Page 1

C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n magaz in e

Into the Wild Justin Jay ’08 will go to the ends of the world to save a species.

S U MME R 2 0 12


ARE YOU IN IT? Summer 2012 Volume XVI, Issue 3 Editor

Mark Berry Art Director

Alfred Hall Managing Editor

Alicia Lutz ’98 Associate Editor

Jason Ryan Photography

Leslie McKellar Contributors

Jessie Bagley ’09 Bryce Donovan ’98 Harlan Greene ’74 Abi Nicholas ’07 Holly Thorpe Jack Tracey Online Design

Larry Stoudenmire Alumni Relations

Tell us what’s new with you. It’s simple. Visit the magazine’s website and update your class notes or visit the Alumni Association website to share your news.

Karen Burroughs Jones ’74 Executive Vice President for External Relations

Michael Haskins Contact us at

magazine@cofc.edu or 843.953.6462 On the Web

magazine.cofc.edu Mailing Address

ATTN: College of Charleston Magazine College of Charleston Division of Marketing and Communications Charleston, SC 29424-0001

|

magazine.cofc.edu alumni.cofc.edu

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.


[ table of contents ]

22 2

16

8

20

88

74

14 26

26 72

A Day in the Life

Departments

32

Around the Cistern

Photo Essay by Leslie McKellar Like many before us and many more to come, we spent some of the best days of our lives at the College of Charleston. Today’s students are no exception. Follow these three students for a day, and see how they’re spending the best days of their lives.

Put Together by Jason Ryan

Life Academic 8 Making the Grade 16 Teamwork 20

46

Point of View

26

Philanthropy

72

Flash Fame

Class Notes

Derrick Niederman is many things: writer, puzzle maker, squash player, math professor – and, perhaps, the most interesting man in the world.

by Alicia Lutz ’98

56

My Space

74

88

Most know him as the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy. Some call him Zeddie. But – before he stumbled into fame, before he went viral and caused the entire Internet to swoon – he was just Watkins Little ’09. And, quite frankly, he still is.

The Wild One by Mark Berry

64

As the human world encroaches deeper into the wilderness, more and more species of animals are in desperate need of protection. For the endangered drill monkeys of Africa’s Equatorial Guinea, Justin Jay ’08 is their champion.

2

on the cover: Justin Jay ’08, photo by Brennan Wesley


AROUND the CISTERN

| (l to r) Barnet Courtyard; Valerie Manatis Barnet ’84 and Bill Barnet |

Space to Create a scene from shakespeare. an outdoor class. A drum circle. A formal reception. A photography exhibition. A string quartet. An improv comedy. There’s a time and place for everything. But, if it has anything to do with the arts, anytime is good at the Barnet Courtyard. “This is a place for spontaneous arts – impromptu performances that come about organically and that are open to outside collaboration and participation,” says Valerie Morris, dean of the School of the Arts, of the College’s new Barnet Courtyard, which opened in April. “The idea is that you can create and see art all the time in this space.” Nestled between the Albert Simons Center for the Arts, the John Rivers Communication Museum and the Sottile |

2

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

Theatre, the Barnet Courtyard is named for Bill and Valerie Manatis Barnet ’84, who donated $100,000 for the School of the Arts to build an outdoor, sustainable space with a connection to the arts. “We hope that our donation will be an extension of the Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts – a place for everything from quiet relaxation and reflection to artistic creation and expression,” says Valerie Barnet, who majored in art history and teaches high school theater in Spartanburg, S.C., where she and her husband helped establish the seven-acre Barnet Park, home to the artsfocused Chapman Cultural Center. Designed as a mini–Barnet Park, the Barnet Courtyard has an open feel and serpentine flow to it and features a

stained concrete performance pad, a sculpture garden, benches and plenty of green space. “It’s a very flexible space,” says Morris. “It gives us an option for event use – formal gatherings, small concerts and theater performances, that kind of thing. But it’s mostly for the students’ use, for informal gatherings. We want the students to come here and create. “We also want it to be a community space,” Morris continues, explaining that the garden – unlike the old, more concealed courtyard that was in its place – opens up onto George Street, making it accessible and inviting to passersby. “It’s available to everyone and anyone – any day, anytime.” And, of course, any art.


AROUND the CISTERN

basil lanneau gildersleeve did not believe in taking things slowly. At 5 years old, the Charlestonian was reading the Gospel of John – in Greek. At age 13, he enrolled at the College before heading on to Pennsylvania’s Jefferson College and then Princeton University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1849 at age 18. After that, the Greek and Latin scholar studied in Europe, where he earned a doctorate from the University of Göttingen in Germany when he was 22. By age 25, he was already a professor at the University of Virginia and embarking on an impressive career of teaching and scholarship in classical philology, or literary studies. In February, the College’s Classics department honored its 19th-century alumnus by hosting the conference Classical Charleston: History, Poetry, and War – Gildersleeve’s Past and Present. Sponsored by the Theodore B. Guérard Fund for Classical Studies, the conference featured lectures by Gildersleeve biographer Ward Briggs, Carolina distinguished professor emeritus of Classics at the University of South Carolina; Gareth Schmeling, professor emeritus at the University of Florida and an expert on the ancient novel; and professors Silvia Montiglio and Anthony Woodman, who are the Gildersleeve chairs at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Virginia, respectively. During the opening lecture, Briggs noted that when Gildersleeve attended the College for a year in 1844, he had only 64 classmates and tuition was $80 a year. The son of a Presbyterian minister who published religious newspapers, he had grown up on Pitt Street and felt a deep identification with his hometown, despite his later wanderings. In his passport, for example, Briggs says Gildersleeve filled in the blank space designating one’s nationality as “Charleston.” Gildersleeve was proud to say, too, that he was “a Charlestonian first, Carolinian next, and then a Southerner.” Naturally, then, Gildersleeve fought for the Confederacy during the Civil

| Photo courtesy of Sheridan Libraries, Johns Hopkins University |

A Real Classic

War, reporting to duty during summers, between teaching responsibilities at the University of Virginia. In 1864, while working under the command of Gen. John B. Gordon, he was shot in the leg as he carried orders. Though he avoided amputation, the wound was serious and his losses manifold. As he said, “I lost my pocket Homer, I lost my pistol. I lost one of my horses, and finally, I came very near to losing my life from a wound which kept me five months on my back.” Following his recovery, he taught for many years at the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins University, earning a reputation as one of America’s foremost classical scholars. Among his most acclaimed writings were “The Creed of the Old South,” a reflection on the South’s involvement in the Civil War published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1892, and –

five years later and also published in The Atlantic Monthly – “A Southerner in the Peloponnesian War,” which compares the American Civil War to the conflict between Athens and Sparta more than 2,200 years earlier. Gildersleeve also founded the American Journal of Philology in 1880 and edited it for more than 40 years. He died in 1924 and is buried in Charlottesville, Va.

[ attention ] In January, the College’s Board of Trustees adopted the 2012 Campus Master Plan, an update of the 2004 plan that provides direction for physical changes that are needed to realize the College’s strategic vision. The 2012 Campus Master Plan represents a year-long effort led by the master planning firm of Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas. Check out the plan’s details at masterplan.cofc.edu.

SUMMER 2012 |

3

|


Train’s “Meet Virginia” was a song that we used to

blast at top volume driving back to Kelly House from Folly Beach my freshman year at CofC (’99-’00). There was a group of us that lived in a few apartments on the first floor that bonded almost immediately upon our arrival at the College, and we headed to the beach whenever we had the chance!! Only two people in our little circle had cars, however, so we pretty much listened to the same CD every time :) Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” was also on there, I believe, and both songs just bring back unbelievable memories of one of the best years ever!!! – Natalie Foertch ’03

FACE-OFF We asked the more than 38,000 people who “like” us on Facebook to help us create a Spotify playlist that reminded them of their days at the College. Here are a few of the suggestions that form our ever-changing soundtrack. Join the discussion on the College’s Facebook page and share your thoughts and memories for the next face-off question.

The Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979” was a huge hit around

“Smoke from a Distant Fire” reminds me of spring/

The Connells’

“Something to Say.”

I was at CofC from ’88 to ’92. If I recall correctly, that album came out in 1987, and it was huge when I was there. It’s just one of those songs/ albums I really associate with my college years. Good times. – Kelley Shull Cannon ’92

I had never heard of ska until No Doubt. They blew onto the more mainstream scene when I was at CofC, and I have forever associated some of their music with college. There is plenty of other music that takes me back, of course, but “Don’t Speak,” “Spiderwebs,” etc., really just bring the memories to life!

my junior or senior year. I just remember listening to it a lot, particularly hanging around our apartment between classes. There was a huge resurgence of all things ’70s around then. I loved the mellow mood of that song, and I guess it reminds me of those mellow, carefree days. Good friends, sunny days and happy times. – Amanda Kennedy-Colie ’96

summer ’77, when I moved from College Lodge to 69 Coming St. (which was living quarters then) for the summer session. It was always on the radio – it was a great summer! I had just turned 20 and spent lots of time at the beach and at the bars (even acing my classes) and riding my bike around Charleston. Charleston was really laid back and unpretentious back then. King Street was delicatessens, thrift shops, etc. Where the Convention Center is now was all old-time storefronts and hangouts ... and the place wasn’t overrun by tourists. Market Street was just that – a market: produce, seafood, etc. People talk about New York in the ’50s or San Francisco in the ’60s (both of them great places), but Charleston in the ’70s was a great place to be young and on your own. – George Donald ’80

– Rebeccah Williams Connelly ’98

Well, I was there from ’90 to ’94. At that time Dillon Fence and Hootie were up and coming. Hootie was not even recording at the

national level. Both groups played at Greek parties across the North and South Carolina area. Something about them told you they would be big. Kind of like our college lives, we were on the cusp of greatness (cheesy, but most 20-year-olds feel this). Then, I remember hanging out at the student center (high floor, fourth maybe), playing pool and watching MTV with other random students. Wilson Phillips was big then. Every other video, it seemed, was them. Especially the song “Hold On.” It was great to listen to during a tough year in college … a great message. – Roseann Sayoc Gapusan ’94

Music takes me back to places all of the time. My roommates and I listened to the Cranberries a lot my freshman year, and “Linger” in particular got regular play. Hearing it now makes me think of that first fall semester, drinking coffee and walking through campus. It’s more about the melody than the lyrics. I think the song is very beautiful. – Stephanie Cusher Davey ’00

Moving to what was then Wentworth Dorms in 1996 as a freshman, I had never even heard of Phish before, but that quickly changed. My suitemates were nearly all true followers, and “Free” was blasted on a frequent basis, as were other Phish songs. But “Free” stood out because it kind of spoke to how I felt being out on my own, moving from Dixiana, S.C., which is about 100 miles up I-26. I have a playlist of songs that remind me of CofC and my time there. I was playing it loudly during my visit recently for A Charleston Affair – even on the drive down to Chucktown from Baltimore: “In a minute I’ll be free and we’ll be splashing in the sea.” Lots of good memories. – Marvell Adams ’00

|

4

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e


AROUND the CISTERN

Campus Icon: Jeri Cabot

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.”

Nobody likes the dean of students. It’s a role that’s the root of all evil in Necessary Roughness, the source of all the buffoonery in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the butt of all the pranks in Old School, the obstacle to all the fun in Animal House. Yet, somehow, Dean of Students Jeri Cabot has had this role for 12 years without being taken down by a fraternity brother, a car explosion or a Homecoming debacle. In fact – for the most part – students even like her. “They used to tease me and call me Dean Wormer when I checked the fridges at the fraternity houses for alcohol. I’d tell them I would put them on double secret probation if I found anything,” laughs Cabot, who admits that there’s some truth to the movies’ caricatures of deans of students, though the part she plays is much more dynamic. “I have to both advocate for the students and hold them accountable. The bottom line is, I’m here to help them find their path to success.” Cabot came to the College in 1989 as a visiting assistant professor of political science and continued to teach as an adjunct when she moved to the positions first of student media coordinator and then of director of student judicial affairs. She played a major role in creating the College’s Division of Student Affairs, too. “I’ve grown up at the College,” she says. “And I want to help our students grow up here, too.” It may not be the most popular part to play, but Cabot pulls it off with so much respect and fairness, she wholly debunks the sullied reputation of the much-maligned dean of students … at least until Hollywood comes out with the next college comedy.


| Courtesy of Spoleto Festival USA; photos by Bill Struhs |

From the President

A Tribute to Spoleto and Ted Stern Each year, Spoleto Festival USA draws tens of thousands of visitors to Charleston, brings priceless national and international exposure to our region, and provides a substantial boost to our economy. And what’s good for Charleston is good for the College of Charleston. As I write this, Spoleto is enjoying another successful run and is on pace to set a record for ticket sales. This year’s festival kicked off on May 24 with a musical performance in the Cistern Yard – the same place where opening ceremonies were held for the inaugural Spoleto Festival on May 25, 1977. But the College is and always has been much more than a venue for Spoleto events. Though it is not widely understood or recognized, the College was critical to the establishment and early success of the festival. Former College president Ted Stern knows this better than anyone. While serving as both president of the College

|

6

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

and chair of the festival’s steering committee in the late 1970s, Ted was in a unique position to marshal the resources of the College to support what was then a fragile start-up organization. “There would be no Spoleto if it wasn’t for the College,” says Stern. “It was the cement that put the whole thing together.” Even the annual dates of the festival – 17 days in late May and early June – were selected based on the College’s academic calendar. Holding the festival between the College’s spring commencement and the beginning of the summer semester ensures that the College’s residence halls and historic homes are available to house festival performers, artists and production crews. For a time, the College and Spoleto were practically one entity. Before it had its own headquarters building to call home, Spoleto was run out of the President’s Office in Randolph Hall. The festival later moved to Wentworth Street in what is today the location of the College’s N.E. Miles Early Childhood Development Center.

Stern and his staff devoted a considerable amount of time, energy and resources to the planning and day-to-day operation of the festival. So much time, in fact, that Stern recalls some members of the College’s Board of Trustees at the time being concerned that he and the College were devoting too much time and too many resources to the festival. Spoleto General Director Nigel Redden says Stern and others, such as Mayor Joe Riley and festival founder Gian Carlo Menotti, had a vision of what the festival could become over time, and they recognized what that would mean to the city and the College. Despite criticism and naysayers, they held fast to this belief. “I think it’s clear that the festival would not be in Charleston were it not for the College of Charleston,” Redden says. The relationship between the College and Spoleto has had, like any other relationship, its ups and downs over the years. I’m pleased to say that today it is as strong as it has ever been. This is due in large part to the College’s unwavering


AROUND the CISTERN

| President Ted Stern at a press conference introducing Spoleto Festival USA in 1977; in the background (l to r): Gian Carlo Menotti (festival founder), Christine Reed (festival general manager) and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley | commitment to support and nurture the assets of Charleston, of which Spoleto is a gem to be treasured and protected. Months before the curtain rises on the first production of the festival, the College is deeply involved in planning and coordination with Spoleto. There are literally hundreds of our students, faculty, staff and alumni involved in all aspects of the festival each year – from stage production and performances to administration and venue and housing logistics. Our Office of Business and Auxiliary Services oversees many of these details and works hard to avoid conflicts between festival activities and College functions. Faculty and students from the School of the Arts produce and perform in various musical and theatrical productions, including the popular Early Music Series and Young Artists Series. The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art develops and organizes festival exhibitions. Our faculty also teach special courses that explore festival programming and offer students unique

opportunities to interact with festival artists and performers. College facilities, such as the Cistern Yard, Sottile Theatre, Robinson Theatre and Simons Recital Hall, serve as primary performance venues. In addition, the College provides rehearsal space, practice areas and dressing rooms before and during the festival. Our arts students receive realworld education and training through internships, fellowships and apprenticeships with Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto. And many of our graduates have gone on to work for Spoleto and the City of Charleston’s Office of Cultural Affairs, which produces the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. One example of the cooperation and mutual respect that exist between our organizations was evident during the 2010–2011 renovation of the Sottile Theatre. Spoleto generously helped fund the renovation and provided invaluable input and technical expertise. The results are a visually and acoustically attractive performance venue.

More than any other unit of the College, our School of the Arts has benefitted most from the success of Spoleto. The festival was instrumental in the early development of our fine arts program, which evolved into the school we have today. Our many connections to the festival help in the recruitment of students and faculty to our arts programs. School of the Arts Dean Valerie Morris and her team have developed such an excellent working relationship with the festival and the city that it is not unusual for her to receive a last-minute call to supply students, technical experts or other resources to support a festival event. She always comes through. All of this synergy exists today because Ted Stern was willing to take a risk and put the College’s support behind an untested idea with enormous potential. Given the success of Spoleto over the past three and half decades, it’s hard to imagine that it almost never happened. Not long after planning for the first festival got under way, a series of unfortunate events, including the resignations of two key festival organizers, nearly caused the festival to go under. Mayor Joe Riley, who was then serving his first term in office, turned to Ted Stern and the College to rescue the festival. And it wouldn’t be the last time that Stern would be asked to navigate the festival through a rough patch. Stern, who will turn 100 on Christmas Day this year, would remain closely involved with Spoleto, including service as president of the Spoleto Foundation. He still carries the title of chairman emeritus. He is quick to deflect credit for his role in helping to establish Spoleto, preferring instead to shine the light on others and on the College as a whole. But Mayor Riley said it best in 1985, when he described how Stern saved Spoleto: “I returned to the business of the city and members of the committee returned to their own responsibilities. Ted, however, was the one, 24 hours a day, who had the complete responsibility of the festival and the enormous ability to pull it off. ... Without Ted Stern, there would never have been a festival in 1977 – or any other year.” – President P. George Benson

SUMMER 2012 |

7

|


LIFE ACADEMIC

His Musical State If you want to inspire him, give Edward Hart ’88 a johnboat and a tank of gas. He’ll happily zip along the Lowcountry waterways for hours, slipping away from mankind and straight into God’s country. Surrounded by sandbars and spartina grass, he’ll marvel at dolphins feeding along the shore and cast for spottail bass. “When the line grabs, it’s like the first time you ever caught one,” says the music professor, whose office wall is adorned with a photo of the mammoth 42-pound bass he hooked as a 10-year-old. “You always see amazing things out there, and you never see it all.” South Carolina’s natural beauty has

|

8

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

been a lifelong inspiration to Hart, a native Charlestonian. An eight-point buck hangs above the photo of the bass, and Hart admits that he probably could cast a shrimp net before he could read. Hart’s local delights, however, are not limited to the natural world. The downtown resident speaks with equal regard of Charleston’s architectural and cultural beauty and, when pressed for a special urban memory, he quickly recalls a moment he shared with his daughter when she was a toddler: He was walking her in a stroller down Church Street at dusk one spring evening and everything was just perfect, including the

temperature, the light on the buildings and even the scent of flowers on the wind. Hart’s young daughter turned around to look at him and share a knowing glance. “Even at that age, she got it,” says Hart. Hart’s daughter is 11 years old now, but the Hart family’s enthusiasm for their surroundings has not dimmed. Hart, in fact, recently composed a violin concerto expressing his love for South Carolina for friend and fellow College music professor Yuri Bekker. In February, Bekker performed the concerto with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, where he also serves as concertmaster. To boot, Bekker performed Hart’s piece on a rare


LIFE ACADEMIC

Greenville, the childhood home of his wife. Hart knows many of his listeners likely have a similar affinity for the Palmetto State, but stresses that the charms of South Carolina should not have a bearing on opinions of the quality of his music.

Lowcountry, Midlands and Upstate. Each is familiar to Hart and holds its own special appeal, as Hart lives in Charleston, went to graduate school at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and was married in

“At the end of the day,” he says, “the music has to stand on its own.” Funnily enough, though, his compositions nearly knock him down. He has trouble sleeping when beginning

| Photos by Gately Williams |

Stradivarius violin made in 1686 in an event Bekker deemed a “privilege and an honor for Charleston.” Under an Indigo Sky features three movements, each evoking South Carolina’s distinct geographic regions: the

composing and can become ornery. He admits feeling susceptible to the pressure associated with contemporary composition that one must “reinvent the wheel every time you sit down.” It can be slow going when writing a new piece, and take a while for his music to take shape. “Writing a piece of music is like picking a fight with musical notes,” says Hart. “Eventually you start winning the fight, but not without being battered and bruised.” When not composing, Hart practices “musical evangelism,” which includes teaching music appreciation classes to non-music majors at the College. For him, it’s critical to introduce as many people as possible to classical music, both for broadening students’ cultural knowledge and enjoyment as well as for the survival and growth of classical music. In line with that goal, Hart and fellow College music professor Yiorgos Vassilandonakis have teamed up to create Magnetic South, a concert series at the College featuring the Charleston Symphony Orchestra playing 20th-century music and new works by living composers. Magnetic South debuted in January, when works by composers Paul Chihara of the University of California–Los Angeles and Cindy Cox of the University of California–Berkeley were performed. Chihara and Cox both attended the concert and also taught master classes on composition to College students. In March, Magnetic South had its second concert, featuring music by composers Arnold Schoenberg, John Adams and Igor Stravinksy. Hart hopes Magnetic South’s emphasis on contemporary and relatively modern music inspires a new generation of music lovers and appreciation for compositions beyond the most revered classics. “I love Beethoven, Bach and Brahms, but if we don’t infuse music with something new, we’re going to see audiences get grayer and grayer until they’re gone,” he observes. And while promoting the work of others, Hart will continue to create his own masterpieces, with inspiration found right outside his window, and, more powerfully, out on the rivers and deep inside South Carolina’s woods. “Until this area quits inspiring me,” Hart says, “I’m going to keep dealing with it.”

