Nicole Shenk Finds Purpose, Experiences Growth in OFTC’s ECCE Program 

Dublin, Ga., (OFTC) — After graduating high school, Nicole Shenk knew it was time to enter the workforce. Unsure of her desired career path, she started working part-time at a preschool in Wrightsville. 

It didn’t take long for Shenk to realize that working with children was what she was meant to do.  

“I knew that I wanted a career doing something that inspired me and made me feel like I was making a difference,” Shenk said. “I never imagined I would love working with and teaching children like I did; but once I experienced it, I knew it was the right path for me.”  

Shenk was familiar with the Technical College System of Georgia and chose to attend Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC) since it was a convenient location and an affordable option.  

“OFTC offered the Early Childhood Care and Education Program, and I knew that was the next step for me in my academic journey,” Shenk shared.  

Finding Her Place 

After enrolling in classes, Shenk felt both excitement and apprehension.  

“I am a first-generation college student, so the entire experience was new to me and my family,” Shenk said. “I was also homeschooled, so this was my first experience in a true classroom setting.”  

But it didn’t take long for Shenk to find her place at OFTC. Her instructors made her feel welcomed, comfortable, and supported.  

“My English instructor, Ms. Meeks, lit up the room from the moment she stepped foot in the classroom,” Shenk shared. “She had a special way of making sure each student felt seen and heard.”  

“I didn’t think, at the time, I had what it took to go to college or even pass a class, but she instilled in me from day one that I could do it,” she continued. “She took time out of her busy schedule to answer all of my questions and give me tips on how to excel in her class. She gave me a new love for English and writing that I didn’t know I needed.”  

“Most importantly,” she added, “she showed me exactly what kind of teacher I want to be when I have a classroom full of children.”  

Shenk noted other instructors who also played a role in her positive experience at OFTC.  

“Mr. Faulknor believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and Ms. Mallette is one of my biggest supporters and mentors,” Shenk said. “She has selflessly shown me what a true passionate educator looks like.”  

“I wish I had the right words to describe how each one at OFTC has impacted and improved my life,” she added. “OFTC isn’t just a college, it’s a family.”  

Experiencing Growth 

Shenk started working as a Teacher’s Assistant at the Brentwood School in Sandersville while she was still a student. In this role, she supports her class’s lead teacher and is responsible for assisting with arts and crafts and working with students who need additional support. 

“When the opportunity came up to start working as a teacher’s assistant, I knew it was something I wanted to do,” Shenk shared. “It gave me the opportunity to put into practice the principles I was learning in my early childhood classes and gave me experience that I knew would be invaluable to my future career as a teacher.”  

The flexibility of OFTC’s environment made the decision easy for Shenk.  

“The fact that OFTC offers night classes allows for a very flexible schedule for those who need it,” Shenk said. “I loved this option because it allowed me to work a full-time job and still finish my degree.”  

During her time as a student, Shenk involved herself in various student clubs and organizations like the Student Government Association, was named the College’s 2024 Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership winner, and participated in SkillsUSA where she and her teammates were named National Champions.  

“OFTC is a college that truly wants the absolute best for their students,” Shenk said. “It’s a place that allows so much opportunity for growth – I experienced it firsthand.” 

A Bright Future 

Shenk recently graduated from OFTC’s ECCE program and plans to continue working as a Teacher’s Assistant at Brentwood while she continues her education at a local 4-year college where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in Elementary/Special Education.  

She is taking advantage of a smooth transfer of credits from OFTC into another institution which will allow her to seamlessly transition into her degree program. 

“When I started my college career at OFTC, I was apprehensive; but my experience there changed me. It gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams and now I am excited for this next chapter and for my future,” Shenk said.  

Shenk has plans to become a student athlete on the equestrian team at her new college.  

“I know that OFTC has prepared me to be successful in this new chapter of my life and I am beyond excited for the opportunities to come.”  

To learn more about OFTC, the ECCE program, or any of the College’s 130+ programs of study, visit the College’s website,


OFTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia.