Hanna Hopkins

Greenville Technical College

"I didn't realize that everything was so accessible. It all seemed abstract, but it wasn't. Greenville Tech did a great job of making it concrete."

I’m the first person in my family to go to college. I graduated high school in 2011, and went straight into Greenville Tech with hopes of becoming a nurse. After being accepted to the program, I got scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it, so I switched to the cosmetology program. I’ve been a cosmetologist in downtown Greenville for about seven years. I recently decided to go back to school to fulfill my dream of becoming a nurse. I have completely surpassed my own expectations of what I thought I was capable of. I became president of the nursing program and made the Dean’s list every semester. I’ve really defied the odds I was holding against myself. I now have hopes of becoming a nurse and applying to MUSC for further education.

This is the story of how I overcame and pushed beyond my own self-doubt. 


Why did you initially think nursing wasn’t going to work out for you?

My family history. I looked at where I came from and was like, “Wow, that’s a really big dream to have. I could never achieve something like becoming a CRNA.” Actually, I can. It’s very attainable. I job shadowed a CRNA who came through Greenville Tech, and that flipped a switch. I was like, “I can do this. I can totally do this.” All it took was overcoming my own self-doubt.


How did becoming the first person in your family to go to college impact your journey? 

I had no college experience to rely on through my family, so I had to navigate through it on my own. Greenville Tech was awesome about pairing me with the right people and information. It took research on my end, including exploring financial resources that I had never even heard of. I came to college with a scholarship from high school, but needed extra financial help and Greenville Tech helped me with that. 

I didn’t realize that everything was so accessible. I didn’t realize I could reach these goals. It all seemed abstract, but it wasn’t. Greenville Tech did a great job of making it concrete.


What would you like to say about the stigma around technical colleges? 

It was very practical for me to go to a technical college for general education, even if I had plans to attend a four-year school. At the Student Nurse Association convention, Greenville Technical College went up against four-year colleges and we had the most awards out of everyone — six total. 

The stigmas around technical college are wrong. I get more experience in the hospital than I probably would have at a four-year university, simply because we start out in the hospital. I think that hands-on experience is very important with everything — cosmetology, nursing, welding, all of the programs they offer here. That’s another thing. Greenville Tech offers a wide variety of career paths and options. They also have so many resources as far as finding new careers. 


How has the flexibility at Greenville Tech helped you out? 

Tech has very flexible scheduling. If you go to daytime classes, most of them are over by 5 p.m. If you want to work an evening job, you can. With the current online virtual options, I’m able to do more work at home while being in school, too. A lot of our students have children and families. I feel like Greenville Tech is just more accessible to the common person.


What have you learned about yourself along the way? 

I have surprised myself. It has been very difficult juggling everything. I think that technical college has helped make things accessible, and made it possible to juggle everything. My goals and dreams have not stopped, they just keep growing.


What advice do you have for someone thinking about beginning their education journey? 

I would tell them to look at my story and realize that if I can do it, anyone can do it. It does take hard work. It takes sacrifice. It takes planning your time. It takes having a goal and setting small goals along the way to that big goal. You have to celebrate the small steps before you can celebrate the leaps.