SUMMER 2012 |

9

|


1

2

3

4

1. Noelle Zeiner-Carmichael (Classics) 2. D. Reid Wiseman (biology) 3.–4. Cliff Peacock (studio art) 5. & 9. Martin Jones (mathematics) 6. Denis Keyes (teacher education) 7. Bill Olejniczak (history) 8. Idee Winfield (sociology) 10. Giovanna DeLuca (French, Francophone and Italian studies) – “Scialla is a new Gérgal word that means ‘relax and take it easy.’”

|

10

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

5


LIFE ACADEMIC 6

PostScript Perhaps the only things more ubiquitous in a professor’s office than textbooks, stacks of paper and red pens are Post-it Notes. Around campus, those little square pieces of paper cover almost everything – computer screens, desktops, doors – even the wall space around light switches. They are the organizers, the reminders, the points of epiphany that strike at the most random times. We asked a few of our professors to think about what lesson their own students have taught them, using this most commonplace means of communication as their canvas.

7

8

10

9

S PRI N G 2 0 1 2 |

11

|


Drawn to Politics

|

12

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

first instinct. The great ones work it out and find something different. They are better because they work harder.” Unfortunately, the number of editorial cartoonists in the country is dropping. The decline of the newspaper industry has made it harder and harder for cartoonists to make a living, and relatively few newspapers feel they can afford to have one on staff. Their loss is something

we should all lament and regard as a warning, says Lamb, pointing out that editorial cartoonists are some of the staunchest defenders of American ideals. “There’s nothing more American than questioning authority, and cartoonists do it every day,” says Lamb. “They’re as American as the Bill of Rights and as irreverent as the Boston Tea Party.” And that’s no joke.

| Illustration by Steve Stegelin |

People love the funnies. for many newspaper readers, the comics are the first thing to be scanned in the morning, a morning chuckle just as critical as that first cup of coffee. Chris Lamb is a funnies man, too, though he’s partial not to Marmaduke and Peanuts, but instead the political cartoons on the editorial page. There, among the op-ed columns, angry letters and pompous editorials, are illustrations that deliver much-needed levity and satire. For Lamb, cartoonists are among the most important commentators in our democracy. “They’re among the people who care most about their country,” says the communication professor. “Every day they get up and face it and try to fix it, or at least try to tear down what’s wrong.” When it comes to cartooning, Lamb speaks with more authority than most readers. He is, after all, the author of Drawn to Extremes: The Use and Abuse of Editorial Cartoons, a book that evolved from his dissertation work on editorial cartooning. He is a former judge for the Herblock Prize, an award named for the late American cartoonist Herb Block that recognizes excellence in editorial cartooning. Most recently, Lamb served as a judge for the Pulitzer Prize in editorial cartooning. Last February, he viewed some 2,000 cartoons over the course of two and a half days at Columbia University before choosing a winner – Matt Wuerker of Politico. It was an exhausting process, and one wonders if so many cartoons might have caused at least a stress fracture to his funny bone. But Lamb insists that the judging was invigorating, especially when he and his four fellow judges – two of whom are prominent cartoonists themselves – got to debating the merits of a particular cartoon. For his part, Lamb tended to favor those cartoons that were profound, that “said more with less” and that took a unique approach to a familiar subject. “I want a political cartoon to grab you by the collar and wake you up and show you an issue in a way you haven’t seen it,” he says. “A lot of cartoonists go with their


LIFE ACADEMIC

Make A Scene Robert Ashley, technical director for the theatre department, earns props for his work in the College’s Scene Shop, located behind the back wall of the Emmett Robinson Theatre stage in the Simons Center.


Inside the Academic Mind: conseula francis As her students know, Conseula Francis, associate professor of English and director of the African American Studies Program, approaches literature in a slightly different way. Her willingness to look for literary merit in some unusual places has made her a classroom favorite. Recipient of the 2011 Distinguished Teaching Award, Francis took a few moments to talk about her passion for comic books and science fiction, her favorite foods and when/where she finds time for her own reading. You have taught several classes on the graphic novel. Why? I think the graphic novel has been rising in literary importance since the publication of Maus, though Maus is certainly not the first comic book with literary merit. More and more people are realizing that comic books are more than superheroes, and more and more writers are turning to the form to tell their stories. How did you get interested in black identity and representation in comic books? Comic books moved into my house when I got married. When there are that many issues of Amazing Spider-Man around, you can’t help but read them. I noticed how few characters of color there were (and are) in mainstream superhero comics, and started to ask why. At the time, I couldn’t have imagined I’d be writing about comic books. But turning hobbies into academic projects is an occupational hazard for college professors. Of all the comic books you’ve been reading, which one is your favorite? I think my favorite series would have to be Fables by Bill Willingham, about characters from storybooks (Snow White, the Three Little Pigs, Sinbad, etc.) escaping from their world into ours as they battle The Adversary. It’s well-written, well-plotted and addictive. I also really like Scalped, about an undercover Native American FBI agent investigating corruption on a reservation. Your first book focused on Octavia Butler. What about her writing inspired you? I tend to geek out about all things science fiction. One of the first things my husband and I bonded over is our irrational love of Star Wars. So when I found Butler’s work, great science fiction with black female protagonists, I was sold. You have a forthcoming book about writer James Baldwin. Why is Baldwin relevant to a 21st-century “post-racial” audience? I think Baldwin would have had a great laugh at the notion of “post-racial.” He always insisted on his American-ness and his blackness. These two things are mutually defining. The same is true for white Americans and other Americans of color. The nature of this country is that we cannot separate our national identity from our racial identity. Our goal then is not to work past race, but, instead, to move through it, facing what is ugly and what is beautiful. As Baldwin reminds us in his essay “A Stranger in the Village,” for all there is to be said about the difficulty of race relations in this country,

|

14

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e


LIFE ACADEMIC

we must also always be reminded that America has been a racially, ethnically and culturally diverse society for 300 years. If you had to pick just one, what is the most important African American novel to date? How can I pick just one? I’ll choose the two I re-read most often, and they aren’t novels: Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois and Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin, both collections of essays. There are still no better meditations on race in America than these two works.

Faculty Fact

ids

| John Newell |

When do you read? I read during my daughters’ soccer practices and yoga classes. I read on airplanes and in airports. I read in the evenings after my kids have gone to bed. Most of my reading for pleasure happens during school breaks. Do you ever have stage fright? All the time. At the beginning of each semester, I have to give myself a pep talk before I teach my first class. I also spend a ridiculous amount of time picking out my Day One outfit. What’s one food you could not live without? Candy. And I’m not talking fancy candy – Skittles, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Sour Patch Kids. It’s a really bad habit. What literary landmark do you want to see? I’m dying to visit W.E.B. Du Bois’ house in Ghana. Some of his papers and books are still there. We hope to take students there in March. What’s your guilty pleasure on TV? People are going to think all I do is watch TV and read comic books. I’m currently crazy about Smash, the show about a group of people trying to put on a Broadway show about Marilyn Monroe. I’m a sucker for musicals. I also really love Being Human on SyFy. Apparently I’m also a sucker for angsty supernatural monsters. Why is it important for the College to have a major in African American studies? The history of the Lowcountry and of the College demands that we have an African American studies major here. Charleston is too important in the history and culture of the African diaspora for us to ignore. We should be educating our students about that history and training them to document, preserve and tell that history themselves. A major in African American studies will also help prepare students to live and work in diverse communities, whether it is the community right around us here at the College, or other communities anywhere in the world. If you could be the main character in any story, which one would it be? Does Star Wars count as a story? I totally want to be Han Solo. Because Han is a scoundrel and a smuggler who comes to realize the importance of doing the right thing, even when there’s nothing in it for you. I love that character arc. Plus, he gets to pilot the Millennium Falcon (who doesn’t want to fly that ship?). And he shot first, no matter what George Lucas says.

Spring means new beginnings, and several faculty are starting the next chapter of their lives: retirement. The College community is greatly indebted to these gifted teacher-scholars, who represent nearly 250 years of combined service: Charles Beam, chemistry (1982); Sara Davis, teacher education (2003); Henry Donato ’68, chemistry (1982); Edith Ellis, health and human performance (2002); David Gentry, psychology (1985); Stuart Knee, history (1986); David Kowal, art history (1979); Deborah Miller, health and human performance (1982); John Newell, Honors College (1978); and Gregory Schmitt, communication (1984). • The College honored several professors this spring with faculty awards of distinction – Distinguished Teaching Award: Tracey Burkett (sociology); Distinguished Research Award: Jon Hakkila (physics); Distinguished Service Award: Mitchell Colgan (geology); Distinguished Advising Award: Jeff Wragg (physics) and Scott Peeples (English); and the William V. Moore Distinguished Teacher/Scholar Award: Pamela Riggs-Gelasco (chemistry). • Martin Jones (mathematics) and Devon Hanahan ’87 (Hispanic studies) were highlighted in the Princeton Review’s list of the best 300 professors in the U.S. • Cara Delay (history) received a Fulbright to research and write Desolate Journeys: Reproduction and Motherhood in Ireland 1950–2000.

SUMMER 2012 |

15

|


MAKING the GRADE Out of This World

| Photos by Leandro G. Barajas |

David Kutai Weiss ’12 has a goal, plain and simple: He wants to go to Mars. There are, however, just a few problems. For starters, consider that no human has ever been there. Next, realize that Mars is anywhere from 36 million to 250 million miles away, depending upon its and the Earth’s positions in orbit. Last, recognize it’s very, very cold on the red planet, and that Mars is without ready supplies of oxygen and water necessary for human survival. Pfft. Details! It’s nothing that can’t be solved, says Weiss. The geology major should know. He spent his winter break at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, living with five other volunteer researchers in a small, two-story structure meant to simulate a Mars space station. For two weeks, the crew ate dried food, slept in sleeping bags shoved into personal quarters the size of broom closets and used baking soda and dry shampoo to clean their teeth and hair. Each day they’d venture outside into the desert, but not before zipping up in space suits and closing an airlock to the research station. It was extremely important to the crew to simulate the conditions of Mars as accurately as possible, no matter how uncomfortable conditions became. “If you want fresh air,” Weiss explains, “you can’t just go outside.” When in the desert, Weiss and his colleagues traveled on four-wheel-drive all-terrain vehicles, which were standins for the six-wheel-drive rovers NASA currently has exploring Mars. During these desert excursions, Weiss collected soil samples and studied topography. This data enabled him to create maps of the nearby desert that revealed where the soil was dense enough for safe travel, and where there existed steep changes in elevations that would be unsuitable for their motorized vehicles.

|

16

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e


Making the Grade

Also, Weiss’ maps detailed the best areas for extracting water from the desert soil. Many current mission proposals suggest human visits to Mars would likely last two and a half years (six months to get there, 18 months to conduct research while waiting for Mars and Earth to become close again in their orbits and eight months to return), meaning astronauts must produce their own water supply, possibly by baking chunks of Mars’ soil. To simulate this, Weiss collected soil samples from the Utah desert and placed

them in an oven when he returned to the College. After baking the samples at 1,050 degrees, Weiss monitored how much water could be extracted. On New Year’s Day, the simulation ended. Weiss and his colleagues left the Mars Desert Research Station and celebrated their experience by eating at an Applebee’s restaurant in Grand Junction, Colo., before flying home. “For two weeks we were eating dried food,” says Weiss, “so having a real meal was nice.”

Weiss’ fascination with space exploration began at the College. Geology professor Cass Runyon recalls Weiss coming to her planetary geology class with question after question. He was so curious, in fact, that Runyon stopped answering his questions, and instead encouraged him to research the answers himself. To foster his enthusiasm for such research, she introduced him to members of the Mars research community. Weiss never looked back. Soon he was arranging internships at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. He also enrolled in a NASA mission design class at the College, where he and classmates worked with engineering students in Alabama and France to design a hypothetical $800 million space mission. Scientists and aerospace engineers reviewed the students’ plan and lavished their work with praise. “They were wondering if it was a real proposal, it was so good,” says Runyon. When not pretending to be on other planets, Weiss makes the most of his time on this one. He builds skateboards, designing the longboards with AutoCAD and stacking layers of laser-cut rock maple with the help of a vacuum press. He practices martial arts twice a week and regularly goes backpacking. Recently he wrote a sci-fi novel inspired by a dream. After sending the manuscript to his father and a friend for editing, he got bored and started writing the sequel. If it seems that Weiss is trying to squeeze a lot in, perhaps it is because he doesn’t plan to be here forever. Should there be a colony on Mars within his lifetime, he would volunteer to be a settler on the Red Planet. Until then, there’s still more to learn. This fall he’ll begin a fiveyear Ph.D. program studying planetary geosciences at Brown University, and, after that, he hopes to train to become an astronaut and join one of the first manned expeditions to Mars, planned to occur around 2030. Weiss has a real shot at becoming an astronaut and accomplishing his lofty goals, Runyon believes: “David could actually make it. He’s got the wherewithal to do it. He can really make a dent in our nation’s space exploration program.” In other words, the sky is not even close to the limit for Weiss.

SUMMER 2012 |

17

|


| Photos by Gately Williams |

Room to Breathe

| (l to r) Melissa Nehez ’06 with her third-grade class at Mitchell Math and Science Elementary School; Lauren Rose ’12 (M.Ed.) and teacher education professor Christine Finnan | The students slowly breathe in, then out. They pick a point against the classroom wall at which to stare and focus their attention. Exhaling, they lift, in unison, their right legs and rest their feet on the calf of their left legs. A few cut glances at their teacher to see how she’s doing. They then slowly raise their hands together to form a namaste, the customary greeting in Indian culture. There’s no giggling as they hold that position, just breathing – and perhaps the slightest sound of pen on paper as someone scribbles notes in the back of the classroom. That someone is Lauren Rose ’12 (M.Ed.), a student in the College’s science and math for teachers program and a graduate assistant to teacher education professor Christine Finnan. She’s collaborating with Finnan on the research of a schoolwide yoga program at Mitchell Math and Science Elementary School, just two miles from campus in downtown Charleston. “I do yoga,” Finnan says, “so when I heard about a high-poverty school incorporating yoga instruction from kindergarten to fifth grade, I thought that program sounded cool, and I wanted to do a qualitative study on its general effect.” |

18

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

For Rose, the research project was especially intriguing since it gave her an opportunity to get back into the classroom environment. “When you’re a grad student in education,” Rose explains, “you’re already certified to teach, so you don’t spend much time in an actual classroom with kids. You’re focused on content and instruction techniques. Plus, in most places, grad assistants are usually tasked with making copies and running errands. With Professor Finnan, I had the chance to do a kind of research I wasn’t used to – qualitative, rather than quantitative – focusing on the why, not the how.” For two years, Rose, along with several anthropology undergraduate students, served as participant observers. They spent an hour in the class before the yoga lesson and then another hour after the lesson, recording observations on student behavior and focus. “We noticed that kids were more calm and alert after yoga,” Rose says, “and we learned in our interviews with them that yoga had given them another tool to help them deal with stressful situations in their lives. A lot of kids told us that they do yoga at home when

they’re upset with their parents or siblings. Basically, it gives them a tool to regulate their emotions.” While neither Finnan nor Rose believes that yoga is some kind of magic bullet for fixing schools, they did learn that behavioral referrals decreased, and they observed students making strong connections with their teachers who participated in the yoga instruction with them. Rose also made a strong connection with the teacher of the third-grade class she observed. Melissa Nehez ’06, who is the school’s 2011-12 Teacher of the Year, leads an academy class of 14 students, working with them an extra hour at the end of the day. “I’ve really benefited from watching Melissa, an amazing teacher,” Rose says. “She’s definitely been a mentor to me, and has helped shape the approach I want to take in my own classroom.” And although Rose isn’t a devotee to yoga like Finnan or Nehez, “I do plan to incorporate yoga into my own classroom,” Rose admits. “The benefits to a student’s sense of belonging, engagement and accomplishment are too numerous to ignore. Yoga clearly makes a difference.”


Making the Grade

crossing the cistern The College has many traditions, but perhaps its most memorable (and most stunningly visual) is the May Commencement ceremony, when the Cistern Yard stage becomes a sea of white dresses and white dinner jackets. Here’s a quick breakdown of the Class of 2012: Number of graduates: 1,465 Honors College graduates: 99 Top five degrees awarded: business administration (283), communication (213), biology (197), psychology (166) and political science (110) Bishop Robert Smith Award recipients: Isaiah Nelson (political science) and Caroline Newman (psychology) Undergraduate Commencement speaker: Arlinda Locklear ’73, the first Native American woman to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court Master’s degree candidates: 160 Graduate School Commencement speaker: Dick Wilkerson, retired chairman and president of Michelin North America


TEAMWORK

| Photos by Mike Ledford |

All the Bases Covered

the SPORTSTICKER |

The expectations for marty gantt have always been high. As a junior at North Augusta High School, he was named South Carolina’s top baseball player. As a senior, scouts drooled over his pitching talent, especially his wicked lefthanded slider. Gantt, everyone agreed, was going to be great. Playing for the College the last two years after transferring from Spartanburg Methodist, he hasn’t disappointed. As he finished his collegiate career as a Cougar, Gantt batted leadoff and played centerfield, and that’s after succeeding at stints as pitcher, right field and first base, too. The long and short of it is that Gantt has excelled wherever he’s played. “Marty’s just one of those guys you don’t worry about putting in unfamiliar situations,” says head baseball coach Monte Lee ’00. “He’s got enough confidence and athleticism to overcome it.” Last season, Lee moved Gantt from the outfield to first base after a tough series against The Citadel in which the Cougars committed seven errors and dropped two games. The move worked, and the Cougars won 18 of their last 25 games. This season he’s been allowed to excel in a more stable position in the outfield. During the regular season, Gantt was among the top three Southern Conference players for batting average (.369), runs (62), doubles (19), stolen bases (25), walks (41) and on-base percentage (.481). Together, those statistics added up to 2012 SoCon Player of the Year honors – and being drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays. “I just think he’s incredible. I have so much respect for him,” says Lee. “When he wasn’t playing baseball, then he was in the cage every day trying to get better at baseball.”

Right-hander Christian Powell (baseball) earned SoCon Pitcher of the Year. + The men’s swimming and diving squad won the 2012 CCSA Championship. + Former Cougar standouts Chris Campbell ’07 and Nick Chigges ’07 were added to the baseball team’s Wall of Fame. + The men’s tennis team won the SoCon Championship. Head coach Jay Bruner was named SoCon coach of the year, and four players |

20

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e


TEAMWORK

That’s the kind of commitment it takes when your goal is to play in the pros, though. Earning a shot in the pros isn’t easy. And it doesn’t come any easier when you’re competing with a disability. Gantt was born with four shortened fingers on his right hand, the result of his umbilical cord wrapping around his hand when he was in the womb. Remarkably, however, the only thing Gantt’s handicap prevents him from doing is checking his swing: When he decides to swing at a ball, there’s no stopping the bat. Gantt learned early in life to adapt to his disability, thanks in part to his mother, who urged him to shrug off the occasional teasing and taunting from classmates. “My mom told me I wasn’t any different than them. She told me I could do whatever I wanted,” says Gantt,

adding that his father has also been instrumental in his success, coaching and supporting him all along the way. Together, Gantt’s parents raised one of the best ballplayers to play in South Carolina at the high school and college level. Best of all, the lessons their son has learned through baseball apply on and off the field. For Gantt, the sport has taught him how to handle pressure and how to stay even keeled despite the many ups and downs of a season. Baseball has taught him, too, that there is always room for improvement and always an opportunity to help your team pull out a victory. These are lessons his fans, teammates, family and coaches are proud to see him put into practice in his own humble and hardworking way. “Marty hasn’t changed with success,”

says Lee, “and that’s something I always admire about great players.” Perhaps most important of all, baseball has taught Gantt how to succeed despite a handicap, and to transform himself from being a target for teasing to being an inspiration, both to teammates and fans, some of whom struggle with their own disabilities in life and athletics. These days, Gantt’s peers find his disability endearing, affectionately referencing Gantt’s “nubs.” Previous teammates at Spartanburg Methodist College would “nub it up” when Gantt played well, celebrating a hit by giving him a high-five with their knuckles. At the College, there is similar veneration for Gantt’s talents and perseverance. “He can do about anything you ask him to do,” Lee says, adding with a laugh, “except check his swing.”

captured All-SoCon honors: Mickael Trintignac (first team, singles and doubles), Kyle Parker (first team, doubles), Crescente Lesser (second team, singles) and Alon Faiman (All-Freshman). + For the fourth-straight year, the women’s tennis team won the SoCon championship. Several players earned SoCon accolades: Christin Newman (first team, singles), Kelly Kambourelis (first team, singles), Samantha Maddox (second team, singles) and Jenny Falcone (first team, singles). SUMMER 2012 |

21

|


CHAMPION THROWBACKS It’s perhaps one of the oldest sporting activities in human culture: throwing things. And, naturally, we revere those who can throw the farthest. This spring, two student-athletes on the Cougars track and field team epitomized strength and form as they made school history. Christine Klinar, a sophomore from Hanahan, S.C., threw the javelin a school-best 38.12 meters. Imagine standing at Porters Lodge and heaving a seven-foot spear toward Randolph Hall. If you’re Klinar, you would throw it more than halfway across the Cistern Yard. Not to be outdone, Tiffany Sisk (pictured opposite page), an All-SoCon Freshman Team member from Easley, S.C., set the new school mark in shot put earlier in the spring, and then topped her own record to win an individual SoCon championship with a throw of 13.55 meters (more than 44 feet). As their record-breaking performances prove, these athletes know how to throw down.

