Written by Kayla Morris – Foundation Intern, Summer 2021
[Clinton, N.C.] – Michael Blankenship is currently the Computer Systems Technician at Sampson Community College. He received his associate degree in Computer and Information Technology from SCC’s Information Technology Program in 2017 and has thoroughly enjoyed being able to give back to the school as an employee.
As a child, Blankenship was always drawn to computers. “I grew up playing online games like World of Warcraft and RuneScape, online games that involved other people,” he recalled.
Michael Blankenship was raised in Virginia until age 8. He then moved with his family to Sampson County and has been rooted here ever since. Blankenship graduated from Clinton High School in 2014 and considered going away for college but doing so would bring the burden of shifting from a small rural town to a big city, along with financial stress. So, he chose SCC to pursue his education and career in Information Technology.
As a student, Blankenship’s favorite professor was Information Technology Department Chair, Nathan McKee. He says, “[McKee] is really good about hands-on training and taking what you learn from a textbook, translating it into terms that are understandable, and putting that information into practice.”
Nathan McKee speaks just as highly of his time with Blankenship saying that “Michael was a very hard-working student while attending SCC. I still remember the fact that he would achieve the highest score on practice exams during courses during the Spring 2016 semester.” It is clear that the Information Technology Program values the progress of its students both before and after graduation.
One of Blankenship’s favorite things about the Information Technology Program was what he calls “sandbox environments.” “They had environments available so that you could practice on your own and gain real-world skills independently which I really think helped me gain some confidence,” Blankenship stated.
After graduation, Blankenship took on the position of Communications Coordinator in the Advancement Department. There he managed social media, advertisement, marketing, and looked for ways to help maintain a relevant online presence for the college. Looking back, Blankenship says one of the things that has changed the most about the college is its branding.
“As a student, I didn’t even know SCC had a mascot, but now everybody knows we’re the Vikings. The school has really increased its branding and now has a solid brand identity,” Blankenship shared.
Blankenship values the time spent in the Advancement Department, saying it helped as he transitioned to his role in the Information Technology Department in July of 2020. Blankenship’s former supervisor and Dean of Advancement, Lisa Turlington, says, “It has been a pleasure seeing Michael’s professional growth at the college. He did a good job working with promotions and communication while part of the Advancement team, and I am impressed with how his curiosity and creativity help solve technology problems for the college. I look forward to seeing him continue to develop new skills.”
Although there are many differences between Advancement and Information Technology, Blankenship is grateful for his accomplishments prior to the transition. “The workload that I do between the different departments is like night and day, but the skills that I gained from working in Advancement are helpful in my job now,” Blankenship commented
Michael Blankenship started working with the Information Technology Department during all the uncertainty of COVID-19. He says, “We have ordered an unprecedented amount of hardware and computers which has required a lot of planning and a lot of funds. Trying to meet the technology needs that COVID has brought us has been a challenge, but we’ve been working hard to keep up.”
COVID aside, a typical day for Blankenship starts by checking the Information Technology ticketing system to make sure nothing went wrong while the team was out of the office. After that, phone calls start to come in with different technology/troubleshooting questions. Blankenship says, “Depending on what kind of calls we get determines how the rest of our day goes.”
Each day is different, which is something Blankenship enjoys. When the team is not actively assisting someone with their technology issues, they get to do testing on various systems to learn more about how they operate and keep the department moving forward as technology continues to change.
Frankie Sutter, Director of Personnel, commented on Blankenship’s character saying, “[Blankenship’s] quiet but conscientious demeanor is to be admired by all. Many times, Michael is proactive on matters before even being asked to provide assistance, and is always willing to help or find a solution! He has been an asset to the college, its students, the faculty/staff as well as the Board of Trustees”.
Overall, Blankenship is grateful for the time spent here at SCC. He wants people to know that community college is a great opportunity for everyone, whether they have no idea what they want to do in the future, or they know exactly what path they want to take. Blankenship says, “It’s a great steppingstone to help save money and gain confidence before entering university or the workforce.”
Blankenship is excited to see how Sampson Community College grows next, from courtyard renovations to department changes and improvements, so much has happened since he first arrived on campus in 2014.
“This college has given me a lot and I’m thankful for that,” Blankenship concluded.
About Sampson Community College: Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education and workforce development options and early college education.