C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n magaz in e S PR IN G 2 0 12
Changing the Face of Education Jimmy Freeman â€™11 is part of a movement to transform South Carolina classrooms
Spring 2012 Volume XVI, Issue 2 Editor
Mark Berry Art Director
Alfred Hall Managing Editor
Alicia Lutz ’98 Associate Editor
Jason Ryan Photography
Tickets on sale March 19 Visit alumni.cofc.edu or call 843.953.5630
Kip Bulwinkle ’04 Bryce Donovan ’98 Abi Nicholas ’07 Alex Pellegrino Rogers ’03 Jamie Self ’02 Holly Thorpe Online Design
Karen Burroughs Jones ’74 Executive Vice President for External Relations
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ATTN: College of Charleston Magazine College of Charleston Division of Marketing and Communications Charleston, SC 29424-0001 College of Charleston Magazine is published three times a year by the Division of Marketing and Communications. With each printing, approximately 60,000 copies are mailed to keep alumni, families of currently enrolled students, legislators and friends informed about and connected to the College. Diverse views appear in these pages and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editor or the official policies of the College.
Errata: In the fall issue, Sara Sprehn ’11 was identified as the first undergraduate Fulbright recipient. In reality, she is the second: Tiffany Hammond Christian ’93 received a Fulbright to Martinique in 1993–94. Today, Tiffany is a faculty member at Appalachian State University. In the article about the Goldsmith Scholars, the Bonner Leaders program is misidentified as being for first-generation college students; the Goldsmith Scholars, however, are first-generation college students.
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22 The Power of Place
Around the Cistern
Photo Essay by Leslie McKellar Rich history, storied architecture, stunning landscapes, strong culture and warm people: It might sound a lot like Charleston, but this is a whole different world. This is Trujillo, Spain, and what students find here can’t be found anywhere else.
Life Academic 8 Making the Grade 14
Manning the Front Lines
by Mark Berry
Point of View
There’s a startling achievement gap in South Carolina schools. In an effort to reduce the academic disparity between white and black students, the College is transforming the state’s classrooms through its diversity recruitment initiatives.
Chasing the Dream
What happens when you ignore all the naysayers and doubters and dare to dream big? Meet six men and women who are making their passions their careers.
The Thrill of the Chase
by Alicia Lutz ’98
Screaming with terrified exhilaration, Ham Morrison ’98 steers his racecar around the track, scraping through the turns, roaring past his opponents – hurtling toward his dream of big-league racecar driving at full throttle.
on the cover: Jimmy Freeman ’11, photo by Vince Musi
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| (l to r) Cam Saleeby ’10, Jackson Hoberman ’11, Ashley Montano ’11, Will Cruthers ’11 and Grant Cutler ’10; opposite page: former Road Runners Devan Crowe ’10, Seaton Brown ’09, Takeshia Brown ’10 |
Driving Directions The road trip: It’s become something of a rite of passage. For recent college graduates, it’s a celebration of hardearned independence, of sticking with it and having choices. It’s their last hurrah before reporting to the next station in life, before that independence turns into routine and those choices become responsibilities. It’s a lesson in selfreliance and self-confidence, a promise of good things ahead. And, as the College’s Road Runners will tell you, good things are around every |
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corner when you’re out there on the open road. And that means good things are on the horizon for the College, too. Selected by the Office of Admissions to travel from state to state, recruiting the best of the best, these young alumni are making the most of their road trips, reflecting on their experience at the College and building a geographically diverse class of freshmen for the next academic year. “The idea behind the Road Runner program is to expand our reach, introduce
ourselves to high schools in states we hadn’t gone to before and build our student body from across the country,” says admissions counselor Seaton Brown ’09, who served as the guinea pig for the program in 2009, holding information sessions and one-on-one interviews at schools in Ala., Tenn., N.J. and on Long Island. The following year, the program brought on three more Road Runners to cover even more territory; last semester, a total of five Road Runners visited 47 states between September and
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November. “They become the College’s very own road warriors.” Take Ashley Montano ’11, for example: During her three months on the road, she covered nine states, flew 2,237 miles, drove 3,376 miles and spent 57 nights in hotels. And, between all that travel, she managed to attend 14 college fairs and complete 126 high school visits. “It’s a lifestyle and it’s something you have to adapt to,” says Montano. “I learned a lot of logistics, how to plan and pace myself. I also learned about relationship building, because a lot of it is customer service, too.” And customer service means knowing your customer – knowing where the College’s popularity will translate into specific questions about the application process and campus life (Tenn., N.J., Ohio) and where it still needs introduction (Idaho, Ore., Okla., Colo., Ark., Miss.). “In New England they love to hear about the weather, the food. They’re interested in marine biology, historic preservation, tourism management. Out West, they’re intrigued by our history. They want to know what it’s like to live in Charleston, how conservative the student body is. Basically: Will I fit in?” says admissions counselor Grant Cutler ’10, who covered New England, Ind. and Mich. in 2010 and returned in 2011, this time adding eastern Canada, Colo. and Ore. to his itinerary. “I won the sweeps: I literally went from Portland, Ore., to Portland, Maine, in one week.” The perk, of course, is that the Road Runners are out there seeing the country – something they otherwise might never have the opportunity to do. “I had never been to any of the places I went, so I made it a point to do one touristy thing in each city. Every city has something it’s proud of, so that’s what I’d do,” says Montano, noting that she toured everything from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville to the first Wal-Mart in Bentonville, Ark. “I took full advantage of every experience.” Closer to home, Takeshia Brown ’10, whose territory included private schools in N.C. and underprivileged schools in S.C., also took full advantage of the Road Runners experience. A firstgeneration college student herself, Brown helped several first-generation applicants through the admissions
process, which made it even sweeter to see those students on campus the following fall. “It makes me feel so good,” she says. “I mean, I had a hand in something that’s going to impact someone’s entire life, someone’s entire future.”
“Having recent graduates serve as our Road Runners helps prospective applicants get a feel for the deep sense of pride our alumni hold in the institution,” says admissions counselor Devan Crowe ’10, who traveled through S.C., Ohio and Ga. “It’s a very cool thing
Not to mention the future of the College, which is now pulling applicants from every single state – more and more every year – bringing in a more qualified, more diverse student population. “It’s a great way to give back to the institution, especially for young alumni who aren’t in a position yet to give money,” says Brown, who now serves as the residence hall director at the College’s Buist Rivers Residence Hall while pursuing a master’s in college counseling and student affairs. “The College of Charleston experience adds so much to our lives. Why would you not want to let people know about all the great things happening here – show your gratitude by encouraging other people to get that experience?” “It’s that cycle of becoming part of the network that makes this place so special: You come to college here, you become part of that network and you give back,” adds Montano. “It speaks to the strong sense of community on campus.” Taking that sense of community on the road shows that personal contact that the College is known for, too. Besides, it shows just how enthusiastic these alumni are.
to be able to talk to high school seniors as an alumna and just tell them all the wonderful things about the College. They trust me because I went through it!” Because the Road Runners are not far removed from the undergraduate experience, their enthusiasm is fresh (and invariably contagious), and they have the working knowledge to answer students’ questions about student life with informed honesty. “In my mind, we’re not really there to sell the College,” says Montano. “At every school, I told them, ‘Yes, CofC is great, but we don’t want you to get there and be unhappy because you don’t belong. That doesn’t do anybody any good. We want you to come see if it’s a good fit.’” “It’s a special kind of student who wants to come to the College,” Takeshia Brown agrees. “It’s the students who want to explore a little, keep their options open. Just because of the nature of the liberal arts education, the College is the best choice if you want to make your own path. At the College, we can help you find your own way – your own, unique way.” And just ask the Road Runners: Once you’ve found your own way at the College, you can go just about anywhere.
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IN THE KNOW: Three of the Top Stories around Campus Political Science in Real Time For more than a week in January, the College served as the center of the political universe. Presidential candidate Ron Paul spoke at the Stern Center Garden, Fox News’ Mike Huckabee taped his show at the Sottile Theatre, and CNN made the campus its headquarters during the S.C. Republican primary, serving as the set for Erin Burnett’s and Anderson Cooper’s political news shows. However, the biggest event on campus was comedian and TV personality Stephen Colbert’s Rock Me Like a Herman Cain: South Cain-olina Primary Rally, which attracted more than 5,000 people to the Cistern Yard and garnered international media attention.
Nobel Laureate Shares Holocaust Experiences Nobel Prize winner and human rights activist Elie Wiesel visited campus in September, participating in a student panel and delivering a lecture in Sottile Theatre. Born in Sighet, Transylvania, Wiesel was deported to Auschwitz at age 15, and was later transported to Buchenwald. In 1956, he wrote about these concentration camp experiences in Night, which has been translated into more than 30 languages. Since then, his more than 50 books have won numerous awards, and his humanitarian efforts have earned him the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal (1985), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1992) and the Nobel Peace Prize (1986), among others. Wiesel’s visit was sponsored by the Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program’s Zucker/Goldberg Holocaust Education Initiative and the CofC Foundation.
President Benson Wins Leadership Award President Benson received the 2011 Milliken Medal of Quality from the South Carolina Quality Forum. The Milliken Medal of Quality recognizes individuals who have demonstrated leadership, innovation and achievement in the implementation of quality systems in their organizations and who have been an inspiration to other S.C. leaders and organizations. The South Carolina Quality Forum administers the S.C. Governor’s Quality Award, which recognizes organizations that are successful in implementing a management system based on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award process. President Benson has been involved with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for more than 14 years, serving terms as a national judge and as a member and chairman of the Board of Overseers. He currently serves as chair-elect of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
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Campus Icon: Joy Vandervort-Cobb
Fresh Start Although it may be difficult for incoming students to imagine now, the College is their new home. At the sixth annual convocation ceremony, they were welcomed home by faculty and staff before they signed their names in the class ledger, formalizing their place in the College family. In preparation for the event, students read Jewel by convocation speaker and English professor Bret Lott, who has returned to the College after three years at Louisiana State University. Jewel gained national attention when Oprah Winfrey picked it in January 1999 as one of her book club selections. “Coming home to the College is a dream come true,” says Lott, who previously taught at the College from 1986 to 2004. “And speaking at the convocation underscores the fact that the College is and always has been my real home.”
They call her Momma. Students, colleagues, alumni … everyone wants a little love from Joy Vandervort-Cobb. She’s happy to give it, but be forewarned: Half the time it’s tough love she’s dishing out. The associate professor of African American theatre and performance laughs that she has a “nurture/murder” relationship with her students. Sometimes she helps them put the pieces together – sometimes she cracks them in half. “If you fall short and I think you can do better, I growl,” says VandervortCobb, who arrived at the College in 1994. “I’ve been known to attack.” For Vandervort-Cobb, being a teacher is much like being a parent, and she considers it important to coax her students into doing their best. The stage, she explains, is a place to be provocative and a place to reveal feelings and emotions not otherwise expressed in routine life. “It’s a place to holler,” she observes. “It’s a place where I want to start a dialogue.” Besides teaching, Vandervort-Cobb’s career has included much acting and directing. In recent years, she’s performed to rave reviews her own one-woman, autobiographical show, Moments of Joy, during Charleston’s Piccolo Spoleto Festival. Vandervort-Cobb shrugs off the acclaim. What’s more, she says people only call her Momma because she’s “round.” Don’t believe her. People at the College, with all of their hearts, call her Momma because they love her.
From the President
| (l to r) Schottland Scholars with President Benson at the Kodak plant in Rochester, N.Y.; Schottland Scholars with CEO Lauren Dixon (Dixon Schwabl) |
From the Classroom to the Boardroom I recently had the opportunity to see firsthand how philanthropy is enhancing the academic experience at the College and helping prepare our business students for leadership positions in the global economy. I joined this year’s class of 11 Schottland Scholars for the last two days of their visit to Rochester, N.Y., last August. The trip was particularly special because Rochester is home to Peter and Susan Schottland, who established and generously fund the Schottland Scholars Program. Peter Schottland is president and CEO of American Packaging Corporation. The Schottlands’ daughter Libby is a 2010 CofC graduate and their daughter Meghan is a current CofC student. In Rochester, the scholars visited the headquarters and manufacturing facilities of several successful companies – from |
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small start-ups to major corporations – and met with CEOs and other senior executives from those organizations. (See Tour of Organizations sidebar.) Such trips are one of the ways the Schottland program is providing our business students with valuable behindthe-scenes insights into the practices and cultures of some of America’s bestrun companies. Now in its third year, the Schottland Scholars Program has become one of the College’s most successful professional development initiatives. To date, it has produced 30 scholars, many of whom have gone on to start business careers at companies such as GE, Orient Express and Bosch. The program demonstrates how philanthropy can provide an educational experience that goes far beyond what’s possible in a traditional classroom environment. Schottland applicants undergo a rigorous selection process, including a series of interviews with the program’s
advisors and business faculty. “I never had a formal business interview before Schottland Scholars, let alone multiple rounds of interviews,” says Nick Ogden ’11, a 2010–11 Schottland Scholar who currently works as a wind inventory and materials analyst for GE Energy in Greenville, S.C. Once accepted, scholars must balance their regular course loads with the demands of being a Schottland Scholar. The yearlong commitment includes site visits to local, regional and national companies and features regular lectures from invited business and government leaders. Scholars are exposed to companies of various sizes and from a variety of industries. The list of companies visited in recent years includes, among others, Michelin, Duke Energy, Blackbaud, Deloitte, Milliken and Company, and Wells Fargo. The Schottland family’s involvement with the College actually began in the early 1990s, when Peter’s father, Stanley
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Schottland, joined our School of Business Board of Governors. Stanley Schottland is a former president and CEO of American Bag & Paper, the predecessor of American Packaging Corporation. Stanley was encouraged to get involved with our business school by George Spaulding, distinguished executive-in-residence emeritus and Board of Governors member. Peter would later join his father on the Board of Governors. In 1993, Stanley Schottland established the Schottland Leadership Award in the School of Business. The award is given annually to an outstanding senior business major who excels academically and demonstrates leadership potential. It includes a $5,000 cash prize and $10,000 in tuition assistance to pursue graduatelevel business studies. Carrie Blair Messal, director of the Schottland Scholars Program and assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship in the School of Business, says the Schottland Scholars Program grew out of the family’s desire to expand their philanthropy to benefit more undergraduates and to reach them earlier in their college careers. But beyond their generous financial support, the Schottlands give the gift of their time and involvement. The Schottlands take part in the selection and development of the program’s scholars, taking time to meet with each new class and helping facilitate the relationships that infuse the program with real-world lessons from business and industry. During the Rochester trip, Peter Schottland took the group on a tour of his family’s packaging company, invited them into his home for dinner and took them out on his boat. On the last night of the trip, the scholars gathered in the Schottlands’ home to reflect on what they had learned throughout the week. Several of the scholars expressed surprise at how approachable and down-to-earth many of the executives seemed. The intimate access they were afforded through the program helped them see the CEOs not just as inspiring leaders but also as regular people. The scholars also picked up on a key trait shared by many of the business leaders they met: They are rarely driven by a desire to amass wealth and power. Rather, they are passionate about
their products and services and the opportunities their businesses give them to make a meaningful impact on their communities and the world. Bill Finn, chairman of AstenJohnson Inc. and a key advisor to the Schottland Scholars Program, says he wants to challenge students to probe below the surface and to explore companies beyond their press releases and mission statements. By learning how companies respond to crises and challenges, for example, the scholars are better able to understand how leaders think and how a company’s culture can affect its bottom line. In addition to the many business leaders the scholars meet through company tours and guest lectures, each scholar also benefits from being paired with a business mentor for the entire academic year. To get a sense of how valuable these mentoring relationships are, consider that this year’s slate of mentors includes Greg Padgett, chairman of the College’s Board of Trustees and CFO of Fennell Holdings; Dianne Culhane, former global director of public affairs and communications for The Coca-Cola Company and executive-in-residence at the College; and Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the South Carolina State Ports Authority and member of the School of Business Board of Governors. Ogden says the opportunities to regularly interact with current and former business executives helped him learn to appreciate and act on constructive feedback – a skill that many young professionals often don’t acquire until after they have begun their careers. He credits the mentoring he received in the program with helping jump-start his career after college. “It put us one step ahead of the usual development process as we entered the workforce,” Ogden says. The Schottland Scholars Program is truly exceptional. It provides an immersive learning experience that gives our students a head start in the job market and prepares them for leadership roles. It connects partnering businesses and their leaders to our university. It raises the profile of our business school. And, thanks to the Schottland family, it serves as a shining example of the transformative power of philanthropy. – President P. George Benson
(l to r) Peter Schottland and Schottland Scholar Jeffrey Lucas ’11
Schottland Scholars Tour of Organizations Rochester, N.Y., August 2011 M&T Bank – Dan Burns, Regional President American Packaging Company – Peter Schottland, President & CEO; Dave Geier, Operations Manager Constellation Enterprises – Rob Sands, President & CEO; Richard Sands, Chairman of the Board Wegman’s – Danny Wegman, CEO Dixon Schwabl – Lauren Dixon, CEO Cerion Energy – Mick Stadler, CEO & Founder; Ken Reed, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer & Founder; Bob Curtis, Ph.D., Sales Paychex – Neil Rohrer, VP Sales/Marketing
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LIFE ACADEMIC His Backyard Muses You don’t have to tell Steve Johnson things move slower in the South. In Arizona, the artist painted in the morning and returned to a dry canvas after lunch time. In humid Charleston, it takes days for his paintings to dry, and that’s with fans steadily blowing across them. The drawing professor isn’t used to having to be so patient. Coming from the desert, he isn’t used to seeing so many trees, either. Or, for that matter, marshes, rivers and ocean. “Breathing the air here, I feel like my lungs are filling with water,” Johnson confesses. Don’t worry – Johnson isn’t drowning, but is instead floating at the top of
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Charleston’s art scene. Last fall, his exhibition From the Ground Up opened at the College’s Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, alongside Bob Ray’s White Days Unswallowed. Johnson’s work features drawings and paintings of chickadees and rats antagonizing, if not torturing, each other. For Johnson, the animals represent lightness and darkness in the world. It is through this contrast that he hopes to explore all the grays in between, and the difficulty in maintaining rigid ideas and opinions. Mark Sloan, director and senior curator for the Halsey Institute, deemed Johnson’s site-specific installation of the show “spectacular.”
“Our audience loved his show,” Sloan says. “It was great to watch people going through the exhibition. At first, they seemed perplexed. Then, gradually, it dawns on them that the creatures are stand-ins for humans. Steve gives the rats and chickadees human characteristics, making them much more approachable. I enjoyed seeing people switch from a literal reading to a metaphorical one.” Birds are old friends to Johnson. He grew up feeding sparrows with his grandmother. And, as a child, he once secretly tried to raise a barn owl in his bedroom closet, feeding it hamburger meat. That venture ended when wildlife officers showed up at the door.
inspired by observations of wildlife in his yard – namely that bird feeders he erected to attract chickadees brought varmints, too, which feasted on spilled seed. “By trying to attract the good,” he says, “I unwittingly attracted some less desirable characters.” Ruminating on this irony, Johnson concluded that rats represent a societal underbelly, or Jungian shadow, that people tend to ignore. He felt compelled to depict it, and to create open-ended narratives in his paintings that force viewers to confront uncomfortable and undesirable parts of existence. “There are aspects of ourselves we don’t want others to see,” Johnson says. “Things that we try to bury.” He often works reductively, painting wood and then sanding it back in spots to recover its natural color. He chooses to use a limited palette, a decision he sees as a reflection of his time spent out West, where he witnessed bleached desert landscapes with color presenting itself temporarily and sparingly.
In his painting “Flying Rat,” Johnson provokes questions about ambition and limits. If the rat with homemade wings looks unnatural venturing into the airspace of the chickadees, a viewer might wonder if people are no less absurd through their use of helicopters, airplanes and rocket ships. In other words, is the flying rat adventurous or simply impudent? Johnson notes that it has become commonplace for humans to want to climb higher and dive deeper, no matter the threat to the status quo and normalcy. “It’s kind of built in,” he says, “that we shouldn’t be satisfied with what we have.” But sometimes, Johnson says, such pursuits just result in people chasing their tails. Johnson’s ambivalence regarding ambition and achievement might inform his next exhibition. Then again, he might change course entirely. “I haven’t figured it out yet,” says Johnson. “We’ll see what pops up in my backyard.”