Earning second team honors for doubles were Maddox and Irene Viana and Falcone and Kambourelis. Newman also took home the SoCon Sportmanship Award. + A psychology major graduating summa cum laude, Caroline Newman ’12 (women’s tennis) became the first SoCon student-athlete to earn the ITA /Arthur Ashe Jr. Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship. + Dena O’Brien won two individual SoCon championships in the 3k and 5k. For the second year in a row, |

22

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e


| Photos by Mike Ledford |

TEAMWORK

she set a new SoCon record in the 5k. + In the SoCon outdoor track and field championship, Kristen Wolfe ’12 defended her title from last year in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, and Dena O’Brien won the 10,000-meter run. + Emily Smith ’12 won a SoCon championship in high jump. + Three women’s golfers received SoCon All-Conference honors: Leigh Whittaker ’12, Katharina Boehm and Vanessa Koechli. + Shane Rogan (men’s golf) was named to the SoCon S PRI N G 2 0 1 2 |

23

|


| Photos by Mike Ledford |

A New Line in the Sand The preferred habitat of cougars may be mountain canyons with dense brush, but who says they can’t have a little fun at the beach? In April, the College competed in the inaugural Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships, held in Gulf Shores, Ala. They finished fourth in the team competition, and – in the individual pairs tournament – Elyse Chubb ’12/Lizzie Theesfield and Emily Shelton/Kelly Kolich tied for ninth place. Already recognized as an Olympic sport, sand volleyball just finished its first season as an emerging NCAA sport with the participation of 15 Division I teams. Once 40 schools have fielded sand volleyball teams, the NCAA will

take over the sport’s championship. At the College, all 11 of the sand volleyball players also competed for the Cougars’ indoor team, which has a fall season. Jason Kepner, head coach for both teams, is proud of the Cougars’ performance on the sand, where they posted a 4-3 record in dual meets for the year, with victories over Mercer University, Florida Atlantic University, North Florida University and Tulane University. “Playing in the hot sun and running in the sand takes its toll on you much faster,” says Kepner. “You really have to be in much better shape to play sand volleyball.”

Beyond the increased physical demands, sand volleyball players must adjust to a more intense game with increased responsibility. Indoors, one shares the court with five teammates. On sand, a player has just one teammate and ends up handling the ball much more often. Kepner says his players enjoyed the change of pace provided by sand volleyball and envisions it becoming a very popular NCAA sport in the years to come. “I think they loved sand volleyball over the alternative, which is spring practice,” Kepner laughs. “It’s a great way to play volleyball year-round without getting burned out.”

All-Freshman Team. + Five softball players received SoCon recognition: Stephanie Saylors (first team), Amanda Lonergan ’12 (second team), Hope Klicker (second team and All-Freshman), Mackenzie Maples (All-Freshman) and Allison Pedigo (AllFreshman). + Antwaine Wiggins ’12 and Trent Wiedeman (men’s basketball) received All-SoCon honors, and Adjehi Baru was named to the All-Freshman Team. Wiggins also earned a spot on CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Defensive All-America Team. |

24

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e


TEAMWORK

Court is Now in Session Don’t let their smiles fool you. Two very fierce competitors with coaching pedigrees longer than a basketball court are bringing a new energy to TD Arena. Their brand of play may prove different than what we’ve seen in the past, but their goals remain the same: produce student-athletes who achieve success on and off the court – and win. Last spring, the College introduced Doug Wojcik (men’s basketball) and Natasha Adair (women’s basketball) as the new head coaches – the 22nd and seventh, respectively, in the basketball program’s history. Both see themselves as faithful keepers of tradition, both view themselves as teachers first and foremost and both believe in a throwyour-body-across-the-floor, defense-first, nonstop-hustle kind of intensity. “This team is going to play with passion,” explains Wojcik, a noticeable fire burning behind his eyes. “They’re going to play hard and play together. And, at the same time, I want to see these kids enjoying themselves.” Adair agrees, adding, “I want the fans to know they are welcome. I want them to know that this is their team. Come out and join us. The journey to the top of the conference is going to take work, a lot of work, but it’s going to be fun.” Get ready, Cougar Nation. A new era has begun.

SUMMER 2010 |

25

|


POINT of VIEW

[ student ]

A Mermaid’s Tale One student is living every little girl’s dream: She’s a mermaid. She travels to different locations across South Carolina performing above and below the water in a completely functional mermaid tail. We asked her to tell us about turning this childhood fantasy into a reality. by Caroline Simmel As long as I can remember, I have loved mermaids. I watched Disney’s The Little Mermaid over and over again, and, with my parents’ encouragement, I read a multitude of books about mermaids. Drawing has been another love of mine since I was little, so, of course, I was constantly sketching mermaids all over everything. Whenever I went to the pool or the beach, I would pretend I was a mermaid and swim with my feet together. Mermaids have been a constant source of inspiration and joy for me. They have an enchanting quality about them, which captured my imagination and made me long to become one. That day finally came when I was 15 years old. My fascination with mermaids was still very strong; however, I wanted something more than just doodles and books. I began researching how to make a swimmable mermaid tail – because, come on, what’s the point of being a mermaid if you can’t swim in a mermaid tail? There isn’t one. After saving up babysitting and birthday money, I was able to buy a Finis monofin and swimsuit fabric to create my very first tail. I watched an online video and, putting my skills at the sewing machine to use, meticulously followed the instructions to build it. I’ve always had a knack for arts and crafts, and the tail wasn’t too difficult to make; two weeks later, it was ready to be tested out. I vividly remember the day I finally got to swim in my tail. I sat on the pool steps at my best friend’s house, gathering up my courage and excitement. And then I swam. It felt completely natural. I moved faster than I had ever swum before – and with total ease. From that point on, I never went to the pool without it. Even now, swimming in my tail is the greatest feeling in the entire world to me. I feel as though I can stay underwater forever – and, honestly, if I had gills, I would live underwater. That feeling of flying through the water just like a dolphin is absolutely incredible – it’s beyond words. When I wasn’t practicing my front and back flips and other underwater movements in my tail, I was working on my breathing skills at home – holding my breath for 30 seconds, then resting for 30 seconds, and repeating that for five minutes. I steadily

|

26

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

increased my time, holding my breath for a minute and a half, then resting and repeating. Then, one day, my mother suggested I turn my hobby into a small business. And so I purchased a red wig, created a brand-new tail and started marketing myself as a real-life Little Mermaid for hire. Calling my business Characters by Caroline, I started off entertaining at children’s birthday parties, all of which were pool parties. Over the years, I expanded my list of characters, and the business just took off. In the summer of 2011, after my senior year in high school, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime. After a long process of moving to the coast and getting SCUBA certified, I became a mermaid at Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach. Alongside two other mermaids, I performed four times a day, seven days a week, in a tank filled with more than 100 stingrays, fish and sharks – even a bowmouth guitarfish! Swimming at Ripley’s was quite the experience. There wasn’t a whole lot of training that went into it – I pretty much dove in with both feet. The other two mermaids – both of whom were from Florida and had much more experience in performing underwater than I did – had already been at Ripley’s for a month and helped bring me up to speed very quickly. There were really only two rules to keep in mind: Don’t touch the bowmouth guitarfish and move slowly so as not to startle the animals. Still, when I slid into the tank for my first show, I was beyond nervous. I was terrified that I would mess up the show by forgetting a move or getting in the way of my fellow performers. I was so nervous, in fact, that I forgot that I’d just gotten into a tank filled with sharks! Lucky for me, everything went well and the rest of my time at Ripley’s was a wonderful learning experience. Swimming with the sharks and stingrays was so much fun, I can barely describe it. Most of the sharks were really pretty scared of us mermaids because – the way they saw it – we were the biggest fish in the tank. They always got out of our way during the show. The stingrays, on the other fin, were much friendlier. During the shows, I would interact with them by giving them a kiss or petting them, and sometimes they would respond by swimming across my tail or the top of my head. The stingrays were just as excited to swim with us as we were to swim with them. Swimming with those animals was not an experience I will soon forget. And, hopefully, neither will the 200 audience members whom we met and took pictures with after each show. It was a very busy summer, but very fulfilling. Since my time at Ripley’s, I have continued my business and have further expanded it this summer. I love what I do, and I will continue to do what I do best: bring fairy tales to life. – Caroline Simmel is a sophomore studio art major.


POINT of VIEW


POINT of VIEW [ faculty ] Where Worlds Collide Like a liberal arts education, the moon intrigues the scientific spirit and the artistic spirit in all of us. We asked the director and senior curator of the College’s Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art to talk about this perfect symbol of the “interdisciplinarity” of all knowledge and the inspiration behind one of the Halsey Institute’s latest exhibitions. by Mark Sloan midway through my undergraduate years at the University of Richmond, I wanted to be an oceanographer, intoxicated by the bow-wave of Jacques Cousteau, my childhood idol. The deeper I got into the science courses required for a biology major, though, the more I realized I was, er ... out of my depth. One particular advantage of attending a liberal arts institution, such as the University of Richmond – or the College of Charleston – is that one has the freedom to choose from a rich buffet of intellectual possibilities. I ended up with a selfstyled major in interdisciplinary studies, encouraged and

|

28

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

supported by faculty across the campus. I will never forget that amazing opportunity. Since graduation, I have been fascinated by the interdisciplinarity of all knowledge. Sure, here at the College we have whole departments devoted to single disciplines – psychology, mathematics, economics and many others – but, in fact, it is the sum of them all that composes the great chain of human thought. Courses within these disciplines are often taught using the rubric of a singular field, each with its own specialized (and often idiosyncratic) jargon. The challenge for the motivated liberal arts student is to deduce the whole after studying the parts – or, at least, to develop an appreciation of the complexity of human endeavor. One of my stock responses to parents who question the value of a liberal arts education is to say that we are in the business of teaching students enough to know what they do not know. For me, it is as important to know the limits of our knowledge as it is to gain mastery in one’s particular field of “expertise.” Since my arrival at the College in 1994, I have made the effort to reach out to a variety of departments and individuals on campus to explore ways that we might use the exhibitions within the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art as a focal point for reintegrating knowledge and demonstrate tangibly the interconnectedness of all disciplines.


POINT of VIEW

| Courtesy of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art; photos by Rick Rhodes and Leslie McKellar |

For instance, when we did an exhibition of art by and about prisoners in the United States, I engaged Heath Hoffman from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and then director of the minor in crime, law and society. Hoffman was able to use the exhibition as an extension of the classroom for his students, as well as an outreach opportunity for area prisoners and prison personnel. We worked together to fashion an education component to the exhibition that included film, lectures, a panel discussion and a poetry reading. Another prime example was an exhibition that was guestcurated by political geographer Mark Long. Et in Arcadia ego featured the work of acclaimed British photographer Simon Norfolk, who had been focusing on the “landscape of war.” Long selected works from Norfolk’s archive that depicted manifestations of battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, environments created by refugees and cities torn apart by decades-long civil wars around the globe. This exhibition and its attendant educational programming (including bringing the artist in for a memorable political science convocation lecture) drew our attention to the legacies of war throughout history, as seen through the physical landscapes left behind. In our quest to demonstrate the primacy of interdisciplinary thought, we have attempted to position the Halsey Institute as a hub for hybrid explorations. We have worked with studio artists and art historians, education specialists, humanities scholars and faculty in Jewish studies, women’s and gender studies, Asian studies, African studies, biologists and, most recently, a planetary geologist. Bringing together art and science, that project was From the Moon: Mapping & Exploration.* This exhibition took place in the School of Sciences and Mathematics from November through March. It was co-curated with my longtime collaborator Roger Manley, director of the Gregg Museum of Art and Design at North Carolina State University. Cass Runyon, professor

of planetary geology here at the College, was our lunar science adviser. From the Moon addressed our visual perceptions of the moon, from Earth and from space, and demonstrated how advances in optical technologies have increased our understanding over time. This exhibition explored our relationship to the moon through the lens of the sciences. We wanted to chronicle this epic journey from Galileo’s first observations to today’s most powerful telescopes. The exhibition included a broad range of man’s attempts at mapping and understanding lunar history, including a spectacular historical collection of lunar maps, charts and atlases donated to the College’s Special Collections by Jim Phillips ’73 (see page 73). Another key component was NASA’s documentation of the Apollo lunar landings, as well as current research and missions. The centerpiece of the exhibition was a moon rock collected during the Apollo 15 mission in 1971. In the summer of 2011, Professor Runyon and I went to the Johnson Space Center in Houston to scour its archives and collections for materials to include in the exhibition. Because Runyon has worked at the JSC and on various NASA projects for many years, we were given extraordinary access to some of this nation’s lunar treasures. We met with various specialists there, including Joseph Kosmo (yes, his real name), the man who designed the pressurized space suit. We took a tour of his laboratory and the facility in which the space suits are made by hand. We also toured the cosmic dust laboratory and the lunar sample processing lab/storage vault. This trip certainly brought out my inner geek. Runyon and her team developed a comprehensive education program, which included lectures, guided tours for hundreds of K–12 students and hands-on demonstrations about spectroscopy and impact cratering. The exhibition was geared to the general public, but there was a strong emphasis on both the science of exploration and the aesthetic dimension of lunar research. This exhibition will be followed in the fall of 2013 by a companion project that examines humankind’s complex relationship with the moon through the lens of the arts and humanities: From the Moon: Myth & Mystery. – In addition to his duties as both director and senior curator of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Mark Sloan is also an accomplished artist and author (or co-author) of 12 books. In 2004, he was co-author and photographer of The Rarest of the Rare: Stories Behind the Treasures at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. His 2002 book, Wild, Weird, and Wonderful: The American Circus 1901–1927, as seen by F.W. Glasier, Photographer, is credited as being one of the inspirations for novelist Sara Gruen’s New York Times best-seller Water for Elephants. *Funding for this project was provided by NASA, Moon Mineralogy Mapper and the NASA Lunar Science Institute, and was produced in partnership with the Northeast Planetary Data Center at Brown University and the Lunar Planetary Institute. On-campus partners included the School of the Arts, Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library and the School of Sciences and Mathematics.

SUMMER 2012 |

29

|


[ alumni ]

| Photos by Reese Moore |

POINT of VIEW

In the Same Boat How we experience our environments depends not just on who and where we are, but on how we get there, where we’re coming from, whom we’re with and what that relationship is. When one alumnus visited the S.C. Department of Natural Resources to register a boat he’d acquired 20 years earlier, he couldn’t help but think back on how he found the boat, where it came from, what it would come to mean to him and how it would shape his experiences on the tidal creeks of the Lowcountry. by Anton Dumars ’99 when i first heard mention of rita lou, i hadn’t yet learned her name. Frank, my Folly Beach neighbor, told me about her. Rita Lou sat on the mountainside just down from Frank’s house in Brevard, N.C. Frank’s friend Ronnie owned Rita Lou. Ronnie, only once, took her out for a cruise in a mountain lake. That cruise found her aground against a boulder, a hole gouged into the bow. After that, Ronnie parked her, indefinitely. “He’d probably give it to you, Anton,” Frank told me. “Bring a boat trailer up to the mountains this December.” Frank was a master carpenter who had no tolerance for bosses. Before I met Frank, he captained the Hey Bubba, a shrimp boat.

|

30

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

Hey Bubba met her demise one frigid winter afternoon. Frank noticed smoke coming from down below as he entered the Stono Inlet. By the time Frank ran her aground on Kiawah, the fire burned out of control. December rolled around. I hitched a tandem trailer to the Ford F250 and aimed it north on I-26. The four-hour drive allowed my mind to wander. I thought about Lickety Split, the 19-foot wooden boat I already owned. She sat poised in my Folly driveway, ready for action. Lickety Split, a 1959 Simmons Sea Skiff, came from workingclass roots. These North Carolina–built craft evolved from beachlaunched rowboats used to set gill nets. This particular Simmons, a low-sided short 20, came to me in 1984 and soon after became my obsession. I stripped the hull down to bare frames and then put her back together with stainless screws and epoxy glue, making her stouter than new. A fresh Evinrude 70 pushed her along better than 30 knots. From Botany Bay Island north to the Santee Delta, wave and tide energy share equal status along the South Carolina coast. This wave-tide mixed-energy coastline builds large shoals, known as ebb-tidal deltas, just outside each inlet. Charts label most of these inlets as “local knowledge only.” Here, the Simmons Sea Skiff thrived. Inside the inlet looking out, these shoals appear as large, impenetrable walls of surf. To run one of these inlets, you find a calm opening in the chaotic surf. This marks the channel. Sometimes two or three openings in the surf catch your eye, but


POINT of VIEW

you choose only one and lay your bet on the table. With hairraising vigilance and a hint of cowboy attitude, I’d guide the Simmons past the breakers out into open water. Unlike exiting an inlet, entering from offshore offers little forgiveness. Breaking waves, viewed from behind, reveal little of their intentions. Sharp eyes scan the scene, looking hawk-like

ropes. Rita Lou and I made our way back to the Lowcountry. Rita Lou is a 1958 Barbour Silver Clipper. At 19 feet, she has room enough for a family. Mahogany back-to-back seats, port and starboard, accommodate four. The mahogany bench across the stern seats three more. Mahogany lapstrake planks, attached to oak frames, terminate at the bow, forming a traditional

R ita Lou , at 53 , was born the year before me. ...

We’ve both aged a bit .

We both have a few bumps and bruises here and there. With some work, she’d take up life anew. With hers , so would mine. for an opening. Pathways open, then close. Confidence crashes. Fear ensues. All at once, waves break left, right, in front and behind. Trapped in this sea of breakers, the mind shuts out stray thoughts and directs all energy to the present. Waves instantly break, creating a new incident to reckon with. You surf and dance, finessing the throttle, staying just ahead of the next breaking wave, always keeping the boat up on a plane. One wave to the next, one moment to the next, you move forward. Then, as quickly as it starts, it ends. You’re on the other side, safe within the inlet. The Simmons always got me through. The sign said 40 miles to Brevard. Frank lived on the other side. Four lanes to two lanes, paved to unpaved, sweeping curves to hairpin turns. Arriving in the dark, unable to negotiate Frank’s steep driveway, I hoofed the final 50 yards to the mountain house. Snow stomped from my boots, the big wooden door opened. I entered. The massive door closed with precision. Across a slate floor to the kitchen table, I met Ronnie. Ronnie, middle-aged, short and a little plump, was a biker. His tightly braided hair reached halfway down his back. He wore a leather vest. His wallet, attached to a chain, stuck out of his right rear pocket. Keys jingled from his belt. Ronnie spoke in heavy mountain talk, almost requiring a translator. “How much do you want for that boat?” I asked. With little deliberation, Ronnie answered, “I’d tike three hunnert fer it.” By the end of a night of eating, drinking and laughing, Ronnie said, “You kin jest have at boat.” The next morning after bacon and eggs, we made our way back down the driveway. There, covered with leaves, perched on a rusty trailer, sat Rita Lou. After one look I knew she was coming back to Folly with me. With no special fanfare, we slid her across icy bunks from one trailer to the other and secured her tightly with

up-swooped sheer line. The covered bow section in front of a large wraparound wooden windshield sports a Claxton horn and a siren. Unlike the Simmons, she was built fancy. Still, both boats, built in coastal North Carolina, shared the bones necessary to take on those “local knowledge only” inlets. Pre-mountains, and by sheer coincidence, the Barbour Silver Clipper lived on James Island. Melvin Knisely owned her. In 1974, Dr. Knisely, a former MUSC president and Nobel Prize nominee, sold the boat to Rita and Louis Calloway of Transylvania County, N.C., for $350 as-was. Melvin died the following year. Ronnie bought Rita Lou (presumed namesake of Rita and Louis) in 1978. I trailered her back to the Lowcountry in 1992. Her starboard-chine log rot required sistering, maybe the addition of a structural spray rail. A new transom made of marine plywood and epoxy would replace old mahogany transom. I’d hang the old transom on the wall as art. Planks needed refastening. The list went on. Rita Lou, at 53, was born the year before me. Since then, she spent some time with a few nice families, but she’d had little opportunity to feel her oats. Mostly, she waited patiently on a mountainside for her life to continue. Then I came along and adopted her. We’ve both aged a bit. We both have a few bumps and bruises here and there. With some work, she’d take up life anew. With hers, so would mine. Just like Lickety Split, I’d make her stouter than new. Just as with the Simmons, we’d together soon run wild through “local knowledge only” inlets. – Anton DuMars ’99 is an adjunct faculty member in the College’s Department of Geology and Geosciences and the owner of Tideline Tours, leading educational, off-the-beaten-path boating adventures aboard his 23-foot Carolina skiff, Tideline.

SUMMER 2012 |

31

|


A Day in |

32

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e


the Life Photo-essay by Leslie McKellar

Times have changed. Or have they? Although the College may seem like a very different place than it was 50, 25, even five years ago, one thing remains constant: Students come to the College to learn and grow. In this photo-essay, you’ll meet three undergraduates on three different days. You’ll see them in their morning routines, follow them to class and observe them around town. Like students for the past two centuries, they balance study and play – spending time in the library, hanging out with friends around campus and generally enjoying a city without peer. We would call this photo-essay an attempt to capture an “average” day, but as anyone knows who has spent any time here, there is nothing “average” about the College of Charleston.

