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A Sound Investment


Coqui-Anna Turner has always had a lot on her plate.

Growing up in upstate NY among five siblings and absentee parents, she learned to take care of herself. She worked hard in school because she knew that education was the way out of poverty. And although neither of her parents went to college, “It was always just a given that we would all go,” she said.

But it's not always that simple.

Turner became pregnant and had a child in high school, which complicated her plans, but she remained steadfast in her focus, and with support from her family, she earned an Associate Degree in medical assisting.

Turner enjoyed working as a medical assistant because she was able to gain experience in many different areas of the hospital. After several years, she decided she wanted to take her career to the next level and become a nurse, and she wanted that to happen in Charleston.

“My grandmother is from Charleston and we grew up visiting the area. I just knew I would always end up here,” she said.

Now a single mother of two, Turner is in her second semester at Trident Tech. She loves the program but admits it is extremely challenging.

“It’s almost impossible to have even a part-time job with classes and clinicals,” she said.

Turner manages to work about 20 hours a week at a local primary care facility. It's not enough to cover all of her expenses and without any other financial support, she does everything she can to get assistance. She was recently approved for public housing, which reduces her rent from $950 to $450.

“It’s just a stepping-stone until I graduate and get a job. I want to teach my kids that with education and hard work you can achieve anything you want.”

As a Dean’s List student, Turner has received TTC Foundation scholarships for the past two years, which, she says, helped tremendously.

“Receiving the scholarships not only assisted me financially but emotionally. It has validated my belief in people, knowing that even strangers can support your dreams,” she said.

This year, Turner received the Anne and Rose Carrigan Endowed Nursing Scholarship. The scholarship was established by Fran Hawk, in honor of her mother and grandmother. Before that, Hawk had been sponsoring local students by introducing them to Trident Tech and financially supporting their education. But only one of the students went on to graduate.

“I was disappointed in myself,” Hawk said. “I thought it would be a good idea to let the experts handle it.”

She turned over the reins to the TTC Foundation scholarship program. Not long after, her husband John surprised her for her birthday by adding funds to endow the scholarship so that it can provide assistance well into the future.

As an educator, author and advocate of public education, Hawk chose Trident Technical College for her scholarship because she recognizes the importance of the college in the community and the positive impact it has on workforce development.

“I respect the college’s mission and admire its president, Mary Thornley. It is evident that our community sees the impact as well,” she said.

With the cancellation of the scholarship luncheon (due to the pandemic), Hawk and Turner will not have an immediate opportunity to meet in person, but both women look forward to meeting one day soon. 

In the meantime, Turner said she is even more determined to achieve her goals.

“I was already motivated to succeed, but now I have another reason,” said Turner. “I have to make good on the investment Mrs. Hawk has made in me.”

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