By Madison Hodge ('21), marketing and communications intern
Coker alumnus John Threatte (‘17) delivered the address as class representative at his graduation in December 2017. His graduation speech was very special as he took the opportunity to announce to his mother, and everyone in the audience, that he had been accepted into Clemson University’s MBA program.
John is originally from Cheraw, South Carolina, and has been familiar with Coker since high school. One day while driving in Florence, he spotted a billboard advertising Coker’s evening classes for adult learners.
“I became aware of Coker College's adult degree program from a billboard near five points in Florence highlighting the program with the catchphrase ‘It's your story.’” John says. “Less than a week before I saw the billboard, I had been told the facility I was working at would be closing. It was somewhat of an ‘AHA!’ moment realizing that it was up to me to change the narrative for my future.”
“Coker had the program I wanted, business management, but what really surprised me was the responsiveness of the staff,” John comments on why he chose Coker. “They always responded quickly to any questions I had, and were always so positive about the program. Once I got into the program I found out that this was not just something found in that department, but across all of Coker.”
Coming to Coker was a life changing event for John. He notes the decision to attend Coker as one of the best decisions of his life. Being a Coker student and graduate has helped him to achieve his goals.
“As I progressed within the program I started seeing more of the larger business picture I had not considered before,” he says. “Additionally, Coker does a wonderful job of providing curriculum that will give you an excellent foundation to succeed. Less than a month after graduating I had an offer for a position that I could have only dreamed about before obtaining my bachelor's degree.”
One of John’s career goals includes returning to Coker after completing his master’s degree at Clemson. John wants to come back and teach classes to adult learners, which he credits with giving him many opportunities and preparing him well for graduate school.
“My Coker education has served me well at Clemson,” John remarks. “Many students, and probably graduates, wonder if they can succeed should they decide to go to graduate school. I am certain that anyone who has graduated from Coker, regardless of program, will find the same to be true if they continue their education. Do not let Coker's size, the amount of people in your class, or the fact that you are not a traditional student mentally devalue the quality of instruction and knowledge you are receiving, or received. There is a reason several publications rank Coker as one of the best colleges in the South.”
As mentioned, John was chosen to deliver a speech at Coker’s December 2017 commencement. He’d been planning the speech since he began his Coker story. He says speaking at graduation was always a goal of his and he was honored to be chosen.
“As I worked my way through courses I would note things I wanted to say that would hopefully inspire others to stop dreaming and start doing,” he says. “When I was accepted to Clemson, it presented more than just an occasion to surprise my mother and family. It provided a tangible example to my fellow graduates, and those in the audience, of the value of a Coker degree. As I mentioned in my speech, Dr. Dennis Burke told me ‘Victory begins with believing.’ The saying continues to resonate with me on a daily basis. Whether your victory resides at Clemson, owning your own business, or graduating with your bachelor's degree from Coker, it all begins with believing you can do it. It was my hope that my humble speech would inspire just one person to come to Coker and begin their own personal story of victory.”
Coker will soon change its name from Coker College to Coker University. May 2019 graduates will be the final class to graduate before the change occurs. John is excited about this change and sees it as growth for Coker.
“It is exciting to see the growth that is presently being experienced,” John says. “This is without a doubt a credit to the hard work that the staff, professors and administration have put in over the past several years. I think it also confirms that the word is getting out about what a great educational institution Coker is.”