SUMMER 2012 |

33

|


Monday, April 9, 2012

Qi Zheng ’12 Senior

Majors: Business Administration and Hospitality and Tourism Management Hometown: Charleston, S.C. Qi Zheng knows busy, especially on Mondays. First of all, there’s class. Then, there’s his five-hour internship at the Medical University of South Carolina, a student meeting in the late afternoon and dinner and networking with the School of Business’ Schottland Scholars until 9:00 at night. After all that, the studying begins in the Addlestone Library – for at least a few more hours.

6:56 a.m. – leaving home in West Ashley 6:47 a.m.

|

34

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e


7:12 a.m. 7:16 a.m. – morning coffee at Starbucks on King Street 8:31 a.m.

7:20 a.m. 8:36 a.m. – walking to class down College Way

8:38 a.m. – waiting outside of class in the Robert Scott Small Building

SUMMER 2012 |

35

|


9:48 a.m. 8:55 a.m. – discussing a presentation assignment in his interpersonal communication class 10:23 a.m.

10:22 a.m. – racquetball class in the Willard A. Silcox Physical Education and Health Center

10:34 a.m. 11:03 a.m. – hanging out with fraternity BROTHERS AT the Phi Gamma Delta house on Wentworth Street

|

36

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e


11:41 a.m. 11:42 a.m. – internship at MUSC’s Office of Development with Susan Master, MUSC’s director of special events

5:38 p.m.

5:44 P.M.

5:33 p.m. – meeting with the Charleston 40 (the College’s student tour guides) 6:58 p.m.

9:49 p.m 6:48 p.m. – talking with schottland scholars speaker Steve Kincaid at the Beatty Center

SUMMER 2012 |

37

|


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sarah Somes Junior

Major: Urban Studies Minor: Hospitality and Tourism Management Hometown: Grosse Pointe Park, Mich. Whether on land or water, Sarah Somes is one even-keeled Cougar. The varsity sailor keeps busy all school year ferrying herself between class on campus, practice at the J. Stewart Walker Sailing Complex in Mt. Pleasant and home on Bogard Street. On this particular afternoon, Somes’ sailing teammates elected her captain, recognizing the grace and balance she puts on display each and every day. 7:12 a.m. – morning routine of fruit and spinach smoothie

7:13 a.m.

|

38

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e


7:36 a.m. 7:33 a.m. – getting ready at her rented Bogard Street house, which she shares with four CofC roommates 7:51 a.m.

8:31 a.m.

7:56 a.m. – the sailing team skips their normal morning workout session to unload new boats

9:37 a.m. 8:53 a.m. – BREAKFAST AT DUNKIN’ DONUTS on Meeting Street

SUMMER 2012 |

39

|


9:48 a.m. 9:49 a.m. – AT AffordaBike on upper King to get her bicycle repaired 10:19 a.m.

10:53 a.m. 10:18 a.m. – cramming before social statistics class in the Stern Student Center 1:38 p.m.

12:10 p.m. – grabbing lunch at Caviar & Bananas on George Street

|

40

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e


3:05 P.M. 1:48 p.m. – a nap BEFORE HEADING back to the sailing complex for afternoon practice 3:57 P.M.

3:43 P.M.

4:01 p.m. 6:58 p.m.

4:04 p.m.

8:54 p.m. – waiting in line to see Umphrey’s McGee at the Music Farm on Ann Street

SUMMER 2012 |

41

|


Friday, April 13, 2012

Justin Lyons Sophomore

Major: Spanish Minor: Linguistics Hometown: Fort Mill, S.C. It’s no wonder Justin Lyons gets his caffeine fix at the Addlestone Library first thing after leaving home and last thing before heading home – he has a lot sandwiched in between. It takes a lot of energy to keep up Spanish conversation skills, organize the schedules of the Charleston 40, jam out with the Ukulele Club and still be able to slackline and do handstands.

8:42 a.m. – making the best of his tiny bathroom in his house on percy street 8:48 a.m.

8:45 a.m.

|

42

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e


9:11 a.m. 9:06 a.m. – Java City stop in the Addlestone Library 9:36 a.m.

9:45 a.m.

10:02 a.m. – Spanish linguistics class in the Thaddeus Street Jr. Education Center

11:57 a.m. 11:54 a.m. – Checking in at the Charleston 40 office to discuss scheduling

SUMMER 2012 |

43

|


12:29 P.m. 12:06 P.m. – going over next semester’s calendar with Susan Oakes ’01 1:09 P.m.

1:24 P.m. – meeting up with the Ukulele Club for their weekly jam session 1:48 P.m.

1:30 P.m. – break for a handstand contest

|

44

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e


1:58 P.m. – Portuguese class in the Education Center

3:07 P.m. – slacklining in the Cistern Yard

6:38 P.M. 4:42 p.m. – conversing only in Spanish with faculty and students for the bi-weekly La Tertulia at Yo Burrito

7:47 P.M. 6:40 p.m. – one more stop in the Addlestone Library

7:54 p.m. – finally unwinding on his porch

SUMMER 2012 |

45

|


The Enigmatic World of Derrick Niederman Adjunct math professor by day, puzzle maker by night, Derrick Niederman has devoted a lifetime to the art of problem solving. by

Jason Ryan Photography by

|

46

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

Peter Frank Edwards ’93


SUMMER 2010 |

47

|


he man on the airplane was scribbling furiously on the trans-Atlantic flight, enough to provoke the interest of a seatmate. Sneaking a peek, she noticed he wasn’t correcting legal briefs or reviewing spreadsheets, but rather editing a crossword puzzle of his own design. Soon enough, curiosity, or the boredom so easily found within a cramped fuselage at 30,000 feet, got the better of her. Unable to contain herself, the woman blurted out a question she needed resolved before the plane’s touchdown: “Excuse me, sir, but are you Will Shortz?” No, alas, the mystery man was not the famed puzzle maker, but what a coup it would have been to be seated beside Shortz, the crossword puzzle editor at The New York Times, former editor of Games magazine and a subject of the 2006 documentary Wordplay. Despite this disappointment, the woman was not unfortunate in her seat assignment. Funnily enough, the mystery traveler beside her was a pal to Shortz and a world-class puzzle creator in his own right, one who was unwinding from competing in a European bridge tournament by making crossword puzzles on his seat tray. And though he didn’t star in Wordplay, this passenger did have a cameo – and, speaking of movies, some people just swear he could be a stand-in for actor Chevy Chase, at least the Chevy Chase preserved on VHS in so many 1980s screwball comedies. Movie-star looks, an intellect on par with America’s most famous puzzler, international bridge player extraordinaire with a habit of mid-flight crossword-puzzle editing – Why, who is this man? Perhaps you’ve seen the commercials: A handsome, suave, bearded Latino gentleman urges viewers to drink Dos Equis beer as short vignettes of absurd adventures flash across the screen: an Ernest Hemingway lookalike drops out of a plane in a vintage kayak, casually shoos a pet cougar off his kitchen table, ferries half a dozen smiling beauty pageant queens in a lifeboat in rough seas, cavorts with royalty and skin-dives for a chest of sunken treasure, all while a narrator touts the virtues and accomplishments of this bon vivant who regularly disarms the two sets of creatures that habitually surround him: wild animals and beautiful women half his age. As the narrator informs us,

As soon as i published a puzzle in the times , i felt i wrote the first line of my obituary.

He is the life of parties he has never attended. He once had an awkward moment to see how it feels. His mother has a tattoo that reads, “Son.” On every continent in the world, there is a sandwich named after him. He is, the narrator concludes, “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” Yet there is a rival in the wings, a man whose intellectual and athletic pursuits are similarly whimsical and awe inspiring, though they have yet to be televised. And like his fictional beer-promoting counterpart, this man has a regular audience of young women, too, though they meet him not in a dim bar, but a sunlit classroom in Maybank Hall, dressed not in cocktail dresses, but shorts and T-shirts, with bookbags slung across their shoulders. There, he urges these women (and a handful of men, too) not to “stay thirsty, my friends,” but, rather, to remain steadfast in their problem solving. The T-shirted men and women are his students, and little do they know that the man at the front of the classroom is much more than meets the eye, that they are under the tutelage of someone who is many things other than adjunct math professor, including champion squash player, financial wizard, bridge enthusiast, game inventor, author of 12 books and, most distinguishingly, master puzzler. Distracted by polygons and models of linear and exponential growth, these students might pass the class but fail to realize they are in the company of a very special teacher, someone who, beer commercials aside, might truly be the most interesting man in the world. Or at least be in the running. The promise of such distinction was not evident early in his life, when Derrick Niederman was born into an existence that seems, on a superficial level, in lockstep with the culture and lifestyles of typical New England bluebloods and Ivy Leaguers. He grew up in the pastoral Connecticut countryside as the son of an epidemiologist renowned for helping identify the root cause of mononucleosis. Niederman graduated from nearby Yale University before studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he

|

48

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e


earned a doctorate in mathematics and studied under legendary mathematician Irving Segal. During these years, he played squash competitively, earning the No. 1 spot while at Yale and becoming the sport’s top-ranked amateur. In time, he’d become national amateur squash champion for the 35-and-over crowd. After MIT, he began a career in finance, first working as an analyst, then, by 1987, as an investment columnist for Fidelity in Boston. The transition to financial writing hinted at his future as an author, and, in 1995, his first book, This Is Not Your Father’s Stockpicking Book, was published. He’d follow that up in later years with two other investment books, including one that doubled as a murder mystery: A Killing on Wall Street. Niederman’s drift into book writing was a symptom of frustrations in his finance career, most notably the lack of creativity required for his work and the ever-shrinking time frame used to evaluate investments. Niederman’s investment approach was “old-fashioned,” meaning he would prefer to check on his recommendations every couple of months to monitor their progress. Many peers, however, were more vigilant, perhaps to no advantage, becoming increasingly sensitive to daily ups and downs. He was leery of these trends and the inevitable influence it would have on his life and career. “Many people in the financial business have their lives dominated by forces outside their control, although theoretically one can control one’s responses,” he says. “I didn’t think I was well equipped to be immersed in a business in which I would be defined by a performance number, and a performance number only. The more I allowed myself to be defined this way, the less happy I would be.”

One thing that did make him happy was puzzles, which he was no longer simply solving, but also creating. After a few years of experimentation during graduate school as a means of procrastinating against writing his thesis, at the age of 26, Niederman had his first triumph, when The New York Times published one of his crossword puzzles. He had been rejected three times before by the crossword puzzle editor at the time, Eugene T. Maleska, who warned him to allow some time to pass before pestering the paper with another attempt. But the bold and relentless Niederman submitted another puzzle just three weeks later. Lo and behold, Maleska accepted, making Niederman a very happy man. “As soon as I published a puzzle in The Times,” he says, “I felt I wrote the first line of my obituary.” Unfortunately, crossword puzzles don’t pay the bills, even those published in The New York Times. Niederman recalls earning about $100 for that first published puzzle in 1981, necessitating him to keep his day job as a financial analyst. Despite the meager payout, the puzzle earned him considerable acclaim and attention, as did the themed crossword puzzles he continued to get published in the Sunday edition of The New York Times – about 20 in the last 30 years. Yet his newfound fame also subjected him to a bit of contempt, such as the time a colleague passed Niederman and boasted with an air of derision, “I solved your puzzle.” Niederman was baffled, not so much at his rudeness but for the fact that his rival seemed not to realize that solvability was the point. “Whoever he was, he continued on his way, pleased at winning

SUMMER 2012 |

49

|


SUMMER 2012 |

51

|


the joust, evidently not realizing that most crossword makers want people to solve their puzzles,” writes Niederman in his latest book, The Puzzler’s Dilemma. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t go to all that trouble to make the words intersect.” Yet for all Niederman’s elation at his accomplishment in puzzledom, there was also uncertainty. OK, now what? Niederman recalls thinking following the publication of his first crossword puzzle. He plowed ahead in his finance career, though he was careful to take note of some nagging doubts in his life about the value of his assorted pursuits. His dissertation on the infinite orthogonal group, for example, he judged to be an unworthy result of that many years of his life. At work, he sometimes swam against the tide, unwilling to mirror the intensity of his colleagues and their focus on the short term. Peggy Malaspina, who worked alongside Niederman at Fidelity before becoming his romantic partner for the past 20 years, recalls how he initially infuriated her with his casual habits. She and most of their colleagues often worked 80 hours a week without batting an eye. “Not Derrick. If he had a squash game at six, he was leaving,” says Malaspina, explaining that her perspective of Niederman’s work habits has since changed. “He was pretty clear he had balance in his life, and I give him credit for that.” In 1995, at age 40, Niederman had had enough. He quit his job and took a gamble, signing on with America Online to write mysteries for Internet audiences he hosted in a chat room each weekend, answering their questions about his whodunits and offering clues. It paid for him to make the mysteries both interesting and challenging – the longer the hundreds of cybersleuths stayed in the chat room, the more money Niederman and AOL both made. This change in professional direction also offered him the chance to focus his energy on what had been his true passion in life: puzzle making.

|

52

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e


“Once I felt I had done my time in the financial business,” Niederman says, “I gave myself the freedom to return to puzzles, which I always loved the best.” Walk through Niederman and Malaspina’s home in Charleston and you’ll find it hard to leave. Around every corner a puzzle or game is lurking, waiting to drain the hour, and your brain. Among them are a bag of plastic polygon puzzle pieces named Pentagone – a TV-themed board game and a hybrid of Connect Four and Scrabble that stands tall on a coffee table. All these prototypes are Niederman’s creations. Many required hours and hours of careful cutting, pasting and painting to make; others are professionally constructed by using 3-D modeling. In the last two decades, Niederman has taken dozens of these games to major toymakers and trade shows, hoping to score a hit. Despite their ingenuity, many were not deemed suitable for mass production. A handful, however, have been successes, and in recent years Niederman has hit his stride in the game world. In December, Games magazine named Pathwords, Niederman’s word-search game featuring puzzle blocks similar to the shapes in Tetris, the best word game of 2012. Its manufacturer, ThinkFun, is now working to make a Pathwords app for the iPhone and induced Niederman to produce a kids’ version and a German version, too. In 2008, ThinkFun produced Niederman’s 36 Cube puzzle, which is a three-dimensional adaptation of the 36-officer problem posed

by the 18th-century mathematician Leonhard Euler. Unlike Euler’s officer problem, Niederman’s 36 Cube isn’t impossible, though it might seem like it. Players of 36 Cube, which is sort of a mix between Sudoku and Rubik’s Cube, must stack small plastic towers of assorted sizes and colors onto a pronged grid to form a cube. Niederman is adept at creating all sorts of puzzles, whether involving words, numbers, shapes or suspense. Oftentimes it is a combination of some or all of the above, such as in the mysteries depicted in his book Inspector Forsooth’s Whodunits. These puzzles, games and inventions do not come easy to Niederman – except when they do. Niederman invented Pathwords in 10 seconds as he walked down the stairs of his home. Yet a perpetual calendar he’s invented, which he describes as “a soccer ball with all the hexagons thrown out,” took him months to create. The calendar is a dodecahedron, or 12-faced object, featuring one month on each face. As the calendar changes each year, its user replaces transparent blue and red lenses on each face to cover up certain tinted dates that no longer coincide with certain days of the week. It’s an invention that’s difficult to describe, much less devise. What’s worse is that no one really needs a perpetual dodecahedral calendar these days, a fact that Niederman recognizes but finds “annoying.” He wishes “everyone went ballistic over it.” “It solved a problem that people weren’t necessarily looking to be solved, namely designing a perpetual calendar that only needed to be reset once each year,” says Niederman. “That’s its shortcoming.”

SUMMER 2012 |

53

|


Such frustration can be all too common for puzzlers and inventors, and, no matter their prior successes, there is always disappointment over the things that fall short. Niederman is no exception. “He takes on challenges,” Malaspina says, “and is hard on himself if he doesn’t succeed quickly and perfectly.” But when Niederman does succeed at these challenges, the results are impressive. Some of his boldest work has been in the form of crossword puzzles, and he is praised by no less than Shortz for his “grand ideas” in this medium. Shortz speaks fondly of Niederman’s “Smooth Move” puzzle that was published in The New York Times in January 2005. It incorporates two chessboards within the crossword grid, and a number of answers within the chessboards contain the names of chess pieces, such as Kingston or weeknight. The two different arrangements of these clues/pieces within each chessboard then help the solver determine a final answer: checkmate. “It’s just a crazy thing to try and do, and Derrick pulled it off,” says Shortz, who each week is inundated with about 100 crosswords made by Times readers, yet only able to publish seven. Also of note is a crossword puzzle Niederman submitted to Shortz that features two sets of entirely different answers that fit the same grid and clues. Shortz determined this construction to be “an almost impossible challenge,” and, indeed, he has not yet accepted this puzzle, hoping Niederman can make a few improvements. But Niederman isn’t completely consumed by puzzles and games. He’s also managed to keep his love of mathematics alive, writing two books on numbers for mainstream audiences: What the Numbers Say and Number Freak. In the former, Niederman and co-author David Boyum (who happens to be a squash buddy) analyze figures we encounter in our everyday lives and suggest how to interpret these data and numbers in meaningful ways. In the latter, Niederman explores the numbers 1 to 200, offering up an astounding smattering of thought-provoking and quirky tidbits. Consider his entry for 108, which, Niederman logs, is the number of degrees in each angle of a regular pentagon, the number of suitors courting Penelope in The Odyssey, the number of stitches on a Major League baseball and the number of cards used to play a game of canasta. Writing such math and number books for a broad audience is challenging, but Marian Lizzi, editor-in-chief of Perigee Books (an imprint of Penguin), who this year published Niederman’s The Puzzler’s Dilemma, says Niederman pulls off the feat with aplomb, walking a fine line to satisfy the mathematically inclined and disinclined alike. “The depth of understanding he brings to his subject matter sets him apart from the pack,” Lizzi says. “He has a great deal of enthusiasm for the material, which comes through in his conversational writing style, so that the reader feels almost like Derrick is explaining the material one-on-one. “Editing Derrick’s books has opened my eyes to many surprising connections and hidden patterns all around us,” she continues. “The experience has also reminded me of how impactful it is to write with passion. There’s no substitute for an author’s enthusiasm when it comes to grasping new ideas and truly absorbing them.”

Life is a succession of problems to be solved. ... Mathematics offers students an opportunity to enhance their question-and-answer skills for any subject.

Niederman and Malaspina moved to Charleston on a whim. Tired of miserable March weather in New England, the couple made a brief escape to Charleston in 2010, renting an apartment in the historic Joseph Aiken Carriage House on Charlotte Street. In the course of a month, they fell head over heels for the Holy City and, in August 2011, they made a permanent move into another downtown home. Unwilling to meet people “by walking the dog,” Niederman offered his expertise to the College and was hired as an adjunct professor for the 2011–12 academic year. “The fit has been terrific,” Niederman gushes. “My colleagues in the math department have been so helpful, both personally and professionally.” But more important than the social opportunities provided by the College’s faculty community was the chance to teach mathematics – and communicate his passion for the subject – to students.

|

54

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e


Test your head with a few puzzles from the mind of Derrick Niederman. Good luck!

1)

The figure below represents one of four faces of a chimney. Assuming that the chimney consists entirely of full, uncut bricks, how many bricks did it take to build the chimney?

2)

What four-letter man’s name has the same property as each of the two and three-letter combinations below?

ga

sli

smo

bo

la

fea

3)

What number comes next in this sequence? (There are two answers.)

17, 19, 23, 29, ?

wi

The first is a partial listing of prime numbers, and 31 is next on the list. 17, 19, 23, 29, 37 17, 19, 23, 29, 31 3) The two answers are as follows: The man’s name with the same property is therefore Eric, as in Eric the Red. 2) Each of the snippets in the problem comes to life when you add “thered.” gathered slithered smothered withered bothered lathered feathered 1) The chimney consists of 30 bricks. The easiest way to see this is to look at the chimney from above: Five rows of six bricks make for a total of 30. ANSWERS

So, back to our question: Who is this man, and is he the most interesting man in the world? For Niederman to lay claim to that title, would it help if he had cut his own umbilical cord at birth? That he can divide by zero? That Bigfoot has a blurry picture of him, or that he has never lost a thumb war? No, that kind of hyperbole is better suited for people devoid of true merit, such as make-believe adventurers in beer ads. Real men of interest don’t have to exaggerate their accomplishments. Indeed, if their accomplishments are sufficiently impressive, embellishment only results in farce. Though you may not see Niederman in a beer commercial anytime soon, you could sit beside him on an airplane. If you do, ask to make his acquaintance, and don’t confuse him with another puzzle maker. For he is Derrick Niederman. And that should be enough.

Brain Teasers

For the second, the gap between adjacent elements is growing (2, 4, 6), so the next element must be 29 + 8 = 37.

