Technical College while in high school has helped prepare me for the College of Charleston by earning credits that I will need for my major. I will be entering the College of... Read More about Kayla
I received individualized attention from my instructors at Northeastern Technical College when I was going through the business program. NETC's faculty and staff members are very friendly and accommodating, and they really care about their students.... Read More about Cynthia
Going to Northeastern Technical College allowed me to work a full-time job, be at home with my child and live in my community. At NETC, you are more than just a number in a classroom. The... Read More about Anissa
Going to NETC, which is exactly 17 miles from my home, was convenient. I could live at home and go to school, which was a lot more affordable for me than going off to college elsewhere.... Read More about Jonathan
Northeastern Technical College was my pathway to a better life. NETC was directly involved in getting me where I am today and having the job that I am so passionate about.... Read More about Santrice
NETC was my pathway to a broad range of knowledge that has allowed me to pursue my dream of owning my own business. NETC is a great starting point for people who are undecided about their... Read More about Tony
Northeastern Technical College is a huge resource for students attending four-year colleges and universities who come home for the summer. It's a quality education at a fraction of the cost. And it's right here in Chesterfield... Read More about Davis
Being a part of the Dual Enrollment program at NETC allowed me to not only graduate in four years from college, but also see the world. By gaining a head start in my college career through... Read More about Trevor
Life is a journey, and NETC was my starting point on my pathway to a rewarding career in social work. NETC can be a starting point for many who are ready to start pushing for an... Read More about Hester
The education I received at Northeastern Technical College was my pathway to a fulfilling, exciting and successful career in law enforcement. Had I not started at NETC, I would never have achieved my position as chief.... Read More about Larry
I tell my students all the time that they need to pursue an associate degree and not just rely on the cosmetology certificate. A two-year degree can be their pathway to another job if they do... Read More about Alanda
If you live in Chesterfield, Marlboro or Dillon counties and you're having a hard time finding work, there's no reason not to start your education at Northeastern Technical College.... Read More about Chad
I am thankful for the opportunity I had to take dual credit classes at NETC. Not only did they help me prepare for college level course work and scheduling, the college credits I earned at NETC... Read More about Caroline
I have a passion to create. I'm not just doing this because of the money, the fame or power. It is truly my passion. I am an artist, and I will always create to make people... Read More about Frank
By enrolling in the Industrial Electronics program at NETC, I am pursuing the dream I’ve had for a long time of becoming an electrician. Going to school at NETC and learning these advanced skills has been... Read More about Jarrett
I knew I wanted to study law, and Northeastern Technical College offered the pathway to becoming a legal office assistant. The smaller classes and the support services offered by NETC really met my needs and allowed... Read More about Emily
NETC is my pathway to a college degree and a better life. It has helped me define my career plans and pursue a job in machine tool technology where I can use my problem solving skills.... Read More about Josh
Northeastern Technical College was close to home and my job, and it was affordable. It was my starting place. With this nursing degree from NETC, I can branch out and go anywhere.... Read More about Tommy