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While in junior high school, Johnson built an aviary beside his family’s home. Forty finches lived inside on the branches of a peach tree. And before recently moving to Charleston, he spent three years photographing and drawing geese living around a golf course pond. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that chickadees, which populate his backyard on James Island, star in his latest work. But rats? Turns out that rats were a frequent visitor to his backyard, too, lured by a watermelon patch Johnson had planted. Annoyed by their frequent nibbling of his melons, Johnson set a trap in his garden. Upon catching one rodent, he prepared to kill it with a pellet gun before faltering. “I just couldn’t pull the trigger. It was more his backyard than mine,” says Johnson. “It was the cutest rat, with big eyes. My heart just went out to this little dude.” The rats in Johnson’s paintings are cute, too, save for the fact that they seem to be on the verge of harming the arguably even cuter chickadees. Johnson says the animals’ coexistence in his work was
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Map Quest In the last decade or so, we’ve mapped the human genome, the genome of the sea urchin and the genome of wild mustard. We’ve also mapped the genomes of the apple, African elephant and eucalyptus tree, not to mention the zebrafish, chicken, opossum, sucking louse, an ancient plague microbe and dozens more organisms. But no scientist, it turns out, had ever bothered to map the genome of a plain, old (non-avian) reptile. That’s where Andy Shedlock comes in. The biology professor was part of a team that recently unveiled the genome of the green anole lizard. Their research was published last fall in Nature, which recognized that the scientists’ work filled “a yawning genome-sequence gap in the animal lineage.” As Shedlock sees it, the mapping of the anole’s genome is part of the exploration of a vast and relatively new frontier in science: genomics. Such a frontier is ripe with possibility, especially in the realm of medicine. But unforeseen complexities
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have curbed initial expectations of medical breakthroughs. The bottom line is that despite discovering the DNA sequences of many organisms, there is still a lot more to learn about our genes, how they are activated and what is responsible for biological diversity. Nevertheless, despite current limitations of understanding, scientists believe it is important to map and analyze as many genomes as possible. Fortunately, with improvements in technology, it’s becoming easier and cheaper to do so. Individuals can now buy their own genome map for about $10,000. Soon, it could be less than $1,000. “If you’re a curious person,” Shedlock says, “it really is a time of great discovery.” At the College, Shedlock looks forward to teaching curious students. He left a senior research position at Harvard University for the teaching opportunities at the College, as well as the chance to do more work in the realm of one of his early scientific interests: marine biology.
“This was a chance to cut some new turf and get back to my roots,” Shedlock notes. “As I get older, teaching has become more meaningful to me. It’s time to pass the torch.” One lesson Shedlock aims to impart is the value of the genomics perspective in other biological fields. He mentions the thrills of travel and wildlife observation, and how the wonder associated with these experiences is amplified by an understanding of genetics. “It becomes really rewarding,” he says. “You understand the subject so much better and you can think what these really important next steps need to be.” One of Shedlock’s next steps is helping to map the genome of the painted turtle. For this ambitious scientist, it’s a project that can’t get done soon enough. “We’ve got to sequence this turtle,” says Shedlock. “This is going to be crazy.” And it’ll be another important step in deciphering the scientific wonders around us.
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Never Mind the Rules
All models are wrong: It’s the first thing Sorinel Oprisan tells his students at the beginning of every semester, and the one thing he hopes they remember when they leave his class at the end of the semester. “I want them to think outside the boundaries, question the foundations,” says the physics professor, who credits his own ability to wander outside of the standards to his interdisciplinary training in computer science, theoretical
physics and computational neuroscience. “Sometimes solutions come while focusing on totally different questions. It is always a good exercise to step aside and open other collaborations in new fields.” It’s with this understanding that, in 2005, Oprisan took on the challenge of attracting undergraduates to the interdisciplinary field of computational neuroscience, which requires a comprehensive background knowledge of
biology, mathematics, physics, computer science and psychology. “In order to create a positive feedback loop that helps me with recruiting undergraduates, I developed new curricula,” says Oprisan – who, in his six years at the College, has created four new classes and mentored more than 16 undergraduate students, written four papers with undergraduate co-authors, supervised six senior research projects and had numerous students receive various grants, fellowships and awards. As Oprisan says, “The recruiting model worked.” So, apparently, not all models are wrong. In fact, Oprisan must have been doing something right: This year the National Science Foundation awarded him with the prestigious Faculty Early Career Development grant, thus recognizing Oprisan himself as a model teacher-scholar who exemplifies excellent education, outstanding research and creative integration of research and education. “This NSF-career award allows me to actually focus both on exciting educational and research goals,” says Oprisan, who plans to continue developing computational neuroscience curricula for the College’s neuroscience and biomedical physics minors with the goal of expanding it into the field of biomedical-signal processing. “At the same time, I bring to my classes my research projects – not only in the upperlevel biophysical modeling class, but also in the general-education classes.” These projects deal largely with how the firing patterns of neural networks relate to the individual neurons, with the ultimate goal of correcting locomotive disabilities and disrupting epileptic seizures. Thus, Oprisan will use the $500,000 research grant included with his NSF award “to focus on designing, implementing and testing new models for neural networks.” But, if these new models are anything like his recruiting model or his model for education–research integration, Oprisan might have to change his tune. After all, it seems not all models are wrong … at least not those that Oprisan creates.
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Inside the Academic Mind: Calvin blackwell Calvin Blackwell, associate professor of economics, is known for making a pretty tough subject both accessible and entertaining for students. We tapped into his expertise to get a better handle on one of today’s mainstay headlines – the economy. We also learned a few things about game theory, behavorial economics and why people stand at basketball games. What attracted you to study economics? Economics is very pragmatic about solving humanity’s problems. It doesn’t start with the moral premise that the solution for most problems is for people to treat each other better. Rather, it takes people as they are (amoral) and asks what sorts of incentives can we provide people so that they will behave in a more moral way. What kind of economics do you espouse? I’m a behavioral economist – I don’t assume that people always behave with a high level of rationality, but rather occasionally make mistakes. I think certain types of government intervention in markets can be helpful, but not all intervention is good. What college course should every business-minded student take? Economics, obviously! Everyone needs an understanding of how markets work because we constantly interact with markets, and anyone who plans to vote should have a basic understanding of how the macroeconomy works, if only so that truly stupid public policy can be identified. What’s your favorite class to teach? I like to teach Game Theory because a) it is fun (after all, it’s about games) and b) it’s about how people interact with each other strategically. The second reason makes the subject highly applicable to everyday life. Game theory can help explain why students’ dorm rooms are usually messy, why improving your backhand can let you hit your forehand more often and why people stand at basketball games. For example, each person individually can get a better view of the game by standing, and so has an incentive to stand. However, ironically, if everyone stands, no one’s view is improved. What’s your favorite “economy” movie? I saw Wall Street when I was in college, and it continues to be my favorite movie with an economic/business orientation. What book should the layperson read to get a better understanding of the economy? I recommend Todd Bucholz’s book New Ideas From Dead Economists. What have you found most surprising during the Great Recession? The strangest part of this recent economic era is the inability of people to see what was right in front of them. By which I mean, lots of smart people failed to understand that real estate was overvalued. When I moved to Charleston in 2001, I thought the market was high. I based my impression on the fact that the median house was selling for around $200,000 – but the median
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income in the area represented a family that couldn’t possibly afford that $200,000 house. Yet, people continued to buy homes that they clearly couldn’t afford. As someone who likes to think people are capable of acting rationally and in their own self-interest, this behavior was bizarre. People should have refused to pay such high prices, and this discipline should have kept homes cheaper. The fact that this didn’t happen is very troubling to me, and to the modern discipline of economics. What’s your favorite food? Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. As an economist, you’re constantly asked to make predictions and forecasts. What’s your most accurate prediction to date and which one did not materialize? Someone wise (maybe Yogi Berra) once said, “It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.” For a couple of years, I helped produce the occupancy rate forecast for Charleston-area hotels. Two years before the Great Recession, our model was very accurate. When we predicted occupancy for (what turned out to be the beginning of) the Great Recession, we were not accurate. What is the most interesting thing in your office? A painting by my son, Kai. My favorite painting (I have five) is an abstract piece reminiscent of a Jackson Pollack (minus the cigarette butts, of course – he was only 5 years old when he painted it). With all of the economic woes happening around the world, Are we on the cusp of another great depression? I don’t think a worldwide depression is likely because, despite all the problems in the developed world, many parts of the developing world (China, India, Brazil) are doing very well, and they don’t seem overly dependent on our continued growth. I do think the developed countries may see a few more years of weak growth, but as long as the basic institutions of the economy (low corruption and rule of law, reasonably effective regulation, continued investments in basic infrastructure and education) stay strong, we’ll be fine in the long run. What economic period do you most want to study? I think today is the most interesting period of economic history. We have far more complicated and sophisticated phenomena to study today than at any other time. What do you see as Charleston’s economic strengths during the 21st century? Tourism appears to be an enduring part of the local economy. It cannot be outsourced, as it comes from the features of the place. Similarly, the port and the advantage it provides can be a long-term strength of the area – although there are some economic forces that may reduce its impact. If you could be a super-hero, who would you be? Professor X (of the X-Men). I think it would be cool to be able to read people’s minds.
Emily Rosko (English) won the 2011 Akron Poetry Prize for her second book of poems, Prop Rockery. No stranger to prestigious prizes, Rosko earned the 2007 Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers from Shenandoah, and her first poetry collection, Raw Goods Inventory, took the 2005 Iowa Poetry Prize.
• The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art received a National Endowment for the Arts grant to support the Halsey’s exhibit Return to the Sea: Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto this spring. • Executive-in-Residence Tom Martin (communication) was the recipient of the Arthur W. Page Society’s 2011 Distinguished Service Award. • Christian Coseru (philosophy) received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to stage this summer a two-week institute – “Investigating Consciousness: Buddhist and Contemporary Philosophical Perspectives.” • The Princeton Review’s Best 376 Colleges recognized the College’s accounting and communication departments in their category of Great Schools for 15 of the Most Popular Undergraduate Majors. • Jason Coy (history) received the Herzog Ernst Fellowship for Postdoctoral Studies to continue his research for a book on divination and demonology in early modern Germany. Coy will spend this summer at the University of Erfurt’s Research Center for Social and Cultural Studies in Gotha. • Lee-Chin Siow (music) received a music performance fellowship from the S.C. Arts Commission Board.
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MAKING the GRADE
House, M.D. Ethan Brewer is not your typical resident adviser. Sure, he works out disagreements between roommates, makes sure hallways stay clean and enforces housing rules. But when was the last time you saw an RA teach sutures? Last fall, Brewer brought out an orange, sliced it and had students in the “Med Mansion” stitch its rind back together. The citrus-spilling procedure is basic training for a future in the medical world,
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explains Brewer, and he reasons that an encounter with gooey orange guts is preferable to the way he learned suturing: on rat skulls. Brewer serves as an RA at 24 Bull Street, where two dozen undergraduates – most of them pre-med students – make their home. The Med Mansion (or the Health Professions House, as it is known more formally by the Office of Residence Life and Housing) is one of a number of academically themed residences on
Bull Street. Its neighbors include houses dedicated to the study and celebration of French, Spanish, the great outdoors, and women’s and gender studies. As you walk inside, it seems like any old home in Charleston converted into college apartments, where historic mansion meets dormitory. Except for the fact, that is, that Grey’s Anatomy plays on the common room television a bit more frequently than most places. And for the fact, says Brewer, that molecular
Making the Grade
diagrams “so complex they will boggle your mind” routinely cover a whiteboard in that same room. The diagrams are homework for premed students’ most dreaded course: organic chemistry. It is a course that weeds out all but the most rigorous students, and it is not unusual for students who earn a passing grade to take the class again for further comprehension. Like electrons in the molecules they study, students bond when taking organic chemistry, often forming groups to do homework. A small room on the fourth floor of the Med Mansion is a favorite spot for such groups to meet, as it provides the peace and quiet necessary for some serious studying. One afternoon in November, Courtney Bieger of Wilton, Conn., was in the study room alone. The large table in front of her was covered with papers, including an organic chemistry textbook, solution manual, notes, answers and scrap paper. “I’m usually nicer and share space,” she says of her significant study area. Bieger chose to live in the Med Mansion because she thought it would be easy to find study partners – and, apart from this particular solo session, she is normally joined by others living and breathing all things organic chemistry. “There’s so much information to learn,” Bieger sighs.
| (top left) Med Mansion residents Chong Pan, Ethan Brewer and Lauren McLean; (bottom) Courtney Bieger at the board in the study room | This spring, Brewer is inviting doctors and other medical speakers to the Med Mansion for lectures to residents. It’s yet another way to prep pre-med students for things to come, says the senior from Hemingway, S.C., who plans to earn both
a doctorate and medical degree after graduating. Such events can be a muchneeded excuse to put down the organic chemistry textbooks and take a breather. Especially if Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t happen to be on.
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One for the Books It may be the age of the Kindle and iPad, but Brien Beidler sees his future in good oldfashioned books. The senior chemistry major is a bookbinder, or book conservationist, and he spends three days a week mending pages, spines and covers in the Special Collections department of the Addlestone Library. It’s meticulous work, and right up Beidler’s alley. He was romanced long ago by the warped boards, cracked leather and yellowed pages of old books. “I would do it every minute of every day if I could,” Beidler says of his repair work. “I love how old books are such a good mixture of beauty and function.” Last summer, courtesy of a Summer Undergraduate Research with Faculty grant and the support of Special Collections head Marie Ferrara, Beidler traveled to Scranton, Pa., to learn from a master bookbinder. It was an experience he called the “most exhausting week of my life,” but also among his life’s most rewarding. He was encouraged enough by the experience to want to make bookbinding his profession, and possibly do postgraduate work at Boston’s famed North Bennet Street School for craftsmen. “There’s just something about holding books,” says Beidler, who often reads the tomes he repairs. “I would rather have 20 pounds of books on my back than a onepound electronic tablet. The extra strain on my body is totally worth the enjoyment I get.”
Making the Grade
Night Light He doesn’t remember what the commercial is for. Nor does he care. That’s just not what stands out about this particular 30-second television spot (much to the dismay of the advertising agency, no doubt). What does stand out is how one act of kindness – helping an overloaded mother off the bus, opening a door for a delivery man, holding the elevator for a complete stranger, pausing to let someone into traffic – can have a chain reaction. How, when we see other people looking out for one another, it inspires us to do the same. “The message is that we’re all responsible for taking care of each other– and the more we see it happening, the more likely we are to do our part,” says Terrel Davis, who – as the student coordinator of the Peer Assistance Leaders (PAL) – has certainly done his part taking care of his fellow students. “That commercial embodies what PAL does.” Under the PAL program, highly visible student volunteers in bright yellow jackets are out and about from 10 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. on Friday nights to help other college students get home safely – whether that means walking students home, getting them on the Cougar Shuttle or just being present to remind them to walk in groups and look out for each other. “That’s my hope: That students see us doing what we do, and it makes them open to helping other students,” says Davis. “I want to give students the sense that this is a safe community because every single student is here to help and protect one another.” This includes students from any of the area colleges: The PAL program is a collaborative effort between the College, The Citadel, Trident Technical College, Charleston Southern University and MUSC – and the 220 student volunteers that come from these institutions are rigorously trained by the City of Charleston police chief and work closely with the Charleston Police Department, as undercover officers are always close by. “They always have our backs,” says Davis with a laugh. “It’s funny: You wouldn’t even get me to talk to the police
when I came to the College. And now, thanks to the PAL program, I hang out with them every Friday night!” He’s even planning on going into law enforcement after he graduates – with hopes of first attending the U.S. Marine Corps’ Officer Candidates School and eventually joining the FBI. It’s a career path the business administration/accounting double major would have never dreamed of when he first arrived on campus as part of the SPECTRA Summer Transition Program for incoming multicultural and first-generation freshmen. “I believe the only way you can learn about yourself and figure out what you want to do in life is to try do a variety of different things,” shrugs Davis, who has also worked in the College’s Absence Memo Office and has served as a counselor for SPECTRA students and as a liaison for the Charleston Community Coalition Committee. “I’m currently working with Public Safety, learning the business side of things – the rules and regulations that law enforcement has to abide by. It helps me get a better understanding of law to be sitting on both
sides of the spectrum. I’m learning the ins and outs, and that helps me help the students.” And there’s no telling how many students Davis has helped since he started volunteering with PAL in 2010. “At that time, my vision at first was to help 100 students get home safely: If I put five students on the Cougar Shuttle, I would be happy,” recalls Davis, explaining that the 15-passenger van is free to all students, no matter where they live downtown, no questions asked. “To date, we’ve transported over 77,000 students on the Cougar Shuttle. We received a second shuttle this spring.” You don’t get results like that without giving something up – and Davis himself gave up “a lot of time, a lot of sleep and parts of my social life” so that he could be out there patrolling the streets, promoting the program, educating students and speaking to other South Carolina schools interested in starting similar programs. “When I’m not doing that,” he says, “I’m just a student trying to make his way.” While he’s at it, of course, he’s helping other students make their way home. S PRI N G 2 0 1 2 |
TEAMWORK A Student of the Game She hung up the phone and began to cry. The voice on the other end of the line had told her that someone else had already called, and it was first come, first served. Sorry, Miss Wilson. Best of luck to you. The College in 1973 was a very different place. Apparently, it was the kind of place you could dial up and possibly land a job, sight unseen, especially if it was coaching the women’s basketball team. Wiping away the tears and following her roommate’s advice, Nancy Wilson, a recent college graduate teaching physical education at a local elementary school, phoned the woman who beat her to the punch and volunteered her services. “I was young and hungry,” Wilson remembers. “I didn’t want to miss my chance at being a coach, and I just knew that this could be something special.” It turns out that the other woman, Joan Cronan, was very happy to have the help, and Wilson joined her as an assistant coach that fall. Soon after, Wilson began coaching the College’s volleyball team as well. “Almost immediately, I knew Nancy was something special,” says Cronan, who went on to become the women’s athletics director at the College and, in 1983, at the University of Tennessee, where she has assembled one of the most storied collegiate sports programs in the nation. “Nancy is a great communicator and an exceptional teacher. She has a great love for the student-athlete, having been one herself, and she understands putting her players’ needs first. Nancy’s also one of the best Xs-and-Os coaches in the game.” In 1976, Wilson took over the head coaching duties from Cronan and immediately demonstrated her basketball
the SPORTSTICKER |
acumen, leading the team to a 21-5 record. By 1979, Wilson’s teams were a fixture on the national scene, reaching the AIAW national championship game three years in a row. “Remember, women’s basketball was just beginning to have opportunities then,” says Scooter De Lorme Barnette ’78, who played on Wilson’s first team. “There was no D-I, D-II, D-III. We played whoever
had a team, and we dominated pretty much everyone in those early years.” That domination did not go unnoticed. In 1984, Wilson, who by then had lined her shelves with leadership accolades like the Kellogg’s Small College Coach of the Year and several SCAIAW Coach of the Year awards, was lured away by the University of South Carolina to build its program into a contender. And she did. In only her
All-time Cougar leading scorer Andrew Goudelock made his NBA debut on Christmas Day with the Los Angeles Lakers (and scored 6 points). + The sailing program claimed its third-straight SAISA Fall Coed Championship. + Alyssa Aitken, Perry Emsiek and Zeke Horowitz won silver representing the United States in a 470-team sailing competition at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China. + Sailor Sam Stokes ’11 |
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second year there, she claimed the first of five Metro championships and began her run of NCAA appearances, culminating with her team reaching the Sweet 16 in 1990. When she left her post in 1997 to become associate head coach of the Seattle Reign (an ABL professional team), she was – and still is – the most victorious coach in their program’s history.
“I still loved the game of basketball very much,” Wilson says. “And, while I enjoyed teaching, I did miss the challenge of putting together a team and preparing for games – that thrill of piecing together a puzzle of talent and personality.” In many ways, Wilson had been a pupil separated from her true subject.
But life in the pros didn’t follow Wilson’s almost formulaic rise to success. In her second year in Seattle, the ABL folded midseason. She then returned to Charleston and began teaching physical education classes at the College. By 2003, Fred Daniels in the College’s administration (and a former Cougars basketball coach) convinced Wilson to leave academia and return courtside.
“For Nancy, I think it goes beyond love. She is such a student of the game,” says Nessie Harris ’80, a former player and former assistant coach with Wilson. “She’s always learning, and she puts that learning into action.” Barnette remembers Wilson attending Coach John Kresse’s practices for the men’s team in order to find plays to implement with her own squad. And that
dedication to a sport ever evolving did not change when Wilson returned as the Cougars head coach in 2003. Just listen to Wilson talk basketball for a few minutes, and it’s an insider’s tutorial on power offenses and defensive schemes. And that’s her secret for success, according to Temple Elmore ’85, a former Cougar great under Wilson and the current associate head coach of the team: “Nancy has a brilliant mind. Her study of the game, to me, is what separates her from other coaches.” But what also separates her from many others is her ability to lead teams to victory. Very few coaches enjoy long careers, and of those who do, an even smaller percentage reach 500 career wins. Wilson achieved that lofty goal in 2008–09, when her team set the Cougars’ season win record since becoming a Division I school. This spring Wilson, the Cougars’ alltime leader in wins for the women’s program, is retiring from the game she has been living and breathing for close to four decades, marking the end of an amazing coaching career. “While Nancy will certainly be remembered for all of those many, many wins, that’s not her real legacy,” Elmore observes. “It’s the effect she’s had on her players. That’s her true legacy: how her players feel when they leave the program – and how they return. They know that she cares about them as people and has helped them grow, on and off the court.” Wilson smiles when she thinks about her players, past and present. All those shared moments – the highs and lows, laughter and tears, victory and defeat – that pour forth during the season, all similar, yet somehow markedly different with each team, each year. “When it comes down to it, basketball, really, is about character and seeing potential in people,” Wilson notes. “And being a coach and working every day to get the best out of people: that’s been one of the most incredible blessings in my life.”
earned ICSA’s 2011 All-Academic Sailing Honorable Mention. + Four men’s soccer players received All-SoCon honors: Sean de Silva and Shawn Ferguson (first team), Andy Craven (second team) and Troy Peterson (allfreshman). + Cross-country runner Dena O’Brien earned All-Region honors last fall. + Four softball players were named All-America Scholar Athletes: Alex Datko ’11, Kristi Woodall ’11, Lizzy Vaughn and Jen Rosene. + S PRI N G 2 0 1 2 |
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| (l to r) Caroline Newman and Christin Newman |
Sister-Love Sure, They’re competitive. They want to win. And they have the drive and the skill to do it. But when the Newman sisters are facing each other on the court, the score never wavers: It’s always love–love. That might explain how now-senior psychology major Caroline persuaded Christin, now a junior, to transfer to the College after just one season playing at No. 2 for Virginia Tech. But now that they’re both officially Cougars – Caroline at No. 3 and Christin at No. 1
on the College’s Southern Conference championship team – they’re serving up some fierce competition. “I thought I was lucky to have one Newman (Caroline) commit three years ago, but now, to have two Newmans playing for our team definitely makes me the luckiest coach in America,” says tennis coach Angelo Anastopoulo, noting that the sisters’ attitudes are just as crucial to the team as their skills are. “Caroline is a true motivator and has the biggest heart on the team, and Christin is like the
Energizer Bunny. The team feeds off that. “Both Caroline and Christin have an incredible work ethic and timemanagement skills. They get the most out of each minute, every day,” Anastapoulo continues, pointing to the Newmans’ 4.0 GPAs in the Honors College as evidence. “We work hard and we play hard,” shrugs Christin, “because life is all about balance.” And what could be more balanced than a Newman sister on either side of the net?
Sarah Schaidle and Hannah Gmerek received multiple honors this fall for women’s soccer: All-SoCon (first team) and selection to the NSCA A Women’s Division I All-Southeast Team. + Four volleyball players captured several SoCon awards: Elyse Chubb ( All-SoCon, first team), Sarah Havel ( All-SoCon, first team; All-South Region, honorable mention); Sloane White (freshman of the year; All-SoCon, second team) and Lizzie Theesfeld (all-freshman). |
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The long and Short of it
SUMMER 2010 |
| Photo by Mike Ledford |
Daniel Aldrich loves to hit the long ball. And he should, he’s pretty good at it. “It’s the ultimate game changer,” the outfielder says. “It’s like the touchdown of baseball.” Then, by using Aldrich’s own sportsmixing metaphor, we can count him as one of the nation’s ultimate collegiate touchdown makers. Not bad for a school without football. Last season, the country’s Freshman Player of the Year and All-American blasted 22 home runs, which led all Division I freshmen. He then followed that up by winning last summer’s 2011 TD Ameritrade Home Run Derby in Omaha, Neb. His secret as a premier hitter? “Learning to have a short memory,” he confides. “Baseball is a tough game, and it can be very humbling. So, for me, keeping a good, even-keel mentality is very important.” Although Aldrich may cultivate a short-term memory, his explosive performances will stay in the minds of Cougar fans for a long time to come.
POINT of VIEW
[ student ]
The Summer I Read Her Mind Eudora Welty famously quipped that “to imagine yourself inside another person ... is what a storywriter does in every piece of work.” That notion held especially true for one student researcher in her quest to better understand this great Dame of Southern literature. by Crystal Frost Instead of slinging sweet tea anD burgers for Charleston’s countless tourists last summer, I spent my days reading, researching and talking about literature. No, I wasn’t enrolled in any summer class; I was helping English professor Julia Eichelberger with her book of Eudora Welty’s letters on gardening. Before I became a part of the project, Professor Eichelberger had done a great deal of work selecting letters that pertained to gardening, transcribing difficult handwriting and writing about the significance of the garden. With an August deadline for the manuscript, she still needed help with researching, transcribing and proofreading. And so, together, we applied for – and got – a Summer Undergraduate Research with Faculty (SURF) grant to make it happen.
In the end, my summer research ...
changed the way that I think about the work I do in studying literature.
At first I worried about my complete lack of insight into the life and work of Eudora Welty. I had only read a single story, “Petrified Man,” and I wasn’t sure that I was a huge fan of Welty’s portrayals of dark Southern social drama. As for the author herself, I had a vague image of a white-haired Southern lady, a character to match the name Eudora. But Professor Eichelberger assured me that my fresh perspective would be good for the manuscript and sent me to the Addlestone Library with a fullpage list of works to help Eudora and me get acquainted. Over the next few weeks, I spent nearly 80 hours inhaling Welty’s short stories, novels and essays, as well as investigating her life through Susanne Marrs’ biography and her works’ reception by critics. Almost accidentally, I learned to laugh at Welty’s stories – especially in the early stories of The Golden
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Apples, where there often lies a humorous narrative or a ridiculous character. Her depictions of manic postal workers and suicidal spinsters, after all, cannot be taken altogether seriously. Professor Eichelberger and I met frequently to discuss the literature I was reading, and she had an endless supply of information and insight to offer. With this guidance and one-onone interaction, my experience reading Welty became one of the most enjoyable literary studies I have undertaken. As much as I was learning from my studies, I didn’t really learn about Welty until June, when Professor Eichelberger and I spent a full week reading the letters from the manuscript aloud. We were checking for errors in the transcriptions, looking at the photocopied letters along with the re-typed text – but, more often than finding errors, we found ourselves immersed in the language of Welty’s intimate thoughts. The letters finally gave me a human voice to hear and understand. In letters to her agent, Diarmuid Russell, and to her love interest, John Robinson, Welty wrote of her creative work both in the garden and at the typewriter and contemplated life during World War II. Her creative process and daily life, captured in her correspondence, developed my perspective not only of Welty’s literary output, but also of the literature that I spend time reading every day as an English major. For me, the experience greatly reinforced the interdependence of life and literature. As the summer went on and the manuscript was largely complete, my work became more research based. I spent my days in the library, shuttling back and forth to Professor Eichelberger’s office with tidbits of difficult-to-find details about people, places and events mentioned in Welty’s letters. Researching these footnotes for the manuscript helped me learn more than I ever expected: A single person mentioned in the letter could lead me to multiple online databases, a biographical dictionary and maybe even an article written by that person archived in the microfilm collection. I investigated a broad range of subjects, from minor battles in World War II to the romantic connections of major literary editors in the 1950s. The information in the letters covered such far-reaching subjects that I never got tired of looking a little bit deeper for their background. Instead, I found myself intrigued by every new investigation. Sure, there were moments (or days) of frustration when everything I researched seemed to lead to nothing, but the connections I was able to make revived my sense of discovery. Besides, the research refined my skills in looking for information on databases and introduced me to resources such as PASCAL, an interlibrary loan program. Overall, my research was a hugely beneficial part of my learning experience, as it allowed me to learn on my own while enjoying the support of a faculty member.
At the end of the summer, Professor Eichelberger and I traveled to Welty’s hometown of Jackson, Miss., to tie up a few loose ends in the manuscript. We spent five days working in the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, sorting through boxes of Welty’s original letters in order to make sure that we had the transcriptions completely correct. It was so exciting to hold the pages scrawled with Eudora Welty’s spidery script, to read the letters I had seen as photocopies or transcriptions in their original hand. Also, Professor Eichelberger received access to photos and scrapbooks donated by Welty and her family. After spending all this time immersed in Welty’s life and work, I was thrilled, breathless, to be leafing through pages of photos documenting her childhood. Going to Jackson was wonderful for a number of reasons. I gained experience with archival research and the protocol of copyright concerns in creating a manuscript of letters. I met Welty’s niece, Mary Alice Black, who let us look through her personal photo collection, as well as Welty’s biographer and friend, Susanne Marrs. Also, we had the chance to visit the house at 1119 Pinehurst Street, which was Welty’s home for most of her long life. I even got to spend a moment in the garden behind the house – the same garden where Welty thought about what it meant to create something beautiful before she tiptoed to the desk where she wrote those contemplations. In the end, my summer research through the SURF grant program changed the way that I think about the work I do in studying literature. It helped me to explore the many ways in which readers can interact with literature, such as through historical, biographical or analytical approaches. It gave me the chance to do work that I admired and helped me think about the projects I hope to undertake if I continue in studying literature. By working with Professor Eichelberger, I had a chance to participate in a project bigger than those usually undertaken by undergraduates, and I learned more than I thought possible about a single author. If there were a Eudora Welty trivia show, I would definitely win (unless Professor Eichelberger were my competition)! – Crystal Frost is a senior English major.
FALL 2011 |
| Illustration by Joy Halstead |
POINT of VIEW
| Illustration by Baird Hoffmire |
POINT of VIEW [ faculty ]
Not Just Treading Water Last summer, what was once the darling of YouTube suddenly became the poster child for lavish government spending. We asked our marine biologists to talk about their shrimp on a treadmill experiment, their newfound notoriety and why scientific research is worth every penny. by Lou Burnett and Karen Burnett It was our first encounter with Washington politics, nasty Washington politics. We were innocently driving in the Shenandoah Valley, enjoying the long Memorial Day weekend with family and friends, when we received a call. It was a CNN reporter asking if we had any comment on U.S. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma’s report
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criticizing the National Science Foundation (NSF) and discounting our NSF-funded research project as “silly science.” (See “Shrimp on a Treadmill: The Politics of ‘Silly’ Studies,” featured on NPR on Aug. 23, 2011.) In an instant, we became the poster children for abuse in government spending. The Coburn report suggests that the federal government gave us over half a million dollars to find out how long shrimp can run on treadmills. Unfortunately, Sen. Coburn did not bother to do his own research. No one from his office contacted us to ask about our work, nor did he bother to check with the NSF itself to find out exactly what the foundation spent its money on. Had he done so, he would have learned that shrimp treadmills are a small part of a much larger program of study. Instead, our research was misrepresented and taken out of context. Back to our world in Charleston, where fish kills (mass death of fish in a specific place) are relatively common occurrences and the public understands that when bad things happen in the
POINT of VIEW
water, fish and shellfish die. Cause and effect. Unfortunately, bad things happen to organisms all the time. This is true in the marine environment and especially so in coastal waters. Humans populate coastal areas in high numbers – and, since the earth is now a habitat for more than 7 billion people, these coastal waters are heavily impacted by human activities, especially farming, industrialization, urbanization and even recreation. The public gets this. What is perhaps less commonly explained are events that cause fish, dolphins or other organisms to be not killed, but made sick. So, while the cause is often low oxygen or the presence of a particular pollutant, the effect is not always a complete fish kill. Mortality events such as fish kills are extreme events. The two of us have studied marine organisms for decades and have combined our different strengths as scientists in organismal physiology and immunology to find out how organisms work and how they respond to their environments and the stresses they encounter as they live their lives.
do some work on reptiles as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Colorado. This work involved placing lizards on treadmills. Aware of our work on crustaceans, David built an underwater treadmill and brought it to Charleston. The treadmill was designed for shrimp, but we didn’t exactly know how they would respond. When the tread below our first shrimp began to move, the shrimp began walking. When we increased the speed of the tread, it galloped – and then at higher speeds, it swam. It swam for hours. The early video of our shrimp on a treadmill became a YouTube sensation and attracted attention to our work, which is likely how Sen. Coburn (or, more likely, his staff) learned of it. Had he contacted us, we would have explained how the treadmill studies fit into our overall research efforts. Our research – which has been funded from a variety of sources, including the NSF, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – in general has taught us that shrimp, crabs and lobsters (and also
treadmills for decades to understand animal locomotion . Just about everything – from cockroaches to lizards to horses – has been placed on a treadmill. Biologists have used
The fun part is discovering something that no one has even thought of before. It’s also fun to collaborate with our students and other scientists to define what’s important, how we can approach a problem and how we can advance science. After all, advancing science is what the public expects of its investment in the scientific enterprise. Doing science well is challenging. And, these days, doing science is a collaborative endeavor. This is why we believe it’s important to prepare our College of Charleston students to work with other scientists by training them to put research in the context of the whole organism. This means that – even though we might study the molecular biology of an organism’s particular response or the resulting change in its behavior in response to something like low oxygen – the organism and its relation to its ecology is paramount. We have a large toolbox for doing science, and we enjoy a variety of approaches, from studying molecules to researching organismal behavior – which includes measuring responses of organisms exercising on treadmills. Biologists have used treadmills for decades to understand animal locomotion. Just about everything – from cockroaches to lizards to horses – has been placed on a treadmill. Not only is the treadmill a marvelous tool for understanding how organisms can interact with their environment, but it provides a superb way to talk with nonscientists about our work. After all, using treadmills for stress tests is something the public readily understands. Enter shrimp treadmills. A few years ago, our colleague David Scholnick – who at the time was on the faculty at Eckerd College – decided to spend a part of his first sabbatical with us. David had been an undergraduate student of one of us (Lou) at the University of San Diego back in the 1980s and had gone on to
oysters and fish) have difficulty in resisting bacterial infections when they encounter low oxygen and elevated carbon dioxide in their natural environment. And low oxygen and high carbon dioxide are direct results of human activities. Coastal waters contain large numbers of bacteria (and viruses); one teaspoon of water can contain more than one million bacteria. Interestingly, we have learned that in crustaceans, the very act of launching an immune response against these challenges interferes with their abilities to carry out normal activities in the wild, such as pursuing prey, avoiding predation and engaging in reproductive activity. While the thrust of what we do is considered basic research, the organisms we work on are important economically. Our test shrimp are the most commonly aquacultured shrimp in the world. The Atlantic blue crab, which also walks on our treadmills, is an important fishery in Charleston and on the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts. We strongly believe that the investment that society has made in our work has advanced science and produced some important findings. We have a much better understanding of how marine organisms make a living in coastal waters. Just like when your doctor puts you on a treadmill to find out about your health and how fit you are, we put marine organisms on miniature treadmills to learn about their health and the health of our environment. And now we have a more complete picture of how far organisms can be pushed before things go too far. – Lou and Karen Burnett both work at the College’s Grice Marine Laboratory on James Island, where Lou is a biology professor and Karen is a research associate and adjunct faculty member.
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POINT of VIEW
[ alumni ]
Planted in Our Memories The relationships we make at the College are lifelong. For one alumnus, a connection was disrupted way too early, but the legacy of that friendship will continue on forever, not just in his heart, but on campus as well. by Gr aig Norden ’07 One of the hardest things a college student faces is surrendering many of the comforts of home. Though this can be hard initially, it ultimately provides the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, often with cultural, linguistic and socioeconomic differences that provide a stark contrast to the relative homogeny that most of us leave behind. For me, this process led me to a brilliant, witty young man from Serbia named Ilija Veljkovic ’07. And one of the toughest challenges any of us will ever face is the loss of a dear friend – something Ilija also taught me when he passed away in August 2009. Ethnic tensions within Yugoslavia erupted in 1991, in what would become the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II. The war was characterized by bitter fighting, indiscriminate shelling of cities and towns, ethnic cleansing and systematic mass rape. Needless to say, this had a profound impact on Ilija’s childhood. But for all that had gone wrong in his part of the world, Ilija came to embody all that was right. Coming from a small village, Ilija often said that the chaos that provided a backdrop to his childhood cultivated an appreciable sense of brotherhood amongst his neighbors. Thus, there’s a significant correlation between Ilija’s childhood experiences and his ability to develop friendships in America. He approached his friendships with an uncommon amount of generosity, affection and hospitality – and, while it might be clichéd to say that someone would give the shirt off his back for others, that saying represents exactly what made Ilija such a wonderful friend and an even better person. Anyone who had the slightest contact with him can attest to that. Most undergraduates have to make a choice between an outstanding social life and an excellent academic career. Not Ilija. He had the ability to stay out all night on upper King Street and then wake up early, finalize his preparation for an exam and ace it – evidence of both his remarkable intellect and his immense gratitude for the opportunity to live in America. As a fellow economics major, I witnessed firsthand Ilija’s ability to grasp complex theories and models in a foreign language faster than most others could in their native tongue. Also a psychology major, Ilija even had work cited in published research. In addition,
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one could easily observe that the typical student-teacher relationship did not apply with Ilija. His professors were a part of the community that he valued so much. As such, he believed that doing well in school was not only a personal achievement, but also a way of honoring the relationships that he developed with his professors and the time they had invested in him. Most people who knew Ilija, however, would say that he valued the latter more than the former – and that’s manifested in the fact that he graduated in four years with honors in two degrees. Ilija’s intelligence and compassion for others may have only been surpassed by his wit. Whether it was telling people who were curious about his accent that he was a spy from Russia or that his Serbian chocolates had mosquitoes in them, Ilija’s sometimes self-deprecating humor allowed him to humanize the evident disconnect between our culture and his own. This was no easy task. It also didn’t hurt that he was an outstanding cook – something I greatly appreciated during the two years we were roommates. Each time he came back from Serbia, our friends would line up out the door of our apartment to try the homemade food and plum or peach liquor (slivovitz) that he’d stuff into his suitcases. Nothing would make him happier than to tell stories to his wide-eyed friends while they ate his food and drank his liquor. The sense of brotherhood that he developed as a young child was so deeply ingrained that it never escaped him – and ultimately rubbed off on his friends. Even in his death. After our graduation from the College – when I’d met his family for the first time – the two of us moved to Chicago, and I’d remained friendly with his family. I therefore became a liaison for his family, the coroner and the Serbian consulates in Chicago and Belgrade upon Ilija’s fatal heart failure, which was thought to be caused by a preexisting coronary condition. Ilija’s father flew from Serbia to Chicago to collect his belongings and meet with both the consul and myself. We met on a Friday afternoon in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, and I remember agonizing about what I would say to Mr. Veljkovic the entire cab ride there. When I finally arrived, however, Ilija’s father greeted me in a thick accent: “Hi Graig, how is your little brother? He must be getting very big now.” I was floored. Here is a man who had just gone through the most devastating thing any parent can experience, and – just like Ilija – he was completely selfless. He’d met my brother over dinner in Charleston two years prior; he didn’t have to ask about him at all! What’s more, he’d also brought gifts for a few of Ilija’s friends; homemade peach slivovitz and my favorite Serbian chocolates that Ilija had told him I liked. It would have been perfectly reasonable for Mr. Veljkovic’s grief to take precedence over his
POINT of VIEW
Undoubtedly a testament to the adoration people have for Ilija Veljkovic ’07, a memorial – including a live oak, a marble and bronze plaque and a cast-iron bench – is now situated in one of the most scenic locations on campus: the Stern Center Garden .
consideration for others, but, even in this horrific time, he was compassionate and generous. It was easy to see what had shaped Ilija into such a remarkable friend. Later that evening, we cried while looking through Ilija’s stuff, which had been boxed up, and Mr. Veljkovic asked that I take a few things to remember him. Like any European, Ilija was a fanatic about soccer, and one of his most prized possessions was a soccer scarf for the Serbian national team, the White Eagles. Today, it hangs above the doorway in my bedroom. It is my personal tribute to Ilija. Of course, I was not Ilija’s only friend – and this is not the only tribute to him. Undoubtedly a testament to the adoration people have for Ilija, a memorial – including a live oak, a marble and bronze plaque and a cast-iron bench – is now situated in one of the most scenic locations on campus: the Stern Center Garden. Over 50 College alumni donated funds to make this possible. It is
with great pride that we are able to honor his memory and make certain that his footprint on the College of Charleston will be forever visible. Just as the tragedies of Ilija’s upbringing in Serbia instilled in him an unwavering benevolence, his untimely death galvanized in his friends a sense of altruism perfectly befitting of such a great man. It is my hope that this memorial serves as a means not only to immortalize Ilija and what he stood for, but also to facilitate each of our individual abilities to laugh, to think and to cry. Very few people have the capacity to help us do this; Ilija Veljkovic was one of them. He is loved, missed and will forever be in our thoughts, hearts … and gardens. – Graig Norden ’07 is a marketing associate at New Century Advisors in Chevy Chase, Md.
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The Power of
Here, food teaches lessons in culture, smiles illuminate a new perspective, songs offer a sense of humanity and streets provide a better understanding of the world. This is a magical place. This is Trujillo, Spain. Photo Essay by Leslie McKellar
he first of the morning light spreads across the pastures and footpaths of the countryside before seeping through, over and around the narrow corridors of the city’s Roman walls. The sky unfolds a deep, dry blue that broadcasts boldly across the Plaza Mayor and slopes slyly into the open-air piazzas. Francisco Pizarro’s shadow casts an outline of the city’s history, its proud heritage of conquistadores, with the shadows from the castle walls further defining that history with lessons in architecture, culture, the arts. And, when the sun is pulled across the sky, leaving it a reflective purple, the people light up the plaza with song, dance, tradition and smiles – until they finally, sleepily, leave the night to the glowing vigilance of La Virgen de la Victoria, the city’s patron saint. This is a place where things are illuminated. This is Trujillo: a living, thriving city of 10,000 that rivals the history, beauty, traditions and culture of our own prized city. Not that there’s any competition, really. When it comes to location, College of Charleston students will always come out ahead – especially if they take advantage of the College’s exclusive studyabroad program in Trujillo, Spain. The Trujillo study-abroad program was founded in 1996 after James and Esther Ferguson donated one of their Trujillo homes to the College of Charleston Foundation. With College faculty staying in the Ferguson home, students staying with local host families and classes taught in La Coria – a 17th-century restored convent owned by the Fundación Xavier de Salas – this brilliant setting has continued to host the Department of Hispanic Studies’ study-abroad program every summer and every spring semester since that inaugural visit. Last year, a fall semester program was introduced for the first time for students from disciplines other than Hispanic studies. Regardless of the program of study, however, Trujillo is always enlightening. And not just because of its rich history, its Roman baths or its Muslim architecture. Trujillo glows because of its people. It beams with their pride and generosity. And – when students wake, cook, eat, talk, laugh and share with their host families and friends – that’s what sheds light on everything else: the cultural nuances, the common sensibilities, the caring connections. Once that understanding is sparked, that’s when students really start to shine. This is what Trujillo is all about. This is the power of place. – Alicia Lutz ’98
(Bottom) Professor Mark Long (Political science) leading students on a tour of trujillo landmarks
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(top left) Courtyard of La Coria, the former convent where students take classes (bottom right) Plaza Mayor and its statue of conquistador francisco Pizzaro (Bottom Left) students Molly moore and cally rosenberg in the townâ€™s market on a field trip for communication Professor Celeste Lacroixâ€™s class on intercultural communication
(Bottom left) Jessica Armbrust playing paddle ball with the children of her host family (bottom right) Students exploring the townâ€™s castle (opposite page) Molly moore and alana smith relaxing in the courtyard of La Coria
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Lunch is an especially significant meal in trujillo â€“ a time when families leave work and come together. (top left) Jessica armbrust sharing a meal with her host family (bottom left) David mcknight with his host mother, Carmen Moreno
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(left) students Charnel Kennedy, Sydney Turnquist and jacob weisner at La Coria (bottom right) students at the townâ€™s Castle
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(top left) charnel Kennedy with the children of her host family (top and bottom right) once a semester, the fundaciĂ“n xavier de salas treats the collegeâ€™s students and their host families to a picnic on the outskirts of trujillo. (Middle left) David mcknight, alana smith and jacob weisner (opposite page) clair Beadling
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This is what change looks like. Real change. These men represent the vanguard of a new movement taking hold in South Carolina. They are the foot soldiers tasked with reordering a landscape ravaged in many places by ineffectiveness and indifference. But instead of destroyers, they are builders, trying to win hearts and minds. Not only win them, but shape them, mold them, improve them. These men from the College of Charleston, if they have their way, are out to transform no less than the very face of education.
Mark Berry by Vince Musi
â€˘ Call Me MISTERs Terrence Manigault, Brandon Dixon, Jared Gambrell, Marvin Conyers, Tristan Hawkins, Eric Stallings and Andrew Perry â€˘
omething is rotten in the state of South Carolina. Few would disagree that there is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportion playing out within our educational system, county by county, city by city, school by school. Some call it the educational gap. Others, the achievement gap. Either way, they’re talking about a chasm, and it’s growing wider, ever wider, between white and minority students and their academic performance in the classroom. Soon, the Palmetto State will be able to boast of its own Grand Canyon, except this one you don’t want to put on a postcard wistfully wishing you were here. Educational pundits, politicians, administrators, teachers, concerned parents – they all argue about both the causes of the problem and the ways to address it. Attend some of the local school board meetings around the state, and you’ll witness verbal fireworks worthy of reality TV. The cacophony of finger pointing, despair at slipping further behind and, at times, the self-righteous indignation is overwhelming, almost comical in its seeming absurdity in the face of such challenges. However, through all the combative discourse, there is a sincerity present, a deep and pressing desire to lift South Carolina so that it’s not some bottom-dwelling state content with a view from the basement. So what’s the fix? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. When it comes to public education, there never is. The problems seem too complex, too politicized and too intricately woven into the very fabric of our society for any real change to take place. Indeed, the state’s 2011 achievement statistics paint a very bleak picture for black students. In fourth-grade reading, 56 percent are considered “below basic” – a euphemism for failing (considering the other categories are “advanced,” “proficient” and “basic”) – as compared to 27 percent of white students. By eighth grade, that “below basic” percentage drops to 18 percent for white students, but only falls to 44 percent for black students. When it comes to math, the trend is worse: 39 percent of black students are failing in fourth grade, but that percentage actually jumps to 50 percent in eighth graders. Together, these figures add up to one big negative for black students by the time they reach high school: lower graduation rates and higher drop-out numbers as compared with their white classmates. Yes, the statistics are demoralizing. But there’s hope. Just ask the professors in the College’s School of Education, Health, and Human Performance. They see it, ultimately, as a people problem with a people solution. And they’re applying the old joke of how to eat an elephant (one bite at a time) to tackle an issue that has far too long been the actual elephant in the room. “We have a responsibility to reach these kids in these failing schools,” observes Renard Harris, assistant professor of teacher education. “They are suffering there. And, remember, impoverished doesn’t equate to stupid. It’s a tough gamble if we ignore and marginalize these kids. We will all suffer.” “Let’s look at some more numbers,” says Andrew Lewis, associate professor of health and human performance. “Approximately one-third of all students in South Carolina are African American, yet less than 1 percent of teachers are African American males. Statistics also point out that black males who have had at least one, just one, African American male teacher between pre-K and eighth grade are three times
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The professors of the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance are applying the old joke of how to eat an elephant ( one bite at a time ) to tackle an issue that has far too long been the actual elephant in the room. more likely to graduate high school and continue to postsecondary education.” Let that statistic sink in for a minute. One – just one black male teacher – triples the odds for success. Lewis leans forward, pointing his index finger in the air: “And this is where we can make a difference.” The logic is simple: One equals 30, or, depending on the grade level, one may equal 100 or more. This would be the number of students affected by one teacher in one year. Now, multiply that number by five years, 10, 25, 30, and you see that one teacher can have a significant impact on a student population, in some cases, spanning generations. “It is critical for us all to understand the importance that a black male teacher can have in our schools,” Lewis continues. “At times, they may serve as a father figure to those without one at home, or perhaps they’re simply a facilitator for telling kids that they can do it, too, whatever their dreams are. In all instances, they’ll be role models throughout the school – men who value education.” In these professors’ eyes, it’s on the micro level that a macrolevel problem can be solved. Among the College’s various teacher recruitment efforts for diversity, the biggest contributor, in terms of sheer numbers, is the Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) Program – a statewide initiative with 13 partner institutions specifically recruiting black men for teaching careers. The MISTERs, as they call themselves, are provided tuition assistance through loan forgiveness and scholarships. Their unusual name pays homage to Virgil Tibbs (played by Sidney Poitier) and his memorable demand for dignity and equal treatment in the 1967 classic In the Heat of the Night. Currently, there are 20 men in the Call Me MISTER Program on campus. “However, we’re not looking for just numbers here,” says Floyd Breeland, program coordinator for the College’s Call Me
MISTERs as well as a former state representative and a 33-year veteran of South Carolina public schools. “These young men have to convince us that they want to be teachers. We’re looking for leaders, community-minded men who are going to make a difference, and be good at their job.” And that’s critical for any meaningful change to occur. The College is not worried simply about the how many, but the how: How to make them successful teachers. How to prepare them for the reality of the classroom, with kids coming from all walks of life. How to look at teaching as a career and not just as a job. “A good teacher, as we all know,” Lewis points out, “can have an amazing impact on a child’s life. That good teacher, given the right resources and the right support, can close the achievement gaps we’re talking about. And those are the types of people we’re trying to recruit and produce through our teacher preparation programs at the College.” Last May, the College graduated its first two MISTERs: Jimmy Freeman ’11 and Thomas Savage ’11. Both are now first-year teachers in the Lowcountry. Well-versed in the current numbers and discouraging trends for minority students, they know that behind those statistics, there are names, faces and personal stories. For many of their black students, it will be in their classes where adversity has a shot at becoming triumph. These MISTERs understand what is at stake and are ready to do everything in their power to fight for it. Welcome to the front lines of education.
Savage Country They all walk at an angle. Forward leaning, they carry backpacks bulging with textbooks, folders and loose papers, crammed in with the secret contraband only middle-schoolers can know. What might pass as a familiar scene of school-days drudgery changes upon closer inspection. These bent figures are laughing, shouting, almost squealing as they shuffle along toward the school’s entrance. There’s an energy here, a spirit almost matching the 10-foot metal sculpture of dancing children on the school’s front lawn. As they tramp into Summerville’s Rollings Middle School of the Arts, a message emblazoned in white lettering against a purple background reminds them that their school is “Where Learning Is an ‘Art.’” For Mr. Savage’s first-period students, they take a left down the main hall and then an immediate right through a door marked EXIT in red. Outside again, they go to the first trailer on the left, labeled T-7. Whereas the exterior of the trailer is drab, sporting a few rust stains and a dull maroon door, the interior is an explosion of color. Walls of purple and yellow (the school colors of the Rollings Knights) greet students as they come in and settle in their seats. Between the giggling, flipping of pencils and idle chatter of Justin Bieber and Chuck Norris jokes, students unpack their bags and let their eyes wander the room. One bulletin board reads,
• Thomas Savage ’11 •
“You are in Savage Country,” and goes on to spell out the “Laws of the Land”: integrity, responsibility, respect, participation and procedure. But perhaps the most telling message, one that conveys Savage’s teaching philosophy, appears on another board as well as on a small bumper sticker taped up near the back door. It’s a quote from author Judith Groch: “Those who have been required to memorize the world as it is will never create the world as it might be.” There’s a throwback feel in here – like the 1970s meeting the 1870s – that’s somehow just natural for a social studies class engaged in learning South Carolina history. Without distractions from hallway noise and activity, Savage’s trailer possesses the ambiance of a one-room schoolhouse, minus the pot-bellied stove and wood-plank floors. Rather, his room has a grumbling window heating/cooling unit and thin brown carpet, which provides a surprisingly silent surface for Savage, much to his students’ displeaure, as he patrols the class. An electronic buzzer bleats, and everyone turns to Mr. Savage, standing in the center of the room. In teaching, Savage understands that, at times, the messenger can be more memorable than the actual message. So, he dresses the part. Wearing a crisp, blue dress shirt, a vibrant yellow tie, navy pants and brown boat shoes, he is the picture of poise and polish. As he begins his lesson, Savage looks his students directly in the eyes – his gaze intense, but somehow affable at the same time. Through this class period, he will have his students responding to an image on his SMART Board, participating in a question-
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answer session about colonial attitudes, acting out a frozen tableau (think three-dimensional picture with eighth-grade models), finishing a writing assignment and then peer-reviewing each other’s work. For more than an hour, Savage plays the role of ringmaster, lion tamer and tightrope artist – a constant circus act of keeping the students engaged, yet reining them in just before their hormonally challenged self-restraint begins to fade. His students will tell you that although he isn’t the fun-loving, joke-cracking kind of teacher, he does have a good sense of humor, one that you have to be pretty quick and pretty smart to catch. To them, his style is serious, thoughtful and sincere, and because of that, they feel he’s approachable in ways that most other teachers aren’t. In the same breath, however, they will also complain that he is “way too hard,” but there is a level of respect in that accusation, one in which even they take great pride. Perhaps one of the most important moments during the class period occurs with “John.” It’s an interaction that may or may not happen with another teacher. But it reinforces the importance of the Call Me MISTERs and other statewide initiatives for diversifying the teaching ranks. On the surface, John is a classic archetype found in almost every grade, in almost every school: He is The Jock, the one who appears to consider academics secondary, even tertiary, to his athletic and social exploits. John comes into the room, loud and brash and with a swagger in his step. He makes his way to the back table and throws his backpack down, laughing with the other boys in the room. There’s
a sense about John that he feels that everyone else is living in his world, not the other way around. Before the class starts, John holds court at his table, doling out praise and insults to the other students in the class, with his courtiers laughing and agreeing with each decree. As the class begins, John hunches down in his purple-andyellow hooded sweatshirt and whispers behind a clenched fist to the other boys dressed in their matching sports gear. Judging by his tablemates’ reactions, everything he mumbles is either enormously funny or enormously poignant to their very existence. Hearing the muffled disturbance behind him, Savage turns and calls on John. John, of course, has no idea of the answer, let alone the question. Savage’s admonishment is not harsh, but is quick and decisive. He then continues his lesson standing next to John’s table in the back corner of the room and allows John to save face by answering correctly his next question. For now, John’s table is the model of attentiveness. When it comes time for writing, the class goes silent, each student scribbling his or her essay – save one. Momentarily, John looks lost and watches the other students writing. He raises his hand and calls over to Savage – his voice respectful and devoid of any eighth-grade bravado. Savage pulls a seat up close to John and, in a low voice, talks him through the assignment about representative government. John, eyes down on his paper, nods in agreement, understanding now what’s being explained. A smile spreads across his face, and he begins to write. As Savage stands up from the table, John stops, looks up and says, “Thanks, Mr. Savage,” and goes back to furiously writing – his thoughts pouring out through his halfchewed pencil. It’s interactions like that, just a few seconds here and a few minutes there, played out many times throughout the day, throughout the year, that have garnered Savage his school’s 2012 Rookie Teacher of the Year award. But it’s also something more than that. For John and the many other black male students in his classes, Mr. Savage cares – and now, so do they.
Kid Cool Everybody knows him. No matter the class, no matter the grade. Kids know Mr. Freeman. As the black male teacher at Sedgefield Intermediate School in Goose Creek – and one of only two male teachers on staff – he would be memorable to kids. He’s an anomaly. Different. As Freeman walks down the hall, the black string of his whistle bounces off his slacks, keeping perfect time to the rhythm of his strides, which you can’t quite call a strut, but there’s definitely a silent beat playing somewhere in Freeman’s head. Students eagerly call out, “Hey, Mr. Freeman.” A few boys even race down the hall to give him high-fives and hear him call them, “my man.” Where Freeman treads, there are smiles, both outward and inward. As he lines his own class up in the hallway for lunch, he pops the whistle in his mouth – a visual reminder to some that talking is not tolerated. The class is quiet as they march to the cafeteria – no small feat when dealing with 28 fourth-grade children. Freeman moves up and down the single-file line like
• Jimmy Freeman ’11 •
a drill sergeant inspecting his troops. He’s perfected the art of talking to his kids with that whistle clenched in his front teeth, with just a slight sibilance framing his words. The everpresent whistle – the threat of that shrill sound ringing with his reprimand – is enough to keep everyone on task. In fact, Freeman has never blown it. After lunch, he takes his class to the “playground”: an open field that stretches nearly 500 yards to a distant road. Only the rectangle of asphalt with its facing basketball goals gives any indication that this is a place for play. The kids don’t care, however. They spread out quickly, running and screaming, lost
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in the throes of their temporary freedom. Some linger, both boys and girls, snatching quick hugs and barraging Freeman with questions – about school, life, TV, anything and everything. A group of boys rushes to a football lying on the ground. While one boy slings the ball with uncommon velocity and distance, another heaves it only a few feet back. The other boys laugh. Freeman bounds over to the boy and shows him the proper form, hands him the ball and steps back. This time, the football travels several yards – an achievement all of the boys acknowledge. And the game of catch picks back up, with that particular boy, his confidence building, throwing farther and farther each time. Back in his classroom after recess, Freeman, in a voice calm and not particularly loud in spite of the commotion of the kids getting back in their seats, asks, “Hear my voice? Clap once.” Half of the students clap. The others fall silent, immediately aware that Freeman is ready to begin. For those that don’t quiet down, Freeman walks over and gives them The Look – “it’s something I had to get down pretty quickly,” he explains with a mock face of anger. When The Look doesn’t work for one particularly talkative girl, he asks her to stand. Begrudgingly, eyes rolling, she gets up from her desk and stands (she’ll be there a while). Freeman moves about the room, like a boxer dancing in the ring. To a nearby student, he hands a blue coffee mug, marked “College of Charleston School of Education, Health, and Human Performance,” full of popsicle sticks with each student’s name. “Who can give me the peanut butter?” he asks, closing his eyes and pointing to the boy holding the cup, who pulls out a name. Most of the students shoot their hands in the air anyway, even though they’ve not won this round in the lottery of popsicle sticks. They all know that Freeman is asking about the author. They also know that when Freeman asks them about “the jelly,” that they have to give him the main ideas from the book – and that “milk” is a supporting detail. The PB&J sandwich with the glass of milk is their class’ personal metaphor for interpreting literature, and it’s a metaphor only they grasp. Because they came up with it together. “My class of fourth-graders spans all reading levels,” Freeman says, “from those that are reading well below grade level, to those who have already read every book on my shelf. Some of the students were struggling one day to understand the concept of main ideas, supporting details, context clues, and the sandwich metaphor just came out in our discussion. The sandwich was something they understood, and I ran with it. I’ve always told them that I’m new to this thing, so we’re going to grow and learn together. And we have and we are.” Freeman relates with the kids in this school in ways that few others can or do. When one student talks about his brother who has “gone on a trip,” Freeman knows what it’s like to have a family member in jail and talks from the heart with him about choices, personal accountability and that jail is not a foregone conclusion for black males. “For me, growing up, there weren’t a lot of male figures there,” Freeman says, no hint of the victim in his voice. “And there aren’t a whole lot of male role models for many of these kids, either. That’s a reality. So, I want to show them that there are other options. There’s nothing I haven’t seen. I know that they can do better – they have to.”
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“For me, growing up, there weren’t a lot of male figures there. And there aren’t a whole lot of male role models for many of these kids, either. That’s a reality. So, I want to show them that there are other options. There’s nothing I haven’t seen. I know that they can do better – they have to.” Freeman’s own life is an object lesson in accountability. Raised by his grandmother in a Charleston neighborhood he calls “unpredictable,” Freeman got in with the wrong crowd, failed his freshman year of high school and had to attend summer school. It was there that he started to see the road he was going down – a road traveled by many of his friends, some of whom later met violent and premature ends. From that point on, he focused on academics and volunteering in his community. And it was that spirit of caring and commitment that caught the eye of Steve Thomas, the first Call Me MISTER coordinator, who recruited Freeman to the College from Trident Technical College. “Jimmy truly has a smile that will light up a room,” says Thomas, now Paine College’s dean of professional studies. “He has taken the lessons that life has taught him, learns from them and turns that energy into something positive for himself and those around him.” And students definitely respond to that energy. You just have to look in their eyes, watch them grab for their notebooks and listen to them compete to answer Freeman’s questions. There is a pride in learning, in “knowing stuff,” as they might say. Education, like Mr. Freeman, is cool. Cool like his 58 tattoos. Since he was 19, Freeman has treated his body like a canvas, as if it’s yet another space to share his learning and creativity. There’s a smiley face on his right arm, a reminder that no matter what is happening, some part of him is always smiling. There’s also a tiger, an African killer bee, angels, stars and illustrated maxims to live by: “Family First” and “Smile Now, Cry Later.” But the one that means the most to him, centered squarely on his back, is two heavenly hands holding the word Blessed. That’s because Freeman feels blessed to be where he is today– blessed to have been helped by others and, now, to be helping others. Although his students may not know of the existence of that tattoo, the sentiment is certainly not hidden, even beneath Freeman’s jacket and dress shirt. His students understand, or maybe just have a vague feeling, that something sacred is taking place in their classroom – of knowledge passing, wisdom shared. They are in it together, as Freeman points out: teacher and student. And if more men like Thomas Savage and Jimmy Freeman become the Mr. Savages and Mr. Freemans in the lives of South Carolina’s kids, then there is great hope for narrowing the state’s achievement gap. Remember, in this new math, one equals 30. And one, just one, can and will make all of the difference.
– Jimmy Freeman ’11
Class Change Over the past few years, the College has invested in the idea of promoting diversity in the teacher workforce through a variety of recruitment efforts similar to the Call Me MISTER Program – in effect, taking that one-bite-at-a-time approach. For example, in 2008, through the generosity of Chuck and Andrea Volpe, the College launched the Volpe Fellowship Program, which provides tuition assistance for a minority student to obtain a graduate degree in education. Today, Stevan Harris ’10 (M.A.T.), the first Volpe graduate, is teaching third grade at Boulder Bluff Elementary School in Goose Creek, S.C. Last year, the College completed a two-year partnership with the Charleston County School District called the Early Literacy Program, in which eight minority students (five males and three females) served as teaching assistants throughout the district while completing their graduate degrees in education. The College also offers financial assistance, such as the Changing the Face of Teaching Scholarship (funded in part by the Coastal Community Foundation and the Henry and Sylvia Yaschik Foundation) and the Higdon Teacher Education Fund, aimed at supporting campus diversity efforts and bringing more minority students to teaching.
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DREAM Dreams. They bewilder and inspire, perplex and invigorate. They come at night and are gone by morning, foggy, fuzzy memories that miraculously mix the mundane and absurd, leaving us to hopelessly ponder their meaning. Yet some dreams do not dissipate at dawn’s light. They are made of different stuff. They linger and intensify during waking hours. They become impossible to ignore, all consuming. And for some of us, they shape the direction of our lives. In the pages ahead we profile six alumni who followed their dreams and never looked back – and, in the process of tracking their steps along the way, we map out the act of chasing a dream. Because, yes, dreams start with an idea – but, to make dreams come true, you must make the commitment, you must pay your dues. Only then can you expect to catch that elusive break. Only then can you start to wake up a little, start adjusting to the dream, start making it your reality. And then one day, you might finally look in the mirror and declare, “I am living the dream!” Each of these stories illustrates a particular step in chasing the dream. Perhaps one of them will inspire you to wake up and pursue your passion.
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| the idea |
| the commitment |
| the break |
| the dues |
| the adjustment |
| the dream |
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| Photos by Gately Williams |
The Idea: Ericka Williams ’10
t wasn’t something she had always dreamed of. Not really. Yeah, sure, basketball was the one thing in the world that truly made her happy. Just ask her. She’ll tell you about being 5 years old and just falling in love with the game. Then, she’ll smile her quiet smile. But her eyes will brighten like arena lights, and she’ll tell you how excited she was riding home in the afternoons, barely able to contain herself as she waited for the school bus door to creak open and let her out into her side yard, where she’d spend hours upon hours shooting and playing. Back then, basketball was more than a game. It was a place. A safe place for this tomboy to be a tomboy, a place where she could put it all together – her competiveness, her teamwork, her individual skill. And she had all of it, a lot of it. That’s what caught the eyes of the coaches at the College when they saw this kid from Blackville, S.C., hoop it up in one of their summer camps. Soon after, they offered her a scholarship, and Ericka Williams ’10 brought her game to the Cougars. She was good in maroon and white. Very good. She could make the impossible shot look routine. And she had those kinds of games where the points just came in waves: 17 against Mercer, 25 against Davidson, 19 against Morehead State and 21 against Bradley. She averaged in double points scoring her senior year, helping the team advance the deepest in post-season tournament play since becoming Division I. But it was just a game. At least that’s what the business major thought going into her senior year. Associate Head Coach Temple Elmore ’85 thought something else. A former Cougar great and member of the College’s Hall of Fame, Elmore played professional basketball internationally after she graduated. She knows what it takes. She knows talent when she sees it, too. And she saw something special in Williams: that It Factor that defies easy explanation.
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Elmore had watched Williams come into the program as a very raw talent, struggling at times in learning the fundamentals that the program demanded she master. But Williams, at her core, is a fighter. She never gives up. Elmore was impressed with her work ethic, her intensity and her growth as a person and player. By Williams’ senior year, Elmore knew she had the stuff to become a professional player. And that’s exactly what she told Williams when she pulled her aside that season. Elmore’s suggestion hit Williams like a game-winning shot at the buzzer. Everything lit up. Everything made sense now. Her future, before something hazy and distant, came into sharp focus. And she was ready to put everything into it. In the Hollywood version of Williams’ story, we would endure a music montage of her working hard and then cut to her being drafted and making her professional debut either in the WNBA or on a prestigious international team. In the real-life version, things just aren’t that simple or straightforward. After graduation, Williams stayed around Charleston, working out and finding part-time employment. For most Southern Conference student-athletes, post-collegiate opportunities are infrequent, if not improbable: like snow in Charleston. But, as Williams knows, it has snowed in the Holy City, and it will snow again, someday. Hope isn’t a strategy – at least, not for her. So Williams packed her bags and headed west, where she joined the Houston Jaguars, a semi-professional team. There, she played against some WNBA talent, along with many other professional hopefuls, and found that she measured up, both in talent and skill. But the Houston Jaguars – and the hope of being seen by scouts – didn’t pay the bills. Williams returned to her hometown last summer to continue training and figure out a better route to playing professional ball. During that time, Elmore helped Williams sign with an agent in Germany, which may open doors for her to try out with European squads. In the meantime, Williams took a part-time job on the flow team for Target in nearby Aiken, S.C., which means she’s at work by four in the morning to help unload the trucks. When she’s off at noon, it’s time to get serious. Williams goes back to her high school three to four times a week to help out with her former team and get in some of her own training: “I don’t have a workout partner, and it’s a lot harder doing basketball drills – jumpshots, ball handling – by yourself, but I get a lot of work in. I do my free throws, my conditioning running, and I also play a lot of pick-up games against the varsity girls and guys as well as former classmates and friends.” Of course, this is particularly tough for Williams. This waiting. This not knowing. Patience, Williams admits, has never been her strong suit. But she’s learning. And in her moments of doubt – because they do happen – all she has to do is touch a basketball, and her decades-long passion for the game reaffirms her goal. “This is only my second year of trying to make it as a professional,” Williams says. “I just need my shot, an opportunity to show people, the right people, what I can do. I’ll never give up on my dream. I know I’m close. I’ve got a tournament in Germany I hope I can make and an open tryout this spring for the Atlanta Dream.” Because, you never know, perhaps that Hollywood ending is there after all. – Mark Berry
| Photos by Mike Ledford |
the Commitment: Fiona Puyo ’09
n 2010, Fiona Puyo ’09 had just wrapped up an internship with a bank in Frankfurt, Germany, and was staying up late with her boyfriend to prepare for an interview that might lead to a permanent job. She was well experienced, having worked for months with portfolio managers at the bank, analyzing companies and meeting with a slew of CEOs and CFOs from major corporations. Now she just had to nail the interview. The next day, the French native met with her boss. He asked a straightforward question: What do you want for a career? Puyo’s answer surprised him. Heck, it even surprised herself. “I want to play golf,” she said. So began an unconventional start to a professional golfing career, leaving behind the world of finance for glory on the links. Considering Puyo had played for the Cougars, it wasn’t a total pipe dream to think she could make the LPGA Tour. But she also knew she had to change some habits to improve her performance. By her own account, she had been a “decent” golfer at the College, but not outstanding, and was the second-ranked player on the team. She discussed her dream with her boyfriend, Eike Seja, whom she had met at the College when he was an exchange student. He told her that if she wanted to get better, she needed to set specific goals and work to accomplish them, much like one has to do when starting a business. This disciplined approach motivated Puyo, who soon developed a training regimen, practice schedule and list of tournaments in which she would compete. She decided she would practice six days of the week and train for three, jogging and performing balance exercises. By focusing her attention and energy, she happily discovered, she could accomplish more goals in less time. “It was a shock, in a way, to get results so fast,” she admits. “One of the things that scared me was the idea that you have to go hit balls from eight to eight. But it’s not necessary.” This wasn’t the first time Puyo felt renewed enthusiasm for the sport. As a teenager in Venezuela, she initially had been thrilled
when her father introduced her to golf and bought her a set of clubs, but the sport soon lost its appeal when she realized no one her age seemed to play. Soon enough, the mango and passionfruit trees that lined the golf courses became more interesting than the ball and tee. When Puyo’s family moved back to France, however, she started playing again, eventually earning a scholarship to play at the College. Years later, when she told her parents that she wanted to give up a career in the business world for another shot at golf, they were supportive. “Do you believe you can do it?” they’d asked. Fiona said she did. “Well, go for it,” they said. A year after that conversation, and with 12 months of training and practice under her belt, Puyo captured the French championship. Encouraged by that result, she set her sights on the LPGA Qualifying Tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla., in late November, hoping to make the tour as an amateur. Unfortunately, she came up just short. Nevertheless, her strong performance in 2011 earned her a spot on the Symetra Tour, the LPGA’s development circuit for young players. An even stronger showing on this tour would guarantee Puyo a spot in the big league. “My goal for 2012 is and has to be to receive LPGA Tour status,” says Puyo. “By playing as many tournaments as reasonable, I will be able to gain further experience, which I believe will be essential for me to be successful on the tour.” So onward she charges, aware she could be behind a desk right now, in front of a computer screen, analyzing spreadsheets. Instead, she’s driving, chipping and putting her way to the top, unwilling to forever wonder what might have been. “In the back of my mind, I really wanted to see how far I could get with golf. I had the feeling that I could do better,” says Puyo. “I have the game. Now it’s going to be how much I want it.” – Jason Ryan S PRI N G 2 0 1 2 |
THE DUES: Pete Kaasa ’08
| Photos by Diana Deaver |
is three competitors are all fighting outside the ring, leaving him alone with the referee. Keeping watch on the scrum below, Pete Kaasa ’08 paces back and forth impatiently. Finally, he’s had enough. After a calm pause in the far corner of the ring, he sprints across the mat and vaults clear over the ropes, hurtling his body like a cruise missile. The crowd roars as Kaasa hangs in the air and then crashes into his opponents, scattering them like bowling pins. His foes slowly gather their wits and regain their footing, but Kaasa is already up off the ground, flexing his right bicep and flashing a million-dollar smile to the crowd. Such was the scene at last year’s November to Remember: Kaos for the Coach, a professional wrestling charity benefit at Goose Creek High School. For Kaasa, a 27-year-old Charleston native who’s trained the last two years to become a professional wrestler, it was just a stepping-stone. One day, he hopes, wrestling fans will mention his stage name, Kaasanova, in the same breath as Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock.
It is a dream that has been long in the making. As a child, Kaasa was a gymnast, developing tumbling skills. In high school, he competed in submission wrestling, otherwise known as Brazilian jujitsu. While at the College, he flirted with the idea of competing in mixed martial arts (i.e., ultimate fighting). “I don’t like to hurt people,” Kaasa says about his decision against a career in that truly brutal sport. “And I don’t think getting punched in the face is the best job.” What he thinks is perhaps the best job: professional wrestling. After graduating with a degree in exercise science, Kaasa embarked on this hopeful career path by attending the WWA4 Wrestling School in Atlanta. There he learned some of the finer points of the sport and became fluent in professional wrestling lingo. Usually a quiet and mild-mannered soul, Kaasa becomes enlivened when talking about the babyface and the heel, or the good guy and bad guy wrestlers. He explains with enthusiasm the
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parts of a typical wrestling match, when one wrestler shines until the cutoff, in which the losing opponent makes a move to change the bout’s momentum. Falls are known as bumps in Kaasa’s world, and he says he’s very careful not to give his opponent a stiff shot, in which a thrown punch, for example, mistakenly lands and causes pain. It’s obvious from Kaasa’s aerial maneuvers that athleticism is critical to his routine. But, he says, his performance is as much about theater as it is sport. Before matches, he explains, competitors loosely choreograph the upcoming entertainment. Match organizers determine winners and losers beforehand, and newbie wrestlers like Kaasa are often asked to show deference to veterans. That’s not the only way up-and-coming wrestlers pay their dues. Sometimes, in events like the Goose Creek match, wrestlers like Kaasa have to help set up the ring. All these sacrifices and chores are done humbly, in the hope that, one day, the hard work will pay off. Kaasa likens the trials of an aspiring professional wrestler to those of a musician looking to land a record deal: “You can play anywhere and everywhere and never go anywhere.” Still, you have to commit. You have to keep performing and performing, hoping one day you’ll get noticed. And so Kaasa trains hard for his chance at a professional wrestling career. At home in Charleston, he works part time as a massage therapist while maintaining a grueling workout routine, jogging along Folly Beach five days a week and running up and down flights of hotel stairs. Perhaps more challenging than this physical conditioning is the bravado he must feign. Kaasa rehearses his Kaasanova character constantly, trying out lines while driving his car, recording trashtalking pre-match interviews (or promos) with peers and practicing strutting into the ring like a playboy, a rose in his mouth and a silk robe wrapped loosely around his body. When Kaasa is Kaasanova, beware. No one, it seems, is safe from his arrogance, not even Mom. Kaasa has been known to grumble at his mother when fixing breakfast, affecting a menacing tone and asking, “How dare you come into my kitchen so early in the morning, getting in my way?” Mom doesn’t hesitate to give some lip right back, at which point Kaasa picks her up and shakes her – in a loving way, of course. “She’s the coolest mom by far,” he says. “Sometimes, she’ll cut a promo right back on me.” Kaasa is no less loving of his other family members, and he credits wrestling for giving them all a common bond. He recalls how his father took him to his first wrestling match and how he eventually wants to open a wrestling ring in Charleston with his younger brother, Jesse. Kaasa’s older brother, Michael, who has Down syndrome, is a fanatical wrestling fan, too, and serves as an inspiration to Kaasa. Once, Kaasa says, he woke with tears in his eyes after a particularly vivid dream involving his brothers. He was standing in the ring with Jesse, championship belts around their waists, and Michael stood between them. In a moment of jubilation, each younger brother grabbed one of Michael’s hands and raised it high. Sweet as the image is, though, Kaasa does not want to dream forever about the championship belt. Someday soon, he hopes, his dream will become reality. – Jason Ryan
| Photos by Leslie McKellar |
THE Break: Cary Ann Hearst ’01
ary Ann Hearst ’01 hadn’t seen it coming. She hadn’t believed it would happen. But there it was: her very own song, her very own voice – and it was coming out of the TV, airing on an episode of the hit HBO series True Blood. It was her big break – her breakthrough into mainstream America’s pop culture. She knew it as soon as she heard it. She jumped up, “did the get-paid boogie” and headed out to play a gig with her husband, Michael Trent. Like nothing even happened. “We know better than to assume that any one thing will be the thing that propels us into some kind of superstardom – our career will be a series of breaks,” shrugs Hearst, a Nashville native whose big voice, folksy lyrics, rootsy guitar strumming and energetic boot stomping have been rocking the Charleston music scene for years and are now gathering fans nationwide. “There have been many ‘big breaks’ along the way. It’s an accumulation of all the good things that have happened, combined with how hard we are willing to work and how long we are willing to work at it. The breaks sure make the work easier to do, though!” For example, True Blood’s July 2010 episode featuring her “Hells Bells” gave Hearst some great exposure as a solo artist – including
an interview on NPR’s Weekend Edition – which has translated into both a boost in sales of her most recent solo release, Lions and Lambs, and some extra momentum for Shovels and Rope, the duo she and Trent comprise. “It was a great thing, and while it’s not the cornerstone of our entire career, it certainly has proved to be a nice block in the foundation,” says Hearst, who majored in history. “In this business, even the tiniest successes are surprising and thrilling.” Not that Hearst’s successes have been tiny: In the past year, Shovels and Rope toured with Butch Walker, who also produced Lions and Lambs and whose The Spade she sang on, and with Hayes Carll – whom Hearst duets with in “Another Like You” on his new album, KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories). “It was my first track-hire. I was paid to sing on a label-backed record!” gushes Hearst, who – a few months after recording the duet – cold-called Carll’s label to express her interest in touring with him. Sure enough, Shovels and Rope got the gig. “These people have busted their asses to get to where they are, and were very generous to give us the opportunity to use their shows as a platform for ourselves. I would say that we are aspiring to reach the level where Hayes and Butch are, but that kind of thing is a matter of time and determination. It’s not like it happens overnight, over a year; it’s a lifetime of work.” And Hearst is certainly putting in the effort. She and Trent spent 200 days of 2011 on the road (they travel in The Covered Wagon, a tricked-out 2005 GMC Savana that has a queen-size bed and “looks like a rhino rolling down the road”) and are currently on The Unchained Tour, a “traveling circus of a show” begun by George Dawes Green. After that, they’ll be touring extensively with Johnny Corndawg. Sound exhausting? Hearst finds it invigorating. “I really love the freedom and abandon that comes with a career in music. We are wild animals out there!” she says. “I love that it’s my job to entertain people and make them feel good. I love to think that we are part of the soundtrack to people’s lives.” As for her own life, she seems to have hit just the right note. “I am doing exactly what I set out to do from a young age. It comes with its own problems, as does any job or lifestyle, but it seems to be part of what I am destined to do. I can say that my dreams are coming true,” says Hearst, noting that those dreams have evolved over the years. “In my early 20s, I thought more about being some kind of rock star. Now, it’s not that I don’t want to be a rock star, it’s just my idea of what it means to be a rock star is different. Being a rock star isn’t having the great record deal anymore; it’s owning the record company – and, more importantly, the publishing. I want to be the boss, not a star.” And yet – given Hearst’s talent, spunk and drive – she could very well make it to stardom any minute. “Although we are resolved that we are making it, every day, just by continuing to work and play – because that’s the dream – I certainly have not ‘arrived,’” she says. “We have high expectations, for our life and for our career. So, while we are very much satisfied with what we have been able to achieve, we want to keep on making it every day.” In many ways, then, it’s less about the dream than it is about the chase itself … and catching whatever breaks you can along the way. – Alicia Lutz ’98
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The Adjustment: David Lee Nelson ’00
very morning, David Lee Nelson ’00 heads to a New York coffee shop and spends an hour writing jokes. Some are good, some are not so good, but it doesn’t really matter. The culling will come later, at the end of the week. Right now, it’s just important to get something down. Nelson used to write at home, at his computer. Inevitably, he’d become distracted. Now the stand-up comedian makes sure to get out of the house, and only brings along pen and paper. He is a man on a mission: to make funny. A disciplined approach, he’s noticed, brings results. He’s changed other habits, too, most notably quitting drugs and alcohol. The intoxicants were a lot of fun, Nelson says, until one day they weren’t. With a clear head, he began to analyze the impact of his hedonism on his career, and how it had dulled his ambition, sidetracked his plans and sapped his energy. Booze and pot, in other words, had become distractions. Nelson finally decided that if he was going to make it in the entertainment world, he’d need every advantage available. “It’s a very competitive, challenging field,” says Nelson. “I felt like the way I was living, partying, was an extra hurdle, impediment, in my way.” What’s more, rather than just jettison bad habits and memories off into the past, the theatre major has used some of the struggles in his life to comedic advantage, incorporating them into his stand-up routines. For example, Nelson’s award-winning one-man show, Status Update, which he’s performed across the country and recently in Scotland, details his teetotalling and divorce. Nelson is so candid about his life, in fact, that a reviewer in Texas described Status Update as “at times uncomfortable and occasionally heartbreaking, but frequently funny.” Despite the sometimes dark and melancholy themes, Nelson’s performances are designed to produce laughter – something that always validates his years of hard work when he hears it.
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“It’s an extremely gratifying feeling to connect with an audience,” says Nelson, who compares a successful show to riding the crest of a mighty wave on a surfboard and enjoying the momentum while staying in charge of what’s to come. (For fear of ruining the comparison, he asks that you ignore the fact he’s actually never been on a surfboard.) “You’re totally with the crowd, but you’re also in front of them. You’re excited for them because you’re about to hit them with something and you can do no wrong. You’re all relating to this thing you created. It’s a very powerful feeling.” But like many artists, the thrill of success doesn’t last for long. He’s fallen victim to continually raising his career expectations and becoming frustrated when things don’t go as planned. Misery would set in until Nelson reminded himself that if it were easy to be a stand-up comic, everyone would be doing it. These days, he takes time to acknowledge his accomplishments and savor his successes. He draws inspiration, too, from Nido Qubein’s maxim that winners compare their achievements with their goals, while losers compare their achievements with those of other people. “I’m pretty much doing the things I set out to do when I left Charleston,” says Nelson. That’s not to say he wouldn’t mind going on tour and attracting hundreds of people to each show. Or that he wouldn’t jump at an invitation to perform on a late-night comedy show. It’s just that he’s made peace with the fact that such opportunities might not come tomorrow – and that slow and steady often wins the race. “I just want to keep doing what I’m doing,” says Nelson, who this May will premier a new show at Charleston’s Piccolo Spoleto festival, where he’s been performing since 2006. “I really have no timeline for this.” – Jason Ryan
the Dream: Amanda Rose ’02
| Photos by Leslie McKellar |
his is the life: living out of a suitcase, skipping town just when you start feeling at home, putting on a show wherever you go and then rushing off to another city just to do it all over again. It’s the same story every time. It’s demanding and draining and uncomfortable and nerveracking. And it’s everything Amanda Rose ’02 has ever wanted. It’s everything she’s ever dreamed of. And it’s everything she hoped it would be. “It’s so fulfilling that I can ignore the challenges of traveling. You just find a way to work it out, no matter how hard it is,” says Rose, an actress and singer who traveled with the national tours of Dr. Doolittle and Oklahoma! before she landed a role in Wicked, first on Broadway and then on national tour. “Being on the road is tough – it is. But I never get tired of performing. I never get tired of hearing that audience cheer. That’s how you know you’re doing something important – because it’s important to the audience. That’s what I do it for. That never gets old.” But it never gets easy, either. Travel woes and having no real place to call home aside: Even after three years working on Wicked, Rose still isn’t so practiced that she won’t forget her lines. “You know, you’re out there all day, it becomes mechanical, you start to think about what you’re going to have for lunch or whatever. And then: blankness,” sighs Rose, who gets called back to Wicked to fill in for actresses on leave every so often, though her current gig is outside of Philadelphia, playing the title role in a regional production of Gypsy. “This is a dream role for me. I’ve loved Gypsy, of course, forever. It’s really been an amazing opportunity to have such a dominant role, and it’s exciting because my character takes a big turn and really develops,” says Rose, who stars alongside Emmy nominee Robert Newman (Guiding Light, Curtains) and four-time Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh (Law and Order, Golda’s Balcony). “Tovah is great – she’s an old-school theater actor, so it’s a completely different process. It’s been really great to watch and learn from her.” It’s all a learning process for Rose, who appreciates every role she’s ever had for whatever it has to offer, and she reciprocates by giving each part everything she has. “I feel like every show I do is the best show I’ve ever done. They’ve all been amazing in their own ways,” she says. “Besides, if you do one awesome show and then compare everything to it – if you set the bar so high – you’ll be miserable. You move on so quickly in this business, you just can’t look back.” But if you do look back, you’ll see that Rose’s roles have steadily increased in prominence and prestige. Remember, this Broadway actress started out right where all the dreamers start out in New York City: in line to audition. “Auditioning becomes your job. It’s not scary. It’s not exciting. It’s just what you do,” says Rose, who remembers sitting all day long only to be turned down over and over and over again. “You get over it. You go on with the rest of your life. You’ve got to get to another audition, so you can’t let it bother you. You come in, sing your songs, and they either love it or they hate it. Sure, it’s disappointing sometimes. There’s no human out there who can’t get their hopes up if they really want the part. But you can’t let it bring you down. You just do what you have to do.” And that means taking whatever work you can find to support yourself: retail, bartending, catering, office work, singing
Christmas carols as a Rockette. Whatever. “The best side job I had was ushering Broadway shows, though,” says Rose. “It was during show times, and no one auditions during show times, so it worked with my schedule. Plus, I got to see the insides of different theaters.” Including the St. James Theatre. The first time she ushered there, she recognized a metal bar in the balcony and remembered putting her feet on it as a kid – leaning over it and nearly tumbling out of the balcony with excitement. It had been her first trip to New York, her first Broadway musical, and it had changed the course of her life. “All of a sudden, I could remember that feeling all over again,” says Rose. “That feeling of knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t care what it was going to take, I had to do that one day.” And she made it happen. That day is here. “At first, it was always about getting a Broadway show. And then I got it. So, now what?” shrugs Rose. “I love Wicked, and I want to do another Broadway show, but that’s not the important thing to me. I just want to perform. I’m just happy doing what I’m doing.” She is, after all, living the dream. – Alicia Lutz ’98
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by Alicia Lutz â€™98 photography by Sully Sullivan
The Thrill of the Chase Chasing your dreams isn’t easy. There will be bumps in the road. It can be hard to stay on track. It takes confidence, independence, commitment, focus and the wherewithal to keep on going, no matter what. Ham Morrison ’98 is a case study of that chase – of what it’s like to go after a dream with such vigor, such velocity, that you can’t be stopped.
The dry, brown veil of kicked-up dirt and shredded-up asphalt clouds everything – coating the drivers and all they touch, caking into the creases in the crewmembers’ weathered skin, softening the bright air underneath the floodlights. The incessant, deafening blare of the cars whipping around the track forces the bustling crowds into the silence of their own thoughts, creating a strange, somehow soundless scene. It’s surreal, really: like an ear-splitting silent movie, filmed with a sepia-toned filter that makes the characters look slightly older, slightly more subdued and rough around the edges, than they really are. But one character stands out from the noisy haze: Easy in his bright blue jumpsuit and his confident grin, Ham Morrison ’98 is the clear protagonist here. This is his dream. And he’s chasing after it at 200 miles per hour. If Ham Morrison doesn’t fit in among the seasoned competitors and the skilled mechanics hard at work in the pits, he doesn’t know it – and doesn’t much care. As he makes his way through the rows of garages and trailers, his stride is long and self-assured – the gait of a man who is comfortable wherever he is, in command of every situation and confident in everything he does. Even
flying around a racetrack at dangerously high speeds with 20+ drivers who have double the experience. “I can do it. I can race with the big boys. I know I can,” shrugs Morrison, who first got behind the wheel of a race car in the summer of 1998. He’d just earned his degree in sociology from the College, and – for the occasion – his mother had given him a ticket to the racing school of his choice. “It was a very badass graduation present,” concedes Morrison, who ended up taking the three-day Advanced Formula Car Racing course at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Prescott, Ariz. “I was hooked immediately. The sensation while you’re out there on the track is incomparable. There is something so refreshing and liberating about relying on your instincts. That first time lit a fire in me, no question about it.” To further fuel that fire: He beat out the rest of his classmates at the end-of-course race. “They were no longer offering the advertised prize of sponsoring the race winner in a racing series, but I got to shake hands with Bob Bondurant, which was an inspiring and powerful moment for me,” says Morrison. “That really just made it even more real. That’s what led me to believe that this was something I could do.”
And so, like the true go-getter that he is, he’s been doing it ever since. Is he where he wants to be – where he knows he can be? No. But for the past 14 years, Morrison has kept the dream alive. And that alone says a lot.
"I was hooked immediately. The sensation while you're out there on the track is incomparable." It takes a certain kind of confidence to go after your dreams. It also takes a certain kind of ignorance. From the onset, Ham “Hambone” Morrison unabashedly had both: He believed in himself and his dreams. And he didn’t have a clue what he was getting himself into. “I had no idea what I was doing or where to start, so I knew there’d be a learning curve,” says Morrison, who – upon returning to Folly Beach from the Bob Bondurant School – reached out to the owner of the Summerville Speedway to see what kind of odd jobs he could do there. “All I really wanted to do was break into racing, but you have to start somewhere, so that’s what I did.” And, in this case, that meant renewing signage, getting new advertisers and hustling sponsorships for the speedway – something that paid off down the road. |
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“That’s how I first learned about sports marketing,” says Morrison, who took it upon himself to study up on the subject, reading books on motorsports marketing and taking online training through IEG, a global sponsorship consulting firm. “I didn’t have a choice! I’d just bought my first race car, and I was starting to realize how much money it was going to take,” says Morrison. “My passion isn’t cheap: For a 20-race season at this level, you’re looking at upwards of $100,000 – or $200,000, if you really want to compete in the top five. That’s one thing I hadn’t bargained for.” It didn’t take long for him to get up to speed, though – and, in 2009, he established his own full-service sports marketing company, Ham Morrison Racing (HMR). It is – in essence – the life support for his racing dreams. “My racing career needs to support itself,” he says, adding, “I’m at the point in life that I can’t get away with spending a bunch of money on a hobby, and I don’t want to take time out of my family time to be raising money. So, I thought, Why not make it my job?” It’s a job that suits Morrison well: He knows just about every business owner in Charleston, his confidence is contagious and he’s nothing if not resourceful. “I look for a win-win in every marketing relationship I pursue. If I don’t see a win-win, I try to create one. If I can’t, then it just doesn’t make sense. If it doesn’t make sense to them, I’m not interested,” he says, noting that his business model is largely about mutual exposure. Whether he’s holding fundraisers for local charities, driving his race truck in holiday parades or throwing out the first pitch at a RiverDogs game, Morrison and his sponsors are getting out there in the community together. “My sponsors are like family to me. So are my charity partners. We’re all part of the same team,” says Morrison, whose
commitment to his business and charity partners directly translates to their commitment to his cause. “We’re all a part of Charleston’s one and only NASCAR team. We’re going to do what it takes to make this thing happen.” It’s something of a grassroots movement committed to making Morrison’s racing dream come true. And yet Morrison himself is in the driver’s seat.
There’s no room for anyone else when Ham Morrison takes the wheel. His team of support can only take him so far. This is his dream, and his alone. Ultimately, it’s all up to him. He knows this as he pulls into the Myrtle Beach Speedway alone, as he unloads the trailer alone, jacks up the truck, makes sure that it’s right, secures the tires and fills the tank alone. All
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around him are crews of six or more, doing the heavy lifting, taking care of the cars so the drivers can concentrate on their strategy, their confidence. But as a self-made race car driver, Morrison can only rely on himself. That’s all he’s got. “I’ve been competing on a shoestring all along, and money equals good equipment and crew in this sport,” he says, noting that he typically does have a small crew to help out – although most of them are old friends with minimal mechanical experience. “It’s challenging to compete with teams that have new equipment, parts and well-trained personnel. It is rewarding in a way to know that with limited resources we can run with some of those guys – but just think how we could do on a level playing field.” The field has never quite been level for Morrison, who started off with not only no money but no experience and no mechanics. He remembers his first race, back in 1998, when he was jeered by the track announcer for driving his 1976 Chevy Nova, held together by duct tape and chicken wire, to the Summerville Speedway for the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series. And not because he had a funny-looking car. “I had no idea you weren’t supposed to drive your race car to and from the track. My friends and I would pile in and make the drive together from Folly Beach, then make the drive back together with a few extra dings,” he says. “I didn’t know any other way to do it! I realized quickly that most people haul their race cars on trailers. Everybody had a good laugh on me.” His inexperience also got him into trouble, when – after advancing to the Thunder and Lightning Division in 2000 – he upgraded to a newer Chevy Nova that needed some mechanical work. “I put my trust in the wrong guys, dishonest hacks who jerked me around and swindled me for two seasons,” Morrison says. “I quickly realized you need to know about engines. Or, at least, you need a good, reliable mechanic.” Looking back, it seems like common sense. But remember: There’s a certain naiveté in this kind of confidence – especially when there’s a dream obscuring things. Morrison was starting to open his eyes to the reality of racing cars, though, and he knew he had a lot to learn. He enrolled in five automotive technology night courses at Trident Technical College in North Charleston, all taught by the school’s then–lead technician, Pete Dambaugh, who allowed the class to rebuild Morrison’s engine and transmission. “I definitely paid my dues,” says Morrison, who credits Dambaugh and the work that was done to his car at Trident Tech for what happened next: He won a race at the Summerville Speedway. It was his first big break. And, from there, things began to take off full speed ahead. It’s not easy to stop a 3,000-pound race car going upwards of 200 miles per hour. But it’s even harder to stop Ham Morrison when he’s got some momentum. And, coming off that first victory, he wasn’t slowing down for anything. Not even the driver coming at his winning Pontiac Trans Am with the classic “bump and run” move, where one car intentionally bumps the car in front of it to move it out of the way. “It was the last lap of the race, and I knew what I had to do,” says Morrison. “I dragged the brake pedal in the middle of the
final turn to keep him from moving me up the track and then gunned it to the finish line. That was an awesome race!” It was just the first of many breakthroughs during his first full season of racing in 2004, when he finished as the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series Rookie of the Year and the Summerville Speedway’s Thunder and Lightning Points Champion, his division’s top single title. “That final-points race was nerve racking,” says Morrison, his eyes widening at the thought of the exciting 35-mile race. “I was right behind my nemesis and fellow points leader, Smoking Pussycat, and I pulled out and finished just ahead of him. It was huge. And a big milestone because that was Summerville Speedway’s last year in business, so I was its last points champion.” After that speedway closed, Morrison moved on to even higher speeds in the Whelen Late Model Super Truck Series at the Myrtle Beach Speedway, driving his Chevy Silverado super truck off and on throughout 2011. “Because of the truck’s maintenance costs, we spent the past few years concentrating on marketing research, our sponsorships and participating in community events. But now we’re really ramping up for this next season,” says Morrison, noting that, for the 2012 season, he has moved to the speedway in Dillon, S.C. “This season, I am going to commit like I did in 2004, when I was
"I've always started at the back and climbed toward the front, so I know I can do it." racing every other weekend. I plan on beating and banging in the truck series top 10! “If the mojo feels right and the sponsorship opportunities are there after this 2012 season, we’ll gun for racing NASCAR’s elite third tier, the Camping World Truck Series,” he continues. “I’m not going to be satisfied until I’m with the top guys. I’ve always started at the back and climbed toward the front, so I know I can do it. I know I can pull ahead.” This is the thrill of the chase. He’s getting closer and closer. And he’s getting there fast, steering carefully as he gains speed with every lap he makes around the track, every turn he takes, every car he passes. It’s dizzying, really. But Ham Morrison is focused on what’s ahead. Nothing else matters. It’s all right here in front of him: the track, the race, the dream. He takes the wheel. The chase is on. S PRI N G 2 0 1 2 |
| Photo by Mark Finkenstaedt |
Tour De Force If you ever need help getting your kid into college, consider calling Ann Looper Pryor ’83. In the last four years, she’s helped three nieces and one nephew fill out their applications and write their essays. She’s accompanied them on trips to 18 different campuses, seen all sorts of quads and arboretums, toured every type of dormitory, and heard every stripe of student tour guide imaginable deliver his or her higher education spiel. Through it all, one campus stands apart for her. You guessed it: the College. Sure, Pryor, who graduated with a political science degree, is partial to her alma mater. But as the publisher of Landscape Architecture Magazine, she knows a thing or two about outdoor beauty and harmony, and how one successfully marries horticulture and architecture. She insists the College has one of the prettiest campuses in the country.
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And as a publisher, she knows a thing or two about communication skills, too. The student tour guides showing off the College are top notch, she says: personable, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. On a tour at another school, she laments, the tour guide went on and on about her boyfriend. At the College, the only male getting raved about is Clyde the Cougar. Though it’s been nearly three decades since Pryor graduated, she says the important things about the school have stayed the same. The College has maintained its timeless beauty, even as new buildings have gone up and enrollment has increased. Important traditions have stayed the same, too, with seniors donning white coats and white dresses during graduation weekend. Pryor values such consistency, and it’s inspired her to be consistent, too. For each of the last 28 years, she has answered a phone call from the College and pledged
$100. Over the years, these donations have added up into one big thank you. Pryor says it’s the least she could do for the place that gave her such sure footing. “I really feel like I grew up there,” she says. “It prepared me for life.” The College is where she explored her love of politics and forged the beginnings of a career that has included a significant amount of time on Capitol Hill, both as a staffer for former U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond and as a lobbyist for the American Institute of Architects. When she returns to campus these days, happy memories come flooding back. As does a sense of pride. “It’s great to see that the College has been discovered and is a nationally recognized school,” says Pryor, noting how more students from across the country are choosing to come to the College. Of course, all it takes is one campus tour to see why: Nowhere else compares. Just ask Pryor.
A Vessel for giving David Sneddon had never even heard of the College of Charleston – much less considered giving it his boat. But when he realized that his days of offshore fishing were behind him – and that he wasn’t going to get a suitable offer for Dotty, his 31-foot Pursuit 310 C Center Console Deep Hull Offshore Fishing Vessel – a quick Google search led him to the College’s marine biology program. “I did a little checking up and found that they were in need of a boat like mine to survey the ocean and teach students how to work the sonar, radar, GPS and to navigate,” says the former New York retailer who retired to Bluffton, S.C., in 2005. “I thought that this was the best use of a boat that gave me so much pleasure. This was a way to get a new purpose out of it.” And what better purpose than education? The addition of the 2008 boat, valued around $150,000 and equipped with twin Yamaha 250 outboards and tons of high-end electronics, allows students and faculty members to pursue a new range of offshore research. “I love to hear how much the students are enjoying my boat,” says Sneddon, who gets periodic updates from students and staff. “It makes me feel good about giving it to them. I’m really glad I did it.”
CLASS NOTES 1975 Aubry Alexander serves on the [ attention, all alumni ] The College of Charleston Alumni Association will vote on proposed bylaw changes at the Alumni Association’s Annual Meeting on May 5, 2012. The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the College’s Physicians Memorial Auditorium. All alumni are invited to attend. The proposed changes may be viewed online at alumni.cofc.edu. To have a copy of the proposed changes mailed to you, contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 843.953.5630.
1942 Morris Rosen, founder of Rosen,
Rosen & Hagood, received the James Louis Petigru Award from the Charleston County Bar Association. The award recognizes individuals who bring honor to the legal profession and is the highest recognition bestowed by the Charleston County Bar Association.
1951 Stacy Latto Poydasheff is the
chair of the Columbus, Ga., Council of Garden Clubs and serves on the Keep Columbus Green Commission. She also volunteers with the Columbus Library Foundation. George Rabb, retired director of Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo, has been nominated for the 2012 Indianapolis Prize, the world’s preeminent honor for animal conservationists.
1955 Jim Anderson, a retired CofC math
professor, was elected to the Cougar Club Board.
1957 Pano Lamis is the chief medical
National Monument: Where the Civil War Began was named Book of the Year at the Souvenir Wholesale Distributors Association Convention in Las Vegas. Doug is the author of 20 books, many of them about Lowcountry history. Martha Flanagin Cole works for Carolina One Real Estate in Mt. Pleasant.
1977 Frances Bramlett and Russell
Wallace were married in October. Frances is the director of donor relations for The Citadel Foundation and serves on the College’s Alumni Association board of directors.
1978 Greg Cummings has retired as
senior vice president of manufacturing for Philip Morris in Richmond, Va. Greg serves on the Claflin University Board of Trustees in Orangeburg, S.C. Debra Turner is the managing partner with WebsterRogers, a regional accounting and consulting firm. Debra is based in the firm’s Charleston office.
1980 Carolyn Burroughs Muller is the
vice president of claims with Auto-Owners Insurance Company. Carolyn and her husband, Barry, live in Dewitt, Mich. Catherine Poydasheff Ross is a teacher at Frank R. Loyd Elementary School in Fort Benning, Ga.
1981 Lisa Bollinger Burbage is the
officer for Atlanta Medical Center/Tenet.
1966 Ken Bonnette retired from being
1982 George Cobb is a professor and chair
1970 Laura Blanchard is a certified
financial planner with Ameriprise Financial Services in Myrtle Beach.
1971 Bobby Marlowe is the College’s
senior vice president for economic development. Bill Neely retired from his post as chief district judge for the State of North Carolina and is now an independent alternative dispute resolution professional. Bill and his family live in Asheboro, N.C.
1972 Bud Ferillo is the director of
strategic and presidential communication for the University of South Carolina. Jane Riley and Jim Gambrell were married in November. Jane is the executive director of Communities in Schools of the Charleston Area and a member of the College’s Alumni Association board of directors.
1974 Chanda Fripp Vick is the director of
global opportunities at Trident Technical College.
1976 Doug Bostick’s book Fort Sumter
vice chair of the College’s School of the Arts Council. Lisa works with Carolina One Real Estate in Charleston.
provost of Charleston Southern University.
Charleston City Council.
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of Baylor University’s environmental science department. George is also the president of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.
1983 Teresa Bormes Akins is the
facilities coordinator for Red Ventures, which was voted best place to work in the Charlotte area. Lenora Plowden James is the operations director in business insurance–strategic planning and execution at Travelers Insurance in Hartford, Conn. Mark Mixson has left his post of senior counsel and full-time trial attorney for the City of New York and is now an attorney with offices in Summerville and Hollywood, S.C. He is also the leading founder of Charleston’s new Threshold Repertory Theatre on Society Street.
1984 Patricia Herring McAbee is the
first president of the emerging project Dream Big Greenville, which aims to link people with unique local experiences in Greenville, S.C. Marc New is a gastroenterologist in Charleston and was elected to the Cougar Club Board.
1985 Chrissy Parke Booth is the vice
president for planned giving and development for the Nashville Area United Methodist Foundation. She lives in Clarksville, Tenn., with her husband, Bill, and their two sons. Gwen McCullough is a benefits counselor and leave administrator in the College’s Office of Human Resources.
1986 Bobby Creech is a representative for
the College’s Alumni Association on the Cougar Club Board. Bobby is a partner and CPA with WebsterRogers in Charleston. Betsy Thrailkill Tetsch is the owner and founder of CanvasOne.com and facilitates sales training for Sales Performance International. Betsy and her husband, Christian, live in Taylors, S.C., with their two daughters, Madelene and Iris.
1987 Laura Workman McConnell is a
research chemist at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center of the USDA and was named a Fellow of the Division of Agrochemicals by the American Chemical Society.
1990 Frank Metzger is a project manager for Linden Construction in Charleston. Amanda Watson Smith is a budget manager in the College’s Office of Budgeting and Payroll Services.
1991 Malia Towles Dunn has retired
from her 18-year career as a classroom teacher and is now a math coach at McBee (S.C.) Elementary School. She also teaches human growth and development at Coker College in Hartsville. She and her husband, Paul, live in Cheraw. Melissia Gambrell Ford and her husband, Billy, are proud that their son, Kyle, is attending the College and majoring in studio art. Craig Tangeman is the director of clinical nonlabor practice at Huron Healthcare. Craig and his wife, Cayce Cole Tangeman ’97, and daughter, Anna Leigh, live in Hanahan, S.C.
1992 Sara Greenslit won the Ronald
Sukenick/American Book Review Innovative Fiction Prize for As if a Bird Flew by Me and the Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction for The Blue of Her Body. Sara earned an MFA in poetry from Penn State and lives in Madison, Wisc., where she is a smallanimal veterinarian. Margaret Carmody Hagood is the co-editor of The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, which is the only literacy journal published exclusively for literacy advocates of older learners. Margaret is an associate professor of teacher education at the College. Kevin Smith was elected to the Cougar Club Board.
