TCL’s student of the year turns negative event into positive future

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Jonathan Bryant’s college success story is far from ordinary. It was a life-changing event that ultimately led to his pursuit of higher education at the Technical College of the Lowcountry.

TCL Student of the Year Jonathan Bryant, left, is congratulated by TCL President Dr. Richard Gough at TCL’s 2014 Commencement Ceremony.
TCL Student of the Year Jonathan Bryant, left, is congratulated by TCL President Dr. Richard Gough at TCL’s 2014 Commencement Ceremony.

Bryant, who was raised on Hilton Head Island, dropped out of high school at age 17 to pursue his own entrepreneurship dreams. The ambitious teenager started a telecommunications company that wired homes and offered home and business network solutions. The real world soon showed him that a high school diploma was important, so he went on to earn a G.E.D. from the Technical College System of Georgia.

Bryant then spent the next 15 years doing what he loved. He held jobs at various technology companies and worked as a boat captain. But Bryant’s life took an unexpected turn in 2010 when he was diagnosed with stage four bone cancer.

“I was working as a boat captain and decided I did not want to spend the greater part of my life in the sun beating my body up. I needed a more stable and, quite frankly, a safer job,” Bryant said.

This led him to the Technical College of the Lowcountry where he was immediately impressed. “I visited several colleges and at each and every one I was treated as a number or generally herded through admissions like cattle, until I spoke with a few staff members at TCL,” Bryant said.

Although Bryant continued to face health challenges while enrolled, he credits TCL for helping him stay positive.

“I believe life is just what you want it to be and what you allow it to be,” Bryant said, “In my very specific case, I have made a decision to take a very negative life event and embrace it.”

Computer Technology Instructor Karen Smith says Bryant’s positive attitude has made a difference at TCL.  “Jonathan is an outstanding, extremely motivated student who is always willing to be a mentor to other students in the class,” she said.

In addition to peer-to-peer mentoring, Bryant served as a member of the All-State Academic Team and President of both TCL’s Student Government Association and the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. He has a nearly 3.8 GPA and was named the 2014 Student of the Year. Bryant is quick to thank fellow organization members, friends, family and the entire student body for helping him succeed and looks forward to returning the favor.