For Glenda Ponder, one class turned into two more and before she knew it, she had an associate's degree from Spartanburg Community College.
In 2008, with aspirations to open her own daycare center in downtown, Ponder enrolled in an early childhood education class at SCC. The next semester, the long-time foster parent found herself without a child in her care, and her daughter was on military assignment in Germany with her grandchildren.
The retired FedEx employee wasn't used to having time on her hands, so she signed up for two more classes.
“It was just something to do to keep me busy. I enjoyed it. After two years, I was like ‘I might as well get a degree, I've been here two years,'” she said.
She graduated with her associate's degree in advanced childcare management in May 2012.
At the school, Ponder said she was embraced by her younger classmates.
“Those kids really enjoyed me,” she said.
In her second year, Ponder was going into a math class when a student she didn't know called her name. The boy was the son of one of Ponder's high school friends who remembered her from his childhood. They studied together through the rest of the semester.
“I would call him or he would call me at night when we finished the problems. There were times I would have them right, sometimes he would have them right,” she said.
She said she struggled in her math classes and the class she enjoyed the most was management.
She wrote most of her papers and did research in the computer lab at the library, which she dubbed her “office.”
When she graduated, Ponder said she thought she had an arrangement with the owner of a downtown building to launch her daycare and after school program. The building was perfect, and located only a few blocks from SCC's upcoming campus at the Evan's Building.
“I wanted to help the young mothers who wanted to go back to school,” Ponder said.
She was working on her business plan when she drove by the building and saw a sold sign in the window.
“It was like a balloon flying and you punch a hole in it. I just fell flat,” she said.
Then she investigated creating a service hub where people in need could come for a hot meal, clothing, or whatever else they needed. She was set to visit a similar facility in Columbia, when she learned that venture went out of business.
For right now, Ponder said she spends her time helping a 107-year-old woman in her community and studying her bible. She said she is praying and waiting for God to show her how to pursue her passion for helping people.
“The only thing that makes me feel like I'm doing something – that makes my day complete – is to help someone,” she said.