“As you get older,” Niederman says, “you get more conscious of what you can do for the younger generation.” Just like his book audiences, Niederman’s mathematics classes are filled with both those with strong aptitudes for mathematics and those for whom numbers can cause nightmares. He sympathizes with students’ fear of mathematics, and regrets that a poor introduction to the subject can often permanently poison the numbers department in young minds. What’s lost, he believes, is a student’s ability to gain and maintain the confidence, resiliency and innovative habits necessary to tackle so many things in their professional and personal lives. “Life is a succession of problems to be solved without being encumbered by the succession of problems,” Niederman says. “Mathematics offers students an opportunity to enhance their question-and-answer skills for any subject. An inadequate foundation in mathematics results in students never living up to their actual problem-solving potential.” College students are receptive to these philosophies. Remy Teicher, a rising junior and theatre major from Bernardsville, N.J., credits Niederman for making mathematics interesting and practical, but also challenging. “I really lucked out with him. His teaching methods are definitely geared for people not into math,” says Teicher, who counts herself among that population (or at least she used to). “He’s just a cool dude, and you want to listen to him.” Niederman peppers his classes with jokes and asides that distract from the drier aspects of lessons. Teicher says these diversions are appreciated, and she is grateful for his patience and calm, casual teaching style. “It’s more motivating. I feel like I’m doing the work for myself,” Teicher says. “I feel like he’s on our side.” Niederman, of course, is unable to prevent his puzzle-making tendencies from creeping into his teaching, even if the effect is subtle. Reviewing answers to a quiz with his class this past spring semester, Niederman confessed that in labeling the vertices, or corners, of a polygon with consecutive letters from A to G, he was unable to resist skipping the letter F as “a lame attempt to create some kind of obstacle.” “Oh, so you did that on purpose?” one student replied, apparently unfazed. “Yes, it was on purpose,” said Niederman, with a twinkle in his eye. “Did you wonder about that?”

SUMMER 2012 |

55

|


When Watkins Little ’09 laced up for the Cooper River Bridge Run last spring, he had no idea that he was hotfooting it straight toward Internet stardom. Seemingly overnight, his face was plastered all across the Internet, the media were clamoring to talk to him and he was being recognized everywhere he went. He had, in a flash, become the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy. [WORDS]

ALICIA LUTZ ’98

|

[IMAGES]

LESLIE M CKELLAR

atkins pressed his back into the hallway wall, trying not to breathe as his socked feet slid deliberately, inch by inch, over the wooden parquet floor toward the safety of his bedroom. “Zeddie? Zeddie Little?” the woman’s voice shouted again – this time muffled not just by a fist pounding on one side of the door, but by the dog’s barking frenzy on the other. “We just want a word with you. It’s Inside Edition.” He squeezed his eyes shut and tensed his shoulders. A vain attempt to buffer the clang of the spoon that dropped from his left hand, flinging a sticky glob of granola up onto the 2001 Summerville Flowertown Festival poster hanging on the opposite wall. He was startled to realize he’d still been gripping the spoon at all. One minute he’d been enjoying his breakfast and listening to records, the next— “Please, Mr. Little,” the voice topped off the commotion. “We just want to ask you a few questions … “… How does it feel to be famous?” Glancing alternately up at the door and back at Watkins, Jamma wagged her tail and continued to bark in confused excitement. The pounding subsided for a few seconds, and then started up again, accompanied by the pleading: “Please, we’re looking for Zeddie Little? Does he live here? ... Mr. Little, is that you? ... Please, it’ll only take a second!”

|

Taking a deep breath, Watkins scooted into the bedroom, leaving Jamma and the Inside Edition reporter to duke it out on either side of the apartment door while he called his buddy Todd for help. “Dude, Inside Edition is outside my door,” he murmured into the phone. “They’re actually in the building. What do I do?” Todd, a senior VP at a Manhattan PR firm, was amused. “Do you want to be on Inside Edition?” “No, I don’t want to be on Inside Edition!” Watkins yelped, incredulous. “OK, so don’t show your face,” Todd shrugged. “Let them think they’re barking up the wrong tree. They won’t let up if they see your face.” Watkins nodded. It still felt bizarre that people recognized his face at all, although he’d finally stopped doing double takes every time he saw his face smiling back at him online. He didn’t even see that as himself anymore. That was the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy – the persona the Internet had created. In fact, Watkins had nothing to do with any of this, really. All he did was run the Cooper River Bridge Run. He just happened to get caught on camera when he smiled at a friend on the sidewalk. It was the photographer who posted the picture, the photag’s friend who gave him the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy moniker SUMMER 2012 |

57

|


and, yes, the people in cyberspace who ate it up, causing it to go viral in a matter of hours. “The great thing is that all the jokes are positive,” Watkins says now, noting that cyberspace is often a hostile environment for its viral stars. “If your face is going to be splattered across the Internet, this is definitely one of the better ways for it to happen.” So, that’s the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy – the guy in the photograph that’s taken the Internet by storm. The star of cyberspace. That’s not who Inside Edition was beating down the door for. They wanted Zeddie Little. He’s the one everyone wants to meet. He’s the one getting all the attention in the real world. The reallife celebrity. And then there’s Watkins, born Zeddie Watkins Little V, the music lover, the cook, the runner, the introvert. The all-around good guy. He’s the humble, poised and appreciative recipient of all the attention. Watkins doesn’t think of himself as a celebrity. In fact, Watkins himself isn’t a celebrity. Before all of this, his biggest brush with fame was getting the thumbs-up from Jay-Z at Torrisi Italian Specialties, where he

|

58

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

cooked when he first moved to New York City with his girlfriend Nicole Luedemann ’07 in May 2011. This is a guy who loves cooking. In college, he followed the Charleston City Paper food writer Jeff Allen around town. He learned from both his writing style and his culinary aesthetic. Allen’s column is what turned him on to Extra Virgin Oven (EVO) Pizza in North Charleston. The owner of the restaurant was still hanging the blinds in the window and installing the light fixtures when Watkins walked in and applied for a job. He was the first employee. He stayed for four years. He learned a lot. In his heart, Watkins misses cooking in a restaurant. Whenever he eats out, he can’t help but be jealous of the guys in the kitchen. Sometimes he peeks in on them, just to see what they’re doing. Of all the things he’s done, Watkins is most proud that he graduated from the College of Charleston and moved to New York. He graduated in 2009. A communication major. He spent the last year or so interning at Mexican Summer Records and doing public relations for Union Pool, a “pretty rad” music venue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He’s just interviewed for a job doing brand strategy at an award-winning independent media agency.


He was more nervous in that interview than he was in the interview for Good Morning America (because, well, it mattered in real life). Watkins loves the idea of being a morning person, but he still enjoys sleeping in. Around the corner from his East Village apartment is a Filipino market that sells cheap flights to the Philippines during the week; on Saturdays they roast whole suckling pigs. He likes that, in New York City, anything goes. Watkins grew up in West Ashley. His parents divorced when he was 15. He stayed with his dad – his little brother and sister went with his mom. The farthest he’s been away from home is Costa Rica. He went there for two weeks his junior year in college. Watkins is left handed. And looks more like his mom than his dad. He doesn’t like his nose. His hair is thin, so he uses a pomade to thicken it up. He goes to a barber called Freeman’s. He’s not perfect. This guy – the one who didn’t answer when Inside Edition called him Zeddie Little – doesn’t want to be remembered in life for his face. He just wants to be remembered as someone who had a good, positive impact on people.

LOOKS INTO A BROKEN MIRROR: FIXES IT Watkins Little woke up the day of the Cooper River Bridge Run with a huge zit right between his eyes. It was so big, he could feel it throbbing. It was the kind of zit that lasts for weeks and there’s nothing you can do about it. He didn’t bother showering. Who showers before a race? He didn’t bother brushing his hair. His bed-head would relax once he started sweating. He didn’t bother eating. He’d be doing plenty of that later. He hadn’t really hydrated properly, either. And it was hot. Like, muggy hot. Things weren’t getting off to a great start. In fact, the entire race had to be delayed. Not because of Watkins’ pimple or his bed-head or his lack of fuel, but because there were 10,000 runners and walkers still stuck downtown and on buses when the bridge was scheduled to close. The other 33,635 runners and walkers had no choice but to stand around for an hour in the 70°-and-climbing heat until the race could start. Worried that he wasn’t hydrated enough, Watkins used the time to hunt down some liquid. He jumped the temporary fence installed all along Coleman Boulevard, ran into the Kangaroo Express for a Gatorade and chugged it. It didn’t seem to help. In fact, things only got worse when the race began. It was uncomfortable. And it was hot. Miserably hot. And it was steep. He’d trained for the incline on the Williamsburg Bridge, running to Brooklyn and back without any trouble. But this, this was different. This was a long, long stretch of incline. He wasn’t primed for this. And his legs were starting to cramp. Of all of the runs, this was definitely not his best. Watkins had been running all his life – ever since he was a kid, tagging along on his dad’s night runs around Village Green in West Ashley. He loved those runs – he felt like he could keep on going forever. Not today. Today, it took everything he had not to stop. That’s all he wanted to do: just stop. But he didn’t stop – not until the end.

“That sucked!” he moaned, greeting his friend Johnny Battles – Charleston chocolatier and owner of Sweeteeth Chocolates, whom Watkins cooked with at EVO for years. “Yeah, it was brutal,” agreed Johnny. “Man, it was so much better last year.” Last year – the first year Watkins had run the race – it’d been a breeze, so easy and fun that he’d convinced a group of friends to meet back up in Charleston to run it together in 2012. One person he’d failed to convince, however, was Mike Scognamiglio ’03, chef and owner of Mt. Pleasant’s Bacco Italian Restaurant, where Watkins cooked for a brief stint shortly before he left for New York. “Slap me five when you run by Bacco,” Mike told him via Facebook. “I’ll be sipping on a cappuccino, watching y’all and saying to myself, ‘Next year I’ll do the Bridge Run.’” That was the plan. And, as Watkins approached the restaurant’s location at the intersection with Houston Northcutt Boulevard, a little over a mile into the race, his eyes scoured the rows of spectators: looking, looking, looking. Suddenly, the young chef popped out of his restaurant with a cappuccino in his hand. “Mike!” Watkins yelled through the swarm of runners. “There he is!” “What’s happening?” It was a fleeting conversation – shouted across hundreds of people, all doing their own thing, lost in their own thoughts, focused on their own pursuits, their own goals. Among that crowd, Will King was taking pictures.

DOESN’T WIN MARATHON: FRONT PAGE OF NEWSPAPER Oh, my gosh. What happened in Charleston over the past four days? What did I do? Momentarily paralyzed by panicky dread, Watkins Little sat stiffly in his burgundy 1999 Chevy Blazer, an uneasy feeling spreading in the pit of his stomach. He and his girlfriend Nicole had stopped to pick up some cheap (relative to NYC prices) groceries at the Marlton, N.J., Whole Foods on their way home from Charleston, and when he turned on his iPhone, it was blowing up with messages: “Your face is all over Reddit!” “You’re Reddit’s No. 1 post!” “Your picture is at the top of Reddit’s front page!” Watkins knew enough about the social news website Reddit (which allows users not just to submit content, but also to vote submitted content up or down, thus ranking its position on the site’s front page) to know that random negative and embarrassing things are often what end up getting floated to the top. His mind raced, furiously shuffling through all the places he’d been, people he’d been with, things he’d done while he was in the Holy City for the Bridge Run. And then he saw the photo. A relieved laugh burst out of his lungs. And the laugher kept on coming. The photo – captioned, “My friend calls him ‘Mr. Ridiculously Photogenic Guy’” – was the silliest thing he’d ever seen. Sure, it was a decent photo of him (and he noted gratefully that his gigantic pimple wasn’t visible), but he couldn’t for the life of him understand why it was so popular.

SUMMER 2012 |

59

|


“I didn’t get it at all,” Watkins says, noting, “I’m not active with my own social media footprint, but I have a lot of friends who are Redditors [registered users on Reddit], so they were scouring through all the threads and briefing me on what everyone was saying”: My god. He looks like a stock photo. He’s the only person in the shot that doesn’t look like he’s painfully slogging through the event. (“If only they knew!”) I’m a guy, and I have an unmanageable desire to see more of him. He’s just so … photogenic. He’s Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother; unable to take a bad picture under normal circumstances. And then there were the tributes, to be read in the voice in the Bud Light Real Men of Genius ads: Here’s to you, Mr. Ridiculously Photogenic Guy You force a smile while you run and you angle your hair just right always making sure any photo of you will come out perfect You appear nonchalant in every photo you appear in while everyone else looks confused, panicked, or simply downright stupid. A photobomb from you is a true gift only few can enjoy. Also buried in the comments was the story of how Watkins’ face ended up on Reddit in the first place. It all started with one Will King, a computer programmer with the Medical University of South Carolina, who used the Cooper River Bridge Run as an opportunity to practice his photography hobby. After the race, he uploaded 112 photos to Flikr and Facebook, and shortly thereafter his friend had dubbed Watkins “Mr. Ridiculously Photogenic Guy.” That was on Saturday. Around 1 p.m. the following Tuesday, Will King submitted the photo to Reddit. By the time Watkins got wind of it at 5 p.m., it had already climbed to No. 1. “It was kind of cool, just seeing something happen that way,” Watkins recollects. “It was all really flattering. It was kind of like a little rush to see it going on.” And, as exhausted as he was from the 13-hour drive from South Carolina to New York, Watkins couldn’t stop checking the site to see if anything had changed – to see how long his 15 minutes of fame would last. The photo held its own at the top of the page until the very end of the night, when it began falling in the ranks. “Whew!” Watkins breathed with satisfaction. “That’s over!” It was, of course, far from over.

EXTRA IN MOVIE: WINS AN OSCAR It was early when Watkins Little woke up the next morning, roused by Jamma, his golden-colored mutt from Sol Legare Island, just off Folly Road. Bad Ma’ama Jamma, as Watkins calls her, was one of five five-day-old puppies found in a box on one of the little tufts of

|

60

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

land that make up the Sol Legare. Watkins loves this dog. He pulled on the pants he’d left on the floor the night before, splashed his face with water, clipped Jamma’s leash to her collar and headed through the living room for the door. He paused, eyeing his MacBook Pro on the coffee table. “Hold on, Jamma,” he said to the dog, and – awkwardly standing over the computer – logged onto the Reddit site. “What the ... ?” There, on the screen, was meme after meme after meme. [See the opposite page for a few examples of these memes.] There must have been 50 of them already, most cropping Will King’s photo to put the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy front and center. Watkins blinked at all of the – his – faces smiling back at him. “Cra-a-zy,” he said slowly. What is going on? What the hell happened between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m.? He looked at Jamma, who stared back at him, wagging her tail. He smiled at her and led her out to the swirling smells and sundry sounds of the East Village. It was a far cry from the dog park at James Island County Park, but Jamma was adjusting to this new life. Watkins looked down at his iPhone and shook his head. His friends were freaking out – saying that he was an Internet sensation, a cyberspace star. It was bizarre, he had to agree, but he wasn’t famous. The Ridiculously Photogenic Guy was – the Internet persona. He was just Watkins Little, no celebrity at all. It’s just so weird that it’s my face, he thought, shaking his head. He looped the block and headed back toward his building, nodding at the two old men who are always standing outside the Irish bar that’s always open and playing music at 8 a.m., even though they always ignore him. He let Jamma and himself into his building, climbed the four flights of stairs and went into the kitchen to pour himself a cup of coffee before perching himself in front of the computer once more. It turned out one of the Redditors had posted a facebomb version of Will’s photo (pasting the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy’s face over all the other heads in the photograph) shortly after it hit the front page the day before. The first meme – which shows Mr. Photogenic, an unidentified woman and Tina Fey, and reads “Sees a couple of girls taking a disastrous photo: Turns it into a work of art” – appeared early in the morning. By the end of the day, the Quickmeme page for the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy had more than 1,000 submissions. (Today it has more than 11,900.) It was official: The Ridiculously Photogenic Guy had gone viral. Watkins picked up his iPhone and called home. “Dad, you’re not going to believe this,” he said. “I’m famous on the Internet.”

GOES FOR A JOG: WHOLE TOWN FOLLOWS HIM Watkins Little’s world kept getting more and more bizarre. There were suddenly 26 new Facebook accounts for Zeddie Little. A fake Twitter account had 50,000 followers. Interest was mounting – but it had shifted from the Internet-created persona to the real, live person behind the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy. And the only thing that was really known about him was that the name on his race bib was Zeddie. “Son, I hate to tell you this, but you’re not just famous on the Internet,” Zeddie Watkins Little IV, a.k.a. Jack, chuckled into the


S PRI N G 2 0 1 2 |

61

|


something,” he told Nicole over burgers at his favorite neighborhood restaurant, Back Forty. “It’s all so flattering.” Nicole was just impressed how poised Watkins was in all the chaos: “He was as cool as a cucumber! I would have crashed like the Titanic!” An apparent natural at fame, Watkins, however, just kept his options open, playing the odds, so to speak. When Today Show couldn’t figure out how to pitch his story, he used Good Morning America as leverage. “Let us know if you get, you know, a modeling gig or something,” the rep from the Today Show said hesitantly. “Well, Good Morning America wants me, so I guess I’ll just sign with them.” “Wait a minute,” the rep said. “I’ll call you back.” When he didn’t hear anything by Monday, Watkins signed the GMA offer. Of course, Ellen called on Tuesday, but lost interest when he said he’d be on GMA the next day. “I was just watching everything escalate, and I had to go ahead and play my odds,” Watkins explains. “The demographic is a little larger with GMA, too. So I just went for it.” And he nailed it. He seemed as comfortable on set as he would be chatting with a friend. He shrugs: “All I had to do was look into the camera.” Oh ... right. And, in true meme fashion, GMA’s ratings beat out the Today Show for the first time in 16 years, ending one of the most epic streaks in the history of TV.

TOURISTS ASK HIM TO TAKE A PICTURE: OF HIMSELF

phone the next evening. “I’ve been getting calls all day from the media. They think they’re calling you.” Watkins had just returned from a run through SoHo and Tribeca to the Hudson River and back up to the West Village. He was starving. Craving ramen. “What? Who? What reporters?” he asked, distractedly pulling off his Brooks Racers. A representative from Brooks had actually contacted him that day; he’d been wearing his Racers and Brooks shorts in the now infamous photograph, and the running-shoe manufacturer offered Watkins and Will King $500 in gear and $1,000 in cash to license the photograph for an online meme-captioning contest. In their first conversation together, Will and Watkins decided to turn the offer down (though Watkins did manage to get some free gear out of the company). “Well, besides Charleston City Paper and Post & Courier, we have CBS Morning Show, Today Show and IBTimes’ Daily Mail,” Jack said. “Apparently, you’re huge in England.” Apparently, he was big in America, too. “Oh, and Good Morning America,” Jack added. “Yeah, GMA somehow got Nicole’s email address, too,” Watkins said, thinking smugly, They still can’t find me, though, which is pretty cool. “It’s getting bigger and bigger. These people want something and these people want something and these people want |

62

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

“Hey! Aren’t you that runner guy?” Watkins Little faltered. He’d been working at a bar for some extra change, and it was the middle of Sunday brunch. He was slammed – orders being thrown at him right and left. He had enough to grapple with for the moment, and he was doing good just to keep up with people’s drinks. Watkins shook his head, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, man. What can I get you?” The guy made his order and turned to his friends. “There’s this guy who’s got this picture going around. He was running this race. ...” It was the first time Watkins had been approached by a stranger – and he wasn’t exactly sure how to handle it. But when he came back with the guy’s drink, he grinned at him. “OK, it’s me,” he said. “It’s me.” Watkins had to get used to it. Soon, it was happening four or five times an hour: He’d go to the grocery store, and elderly ladies would stop him, ecstatic that they’d seen him on TV. He’d go out to eat, and well-respected chefs would come out of the kitchen to have their pictures taken with him. He’d go on a run, and people would shout out to him every few blocks. They called him Ridiculously Photogenic Guy; they called him Zeddie. Sometimes people didn’t know what to call him, so they’d just point at him and say, “You’re the dude! You’re the dude!” This became his normal. But, of course, it was not normal. Not at all. Somewhere along the way, his cyberspace stardom had


gotten confused with his normal, everyday life, rendering the two indistinguishable. “It was just surreal,” Watkins says. “It’s still surreal.” Slowly, though, it started to sink in. This whole thing was no longer about the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy, the famous Internet persona. It was no longer about Zeddie Little, the real-life celebrity behind the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy. It was about him – Zeddie Watkins Little V. This was his life now. He couldn’t escape it. And so, when Watkins stepped off the L Train at the Lorimer stop on his way to work, he knew how to handle the kids who caught him there – reaching out toward him and squealing, asking for pictures. “OK,” he agreed, even though it meant he’d be late to work. “I made their day, apparently,” he recalls later. “All I was doing was walking to work, and I gave these kids a little thrill – something to tell their friends about. That’s pretty cool.”

are then delivered to the runners (who are wearing trigger chips) on giant screens along the course. “The New York City Marathon is a lot of people’s first, so they’re going to need all the support and motivation they can get. It’s kind of cool, too, that I’m joining it as my first marathon. That’s part of my selling point. It all fits together so nicely.” Most important, it all fits together with who the real Watkins Little is. The one who’s been running since he was a little boy. The one who discovered a love for public relations campaigns while studying at the College. The one who hid from Inside Edition because he wants to be known for something more than just his face.

ENTERED THE HUMAN RACE: WON Watkins Little didn’t ask for this. He didn’t pose for the camera, didn’t tag himself in the photograph, didn’t publicize his identity. He certainly didn’t aspire to be famous. He had no say in the matter whatsoever. It was completely, incomprehensibly, beyond his control. But this was his reality now – a backdrop to his every day – and what he did with it was completely up to him. It had become about how he was representing himself and his life – not just about how his image was represented on the Internet or in the media. It was, therefore, time to take ownership of it, make it meaningful, make it count. And so he did three things: He stopped leaving the house with bed-head (“There’s just so much scrutiny on my hair!”), he adjusted (though could never be accustomed) to strangers stopping him on the street – sometimes three people a day, other times more like seven or eight – and he accepted the opportunity to represent the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health in the 2012 ING New York City Marathon. “I am so completely honored to be asked to join Team Ritter,” says Watkins, whom Amy Yasbeck, actress (The Mask, Pretty Woman, Wings, etc.) and widow to John Ritter, contacted directly a day or so before his appearance on Good Morning America. “I’ll be running to raise awareness of aortic health – it’s such a cool cause.” As part of the marathon’s promotional campaign, Watkins brings a little taste of pop culture to the race. And it’s brought him a little taste of celebrity hobnobbing: He’s not only rubbed elbows with Amy Yasbeck, but he’s also joined up with Olympic marathoner Carey Nelson, world record–holder Patrick Makau, former New York Giants player Amani Toomer, Olympic distance runner Carrie Tollefson and tennis star James Blake at the ING New York City Marathon Opening Day in Columbus Circle, where they were filmed for a spot in an online broadcast feed for the New York Road Runners’ website. “They’re trying to hype up the popularity of the marathon,” says Watkins, who has also partnered with ASICS’ Support Your Marathoner program, a technology platform that allows friends and family of marathoners to record motivational videos which

This is the guy who wants to be remembered as someone who had a good, positive impact on people. The guy who wants to make people’s lives better. “It feels great to be able to use all of this as a platform for something positive,” says Watkins Little. “Any way I can promote healthy living and positivity is really humbling.” To which his adoring fans in cyberspace respond with yet another meme: “Promotes heart health: Mine skips a beat.”

SUMMER 2012 |

63

|


The

WIld One

Biologist. Explorer. Barefoot evangelist. Photographer. Defender of the defenseless. Self-taught filmmaker. Whatever he is, Justin Jay ’08 has a purpose, and it’s a matter of life and death. by Mark Berry Photography by Brennan Wesley

T h e y a r e c o m i n g r i g h t t o w a r d h i m . J u s t i n J a y ’ 0 8 h o l d s h i s b r e a t h a n d f ee l s a be a d o f s we a t s l o w l y t r i c k l e d o w n h i s c h ee k . E v e r y h a i r o n h i s a r m s ee m s t o be s t a n d i n g o n e n d . H i s k n u c k l e s g o w h i t e g r i p p i n g t h e h a n d l e o f t h e k n i f e he’s trying to soundlessly unsheathe. The knife, he knows, will do little if anything to help him, but you just never know, he thinks, and it makes him f ee l s l i g h t l y m o r e s e c u r e t o h a v e s o m e t h i n g , a n y t h i n g , i n h i s h a n d t o w a v e in the face of an oncoming attacker. Through the narrow hole in his camouflaged hide, which he had constructed with a fishnet found on the beach and a few branches and vines cut with his knife, he watches the drill monkeys approach – the alpha male leading his troop away from a highland stream and back into the cover of the dense jungle. Even in this moment of excruciating tension, Jay can’t help but marvel at the beauty of this endangered species. The brown, almost orange eyes set deep in a face seemingly cut from obsidian. The long, black hands tipped with human-like fingernails. The soft fur: brown, black and all the gradients in between – a perfect camouflage in this African island forest. And, of course, the bright purple and red genitalia, as if painted by some rainbow lover’s imaginative hand, standing in stark contrast to that drab coat. Jay is not lost in his reverie long. He knows that the nearing dominant male, weighing close to 50 pounds, sports a set of long canine teeth capable of ripping open fruit, crabs and turtle eggs, and that one bite, even a glancing blow, might prove deadly. Especially when he’s a mile or so from camp and then probably

another five miles from the closest village – on foot. In an effort to quell his mounting nerves, he tells himself that these primates only attack people, usually hunters, when they are provoked. But here he sits – alone in their territory. Just a few feet away. And with just an inch or so of leaves, sticks and vines as a defensive cover. Who knows what they will do in this situation? No one has ever really been where he’s sitting. Those who get this close are usually pointing a shotgun, not a camera. The alpha male stops and sniffs the air. Every muscle in Jay’s body is aching from holding absolutely still for what seems a lifetime. Please, wind. Don’t shift on me now, Jay pleads. The large drill monkey finally grunts and lopes past Jay’s hiding spot. The rest of the troop splits up, passing by on either side of the hide. Jay can hear the bushes rustle behind him, and then, silence – his senses completely attuned to the drill monkeys’ departure. Eventually, the noise of the jungle returns to him: the shushing of the nearby stream, the musical clucking call of a distant turaco, the rising rhythmic hum of insects and the rushing sound of his own breath as he finally exhales. SUMMER 2012 |

65

|


(clockwise) waterfall on Bioko Island in Equatorial Guinea; leatherback sea turtle hatchling; a rare shot of a drill monkey in the wild (photos by Justin Jay)

That … was … amazing!, he thinks, almost giddy with having come so close to danger, so close to an animal he has come to respect and revere. So, how is this guy here – 6,000 miles away from home on Equatorial Guinea’s Bioko Island? Not only that, why is he barefoot, wearing only swim trunks and crouched alone in a hide deep in the jungle observing a rare and disappearing species of monkey? The answer to the how is pretty straightforward. But the why isn’t quite that simple. Or, perhaps, it is.

Call of the Wild

As a kid growing up in the Lowcountry, Jay always wanted to be outside. He loved exploring the woods around his suburban home in Summerville and later in Ladson. Under each fallen tree, around every bend on a sandy trail, along the fusty marsh’s edge, there was life to be discovered, things to be found. And you didn’t need any money for it. Jay was one of four kids of a single mom. He learned pretty quickly the limitations of a one-income household. While his friends played video games, accumulated toys that they didn’t even want to play with and watched cable TV, Jay, when not |

66

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

outside, found entertainment tuning into naturalist Rudy Mancke’s NatureScene on public television. “I loved watching that show,” Jay recalls. “Even then, it looked really dated. But it was awesome to learn about South Carolina’s wildlife and different environments. Rudy was a man that could go out into the woods and tell you about life in every corner. I wanted to be able to do that.” That desire to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the outdoors shaped almost every aspect of Jay’s childhood. He was that sunburned, dirt-smudged kid forever carting around captured frogs and lizards in his pockets. The one who could tell you the difference between loblolly and longleaf pines. The fourth-grader who caught a rattlesnake with only a stick and a bucket, bringing it home as a pet. Unlike so many of his friends and schoolmates, Jay was not a child of the Consumer Age. There’s more Walt Whitman than Walt Disney in him. He was a child of pluff mud, raccoon tracks, river birch, mosquito bites and magnolia trees. But that wasn’t enough. He wanted to see more. “I just had a general sense of wanting to get out,” Jay says. “I like seeing different things. I wanted to see how people lived in other places. Growing up in the lower coastal plain, I knew what these forests look like, so I wanted to know what alpine forests look like or a tundra ecosystem looks like.”


Yes, Jay was also the kind of kid who talked about forest types and ecosystems. When Jay turned 16, he headed out West on his own. The destination was Wyoming and the general reason for the trip was a family reunion. With $300 saved up from mowing lawns and his part-time job as a bagboy at a local commissary, he told his mother he would meet the family at the reunion and off he headed west on I-26 in his bright-yellow Chevy 1500 pick-up, affectionately called Heidi. “My mom inspired me,” says Jay about his teenage travels. “She was a rambler, too. And, despite raising four kids on her own, she finished her master’s degree when I was in sixth grade – and she was also a volunteer firefighter. Though we didn’t have a lot of money, we didn’t really need it, and I saw few limitations because of it.” For several years, summers became Jay’s season of exploration. In the back of his truck, Jay carried tools, a bike and backpacking gear. He did odd jobs, mostly landscaping and remodeling, to earn pocket money on the road. He’d stay with far-flung relatives when he could or simply camp out in state parks or on the side of the highway. He learned pretty quickly that the best spots to camp in any given small town were in front of the courthouse or the police station – people just wouldn’t mess with you there. But Jay also wanted to get away from people. To see places far

removed from factories, strip malls and cookie-cutter housing developments. To that end, Jay possessed a confidence in the wild, on his own, that few teenagers, few people of any age, have or ever get. When he was 17, on one of his summer meanderings, he decided to backpack alone in the Rockies. He wanted to test himself and do a solo summit. The park rangers, shaking their heads in disbelief, warned a bright-eyed Jay about the dangers of hiking alone. Jay, who possessed an independent streak that would make even lightning look dim, was undeterred. But once in the wilderness, alone on the trail for the first time, fear did creep in. “I have to admit I was a little afraid,” Jay laughs. “You hear stories about mountain lions and bears. But I kept going.” And going. By the time Jay ended up in that hide in the African jungle, he had logged countless hours of solitary pursuit in the wild. And whatever fear Jay had of things that go bump in the night had disappeared, replaced by a fascination and deep respect for how creatures live in their environments. “Nature is not a nasty thing with teeth ready to kill you,” Jays explains. “This may sound a little macho, but there are not that many things in the forest to worry about. You operate in the environment because you’re just another animal in that

SUMMER 2012 |

67

|


environment. It’s not like it’s against you – that’s a completely modern, human idea. So, once that switch is flipped in your mind and you trust in yourself that you’ll make the right decision when you need to, you then stop worrying about everything. It may seem weird, but you come to this realization when you’re out there a lot.” That realization was especially poignant one day in the desert outside of Las Vegas. Working for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Biological Resources Division, Jay, who graduated with a degree in biology, was studying a population of chuckwallas, a kind of desert lizard. The closest town was about 80 miles away on dirt roads, and he was hiking alone to a basalt canyon. One moment it wasn’t there, and then it was. Without breaking stride, Jay stepped over a slithering rattlesnake and kept going. No sweat. A few minutes later, he was struck by his lack of reaction, his utter calm. And then he thought about what if he fell and got hurt in the canyon. “I told myself,” Jay remembers, “that I’ll just deal with it. I’m a human man, essentially as high on the food chain as any animal can be. You can’t live in fear of the what-ifs, but you can live with the assurance that whatever comes your way, you’ll deal with it.”

His Sole Experience

Deal with it? How do you deal with a drill monkey? You shoot it – that’s how. If you’re a local on Equatorial Guinea’s Bioko Island, living near the territory of drill monkeys, that’s most likely your reaction to someone espousing the virtues of this endangered animal. For farmers, they’re a nuisance, eating and trampling crops. For some, they’re a boogeyman in the jungle. Vicious. Dangerous. And for many others, they’re a staple of the food culture. Simply delicious. “A lot of locals still eat bushmeat pretty regularly,” Jay points out, “although it’s most likely for special events. Think of it as their cake. Imagine a campaign in the United States where you try to get people off of cake. Monkey, like cake, has such a positive association for many of them: It’s expensive – therefore, special. And it’s this thing you go to the market to get to celebrate this good time in your life.” Jay learned these lessons while studying another endangered species, leatherback sea turtles. That’s why he was in this Western African country in the first place – as part of a research team with the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program. They were there studying the turtle’s population dynamics, making health assessments and working with locals on wildlife conservation issues. Each evening, they started working at 10 p.m. and would go to 3 a.m., some nights pulling data on the animals until 6:00 the next morning. Therefore, Jay had some down time during the day, and his explorer’s itch needed scratching. He would walk the beaches, trash picking for supplies. He probably scoured 20 miles of beach to find the timbers to build a raised platform for his tent. This was a priority for Jay since he had spent nearly all of his life’s savings on camera equipment before coming to Africa. “I had all of this camera gear that I didn’t want to rot,” Jay says. “And I wanted really nice circulation in the tent.” With his camera in hand, Jay padded into the jungle. Oh yeah, by this point, Jay had gone native, so to speak.

|

68

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

“Nature

is not a nasty

thing with teeth ready to

kill you.” “It’s an Old World forest on Bioko,” Jay explains. “In the Lowcountry, however, if you walk in the woods and let everything brush up against you, you’re going to be sorry. So, the first few weeks on Bioko I was very cautious. I didn’t let anything touch me. And then I talked with the locals, and you realize it’s a very inviting forest.” Jay accepted the forest’s invitation. He no longer wore shoes. His uniform: swim trunks. He carried a knife with him at all times – primarily for splitting firewood, cleaning fish and skinning the occasional snakes that wandered into the traps of hunters whom he had befriended. “It’s a great feeling to stand in the middle of the forest,” Jay observes, “to feel the soil under your feet, the leaves against your skin and know that the human form in its simplest was meant to be a part of this grand existence just as much as any other animal.” In his conversations with his research team and native Equatorial Guineans, he learned much about the island’s flora and fauna. And he was quick to take his camera into the jungle to capture the exotic and photogenic. One of the stories that struck him was about a team of National Geographic photojournalists that had blitzed Bioko Island in 2008 in an effort to capture in images the vast array of creatures living in this setting rich in biodiversity. Despite their best efforts, one of the animals they did not photograph in the wild was the drill monkey. They were only able to take pictures of those hunted and being sold, dead and alive, in the markets of Malabo, the country’s capital. Jay found out that the drill monkey population had declined by a third between 1986 and 2006. And he knew that time was running out on this species.


S PRI N G 2 0 1 2 |

69

|


“The drill was this kind of unicorn,” Jays says. “Everybody knew about it, but no one had really seen it. The stories I would hear always sounded like this: ‘One time, three years ago, I heard one and I saw the bushes move.’ I was fascinated, learning its ecology, its endangered status, all of the threats facing it. It was so desperate. An animal no one really ever sees is about to be gone forever! So, I thought, I would like to see it while I’m here.” Jay, his curiosity piqued and his competitive fire stoked (who wouldn’t want to take pictures of something that National Geographic failed to get?), focused his biologist’s training and his wilderness tracking skills on finding this unicorn with opposable thumbs. Clearly, Jay was not some innocent going into the jungle. He had tracked plenty of animals, both large and small, for work and for fun. As a conservation biologist in the desert, he had trailed Gila monsters, chuckwallas and desert tortoises. In eastern North Carolina, he had been a field crew leader searching for rare marsh birds. Along the coastline, he studied loggerhead turtles. And on his own, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, he had even followed the tracks of a mountain lion to its day bed. Jay knew he would find the drill monkey. It was just a matter of when. |

70

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

No Monkey Business

I can’t believe I wasn’t there, Jay said to himself. For weeks, Jay had been looking – and looking – trying to pinpoint a good location. He had discovered tracks and other telltale signs of drill monkey activity, such as scat, half-eaten fruit and scratched-up roots. He had found a spot along a stream with a large fig tree that he thought might be one of their habitual feeding grounds. After working until 3 a.m., he would try to get about two hours of sleep and then hike a kilometer into the jungle in order to be there by 5 a.m., just before dawn. He would sit there, usually for five hours, waiting, listening and waiting some more. A colleague on the leatherback turtle research team expressed interest in seeing what preoccupied Jay so much every morning. While others jogged on the beach, made crafts and pined for the comforts of home, Jay was away: a Captain Ahab mixed with a Mr. Kurtz. So, Jay drew a map in the sand and sent his friend to his favorite spot. “He came back later and told me he saw it – a drill running into the bush,” Jay says. “I was so upset. I had been checking that river spot every day for weeks.”


(opposite page) male drill monkey on Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea (photo by Justin Jay)

Jay’s disappointment at not being the first to spot the drills did not last long. I know where they are now, he thought. Let’s go. Jay built a blind out of an old fishing net and branches and vines cut from the jungle canopy in order to cover his scent. He situated it across the stream and down wind from the general area he thought the drills would most likely congregate. For a week, he sat there. Just sat there. And nothing. But on one morning, a blue kingfisher landed on his blind and chirped its morning song. A very tired Jay tried to shoo it away, but it wouldn’t leave. And it wouldn’t let him drift off to sleep either. Fine, I’m up, Jay conceded. And then a few seconds later, he saw them – the drills emerging from the jungle and making their way to the stream. He was awestruck. They were beautiful. More beautiful than he could have ever imagined. Without breaking his gaze, he lifted his camera up. Focused. And pressed the button. The click of the shutter was like a gunshot. And the drills bolted back into the jungle. What they left behind, however, was a changed Justin Jay: the moment of discovery so intense that Jay had a new purpose. For the next few weeks, Jay spent hours in that hide, capturing video and still images of the drill monkeys in their natural habitat. Jay made no pretenses of becoming a Jane Goodall, cuddling and

wrestling with these monkeys. He knew if the monkeys became comfortable with him and, by extension, other humans, that their relaxed instinct was a death sentence. To survive, the drills needed to be ever vigilant. And for him, concealment meant gathering new knowledge and accurate data of a species rarely seen in the wild. “When I was in that hide, realizing that I was getting footage that no one had ever gotten before, I knew that this is exactly where I needed to be,” Jays says. “I knew that out of the entire world, in this particular time in my life, I needed to be right here, sitting down on this log, in this hide, in the rain. This is where I belong. There’s nothing I could do that could be more productive, that could be more fulfilling. I am doing something I should be doing.” That clarity of purpose led Jay to establish the Drill Project, a conservation initiative aimed at conducting scientific research and providing educational resources to save the endangered drill monkeys. For the past two winters, Jay has worked in Equatorial Guinea, recording the drills in their natural habitat and networking with government officials and local leaders about this project. His first objective, in partnership with the National University of Equatorial Guinea in Malabo and Drexel University in Philadelphia, is to produce a documentary with the footage he has shot and to inform locals about this rare animal, which the International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed as “the highest conservation priority of all African primates.” “This film is part of a whole campaign of awareness about drills,” Jay says. “It’s a film for the locals. It will be told in Spanish, the country’s official language, and narrated by native Equatorial Guineans. The country, as a whole, has little trust for international journalists and scientists, who continually bring attention to all that is wrong with the country. And there’s a lot wrong. However, they don’t need another outside voice critiquing them. It won’t work. And for this species to be saved, we need to do what will work.” Jay hopes to have his film ready to air in Equatorial Guinea by next fall, and already, BBC executives are talking to him about incorporating his rare footage in their own programming. And while all of this is very exciting and the prospects very promising to Jay, it doesn’t even come close to the charge he gets being out in the wild, sitting in that hide. “It’s so intense,” Jay smiles, thinking of the five hours he would spend daily in his hide. “Your senses are heightened. You’re always alert, looking around and listening to every sound. It’s pure adrenaline when that animal finally comes in front of you – even more so when your equipment is in focus, with the right exposure and you actually get good footage.” Therein lies the answer to why this barefooted biologist sits alone in the jungle. For Justin Jay, who revels in the present moment and the kinetic beauty of the wilderness, life – his, yours, a monkey’s – is precious and worth saving. And believing that to his core, Jay will do everything he can to ensure that at least this one endangered species is not relegated to the past tense – that the drill monkey will not become a museum object collecting dust next to the dodo display. SUMMER 2012 |

71

|


Philanthropy Access Granted

|

72

These are the kids who get locked out of their parents’ computers because they know how to bypass all the parental controls. They’re the ones who get kicked out of high school computer classes because they rewrite the programs they’re supposed to be learning to use. They’re the ones who – perhaps to their relief – get left out of conversations because they

kicked out and left out enough over the years. That’s why BiblioLabs – a global leader in digital content distribution – established the annual four-year tuition-paid BiblioLife Scholarship for incoming freshmen intending to major in computer science, computing in the arts or discovery informatics at the College. Based less on GPAs, SATs or

communicate in the zeros and ones of programming language rather than in the words of the English language. But, the way one Charleston company sees it, these kids have been locked out,

application essays, this scholarship gives these atypical scholarship recipients the chance to get in on an education – a chance they may never have thought they had.

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

“When I heard about the scholarship, it was like the lottery: ‘I’m not going to win that!’” says the 2011 scholarship recipient, freshman Glenn Nelson, who at the time had been offered a job doing IT for a law firm in Hilton Head and had no plan to apply to college – and who did, by the way, manage to hack into his parents’ computer, despite their lockdown efforts. His mother did wield control, however, in this instance, insisting that he apply for the scholarship. “And, lo and behold, they called me in for an interview. I had to go out and buy a dress shirt!” The 2010 scholar, sophomore David Bruneau, wasn’t any more prepared for a four-year liberal arts education after high school. “I had financial issues at the time, and if I hadn’t gotten the scholarship, I would probably have a minimum-wage job right now trying to make enough money to go to community college. It would have been many years before I got any formal education,” he says, noting that his paid internship at BiblioLabs is just as valuable a learning experience as the time he spends in the classroom. BiblioLabs founder and chief business officer Mitchell Davis ’93 (pictured here) couldn’t agree more: “I think that’s where the true value of this scholarship resides. These internships get them out there in the world, getting experience, writing code, doing a stand-up report every morning, learning how to communicate,” he says. “They grow a lot in the process, too. I’ve watched these guys – who are really your stereotypical computer introverts – become so much more confident and extroverted. They’ve really come out of their shells.” And once they’re out, let’s face it: They can’t be stopped. With the added armor of education, experience and confidence, these kids aren’t going to be locked, kicked or left out of anything ever again.


PHILANTHROPY

| Photo by Reese Moore |

A Match made in heaven Jim Phillips ’73 had spent the past 40 years systematically collecting the world’s most important and significant maps and atlases pertaining to the moon – and now an exhibition called From the Moon: Mapping & Exploration (see page 28) was being held right down the road at his alma mater. It seemed like the perfect fit. Mark Sloan, director of the College’s Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and co-curator of the exhibition, couldn’t have agreed more – and so Phillips’ rare volumes came to be part of the display in the Addlestone Library’s Special Collections last November–March. It wasn’t long, however, before Phillips – a member of the Geologic Lunar Research Group and a selfproclaimed amateur astronomer – had decided to extend his offer beyond the exhibition. “A friend told me, ‘You don’t really own these; you’re just the caretaker,’” Phillips says of his collection. “Your job is to take care of them and then pass them along.” Thus, he permanently donated his collection to the College. Boasting volumes that date as far back as the 17th century, the collection is now safely preserved. And, even more comforting to Phillips: Students, scholars and members of the public now have the opportunity to view and consult works of some of the most celebrated astronomers and scientists. It was, Phillips likes to think, a match made in heaven.


CLASS NOTES 1965 Neil Draisin was inducted into

the National Academies of Practice, which consists of distinguished practitioners, scholars and public-policy fellows from all of the primary health professions. Neil is celebrating his 40th year in practice as an optometrist and has no plans to retire. He is on the College’s Foundation Board and serves as its representative on the College’s Alumni Association board of directors.

1968 Lenny Branch has retired after

more than 30 years with Allstate Insurance in Mt. Pleasant.

1972 Daniel Ravenel is the new president-

elect of the College’s Alumni Association. Daniel is the owner of Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty in Charleston and also serves on the College’s Board of Trustees.

1973 Nancy Limehouse Morrow is a

member of the College’s Alumni Association board of directors. Nancy and her husband, David, live in Myrtle Beach, where Nancy is the owner of Complements, an interior design business.

1974 Henrietta Golding received

the South Carolina Lawyers Weekly 2012 Leadership in Law Award. Henri is a partner with the McNair Law Firm in Myrtle Beach. Sherwood Miler is a vice president of the College’s Alumni Association. Sherwood owns Sherwood Miler Real Estate in Summerville and serves as vice president of the College’s Lowcountry alumni chapter. He and his wife, Julie, have four children – two of whom are currently students at the College. Randell Stoney, a member attorney of Barnwell Whaley Patterson & Helms on Daniel Island, has been named an associate with the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Glenn Hunsberger ’74 received

a 2011 Emmy for the documentary New Orleans: Getting Back to Normal, which aired on public television and is about the city’s rebuilding efforts and the stories of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Glenn edited and produced the film, along with David Vos.

1975 Les Wilmeth is a financial planner

and also an insurance agent with Bankers Life and Casualty in Melbourne, Fla., specializing in insurance for seniors.

1976 Erick Avari received the School of the Arts Award of Achievement. Erick lives in Los Angeles and has been an actor

|

74

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

for many years. His credits include many TV roles and leading roles in films, such as Beast of War, Planet of the Apes (2001), Stargate, Independence Day and The Mummy. Glen Brown is a member of the College’s Foundation Board. Glen is vice president of human resources for Santee Cooper and a past president of the College’s Alumni Association. He and his wife, Grier Gadsden Brown ’76, live on James Island. Susan Clark Marlowe was crowned queen of the Krewe of Charleston, the only Mardi Gras krewe on the East Coast. The Royal Bal Masque MMXII – complete with costumes, music and revelry – supported the Brennan Stands Alone Foundation, which aids severely injured veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Christy Fleming Rogers is chair of the mathematics department and senior class adviser at the Charleston County School of the Arts in North Charleston. Lynne Jenkins Weldon is a computer technology instructor at Aiken (S.C.) Technical College. Lynne received the A. Wade Martin Innovator of the Year Award, which recognizes one teacher in all 16 S.C. technical colleges who employs the most innovative approaches to technical education.

1977 Michael Phillips received the School of the Arts Award for Service. Michael has been a member of the College’s faculty for more than 25 years and received the College’s 2009 Distinguished Advising Award. Michael is also a reference librarian in the Addlestone Library and director of the Office of Maymester/ Summer Sessions. Louester Smalls Robinson is a member of the College’s Alumni Association board of directors and the dean of Trident Technical College Palmer Campus. She and her husband, Peter, live in North Charleston and have two children. Vickie Murden Troutt lives in Marietta, Ga., where she is an underwriter for FHA. Vickie is also an independent consultant for Rodan + Fields Dermatologists, the creators of Proactiv.

1978 Rallis Pappas was named the Admissions Volunteer of the Year by the College’s PAWWS (Parents and Alumni Working With Students) program in recognition of his efforts recruiting outstanding students for the College. Rallis and his wife, Dendy, also serve on the College’s Parent Advisory Council.

1980 Chuck Baker was named a 2012

South Carolina Super Lawyer, placing him in the state’s top 5 percent of lawyers who’ve attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Chuck is a construction litigator for Womble Carlyle in Charleston and is the president of the College’s Alumni Association. Guy Carpenter represented the College this spring for the installation of UNC-Wilmington’s new chancellor, Gary Leon Miller. Cathy Hill Mahon is an associate vice president of development at the College.

1981 Michael Beal is an attorney and

shareholder with the McNair Law Firm in Columbia and is the 2012 president of Turnaround Management Association’s Carolinas chapter, which organizes education programs and networking events for restructuring professionals involved in improving underperforming businesses. Leigh Jones Handal is the director of philanthropy and partnerships for Pet Helpers in Charleston. Leigh is a past president of the College’s Alumni Association. Susan Baldwin Harrison co-created Cancer Shop USA, the first online store to offer patientrequested, doctor-approved products for alleviating the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

1982 George Cobb co-organized the

symposium Veterinary Pharmaceuticals in the Environment at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting in August.

1983 Fred Adiyia is the founder of Adiyia

Law Firm in Minneapolis and the founder and owner of ADF International Procurement Company, which manufactures and exports canned food to West Africa. Dominique McLain Barteet received a $500,000 investment from ABC’s Shark Tank to bolster her shoe business, Onesole. Rahul Mehra won the Man of the Year Award from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Tampa, Fla. Rahul is also the leader of the College’s Tampa alumni chapter. Chris Starr is a member of the College’s Alumni Assocation board of directors. Chris and his wife, Mary Ruth, live in Mt. Pleasant and have four daughters, one of whom is a current student at the College. Chris is chair of the College’s computer science department.

1984 Lisa Sherrer and Thomas Fisher

were married in November 2011. Kurt Taylor is the administrator for Charleston County. Kurt was a member of the North Charleston City Council for 14 years and an employee of the county for 20 years. Kurt and Melody Booker Taylor ’87 have two children.

1985 Megan Hartley is an independent executive consultant with Rodan + Fields Dermatologists skincare products. She lives in Mt. Pleasant.

1986 Judi Waddell Caldwell is a financial accounting analyst with Palmetto Health Foundation in Columbia.

1987 Melody Booker Taylor (see Kurt Taylor ’84)

1988 Wills Geils is a cardiologist

in Charleston. Wills received the Honors College’s Distinguished Alumni Award for his distinguished personal and career accomplishments, significant contributions to society and distinguished service to the Honors College and the College.


CLASS NOTES

[ alumni profile ]

A Rebel at Heart regards. My family just didn’t talk about it, our Confederate heritage.” That day, Wells had her first of many transformative history lessons. She learned that her grandfather worked for the Confederate Treasury, that one great-grandfather was a blockade runner, another served under Stonewall Jackson,

| Photo by Gately Williams |

Charleston is a city of postcardperfect places, perhaps no locale more so than the city’s historic market, anchored on one end by its replica of the Temple of the Wingless Victory. Each day, tourists line up across Meeting Street, cameras and smart phones in hand, clicking snapshot after snapshot of this iconic Greek-inspired structure, and many visitors find the building’s double staircase, swathed in morning shade, a much-needed spot of respite from the Carolina sun and heat. However, if they climb the 21 steps to its nearly 16-foot wooden doors, they will discover inside another Charleston treasure. No, it’s not the battle-scarred flag that flew over Fort Sumter or the life-size statue of Wade Hampton or even the small lock of hair from Robert E. Lee. Rather, it’s June Murray Wells ’56, executive director of the Confederate Museum. She has been a fixture in the museum since 1952, when the Charleston native entered those creaking double doors for the first time as a College freshman. Like most students, then and now, she needed money to help pay for school. Wells, who worked part time as a lab technician at the Medical College (now MUSC), found a listing of scholarship opportunities in the back of a college catalog and applied for one. “I guess it all began with that little scholarship,” smiles Wells, explaining that she went to the Confederate Museum to collect her $250 check from the Daughters of the Confederacy. “When I came to pick up the check, the ladies of the museum had researched my family’s connections to the War Between the States and had pulled all these papers for me to see,” she remembers. “It was eye-opening in some

and that a great uncle had signed the Ordinance of Secession. “I was caught,” Wells laughs, thinking of these women in their wide-brimmed hats, veils, white gloves, high heels and pocket books just so. “I learned from them the stuff you don’t find in books.” And the tales she heard from those ladies with the impeccable Charleston manners – including one of the city’s last surviving Confederate widows – kept her

coming back for more. She loved learning the back stories of each of the 2,000 items the museum houses, such as the five-pound wooden-soled shoes worn by soldiers in Virginia snows or the variety of canteens (for both water and other spirits). It was history explained through everyday life. “In here,” Wells observes, “are the real things.” Even after she graduated with degrees in French and biology and began a teaching career, she continued to volunteer at the museum and eventually inherited its directorship in the 1960s. But don’t think of Wells as some docile docent. She’s not. There’s a fire behind those blue-gray eyes (perhaps more gray than blue) – a youthful spark of independence, tinged with a little bit of unrepentant Southern swagger. Unlike the objects in her museum, Wells is no relic. For decades, she has been at the center of both praise and controversy, from receiving the state’s highest citizen award, to her starring role as a Rebel charmer in Tony Horowitz’s Confederates in the Attic, to her advocacy for keeping the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds in Columbia, when she was president-general of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. No matter the topic on the Civil War, Wells feels a sense of duty to relate history in terms people can understand and to shed some of the conflict’s myths and glamour. “I can’t tell you how many men died in each battle,” she confesses. And then, pointing to a pair of drumsticks taken from the corpse of a 12-year-old drummer boy on nearby Morris Island, she continues, “But I can tell you the personal stories. And maybe, just maybe, by showing people the reality of that war, the courage and sacrifice of the everyday person, we can actually teach peace.” – Mark Berry

SUMMER 2012 |

75

|


Mowing Down the Competition he might be the only guy on his block with four riding mowers and an overgrown lawn. In his defense though, it’s kind of hard to make any real progress when you’re going 40 mph on a machine that doesn’t even have a blade. In the realm of hobbies, most grownups spend their free time doing things like fishing or playing fantasy football. Mike Paccione ’88 races old lawnmowers. Just saying that out loud has him quickly pointing out that he also runs five-mile races, coaches his son’s baseball team and goes to church. “I do normal things, too,” he says. During the week, the Toms River, N.J., resident and father of three is an assistant vice president for a global insurance company, a job he has done for more than 20 years. But when the summertime weekends roll around, he trades in his suit and tie for a helmet and jacket and |

76

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

takes his grass-cutting chariot across the country to races sanctioned by the United States Lawn Mower Racing Association (USLMRA). (To answer the

question you’re probably asking right now: Yes, that really exists.) “Explaining to someone that you’re driving to Michigan to ride a lawnmower


CLASS NOTES

[ alumni profile ] is always awkward,” Paccione says, laughing. “But it’s a great community. It’s competitive, but it’s friendly.” The USLMRA is the oldest sanctioned lawnmower-racing association in the United States. Over the years it has produced such household names as Ken “The Turfinator” Smolecki, John “Sir Lawns-A-Lot” Nelson and Charles Powell, a.k.a. “Mr. Mowjangles.” OK, so you’ve probably never heard of any of those guys, but you have to admit the USLMRA is pretty good at coming up with corny nicknames for its sport’s most decorated stars. Which leads to another obvious question: Is lawnmower racing actually a sport? “I’d say so, yeah,” Paccione replies. “Sure, it’s one of the weirder ones, but it’s definitely a sport. We’re even farther off of center than NASCAR, and the ‘who cares’ factor is off the charts, but I’m totally cool with it because it’s an awesome way to get the family together.” Speaking of family, Paccione’s fatherin-law was the one who got him into lawnmower racing in the first place. The year was 2008 and his father-in-law challenged him to give it a try and – wouldn’t you know it – Paccione won his first race. And then the next. After that was nationals – and, in true storybook fashion, Paccione blew the grass bags off the competition there, too. From there it was all groupies and VIP parties. OK, so his life didn’t change a bit. But it did draw him even closer to his already tightly knit family. In all, his aforementioned father-in-law has won four national championships. His brotherin-law, four. And now, a mere four years later, Paccione has two of his own. “How many families can say they race lawnmowers together?” Paccione says with the kind of pride that would make your local Lowe’s employee beam. Today, the Dale Earnhardt–Bob Vila hybrid has a primary sponsor (Sta-Bil) who actually pays him to tour the country racing lawnmowers. “Let’s be honest though,” he says, “the neighborhood kid who makes $20 a week cutting lawns is still bringing home more than I am, but I’ve got plastic trophies. And, from my children’s perspective, I’m way cooler.” – Bryce Donovan ’98

SUMMER 2012 |

77

|


| Photos by Dave Hamilton |

Good Direction: A Screenplay FADE IN: INT. HIGH SCHOOL CLASSROOM, ONTARIO, CANADA – DAY (EARLY 1990s) CHRISTIE WILL ’99, one of a handful of girls at Trinity College School (a former all-male boarding school recently gone co-ed), sits in class, unfazed by the graphic banter of 15-year-old boys. JOHNNY Hey, Christie, wanna smell something gross? Christie keeps her head in her notebook. CHRISTIE WILL Hey, Johnny, you mean other than what I have to endure sitting next to you every day? OTHER STUDENTS (laughing and ooooh-ing) Christie glances up from writing in her notebook and gives Johnny a subtle smirk.

|

78

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

(For four years, Christie’s sense of humor was cultivated in hallways ripe with immature jokes, male hormones and odd sounds and smells. Most young women her age would have been appalled. But Christie welcomed it, and it would serve her well.) DISSOLVE TO: INT. THEATER IN DOWNTOWN CHARLESTON, S.C. – NIGHT (LATE 1990s) A CofC student double majoring in theatre and arts management, Christie is rehearsing for her role as Hedy LaRue in How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying. She loves acting, always has. Christie sits at a desk on stage and scribbles frantically as her cast mate playing J. PIERPONT FINCH delivers his line:

J. PIERPONT FINCH Oh, you type fast? HEDY LARUE Like a whiz. Twelve words a minute. Christie exits the stage and goes behind the curtain, waiting for her next cue. (She feels right at home, on this stage, delivering punchy one-liners. But she also loves being behind the scenes – writing and directing. She won a “best play” award in high school for directing. And now, serving as student head of the School of the Arts, she’s wrapping a documentary about CofC’s theatre students – this one about her graduating class.)

J. PIERPONT FINCH What are you taking that down in?

As she waits for her next cue, she can’t help but think about how she got here, and her mind wanders to a conversation she had just before rehearsal.

HEDY LARUE Long hand. It’s safer. I make up for it when I type.

FLASHBACK TO: EXT. COFFEE SHOP, DOWNTOWN CHARLESTON, S.C. – AFTERNOON


CLASS NOTES

[ alumni profile ] Christie and her FRIEND, a fellow cast member, sit down at a table outside for a cup of coffee before heading to rehearsal.

is comedy – the offbeat, potty-mouthed kind that usually contains some sort of social commentary about Hollywood.)

You have to have your eyes open to the world, friends, situations – you just have to be able to see it.

FRIEND So, how long have you been acting?

MUSIC begins, and the career sequence starts with Christie drafting her first script, “Slightly Single in L.A.,” a romantic comedy about dating in La-La Land. …

REPORTER Can you give me an example?

CHRISTIE WILL For as long as I can remember. FRIEND I think actors tend to have weird childhoods, you know? Christie looks up from her cup. CHRISTIE WILL My parents passed when I was young, and that sort of put me in a world where I became a storyteller – always escaping into my stories. (Christie’s father died when she was 10 years old; her mother died when she was 14.) What about you? BACK TO PRESENT Christie hears her cue and walks back on stage with a beaming smile, ready to deliver her next line. (She will go on to deliver that “next line” in countless productions up and down the East Coast and eventually move out West to try her hand at modeling and acting, even landing the featured role in Aerosmith’s “Jaded” music video. After returning to live performance one more time to open the Beaumont Playhouse – Vancouver’s first avant-garde black box theatre – Christie settles in Hollywood – only now, she’s behind the scenes. She lands a job as a director’s assistant to A-lister Peter Berg. Then she works side by side with Paula Abdul, as her head of development. Later, we’ll find her having lunch with the late Patrick Swayze, chatting about how they can collaborate together on his new passion film. Christie’s cutting her teeth in an industry known to devour its young.) FADE TO: CHRISTIE’S CAREER MONTAGE (Christie is a “fresh” new writer, director and producer in Hollywood. Her specialty

Cut to Christie operating a DVX camera and capturing Tim Curry and Carmen Electra on the set of a movie she is associate producing. … Next, Christie on another movie set (she’s now a producer), where she’s rehearsing lines with Norm McDonald and Chazz Palminteri. … Christie then appears on another set, now directing a stellar ensemble cast: Chris Kattan, Lacey Chabert, Vivica Fox, Jenna Dewan, Mircea Monroe and Haylie Duff. … Next, Christie is seen in a meeting as producers negotiate with Lionsgate Home Entertainment to distribute her next film, Boy Toy, about a male underwear model turned escort who falls in love with one of his client’s daughters. … Christie is then on her cell phone as she discusses her next movie while also paying for her wedding dress (which she will wear the following week). … End around Christmas 2011, with Christie sitting in her living room with her husband and their new baby, tuning into ION Television to watch her next film, A Holiday Heist, which she wrote and directed. … FADE TO: INT. CHRISTIE’S HOME, VANCOUVER, CANADA – 7 A.M. (2012) Christie is sitting on the couch with her daughter, AMELIE (named after Christie’s favorite foreign film). She’s talking on the phone to a REPORTER interviewing her about her life and career. AMELIE (cooing in the background) CHRISTIE WILL Somebody wise once told me to write what you know, especially with comedy.

CHRISTIE WILL (laughing) So, I’m writing this script now called “Finding Mr. Right,” and I’ve definitely found inspiration from my husband’s grandmother. She’s 90 and she totally dates. She gets together with guys still, and her stories are just hilarious. There’s also a lot of my daughter in this one – being a mom, breastfeeding. Some new-mom funnies. REPORTER Will you stick with comedy? Is that your sweet spot? CHRISTIE WILL I’m actually working on my first fulllength dark script, “The Rise and Fall of an American Actress.” It’s based on what I’m seeing right now in Hollywood, from Demi Moore to Lindsay Lohan to Brittany Murphy. I haven’t finished it because it’s so dark, and I can’t quite figure out what it is – but it’s tragic, about women striving for something. REPORTER So, where do you see yourself in the next few years? CHRISTIE WILL Down the road, I’ll keep doing comedies. Right now, I’m definitely becoming a stronger writer with every script. And the next one I direct, I’ll be a stronger director. And I imagine “The Rise and Fall of an American Actress” will be a poignant turning point in my career. I have two actresses that want to do that movie. And I’ve got another project, “Bored Rich,” that is financed and in active official development, and then “Finding Mr. Right.” All of that, plus being a new mom … I’m in a happy place. FADE OUT: THE END – Abi Nicholas ’07

SUMMER 2012 |

79

|


Mark Westendorff is the senior project manager of SEPI Engineering & Construction’s environmental division and resides in Wilmington, N.C., with his wife, Rebecca, and daughter, Mary. He is also active in the national and state chapters of the American Fisheries Society and with the Cape Fear River Watch.

1989 Wanda Hutto works in research development at MUSC.

1990 Robin and Brian Alexander

announce the birth of their third child, Reese McDowell, born in January. The Alexander family lives in Charleston, where Brian is president of Ruscon Group. Jackson Davis is the director of diversity and inclusion for ESPN in Bristol, Conn.

1991wereRickmarried and Elizabeth Vandiver in July 2010 and live in Harris Greenville, S.C. Alex Williams is the regional sales director for Trustmark Voluntary Benefit Solutions’ southeast region and works in Atlanta.

1992 Johnnie Baxley is a member of the

College’s Alumni Association board of directors and a partner in the law firm Willson Jones Carter & Baxley. He and his wife, Michelle, live in Mt. Pleasant with their two daughters. Mark and Anne Patrick Rosenblum Moore announce the birth of their daughter, Madelyn Rose, born in December. The Moore family lives in Mt. Pleasant. Kim Pyszka earned her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Tennessee. For the past two years, Kim conducted archaeological and documentary research at the ruins of the original St. Paul’s Parish Church and its parsonage house, located on the College’s Dixie Plantation. John Rutenberg is a vice president and relationship manager for commercial lending at TD Bank in Myrtle Beach.