1993 Michael and Amy Burdette Cash
announce the birth of their son, Turner Charles, born in March 2011. The Cash family lives in Hillsborough, N.C. Jay Davis (M.P.A.) is an attorney and partner with Young Clement Rivers in Charleston and
| Photo by Duane Rieder |
[ alumni profile ]
A Little Operatic When was the last time you went to an opera? Yeah, that’s exactly what Andres Cladera ’99 thought. And he’s hoping to change that. “We’re trying to take the stigma out of opera,” Cladera says. You know the stigma he’s talking about: the horns, the helmet, the stuffy culture, the overblown acting. And, of course, the singing fat lady. “We want to shake operas up, do them in a small setting where people can see the opera singers, see the orchestra and actually connect,” says Cladera, the co-founder and artistic director of the aptly named Microscopic Opera Company. Performing its extremely intimate chamber operas in off-beat venues in Pittsburgh, Pa., where audiences can see every breath and hear every creak in the stage, Microscopic Opera Company takes everything you thought you knew about opera and flips it on its head. Cladera’s mission is to expose unusual suspects to the centuries-old art form through intimate and cutting-edge
chamber performances. And his vision tests the boundaries of both form and function. Consider some of his recent work: an opera about Julia Child, an adaption of Roald Dahl’s famous book The Fantastic Mr. Fox and two productions based on science fiction novels. And such creativity is working. The Microscopic Opera Company “attracts people who like the idea of opera being different,” says Cladera, who often holds post-show discussions with his audience. He recently learned after a production of Three Decembers that four out of five of those in attendance had never previously been to an opera. Cladera himself was just a child when he not only saw, but also performed in his first opera, Massenet’s Werther, in his native Uruguay. “From then on, I knew I wanted to be in the world of opera,” says Cladera, who became a conductor in Uruguay and calls his transfer to the College a few years later (in 1995) “a bit of a detour.” But it was a happy one: The dual degrees in piano and vocal performance
that he earned at the College led him to an audition at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, where he then earned his master’s in orchestral conducting. “It was going back to my roots in a sense,” he says. “I’m more of a social person, so being a pianist was just not enough – I needed the interaction with other people.” Cladera is passionate about performing contemporary music as opposed to traditional scores because he thinks it’s important to promote living composers. “It’s so hard for them to get funding,” he explains. “And this is the work that people will look back on a hundred years from now in the same way that we look back and are inspired by the past.” It’s also an “incredible artistic thrill,” Cladera says, to be able to collaborate directly with a composer and bring a “blank canvas” to life. But Cladera’s work is not without its challenges. Just as composers today are struggling to get their work from the page to the stage, Cladera, who is also artistic director for Renaissance City Choirs, Pittsburgh’s only GLBT choir, is under the same pressure. “It’s a fine balance between the artistic work and the background, or business, work that allows you to do the artistic. And it’s harder and harder to get people to give you money,” he says, adding that– despite the challenges of fundraising – Pittsburgh is a “city of foundations” that’s extremely supportive of the arts. Here’s hoping Denver is the same way, as the former Outstanding Young Conductor of the Association of Choral Directors of America (2007) recently moved from Pittsburgh to the Mile-High City, where he is joining his partner and planning to expand Microscopic Opera. “It will definitely be a challenge,” says Cladera, who will continue to fly back to Pittsburgh for Microscopic Opera performances. “It’s a little bit like starting over: It’s building all new relationships, finding all new sources of funding and discovering all new talent.” And, of course, breaking down age-old barriers to cultivate a love of opera in a new community – for a new audience. All in all, says Cladera, “It’s an amazing opportunity.” – Abi Nicholas ’07
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a member of the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel. Patricia Holsclaw is the marketing and distribution manager of Home House Press in Charleston. Mitchell Ray is the agent-in-charge of the Charleston County office of the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services. West Riggs is the managing director and head of Asia equity capital markets for Piper Jaffray in Hong Kong.
1994 Greg Banks is head trainer for the U.S Women’s World Cup soccer team. Jack Patterson is a life and health insurance broker for Resource Financial Services. Jack and his family live in Burlington, N.C.
1995 Jonas Bronk lives in Playa Vista, Calif. Joe Fischbein is the owner and business manager of Five Loaves Cafe and Sesame Burgers and Beer in Charleston. Bill and Jacque Rogers Foster announce the birth of their second child, Sullivan June, born in January 2011. The Foster family lives in Greenville, S.C. Michael Rutenberg is the assistant principal of Myrtle Beach High School. Michael Scarafile is the president of Carolina One Real Estate. Jason and Marcie Walker Walters live in Summerville, S.C., with their two daughters, Ashley Anne and Macy Marie. Marcie works with Dorchester School District 2. Christine Nelson Wilkinson is the executive director of the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority.
1996 Ni-cole Mullinax Bernier graduated
from The Management Academy 2011, a yearlong leadership-development program facilitated by the S.C. Hospital Association. Ni-cole is the service excellence manager for ambulatory care services at the MUSC Medical Center. Jeannie Chapman is a tenured associate professor at the University of South Carolina Upstate. Lori Roberts Donovan received the Young Optometrist of the South Award at the 88th SECO International meeting in Atlanta in June. John Kennerty is the owner of Exo Creative, a design and marketing agency in Lithia, Fla.
1997 Tony Bevilacqua was named
Worcester Technical High School’s 2012 Teacher of the Year. Tony is a history and language arts teacher in Newark, Del. Brett and Bess Brockington Bluestein ’02 announce the birth of their daughter, Sara Libbert “Libby,” born in October. Brett is a member of the College’s Alumni Association board of directors. Russell Byrd (see Lara Caulder Byrd ’01) Jessica Eovino has moved to Charlotte, where she continues to work for Maersk Line. Kelly and Henry Leventis announce the birth of their second child, Henry Cabell “Cab” Leventis Jr. The Leventis family lives in Fredericksburg, Va., where Henry is a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice. Peter Phillips is an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina in Charleston. Matt Snipes is a senior loan officer with PrimeLending in Charleston. Cayce Cole Tangeman ’97 (see Craig Tangeman ’91)
1998 Seth Anderson works in the Center
for Instructional Technology at Duke University. Britt Reagin is an orthodontist at Reagin Orthodontics in Summerville, and was featured
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in the Summerville Journal Scene’s 2011 Business Focus publication for his work as an orthodontist and community leader. Alex and Laura Flinn Whitworth announce the birth of their daughter, Rosalind Hilary, born in August 2010. Laura received her Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Washington in 2006. The Whitworths live in Sheffield, England.
Colby and Stephanie Wall Rankin announce the birth of their daughter, Elizabeth Clark, born in December. The Rankin family lives in Mt. Pleasant. Mandy Schmieder performed Separation Anxiety, a one-woman show, during the 2011 Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston. Mandy lives in New York City. Drew Stritch (see Kerry Brady-Stritch ’99)
1999 Stephanie Bibbs received her J.D.
2001 Lara Caulder Byrd is an ordained
from John Marshall Law School in 2003 and is now a union summer site coordinator for the AFL-CIO. Kerry Brady-Stritch and Drew Stritch ’00 announce the birth of their daughter, Rowan Kathleen, born in November. They live in Mt. Pleasant. Willis and Susanne Buck Cantey announce the birth of their second child, James Willis Cantey IV, born in September. The Cantey family lives in Charleston, where Susanne is vice president of Jupiter Holdings. Jake Elliott is the assistant coach of the College’s new sand volleyball team. Brian Hines is a sales representative for ServiceMaster of Charleston. Aimee and John Tiller announce the birth of their second child, Lillian Claire, born in August. The Tiller family lives in Mt. Pleasant. Derrick Williams is a commissioner with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission in Columbia.
2000 Steven and Kate Creech Cabral were Ashley Jones Smith ’00
married in November. was a bridesmaid. The Cabrals live in Bermuda, where Kate is the sales manager for foodservice company Butterfield and Vallis. Chris and Courtney Blandford Challoner announce the birth of their daughter, Caroline Porter, born in August 2010. Courtney is a medical device sales representative, and Chris is a contracts manager at Main Industries, specializing in surface preparation and coating. The Challoner family lives in Norfolk, Va. Justin Craig is an environmental scientist with Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure Group in Melbourne, Fla. Caroline Cuccia is the president of Junior Achievement of Southern Massachusetts and is an alumni committee co-chair/board member for Leadership SouthCoast and the volunteer chair at Your Theatre in New Bedford, Mass. Brian Cummings is a financial consultant at the National Bank of South Carolina in Charleston. Kris and Margaret Seeley Furniss announce the birth of their son, Colin Archer, born in July. They have also opened a second Caviar and Bananas gourmet market and cafe in Charleston’s newly renovated Market Street Great Hall. Jason and Mary Leppard Gwardiak announce the birth of their daughter, Elise Lynn, born in April 2011. The Gwardiak family lives in Anderson, S.C. Kate Martin received the Investigative Reporters and Editors’ 2011 Rural Computer-Assisted Reporting Fellowship, a weeklong boot camp in journalistic principles for rural reporters. David Lee Nelson’s play Status Update was named one of the top three touring shows for the 2010–11 Dallas–Fort Worth Theatre Season by the Dallas–Fort Worth Theatre Critics. Tori Pooser Rolack earned a master’s in early childhood education from the University of Phoenix in March 2011 and has been teaching in Catholic schools for 10 years. She and her husband, Kevin, live in Columbia.
full elder in the S.C. Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and is a commissioned chaplain in the U.S. Navy. Her husband, Russell Byrd ’97, is a community plans and liaison officer at the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. Jeremy and Desiree Runey Clement ’02 announce the birth of their daughter, Zoey Ann, born in June. Jeremy is the director of finance and planning for the College’s Information Technology Division, and Desiree works for Advintage Distributing. Florencia DiConcilio composed a new concerto for piano and orchestra, which was premiered in November at the Solis Theatre in Montevideo, Uruguay. The piece was commissioned by the Orquesta Filarmonica de Montevideo and was performed with Swiss conductor Thomas Herzog and pianist Enrique Graf, the College’s artist-in-residence. Shelina and Kevin Flarisee announce the birth of their son, Kaden Alexander, born in November 2010. The Flarisees live in Goose Creek, S.C. Taylor Houser Houser is the director of alumnae for Academy of the Sacred Heart. She and her husband, Ross, live in New Orleans. Rose Marie Hussey Johnson (M.P.A.) works in strategic planning and risk management for Coastal Carolina University’s Office of University Counsel and lives in Myrtle Beach. James King is the pharmacy supervisor for Select Health of South Carolina in Charleston. Suzanne and David Regan announce the birth of their child, Emmerson Rose, born in October 2010. David works for Blue Mountain Management in Charlotte and is involved with management for Tim Reynolds of TR3/Dave Matthews Band and with the international touring band Perpetual Groove. Ellis Roberts and Mary Mitchell were married in August 2010 and live in Charleston. Ellis graduated from Elon University School of Law. Megan Sadler (M.E.S.) is an attorney with Wishart Norris Henninger & Pittman in Charlotte. Megan earned her J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law, where she was admitted to the Order of the Coif and was an editor for The Wake Forest Law Review. Megan is on the board of directors of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce’s Engage Charlotte council and is the board chair for Ten Thousand Villages of Cotswold. Morgan Arvidson Todd is a family medicine practitioner at Wilmington Health Family Medicine on Oak Island, N.C. Phil and Allie Phelps Zaubi are married and live in Charleston, where Phil is the director of technology at Porter-Gaud School and Allie is an adjunct professor of Spanish at the College. Allie earned her master’s in education from the College in 2009.
2002 Bess Brockington Bluestein (see Brett Bluestein ’97) Jonathan Brilliant is a visiting artist at Coastal Carolina University. Last year, he received a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant, and he is also an S.C. Arts Commission fellow for 2011–12.
[ alumni profile ]
She’s Got the Look Leah-Lane Lowe ’00 always knows how to dress the part. Whether she’s talking shop with Gregg Allman or the nation’s leading scientist in liver disease, running around the set of last year’s Hollywood thriller Contagion or a clinic in Uganda, visiting with representatives from the Saudi Ministry of Health or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – there’s nothing a simple wardrobe change won’t take care of. “When I’m at work, I wear my costume – it’s my suit of honor and respect. It gives me confidence,” laughs Lowe, assistant director of public-private partnerships with the National Foundation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (where fellow alumna Chloe Knight Tonney ’84 is the vice president for advancement). “I like making a difference between my professional persona and my personal persona. At home, I show my personality a little more – that’s how I get my artsy side out these days.” Back in her days as a studio art major, Lowe never dreamed she’d one day have so many professional hats – serving as a spokesperson for the CDC Foundation, staging high-profile fundraising events, launching initiatives like the Viral Hepatitis Coalition, developing project solicitations for corporations and foundations, among other things. “When I was in college, that there was something like this out there for me was not even a thought. But it was the College that led me down a direct path to public policy and public health,” says Lowe, who discovered the nascent women’s and gender studies minor her freshman year. From there, she began interning at the Center for Women, where she studied nonprofit organizations and fundraising events and even coordinated the center’s first annual Women’s Art Show. “All I had to do is follow what I love – and it led me down a path that fulfills all of the things I’m passionate about,” says Lowe, who earned her master’s in public policy from Georgia State University. “I couldn’t have imagined that I would make my living and fulfill my passion for advocacy at the same time. I think that’s the beauty of a liberal arts education – you just pick up some things here and
some things there, and eventually it leads you to where you’re supposed to be.” Headquartered near the CDC offices in Atlanta, Lowe’s job leads her all over the world – building bridges between governments, the WHO, private-sector companies and scientists … and raising money, too. In fact, since 2006, she has raised over $36 million for CDC programs focused on diseases with potentially devastating impacts on global health: rabies, sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis, HIV, malaria. Recently Lowe has been concentrating on viral hepatitis, including hepatitis C, which was in the United States blood system until 1992. “So, if you had a blood transfusion before 1992, there’s a chance you have hepatitis C. But you wouldn’t know, because you might not have symptoms until you get liver cancer,” says Lowe, whose commitment to raising awareness about viral hepatitis led to a backstage pass to join the Allman Brothers, Phil Lesh, Natalie Cole and Crosby and Nash after their concert benefiting the
disease last summer. “To me, this is a movement. There’s a huge death curve anticipated over the next 20 years – and it’s completely fixable. Aside from people not understanding that they could be at risk, the major thing that’s in the way is the stigma.” That’s something that Lowe is addressing in the documentary series (filmed by fellow alumnus Lee Waldrep ’98) she is making through the Viral Hepatitis Action Coalition. The goal is to put a face on the disease and break down the stigma. “The filmmaking has been eye-opening for me,” says Lowe. “Going into different people’s homes and seeing the faces, the people, behind the statistics and the numbers: That really brought it home for me.” The filmmaking brought something else home, too: her creative, artistic side. And, Lowe has to admit, “It feels good to get a little creative while I’m wearing my grownup clothes!” – Alicia Lutz ’98
S PRI N G 2 0 1 2 |
The Mane Attraction when it comes to fears, most people would put insects in their top 10. Hairy insects? Those might even crack the top five. But for Adrienne Antonson ’04, they are the most beautiful things in the world. The 29-year-old artist/designer has recently made a name for herself on an international scale by creating one of the odder, yet surprisingly beautiful types of art: scale models of insects … from human hair. Yeah, read that last phrase again. But here’s the best part: She’s actually normal. Married. Has only one cat. Loves clothes. She doesn’t sneak up on homeless people who are asleep at the bus station and cut their hair. She actually gets it from loved ones and friends. “It’s not like I just take any hair,” Antonson laughs. “It has to be somebody I’m connected with. Basically, I have to be comfortable enough to say, ‘Save me your hair.’” How this whole thing started was back during her college days when her roommate at the time would shed all over the apartment. Antonson, a studio art major, hated the idea of throwing the beautiful blond locks away, so she creatively repurposed it. Naturally, she used it to make lingerie. (And you thought making bugs out of hair was, well, different.) It was the challenge of working with such a stubborn material that Antonson relished. Eventually, lingerie turned into insects, which she had loved ever since she was a little girl. Last year, her insect sculptures caught the eye of the folks at Ripley’s Believe It or Not, who were so enamored by the hairy creatures that they bought the remaining six. “At first I thought it was a joke,” Antonson recalls about the phone call with Ripley’s. But after determining they weren’t pulling her leg (the check they wrote went a long way in helping that), she was over the moon. “I love the idea. I love strange, odd, reality-defying things and objects. So to have my work there is really very cool.” Each of Antonson’s insects takes several days to make: a labor of love that actually left her feeling a little sad when all of them were bought by Ripley’s. But now
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[ alumni profile ]
she’s back up to about 30 and says they keep getting better and better. Although Antonson’s insects – which range in price from $350 to $2,000 – have become increasingly intricate, her method is simple and methodical: She uses adhesives to manipulate the hair into forms, making each body part separately. Once they’re dry, she assembles them together like a puzzle. “I’m like an old man in his basement building model trains,” she jokes. “Only I don’t use one of those giant magnifyingglass–light things.” Then, Antonson meticulously paints it, using insect books and her imagination as a guide. The end result is a sculpture so insanely real you might be tempted to squeal or step on it. Obviously, Antonson prefers you buy it instead. – Bryce Donovan ’98 S PRI N G 2 0 1 2 |
Desiree Runey Clement (see Jeremy Clement ’01) Ryan Eleuteri’s Charleston Bold & Spicy Bloody Mary Mix won Garden & Gun Magazine’s 2011 Made in the South Award for the food category. Millie Embree is an assistant professor at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in New York City. Ned Goss is the dockmaster for the College’s topranked sailing program. Jerri Johnson is the executive director of Morningside of Orangeburg. Jerri and Tony Still were married in December. Courtney Lepianka is the marketing manager with Valvoline International in The Netherlands. Tre Lucas is the vice president of business optimization for Centerplate, a hospitality company based in Stamford, Conn. Tre is also a graduate student in Columbia University’s sports marketing program. Jason and Carissa Lentz Stephens announce the birth of their third child, Dean Everette, born in July. Carissa is a registered nurse at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas.
2003 Ryan DeAntonio is the operations
manager for BenefitFocus on Daniel Island. Josh and Sarah Permenter Hays announce the birth of their son, Caleb Alexander, born in August. Josh is a senior programmer at Automated Trading Desk in Mt. Pleasant, and Sarah is the owner of YuDu Concierge Services. Allison Hicks Kaczenski is the director of annual giving for Oxford College of Emory University. Corrie Gilchrist Manis is the assistant director of individual giving at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. Jermel President was chosen to participate in Leadership South Carolina. Jermel is the program director for the DAE Foundation in Charleston and serves on the College’s Alumni Association board of directors. Ed Short is the associate director for Russell House operations at the University of South Carolina, and he lives in Lexington, S.C. Crystal Smith and Kyle Connelly were married in October. Crystal’s play Til Death Do Us Part made it to the semifinals of Little Fish Theatre’s Pick of the Vine competition. Ashley Vaughan is a land acquisition manager with Lennar’s coastal Carolina division. Jessica Via and Stephen Smith II were married in August 2010 and live outside of Atlanta, where Jessica is a claims representative with the Social Security Administration. Travis and Amy Wheeler Warren announce
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the birth of their daughter, Alicia Kanikele, born in May. Amy earned her master’s in interior design from Savannah College of Art and Design and is a commercial real estate paralegal for Kitchens Kelley Gaynes in Atlanta. The Warrens – who were married in 2003 – live in Milton, Ga. Margaret Dover Wilson is a project manager in the grants division of the Appalachian Council of Governments in Greenville, S.C. She is also the principal consultant at Upstate Preservation Consultants. Drew Yochum is director of sales and marketing at Tour Management Services and Charleston Harbor Tours.
2004 John Assey received his dental
degree from MUSC’s College of Dental Medicine and has joined his father, Dr. C. Timothy Assey, at his practice in Mt. Pleasant. Matthew Bennett lives in Hong Kong. Jenifer Kampsen Carreras is a Fellow to the Supreme Court of Georgia Committee on Justice for Children and an attorney practicing child welfare and family law at the Law Office of Jen Carreras. She and her husband live in Roswell, Ga. Preston Cooley is the manager of the plantation house at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston. Deon and Laytora O’Neal Dash announce the birth of their son, Deon “DJ” Dash Jr., born in August. Laytora earned her master’s in education from Montreat College in August 2010 and is the lead teacher for a first–fourth grade classroom at Renaissance Christian School of Excellence in Charlotte. Kathryn Findley and Theodore Beckenhauer were married in October. Kathryn is a claims representative with State Farm Insurance. Casey Burnett Hendricks is an academic adviser in the College’s Academic Advising and Planning Center. She and her husband live in Mt. Pleasant. Peter Jones co-wrote Acrobat, which took first place in the New England division of the Rhode Island International Film Festival’s screenplay contest. Acrobat deals with child molestation and the subsequent cover-up by a local church official. Peter lives in Groton, Mass. Zane Latham is an associate in the credit risk division of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in Stamford, Conn. Tom McCarty is a licensed agent for New York Life Insurance Company in Charleston.
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Natalie Whitney Murdy is the director of marketing and public relations at Middleton Place in Charleston. Katy Pendley and Andrew Evans were married in October 2009. Timmons Pettigrew published his first book, Charleston Beer: A High Gravity History of Lowcountry Brewing. Cameron Banner Renwick is the director of development for the Alzheimer’s Association, Lowcountry and Coastal Regions.
2005 Parks and Jessica McGrail Batten announce the birth of their daughter,
’06 Isabelle McKenna, born in October. The Batten family lives in Charleston. Emily Brown is a staffing specialist for MAU Workforce Solutions’ North Charleston office. Jennifer Bussey, who is working with the Africa Inland Mission, taught nurses how to care for critically ill pediatric patients at Katura State Hospital in Windhoek, Namibia. Nicole Casanova and Matthew Pridgen were married in June and live in Charleston, where Nicole is the house manager for John M. Rivers Jr. Tyler Chewning is an aftermarket parts specialist for American LaFrance in Charleston. Ryan Coker is the district manager for Home Care Assistance of Greater Charleston. Graham Ervin is the director of special events and institutional advancement at the Charleston School of Law. Emily Ferraro is an account executive with Amedisys Home Health Care in Charleston. Kedra Ford is a job recruiter for the nonprofit Man 2 Man Fatherhood Initiative and lives in Bennettsville, S.C.
