AIKEN -- The concrete slab and heavy shoes wore blisters on her feet. Long days at the factory left her exhausted and in pain.
For Paula Eichman, there were trips to the chiropractor and a brief bout with carpal tunnel syndrome, caused from lifting heavy boxes.
"Finally, I just had enough," she said. "It was time for something new."
So in her mid-30s, and 20 years out of high school, she clocked out of the factory, turned in her safety glasses and began going to school full time at Aiken Technical College. Now in her second year there, she is studying to be a registered nurse.
Next fall, she will transfer to the University of South Carolina-Aiken to continue her career track. For Mrs. Eichman, the transition will be seemingly painless, thanks in part to a new program designed to provide ATC students with information and advisement from both campuses.
"That means I won't lose any hours, all my credits will be recognized and I will not have wasted all my time and money," Mrs. Eichman said of the Parallel Advisement for Transfer Students program.
Presidents from both institutions jointly announced the program on Thursday. It will be implemented in January.
Before now, the problem with transfers was confusion over what courses would be recognized at USC-Aiken. But with the parallel advisement now in place, there should be little confusion.
The announcement is one in a string of partnerships between the two campuses over the last three years.
"It's exciting to see both institutions working together for the welfare of our students," said Kathy Noble, president of Aiken Technical College.