Horry-Georgetown Technical College
"Finally realizing what I wanted to be when I grow up — a teacher — helped me refocus at HGTC. Now I have a goal and a reason to go to school. I always knew I wanted to work with kids."
My name is Demarrious Kenny Vereen, and I am an education major at Horry-Georgetown Technical College. I ended up here by fortune rather than choice. My initial goal was to go Clemson, even though I didn’t know anything about the essentials of going to college. This is home, though, so I ultimately ended up staying here to go to school. When I transfer over to the Coast, I’ll be the second person in my family to graduate from a four-year institution.
Share a little bit about your reluctance to go here when your mom insisted you stay close to home for school?
I was all about Clemson, and I took all the required classes in high school. You only had to take two foreign languages, but I took three just because I was adamant about going to Clemson. I had never even been on campus, and had only seen the brochure. I had two good friends who went there, so I wanted to go there too. I didn’t know anything about the ACT, course requirements or how to get there. I just knew that’s what I wanted.
What were your first impressions of HGTC?
Initially I felt like it was just a waste of my time. I came here with this really superior attitude about technical college — even though I didn’t even know what technical college was. I thought I was somehow above it.
When I got here, I got humbled fast. I had a good GPA in high school, but I bombed the placement test. I started off taking O32 classes, which are “refresher classes” meant to prepare you for the 100-level classes. My mom was livid.
I tested out of an English 100 class and assumed they would notify the teacher I didn’t have to go to class anymore. They didn’t. That showed up as a fail on my transcript. That summer, I took four summer classes while working three jobs. I ended up choosing work over school. I failed three classes and withdrew from the other. At that point, I was just so over tech.
What inspired you to come back?
I think a big part of it was finally realizing what I wanted to be when I grow up — a teacher. Now I have a goal and a reason to go to school. I always knew I wanted to work with kids.
What have you overcome on your journey?
The first thing was my mindset about Clemson and four-year colleges somehow being superior. The second thing was failing while trying to balance school and work. I was depressed and discouraged. I knew I was smart, but couldn’t figure out why I was failing. I started to pull out of it with help from people in the admissions office. They helped me tremendously.
What role did your mom and family play in your journey?
At first my mom was livid. She was very upset that I failed because she knew I had done well in high school and knew that I was capable. The whole family was disappointed when I changed my major from nursing to education. They thought I was going to be the next nurse in a long line of nurses in our family. They’re all supportive now seeing me doing something I love.
My mom definitely also impacted me coming back to school. I was ready to give up on tech, go to work and become a statistic, but she sat me down and talked to me about doing something I love — not just doing a job. Because I had failed classes, I went from having a nice scholarship to needing to pay for my classes and my books. My mom helped with that. I’m so appreciative, because she didn’t have to do that. She didn’t have to talk me into coming back, but she did.
What is “Call Me MISTER?”
It stands for Mentors Instructing Students Towards Effective Role Models, an organization of inspiring male teachers. We network with each other, share stories and bond over the experience of being a teacher while becoming a teacher.
What advice do you have for others on their journey?
Before you even start filling out that application, have a sense of what you want to do or be when you grow up. If not that, at least have a goal in mind so you have something to ignite your fire. Otherwise, it’s like having a car with no gas in the tank.