2006 Josh Atkinson was elected to the
Cougar Club Board and is the sales manager for Atkinson Pools and Spas in Mt. Pleasant. Jessica McGrail Batten (see Parks Batten ’05) Sabatino Covollo is the owner of Sabatino’s Pizza in Charleston. Marcus DeBiasi is the owner of DealerPicture.com, a professional auto-photography company. James and Iesha Johnson Elliott were married in March 2011. Iesha is a human resources generalist for Motley Rice law firm in Mt. Pleasant. Joel and Kathleen Clyde Green were married and live in Summerville, S.C. Kathleen is a compensation analyst at MUSC. Adrienne Hatcher and Matthew McNew were married in October and live in Nashville.
| Photos by Mike Ledford |
[ alumni profile ]
Her Heart Races “I Just didn’t think i could do it. I wasn’t going to make it. I wasn’t going to finish.” It’s unlike Jenny Leiser ’02, who has completed 40 triathlons of varying distances and finished 30 in the top three overall, to have such doubt on race day, but doubt somehow caught up with her at the 2009 Florida Ironman start line. It was her very first attempt at the toughest challenge her “hobby” has to offer – 140.6 miles of swimming, biking and running – and, when a friend hugged her good luck, she “cried like a baby” for five minutes. But, honestly, who can blame her? You imagine swimming the Charleston Harbor, pedaling to Columbia (tired yet?) and then running a marathon around the city and try not to cry! “There’s just so much emotion,” says Leiser. “You get to that start line, and you’re just hoping that everything you’ve been working for for years is all going to be there.” Fortunately for Leiser, it was. She quickly recovered her composure and had a great race, finishing fourth in her age group and qualifying for the holy grail of triathlons: the 2010 Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii,
where she swam over sea turtles and dolphins faster than anyone else in her age group. That little dip in the Pacific Ocean was eight years in the making. After graduating from the College, where she studied biology and swam competitively, Leiser needed something to do. “When you go from collegiate sports to nothing, you have this gaping hole. Going to work just isn’t enough,” says the chemist in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s crime lab. And so she filled that hole with pre-dawn, post-work and weekend-long training sessions, a schedule made less daunting by the friends awaiting her at the pool and on the road. Her fierce dedication to her sport explains why, when talking about it, she seldom mentions the distances or difficulty. Instead, she recalls how the desert’s uninterrupted beauty propelled her while biking out of Las Vegas, or how in Hawaii she savored running through lava fields and down a long hill that appeared to spill into the ocean and, most important, how she did it all with the world’s best athletes. Although she did worry about when she was going to put on her deodorant in
the beginning of her days as a triathlete, these days Leiser exudes a Zen-like, comewhat-may approach to racing: “I don’t think about what I have ahead of me. I think about what all I have behind me, and I never look back.” And, when that doesn’t work, she just reminds herself: “You can do anything for 15 minutes. You can do anything one more time,’” she emphasizes. “Sometimes that’s the difference between making your race and not making it.” Celebrating little milestones along the way helps, too – as does looking to her fellow elite athletes for inspiration. It’s a practice that helps her reach the finish line while reminding her there are more important things than finishing. Like the time she was riding up a hill “that was not very fun to ride up” and she “wasn’t having a good time,” when along came this “normal bike, normal looking guy, pedaling the exact same hill with one leg. It kind of puts things into perspective,” she remembers, “when you realize how thankful you are just to be there.” Even if it is at the start line of a very long race. – Jamie Self ’02 S PRI N G 2 0 1 2 |
Sean Houston is the director of broadcasting and media relations with the Charleston RiverDogs. Jillian Irizarry works for Pegasystems in New York City. Claire Jarvis received a Rotary scholarship to study in Latin America and taught history in Chile. Jessica Junkins is a project manager for Twelve South, a Mt. Pleasant–based company that creates accessories exclusively for Apple computer products. Brad and Diane Haynsworth Kalota were married in October 2010 and live in Charleston. Bree Laughrun is an assistant public defender in Charlotte. Alex Lumans received a fellowship to attend the MacDowell Colony (Peterborough, N.H.) to work on a novel. Nicholas and Jaclynn Richards Lyden announce the birth of their son, John Francis Lyden II, born in March 2011. The Lyden family lives in Summerville, S.C. Shannon Malmstrom is an audit senior in data analytics with Freddie Mac in Washington, D.C. Laura Melonas is a client services representative for The Little Black Book’s Charleston office.
Michael and Julia Brewer Tarwater were married in May. Julia works in strategic communications for Carolinas HealthCare System. Emily Tyner is the communications manager in governmental affairs for Ducks Unlimited in Washington, D.C. Paul and Molly Brailsford West announce the birth of their daughter, Maryjane Brailsford, born in April. The West family lives in Charleston. Renee Wilkins Giddens is an executive assistant for the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society and lives in Raleigh, N.C.
2007 Lynette Andrews has been
working in the hotel industry in Boston and was awarded an assistantship by George Washington University to pursue her master’s in tourism administration. Christina Callison and Dennis Kubinski were married in September. Christina is a member of the College’s Alumni Association board of directors. Phillip Chisholm is a graduate student at the School of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.
Julie Dolan is a newscaster for WTVW Channel 7 in Evansville, Ind. Max Gouttebroze is the entertainment media strategist for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and lives in Los Angeles. Kirk Jennings received his graduate degree from the College in 2008 and is a senior tax accountant with Grant Thornton International in Columbia. Joel Labuzetta competed in the National Sailing League team racing showcase regatta hosted in conjunction with the 30th Annual Boston Harborfest in July. Joel is the junior program director for the Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis, Md. Kelly Laurendi is a graduate student in Tufts University’s occupational therapy program and is an assistant coordinator of residential living at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Mass. Dan McCurry’s indie rock band Run Dan Run has released its sophomore album, Normal. While his bandmates Ash Hopkins and Nick Jenkins ’05 are spread out across the East Coast, Dan lives in Charleston.
[ passages ] Catherine Amme Himelright ’36
Marion Sass ’52
Melissa Wood Sauer ’91
Elizabeth Hyde Patton ’38
Edith Ann Quattlebaum Eddy ’55
Andrea Price Madera ’93
G. Luther Rosebrock Sr. ’38
J. Creighton Mitchell III ’56
Maree Eason McConnell ’97
Florence Clauss Chapman ’39
Carl Taylor ’61
Gail Pfaff ’98
Wilhelmina Coleman Seawright ’40
William Regan ’63
Allyson Plowden ’00
George Bonnoitt ’41
Louis Andrews ’66
Randall Walters ’01
Sue Royall Horton ’41
Brenda Greene ’78
Lyndsey Swicord Thaxton ’02
Virginia Gaetjens Lee ’41
Fletcher Johnson Jr. ’79
Brandi Shaw McGee ’04
Georgiana de More Whitlock McNaughton ’41
Chandra Smith ’80
Jonathan Arrowood ’06
Shepard Levine ’81
Nicholas Cuomo ’07
James McGeehan ’81
Morgan Hall ’09
Sybil Howell Streit ’84
September 30; Alachua, Fla.
T. Miles Newbern (student) January 7; Aulander, N.C.
Carol Garrett Way ’85
Ryan Grand (student)
Michelle Moody Livingston ’87
Peter Rowe (former faculty)
James Lovett ’87
Jack McCray (former staff)
Marion Tilson Staubes ’88
Neal Baker (past Cougar Club board member)
September 20; Summerville, S.C. August 23; Hamden, Conn.
September 16; Mt. Pleasant, S.C. December 15; Charlotte, N.C. July 12; Inman, S.C.
May 22; Tucker, Ga.
August 15; Rock Hill, S.C. October 28; Charleston, S.C. August 21; Charleston, S.C.
Henry Donato Sr. ’43
July 20; Charleston, S.C.
Anne Koster Donato ’44
October 19; Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
William Chamberlain ’45 January 10; Charleston, S.C.
Jonolyn Stehmeyer Wilson ’46 November 15; Portland, Ore.
Preston Blanton Jr. ’48
October 6; Folly Beach, S.C.
Dolores Riggs Reuter ’48 January 7; Charleston, S.C.
Mitchell Stork ’49
October 27; McLean, Va.
James Dorn ’52
November 1; Charleston, S.C.
July 12; Charleston, S.C. December 12; Ithaca, N.Y.
September 6; Summerville, S.C. March 16, 2008; Iva, S.C. August 25; Charleston, S.C. December 29; Johns Island, S.C. November 5; Anderson, S.C. December 19; Bluffton, S.C. October 25; Columbia, S.C. July 15; Lynchburg, S.C. August 18; Long Beach, N.Y.
December 27, 2011; Roswell, Ga. April 25, 2008; Charleston, S.C. August 27; Charlotte, N.C. July 24, 2010; Charleston, S.C.
Mary White Furches ’90
January 3; Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
Laura Wright Brown ’91 October 28; Bluffton, S.C.
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November 1; Roswell, Ga.
June 15; Chevy Chase, Md.
August 27; Charleston, S.C. July 12; Pendleton, Ore.
November 3; Columbia, S.C. September 25; Charlotte, N.C. September 28; Daniel Island, S.C.
September 24; North Charleston, S.C. December 6; Greenville, S.C. September 22; Charleston, S.C. August 1; Alexandria, Va.
November 15; Atlanta, Ga. October 4; Bradenton, Fla.
November 9; Charleston, S.C. August 24; Charleston, S.C.
Benedict Marino (past Foundation board member) November 3; Kiawah Island, S.C.
David and Melissa Glasscock Meverden were married in April. Melissa is pursuing a master’s in curriculum and instruction at the American College of Education. Alissa Mroz is the education and outreach coordinator at North Carolina Dance Theatre in Charlotte. Russ O’Reilly was chosen for the National Sailing League team racing showcase regatta hosted in conjunction with the 30th Annual Boston Harborfest in July. Russ is currently the head sailing coach at SUNY Maritime. Holly Rickards is a total account manager for government and military business in the Washington, D.C.–metro market for Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Matthew Tillman (see Sydney Burroughs ’08) Erin Walsh is a fifth-grade math teacher at Devon Forest Elementary School in Goose Creek, S.C.
2008 Karen Abernathy is a logistics
management specialist for the U.S. Army’s Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command in Michigan. Danielle Smith Burke earned a master’s in higher education administration from Vanderbilt University in May 2010 and is a resident director at Concordia University in Chicago. Sydney Burroughs and Matthew Tillman ’07 were married in June 2009. Sydney is a kindergarten teacher, and Matt is a dentist in Johnson City, Tenn. Aaron Edwards received his master’s in accountancy from the University of Southern California in 2009 and now works in the Los Angeles office of Ernst & Young. Ashley Levy Grow is attending the dental hygiene school at Darlington Technical College in Florence, S.C. Holly Harrison is the director of marketing for Sabal Homes in Mt. Pleasant. Catherine Patton Higginbotham is a math teacher at Lexington (S.C.) High School. Jamie and Paxton Candler Keegan were married in June and live in Juno Beach, Fla. Mary Catherine Kennedy is a doctoral student at Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication, School of Media Arts and Studies. Rebecca Neuren lives in Los Angeles and is the manager of the LA Strikers, a USL W-League Pro/Am team. Sean Quinn is an import administration intern for the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration. Julia Ridley (M.S.) is a staff accountant with Jarrard, Nowell & Russell in Charleston. Julia lives on Daniel Island with her husband, Patrick, and son, Jonathan. Courtney Robb and Brent Lewis were married in October and live in Austin, Texas. Michael Routzahn is the events planner for Mosaic Cafe and Catering in Mt. Pleasant. Brandon Sutherland and Meghan Oakley ’09 were married in August. Brandon is the College’s assistant director of annual giving, and Meghan is a special education teacher at Ashley Ridge High School in Summerville, S.C. Gale Thompson’s book of poems, Soldier On, was published by Tupelo Press. Joe Waring is the assistant general manager at the Comfort Suites in North Charleston. Jen Warren is the catering sales and events coordinator at Iron Gate Events by Aramark in Charleston.
2009 Caroleanne Anderson is a special education teacher at West Ashley Middle School in Charleston.
Kaytlin Bailey is the lead assistant director for Grassroots Campaigns in New York City. Gia D’Agostino graduated from the accelerated nursing program at Thomas Jefferson University in June and is now a registered nurse in the ICU at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Ryan Graudin has signed a two-book contract for young adult novels with HarperCollins. Brett Hancock is a certified public accountant for Suggs Johnson in Anderson, S.C. He earned his master’s in professional accountancy from Clemson University. Dane Johnson is pursuing a career in acting and modeling and is represented by Ford Models. Dane lives in Los Angeles. Michael Jowers is an assistant station manager with the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces, and has returned from deployment to Kuwait in support of Operation New Dawn. Michael and his team were awarded the Army Commander’s Award for Civilian Service for delivering over 3,000 emergency messages from military families to service members in Iraq, Kuwait and the Persian Gulf States. Shari Knight-Gillum is the rental events coordinator for the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston. Stacy Mattoon is the front office manager of the Atlanta Marriott Downtown. Carrie McGeehan is the sales coordinator with Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. Schuyler Moffat completed his studies in accounting at the University of South Florida. Jessica Munday is the founder of Trio Solutions, a strategic marketing and communcations services company in Mt. Pleasant. Elisa Mundis and Ryan Strickler are married and live in Charleston. Noelle Nabhani is a benefits administrator for Benefitfocus on Daniel Island. Meghan Oakley (see Brandon Sutherland ’08) Holley Springfield is the undergraduate international admissions adviser at Auburn University. Jeanmarie Tankersley is a graduate student at University of Georgia Law. She is the president of both the Student Bar Association and the Public Interest Law Council. Jeremy Wasko is the front desk representative at the Tides Folly Beach Hotel. Megan Williams is a facilities analyst for The Boeing Company in Washington, D.C. Sarah Jane Wyndham is a sheriff’s deputy for the Georgetown County (S.C.) Sheriff’s Department.
2010 Mike Brideau is a benefits
administrator for Benefitfocus on Daniel Island. Malia Brock and Eric Ketcham were married in August 2010. Malia is a graduate student in Regent University’s human services counseling program. Grant and Sarah Barnes Cheney were married in May and live in Chicago. Sarah is an education and outreach coordinator for Sieben Energy Associates. Maria Cole and Joseph Michael Davis were married in July. Grant Cutler was a 2011 Road Runner for the College’s Office of Admissions (see pages 2–3 about the Road Runner program). Jenna DiForio is the catering sales manager and suite concierge at the North Charleston Coliseum, Convention & Performing Arts Center. James Morgan Keim manages digital advertising projects for Acura at RPA, an advertising agency in Los Angeles.
Sean Kennard returned to campus in November and played at the Sottile Theatre as part of the College’s International Piano Series. Sean has won top prizes at the Viña del Mar, Sendai, Iowa and Vendome international competitions, the National Chopin Competition and the American Pianists Association. He is currently finishing his master’s at the Juilliard School. Gina LaMacchia is a decorative manager with KE Hardware in Maryland. Sarah Morris teaches English at Sadao Kanchai Kamphalanon School in Sadao, Thailand. Henry Rauch is a research associate with New Frontier Capital Advisors in New York City. Cam Saleeby was a 2011 Road Runner for the College’s Office of Admissions (see pages 2–3 about the Road Runner program). Molly Spence is a development associate with Discovery Place in Charlotte. Sallie Truluck works at YesUmay Cookies in Mt. Pleasant. Brittany Warburton is the private dining and catering administrative assistant at Rosewood Hotels and Resorts in the Dallas–Fort Worth area. Kimberly Youngblood is training to teach special education in high-need, low-income schools through the Georgia Teaching Fellows, a Teach for America program.
2011 Uriah Avila is a market research
analyst for Zeus Industrial Products in Orangeburg, S.C. Will Cruthers was a 2011 Road Runner for the College’s Office of Admissions (see pages 2–3 about the Road Runner program). Kyle Ford is a field technician in ECA Carolinas’ Mt. Pleasant office. William Freeman is an account relationship banker with BB&T in Columbia. Jan Gambardella works in marketing for Multiplastics in Mt. Pleasant. Jackson Hoberman is an admissions representative for the College. Miranda Milburn is an advertising sales executive for Franchise Clique in Mt. Pleasant. Jeri Mintzer has started a fellowship at Smart Growth America, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C. Ashley Montano was a 2011 Road Runner for the College’s Office of Admissions (see pages 2–3 about the Road Runner program) and is the sales manager for the new Holiday Inn Express in North Charleston. Claire Morehouse works in sales for LivingSocial in Washington, D.C. Matt Ogden is a management intern with Fleet Transit in Annapolis, Md. Bess Pierce teaches science at Sadao Kanchai Kamphalanon School in Sadao, Thailand. Whitney Russell is a multimedia assistant for the College’s athletics department. Courtney Rutland and Shaun Hornilla were married in December 2010. Thomas Savage is teaching eighth-grade social studies at Rollings Middle School of the Arts in Summerville, S.C. Stephanie Sorrentino is a production editor at Arcadia Publishing in Mt. Pleasant. Ryan Willoughby is the owner of the Octobachi restaurant in Charleston. Chelsea Wright appeared on the Food Network’s Iron Chef last fall as a sous chef for Chef Bob Carter of Charleston’s Peninsula Grill (they lost to Iron Chef Cat Cora). Jessica Wyche is a volunteer with The Children’s Museum of the Upstate in Greenville, S.C.
Check out College of Charleston Magazine’s website at magazine.cofc.edu.
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[ faces and places ] 3
A lot goes on at the College. Here are a few highlight s: 1 Wiesel visit to campus: President Benson, Anit a Zucker (benefac tor of the Zucker/Goldberg Holocaus t Education Initiative) and Nobel L aureate Elie Wiesel 2 Alumni Awards Gala (A AG): Neil Draisin ’65 (Dis tinguished Alumnus Award) and C arolyn Draisin 3 School of Business Wall of Honor Ceremony: Vickie and Tommy Baker 4 Bully Pulpit Series: New t Gingrich (in par tner ship with S.C. Congressman Tim Scot t ’s “Fir s t in the South Presidential Town Hall Series”) 5 School of Business Wall of Honor Ceremony: Dorie and George Spaulding 6 School of Business Wall of Honor Ceremony: Dean Alan Shao, Guy Beat t y, Bet t y Beat t y and President Benson 7 A AG: Belton T isdale, John T isdale ’86 (recipient of the Pre-Medical Societ y ’s Out s t anding Ser vice Award in Medicine) and Sara- Gant t Fit zgerald Tisdale ’56 8 A AG: John Bent z, Kellie Bent z ’04 (Alumna of the Year Award) and C athi Bent z 9 King Street Slam-Dunk Contest: Mindy Miley (assistant vice president, New Student Programs) 10 Smithsonian fossil exper t s at |
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Natural His tor y Museum: Scot t Harris (geology), David Bohaska, Rober t Purdy, Fred Grady and Mark Havens tein 11 Alumni Scholars reception: Lauren Strubeck (Tony Meyer Scholar), Katherine Watkins Strubeck ’80, Lou Strubeck ’80, Chuck Baker ’80, Betsy Bramlett Baker ’81 and Van Sturgeon ’81 12 CNN’s John King broadcas ting from Alumni Hall 13 RE ACH Benefit Gala: Lynne Ford (associate provos t, Academic Af fair s), Don Belk ’00 (Board of Trus tees) and Edie Vards veen Cusack ’90 (direc tor, RE ACH) 14 S.C. Governor Nikki Haley at the Beat t y Center 15 A AG: Colby Rankin, Sandy Krezmien-Funk, Keith Sauls ’90, Trey Har vin ’92 (Howard F. Rudd Jr. Business Person of the Year Award) and Harr y Har vin 16 December Commencement: S.C. Secretar y of Commerce Bobby Hit t 17 A AG: Lenny Branch ’68, Gloria Seithel Silcox ’66 and Billy Silcox ’65 (Alumni Award of Honor) 18 A AG: Caitlyn Mc Ardle ’07, Cyrus Buf fum ’06 (Young Alumnus of the Year Award), Rebecca Buf fum and Persis Buf fum 19 “Word, Shout, Song” exhibit at Aver y Research Center: Jane Benson, Congressman Jim Clyburn, President Benson and Mayor Joe Riley (Charleston) S PRI N G 2 0 1 2 |
The Clock at Green and College Ways When i came to the college in the spring of 1999, I was a nontraditional student. I had left my previous institution to serve with the U.S. Army for four years. As a nontraditional student, I had every intention of not getting involved in college life again. I held true to that the first semester – that is, until I met a group of gentlemen who changed my view of college life. That next fall, I became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha. As a member, I saw that student life was much the same as it had been during my first stint in college. My fraternity brothers and I found many places to hang out around campus. |
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Of those spots, my favorite was “the Clock,” donated by the Class of 1998. It was under the glow of that lighted clock that I was introduced to many of my classmates. The Clock was where I would always find one of my fraternity brothers in between classes. We would converge there and sit on the benches and share our stories about the many happenings and events going on around the College. Even when I didn’t have class, I would find my way to the Clock to sit and wait for one of them to come by. The funny thing is, it was never stated among us that we needed to meet at the Clock – it just happened. If one of us got there at
8 a.m., others would join after their classes, and eventually, you would have our entire fraternity gathered around the Clock. It was just a great place for finding fellowship. Even more than 10 years after graduation, the Clock is still my favorite space on campus. – Michael Williams ’01 Michael is a principal at Clay Hill Middle School in Ridgeville, S.C. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your favorite place on campus and tell us what makes it special to you.
Fortunately, you donâ€™t have to put a tattoo of Clyde on your head to show your love for the College. Simply make a gift to the College of Charleston Fund, which directly supports student scholarships, faculty research and the alumni network. Itâ€™s a great way to show your Cougar devotion and uses a lot less ink!
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Within these pages, you're going to find many stories showcasing the College of Charleston's dynamic and intellectually vigorous culture.We...