AP NEWS

Celeste Kahn says business, education join forces for good

June 25, 2018 GMT

FLORENCE, S.C. – Celeste Kahn acts as a bridge between students and the workforce.

Kahn, the director of development for the Florence-Darlington Technical College Educational Foundation, performs a number of tasks for the foundation, including meeting with businesses, individuals and industry leaders to raise money for students seeking an education.

The FDTC Educational Foundation raises scholarships for students and the college to provide Pee Dee businesses with a trained and ready workforce.

“So many people that come to Tech need all the help they can get,” Kahn said. “It’s a great investment for the community, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know some of these students and seeing how those scholarships have been put to good use. I also enjoy getting to meet many of our community leaders and seeing their passion for helping those who will be their future employees.”

Kahn, a Florence native, received her bachelor’s degree at Converse College in Spartanburg before completing a summer graduate program at Columbia University in New York. After moving back to Florence, she said, her eyes were really open to the resources of the area.

“I’ve really learned a lot from this job,” Kahn said. “I was surprised when I started just how much is actually here and how many amazing businesses and individual community leaders are right here. The education here [at FDTC] is a resource that feeds into the local economy. When those two sectors — the business and the education — can come together, it makes life better for everyone here.”

Kahn said her favorite part of her job is getting to connect with students who have been helped by the generosity of others.

“When I first started out, I wasn’t sure how much I would get to connect with students on a heart level,” Kahn said. “I didn’t know much about Tech. I just thought that was a place that you come to learn how to weld, but over time, I really learned how moving the stories are. We have students coming from all over with very different backgrounds.”

Kahn interviews students and hears their stores, which is something she said is a blessing to her.

“For so many of them, getting a degree at Tech is a life-changing option for them,” Kahn said. “It’s a way for them to break out of a cycle. Lots of them are parents; many are single parents. Some are children who are the first in their family to go to college. It’s absolutely amazing hearing and seeing their stories unfold.”

Outside of work, Kahn enjoys the arts and culture. She said she is involved at Florence Little Theater but had to take this season off because she is engaged and planning to be married in October to her fiancé, Weston Nunn.

She attends St. Anne Catholic Church and enjoys singing there, as well as spending time with her family and friends.

Kahn said she is excited to see the changes in Florence, especially over the past half-decade, and she looks forward to seeing the community that she has grown up in continue to grow and become successful.

“Growing up here in middle and high school, my friends and I complained about never having anything to do,” Kahn said. “There’s been so much development, and that is really exciting to see. My fiancé and I always talk about how we never thought there’d be this community of restaurants and shops right here downtown.

“That ties in to what I do at Tech, as well. Providing a strong workforce creates a strong economy, which allows for development to happen. You can’t have arts, culture and community resources for development without a strong economy.”