1993 Gary Clarke is the president

and chief executive officer of Hy9 Corporation in Hopkinton, Mass. The company designs, manufactures and sells high-performance hydrogen generators and hydrogen purifiers. Forest Mahan is the vice president for academic

Fall for

Italy Sept. 22 – Oct. 1 |

80

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

affairs and student services at Northeastern Technical College in Cheraw, S.C. Elliott Phillips is a member of the College’s Alumni Association board of directors and an account executive with C.T. Lowndes Insurance Company. He and his wife, Elizabeth Silcox Phillips ’96, live in Mt. Pleasant with their two daughters. Chris Skipper is a member of the College’s Alumni Association board of directors and is the owner of Skipper Law Firm in downtown Charleston. He and his wife, Amy, live in Mt. Pleasant. Donnie Solesbee has opened CarolinaFit4Life, a Fort Mill, S.C.–based personal training studio focused on one-on-one training for weight loss, functional movement and golf-specific fitness.

1994 Dana Edwards is a technology

executive in the consumer, wealth and commercial operations division for Bank of America in Charlotte. Tanya Sumner Godfrey is a biology and forensic science teacher at Goose Creek (S.C.) High School, where she was named the Teacher of the Year. She also received a Ph.D. in education from Capella University in January. Tanya and her husband, Jimmy, have two daughters, Mackenzie and Madison. Chad Steed works in Ford Motor Company’s export and growth department and lives in Ferndale, Mich.

1995 Jeremiah Bacon has opened The

Macintosh, a new restaurant on Charleston’s upper King Street. Billy Bohanna was named the National Sales Representative of the Year by Music & Sound Retailer Magazine for the second consecutive year. Lynn Hyder is a staff chaplain with Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, La. Michael Scarafile was named one of Charleston Regional Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” for his work as president of Carolina One Real Estate. He is also on the board of directors of the Charleston Basket Brigade, which provides Thanksgiving meals for families in need.

1996 Lancie Affonso was the recipient of

the Faculty of the Year Award for the School of Business given at the College’s ExCEL Awards this spring.

Phoebe Drew Blalock is a certified early childhood generalist. Tina Cundari is an attorney with Sowell Gray Stepp & Laffitte in Columbia and was named a member of the Midlands “20 Under 40” Class of 2012. Allison Munn Holroyd received the School of the Arts Award of Achievement in May. Allison has many acting credits to her name, including more than 500 performances of The Fantasticks, her recurring character in That ’70s Show and a co-starring role in What I Like About You (WB). Allison and husband, Scott, have a son, Nathan Powell, born in November. They live in Los Angeles. Elizabeth Silcox Phillips (see Elliott Phillips ’93) Helen Cooper Pratt-Thomas was named one of Charleston Regional Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” for her work as senior vice president and senior private banker for Wells Fargo Private Bank. Helen is actively involved with the Gibbes Museum of Art and Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding. Melissa Ford Vagts is a speech-language pathologist for USD 259 Wichita (Kan.) Public Schools.

1997 Thaddeous Delaney was inducted

into the College’s Athletic Hall of Fame in February. Thad was an outstanding basketball player for the College and was known as the Shaq of the TAAC. Brent and Jessica Gonzales Gibadlo announce the birth of their son, Graydon Marlar, born in January. The Gibadlo family lives in Charleston, where Jessica is the CEO of Harry Barker Inc. and Brent is the director of real estate development with MeadWestvaco Community Development and Land Management Group. Kent and Teresa Phelps Martin ’98, who were married in 2007, have moved back to Charleston from Kentucky. Beth Pierce Meredith is a senior market development manager with Booz Allen Hamilton in Charleston. Eve Lux VanderWeele was inducted into the College’s Athletic Hall of Fame in February. Eve was an outstanding golfer and has returned to her alma mater to assist the current women’s golf team. Diana West has co-authored Releasing Strongholds ... Letting Go of What’s Holding You Back, published in March. Diana received

Join fellow alumni, parents and friends on an amazing 9-day/8-night tour to Chianti and the Italian Riviera. This exclusive educational travel experience is led by international author and poet Massimo Maggiari, director of the College’s Italian program. For the full itinerary, visit aluMnI.CoFC.edu or contact aluMnI RelaTIons at 843.953.1926.


CLASS NOTES

[ alumni profile ]

In Vino: A New Generation Each week, a handful of elite Charleston sommeliers gather in a downtown restaurant for a blind taste test. Each brings a cloaked bottle of wine and, in turn, pours it out of sight of his colleagues. The glasses are then delivered for consumption, and rounds of deductive tasting begin, with noses diving into glasses, palates being bathed and eyes studying the mystery wines for color and clarity. The sommeliers’ sharp senses discern the telltale clues of each glass, enabling them to pinpoint the wine’s grapes, region and vintage. They are Sherlock Holmeses with corkscrews, and among them is Charleston wine entrepreneur Brad Ball ’04. Ball counts himself in rare company during these gatherings. Of a wine-tasting colleague from Charleston Grill, for example, he marvels that the man has a “wolf nose.” Yet Ball can more than hold his own in the wide world of wine. He opened Social, a wine bar and restaurant on East Bay Street, in 2007 and is also the founder of La Wine Agency, which works with artisanal winemakers in Chile, Germany and France to produce six lines of wine – pinot noir, chardonnay, sparkling wine, syrah, Riesling and sauvignon blanc– specified to Ball’s tastes. These collaborations, as well as his wine-buying duties for Social and Poogan’s Porch (the classic Queen Street eatery owned by his family), require Ball to travel abroad a few times a year to make vineyard visits. Believe it or not, he says, it can be exhausting to drink great wine in foreign countries for two or three weeks straight. Most of what he drinks, he spits out. The hours are long, the pours unceasing and the appointments never ending. No matter how many drinks he is plied with, at the end of the day, it is all about business. In fact, it was all about business from the very beginning. He thought the wine menu at Poogan’s Porch could be improved – and, as he says, “I think I irritated my parents enough that my mom finally turned to me and said, ‘Why don’t you do it?’” So he did, and, in the process, the philosophy major embarked on a wine education that included earning an

M.B.A. at Bordeaux Management School in France. Now Ball manages an annual $500,000 wine-buying budget for Poogan’s Porch and Social, oversees Social’s restaurant operations and is up to his neck in planning for the expansion of La Wine Agency, founded in March 2011. In its first year, La Wine sold more than 5,000 cases of wine in five states. In 2012, La Wine plans to expand to 13 states and offer three more varietals. The difference between retailing wine at restaurants and being a producer is vast, Ball says, and he’s spent much of the past few months learning the ropes of international logistics and navigating red tape associated with customs and permitting.

“It’s a funny game of hurrying up to sit and wait,” says Ball. “It’s nothing like I expected.” Also in the works is the retail website and blog WineAwesomeness, where Ball plans to introduce some of his favorite wines to the younger generation of wine enthusiasts. Meanwhile, he keeps meeting with his Charleston wine colleagues to improve his tasting abilities and work toward becoming certified as a master sommelier. Anything wine related, it seems, can capture Ball’s heart and business interests. “For me,” says Ball, “it’s just a sheer fascination.” – Jason Ryan

SUMMER 2012 |

81

|


her master’s in management from Southern Wesleyan University in 2009.

1998 Randy and Sherlonda Peake Adkins live in Goose Creek, S.C., with their three ’99 children. Randy was ordained in February at Canaan Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, where he serves as an associate minister. Sherlonda began MUSC’s physician assistant program this spring and volunteers with the College’s admissions office. Teresa Phelps Martin (see Kent Martin ’97) Vickie Sessions is the gift administrator in the College’s advancement services office. Monica Spells is the first procurement and contracts compliance officer of Beaufort County, S.C. Monica also earned a master’s in public administration from the University of South Carolina in 2000.

Kevin Hanley ’98 is a multimedia

designer based in Brooklyn. He started the blog “Self Pop Tart” last November to poke fun at those who take self-portraits in the mirror with their camera phones. His blog garnered a lot of Web attention, even being named the “2011 Best Single Topic Blog of the Year” by the Huffington Post.

1999 Sherlonda Peake Adkins (see Randy

Adkins ’98) Matt Czuchry currently stars as lawyer Cary Agos on the hit show The Good Wife (CBS). Sarah Coffey Elliott is the director of Newton Farms Catering for Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. Jon and Katherine Cofer Hanley announce the birth of their son, Wyatt Brooks, born in December. Katherine teaches online courses in hotel restaurant management for Fayetteville Technical Community College. Damon Hilton serves on the S.C. Association of CPAs Young CPA (35 and under) Leadership Cabinet and is an official ambassador of the association. Damon is assistant director of financial services for the College’s Division of Institutional Advancement. Elizabeth and Skip Limbaker announce the birth of their second son, Grayson Lewis, born in March. Nandini Banik McCauley received the Unsung Champion Award presented at the College’s ExCEL Awards ceremony this spring. Nandini is a graphic designer and public relations professional for the College’s School of the Arts. Stephen Moose is a certified public accountant with Baldwin & Associates in Mt. Pleasant.

2000 Adam and Olivia Minyard announce the birth of their

Brakenbury daughter, Hannah June, born in September. Adam is a registered architect and associate with The Freelon Group in Durham, N.C. Olivia earned her master’s in horticultural science from N.C. State in 2009 and is a garden designer and professional gardener with Meadowsweet Gardens in Durham. She also serves as the scholarship chair on the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference Steering Committee.

|

82

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

Justin Craig is the client program manager for Environmental & Infrastructure Group, Shaw Environmental. Justin and his wife, Amber, have a daughter, Kinsley Alyson, and live in Mt. Pleasant. Sarah Dulin and Thomas Glenn ’01 have opened Yoga House of Charleston, a yoga studio in West Ashley. Three of the instructors are CofC alumnae as well: Jolee Robbins McLeod ’96, Ji Hwang ’03 and Jane Barron Hanisch ’05. Margaret Seeley Furniss is the co-owner of Caviar & Bananas, which was named an outstanding retailer by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. Natalie Montanaro is a Peace Corps volunteer in Romania. She wrote an article for The Post and Courier, Charleston’s newspaper, about sharing Thanksgiving with another Peace Corps volunteer, Elena Boroski ’10, in Macedonia. Alex and Christi Roe Nam announce the birth of their son, Cooper Roe, born in February. The Nam family lives in Alexandria, Va.

2001 Whitley Moretti Boyd is the owner of

Peninsula Events, a Charleston-based boutique event-planning firm operating in S.C., N.C. and Va. Stephen Chrisanthus is a partner at The Petraeus Group in New York City. Molly and Tom Costello announce the birth of their second child, Jackson “Jack” Patrick, born in February. Thomas Glenn (see Sarah Dulin ’00) Garnett Westbrook Henderson is the owner of Cottontails Cloth Diaper Service in Atlanta. Carly Howard was selected as one of Charleston Regional Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” for her work as vice president and personal trust specialist with BB&T Wealth. Carly is also an adjunct professor at the Charleston School of Law, a board member of Charleston Chamber Music and the coordinator of the BB&T Lighthouse Project. Rose Marie Hussey Johnson (M.P.A.) is the coordinator of strategic planning and risk management for Coastal Carolina University. Rose Marie and her husband, Chris, were married in August 2009. José Lemos received the College’s School of the Arts Young Alumni Award in May. José is a countertenor known worldwide for his unique artistry in opera and concert performance. Brittany Meyers was named one of Charleston Regional Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” for her work as director of annual giving for The Citadel Foundation and as part-time cheer coach. Brittany was also the event chair for Cinderella Day at The Dream Center in North Charleston and has been a part of the medical mission team to Nicaragua from Seacoast Church for four years. Justin and Emily McDermott Pohn announce the birth of their daughter, Charlotte Sinclair, born in March 2011. The Pohn family lives in Louisville, Ky. Marvin Pontiff (M.P.A.) is the assistant deputy commissioner with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. Ellis Roberts is a member of the College’s Alumni Association board of directors. He and his wife, Mary, live in Charleston. Ryan Steele lives in Jackson, Miss., with his wife, Bev, and their three children, Ella, Jack and Rowen. Morgan Arvidson Todd is a family medicine practitioner with Wilmington Health Associates on Oak Island, N.C. David and Kristin Kowalchuk Wallace announce the birth of their third child, William Maxwell. The Wallace family lives in Waverly, Ga.

2002 Melantha Ardrey is the director of

residence life at the College. Jonathan Brilliant’s large-scale sculptural installation “Weaving, Stacking, Staining” at Coastal Carolina University was featured in Carolina Arts Magazine. Jonathan is a S.C. Arts Commission fellow and received the prestigious Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant in 2011. Nick Geary was named one of Charleston Regional Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” for his work as a creative writing teacher at Goose Creek (S.C.) High School and Berkeley Center for the Arts. Nick is also involved with The Homework Club and The Homework Club Diner as well as being the assistant wrestling coach for Goose Creek High School. Amy Gordon was named one of Charleston Regional Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” for her work as associate director of special events and co-director of the Children’s Miracle Network for the MUSC Children’s Hospital Fund. Amy also volunteers for the Carolina Youth Development Center, the College’s Alumni Association, the Charleston Dog Show, the Junior League of Charleston and Lowcountry AIDS Services. Matt Hagan is a senior leasing representative with Regency Centers Corporation in Atlanta. Seth Siegler sold his tech company, Robot Workshop, to California real-estate software firm Showing Suite, which hired him as the chief technology officer. He is also co-founder of the Mt. Pleasant real estate agency Simplistate and has been a real estate agent since 2002. Boo Walker has released a new crime novel, Lowcountry Punch, his second book. Heather Murphy Woolwine is the media relations director for MUSC. Heather received her master’s in communication from the College’s Graduate School in 2011.

2003 Courtney Anderson and Gage

Brooks Lewis were married in November and live in Washington, D.C. Tia Canice Canty is an emergency department registered nurse at DeKalb Medical in Decatur, Ga. Tia and Toney Wright Jr. were married in February 2011. Niki DeWeese and Guillermo Leiva were married in November. Niki is the director of recruitment for the College’s Graduate School. Kate Brockington Marshall is the executive assistant at Blue Oak Group. Brenda Hetrick Oxford (M.Ed. ’06) is a faculty member in the Department of History, Humanities, and Political Science at Trident Technical College. She is also an adjunct professor for Strayer University. Crystal Smith-Connelly published For I Am Zeus: A Collection of Plays About Greek Mythology, which consists of six comic plays. Crystal has written more than 50 short plays and monologues, as well as two musicals and a full-length play. Her work has been performed in New York, California, Maryland and France. She lives in Charleston.

2004 Caitlin Shockley Bosh co-founded

Mehta Media Group, a public relations agency in New York City that specializes in representing fashion and luxury-lifestyle clients around the world. K.S. Crawford’s first novel will be published in September. Set in the Revolutionary-era Carolinas (including Charleston) and in Cherokee country, the novel has garnered advance praise from writers such as Ron Rash, Philip Lee Williams and Beverly Swerling.


CLASS NOTES

A Defining Role The glamorous glitz, the coy coquetry, the sultry suggestions: It’s all there. But when Pelham Spong ’06 emerges from the shadows, coming into the light to unfurl her feather fans, it’s the confidence that she reveals that’s most alluring. “I think it’s important to remind the audience that the sexiest thing a woman can be is confident,” says Spong, a film and stage actress who double-majored in theatre and French and has been working as the office manager for the College’s North Campus since she returned from a five-year stint in Paris in 2010. It was shortly after that, too, that she began performing burlesque acts in local venues and at events like the illustrious New Orleans Burlesque Festival. “I ask myself now how I haven’t been doing this my whole life. It appeals to me on so many levels: the theatrics, the costumes, the vintage throwback,” she says, noting that – although she creates her costumes and her acts to embody the luxurious glamour of burlesque’s heyday – what she does is a far cry from the stripteases of the 1940s. “It’s no longer a show for male audiences. Now it’s about women’s perception of their own sexuality. It gives the women the power. It gives women the confidence to be who they are.”

SUMMER 2012 |

83

|


Beth Wise Douglas (M.A.T.) was named Teacher of the Year at Oakview Elementary School in Simpsonville, S.C. Beth is the grade-level chair for Oakview’s kindergarten teachers. Ashley Fleming was named one of Charleston Regional Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” for her work as housing program coordinator at Roper St. Francis Healthcare. Ashley also volunteers with the annual AIDS Walk in Charleston, Dining Out for Life, Charleston Elves and Trident United Way. Daniel James is the owner of Charleston surfshop Las Olas Oceanmarket and is the CEO of Idan Solutions. Liz Mester was named one of Charleston Regional Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” for her work as director of development with WINGS for Kids, an after-school program that focuses on social-emotional learning. Liz is a member of the Center for Women and the Association of Fundraising Professionals; she also gives socialmedia tutorials to nonprofits. Jessica Graham Scully is the crime intelligence unit manager for the Charleston Police Department. Jessica received her master’s in forensic psychology from Argosy University. Richie Shaffer is a project manager for Metamar in Charleston.

2005 Jason Brisini is an AP human

geography teacher at Wando High School in Mt. Pleasant, where he is also an assistant football coach. Jason was selected as the 2011–12 Wando Teacher of the Year and continues to volunteer with the College’s School of Education, Health, and Human Performance. Tyler Chewning is an accounting clerk for Haynes Incorporated in Charleston. Steven and Rachel Garrett Epps announce the birth of their daughter, Michelle “Millie”

Douglas, born in August. The Epps family lives in Mt. Pleasant. Stacey Barber Hollings (M.S. ’06) is a CPA and senior tax accountant with WebsterRogers in their Charleston and Summerville offices. Joribeth and Gray McDowell live in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., where Gray is a graduate student in the professional studies in human resources and employment relations program at Penn State. Amy Speck Moffett is a pediatric nurse practitioner in London, Ohio. Amy received her bachelor of science in nursing in 2007 and her master of science in nursing in 2010 – both from MUSC. Amy and her husband, Tom, announce the birth of a daughter, Elaina Grace, born in January. Heidi Nielsen is an associate with HVS International and lives in Summerville, S.C. Lauren Miller Smith is the program manager of executive education at the London Business School. Lauren and her husband, Will, live in London.

Courtney Long is a senior account executive at Nancy J. Friedman Public Relations in New York City. Stephanie Mathis is an associate producer with WBTW News 13, a CBS-affiliated television station in Myrtle Beach. She also earned her master’s from Florida State in 2007. David Plyler was the top fundraiser for the 2011 Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s “Nashville’s Top 30 Under 30.” David works for the Agency for the Performing Arts. Jackie Flemons Richardson is an associate attorney with Willson Jones Carter Baxley PA in Mt. Pleasant. Jackie is also a member of the College’s Alumni Association board of directors. Erin Smith is a member of the junior creative team at the ad agency Young and Rubicam in San Francisco. Julia Deckman Stinchcomb and her family opened Diva Boutique on King Street in Charleston. Rebecca Thackston Wade is the library media specialist at Hunley Park Elementary School in Charleston.

2006 Mary Abraham is a graduate student

2007 Tracy Borczyk is the director

at the Charleston School of Law and was part of a two-person team that won the National Tax Moot Court competition in February. She also received the Best Oralist award. Kathryn Beighley and Gene Dinkins were married in April and live in Columbia, where Kathryn is an associate with Harrison & Radeker PA. Kerri Briceno is the level transaction desk manager at CitiGroup in New York City. Katie Wright Burrus (M.P.A.) is the program director for Fresh Air Family, a nonprofit that offers free and low-cost outdoor events to children and families throughout the state of Alabama. She and her husband, Rick, live in Huntsville.

of development for the American Heart Association’s Hampton Roads Heart Walk and lives in Norfolk, Va. Chris Filiberto is a consulting associate with Charles River Associates in New York City. Graham Maiden is an attorney with Motley Rice in Mt. Pleasant. Graham represents clients in antiterrorism and human rights matters. Jeremy Nimtz (M.P.A.) is an immigration services officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Philadelphia, Pa. Mora Pressley earned her master’s in teaching, learning and advocacy from the College’s Graduate School in May. Next fall, she’ll pursue a Ph.D. in education at Georgia State in Atlanta.

[ passages ] Sidney Prystowsky ’39

James Easterby Jr. ’49

Marc Sunshine ’96

Harriet Stevens Stimson ’39

Joe Bean ’50

William Dudley Jr. ’00

Elizabeth Jenkins Young ’39

Joanne Morris Comar ’56

David Hedrick ’02

G. Walker Bates Jr. ’41

Alexander Lamis ’68

Timothy Caulder ’03

Julia Porter Cart Smith ’41

Ted Lazicki ’75

Theodore Grafton ’09

A. Franz Witte ’41

E.P. Merkel ’75

Hawkins Wilber ’10

Ora Huchting Breeden ’42

Jeri Hansen Calhoun ’76

Spencer Pitts ’12 (student)

John McLaughlin Jr. ’43

Gerald Surface ’76

Leon Gadsden (former staff)

Gordan Stine ’44

Linda Rowell Zorn ’76

David Hartkemeyer (former staff)

Harriet Dehrmann Miseyko ’45

James Myrick ’89

Roy Howell Jr. ’46

Deborah Corvelle ’90

January 9; West Bloomfield, Mich. February 8; Mt. Pleasant, S.C. February 22; Charleston, S.C. April 9; Kiawah Island, S.C. February 19; Charleston, S.C. March 16; Mt. Pleasant, S.C. April 10; Annapolis, Md.

April 14; Mt. Pleasant, S.C. April 11; Charleston, S.C. March 5; Asheville, N.C. May 1; Charleston, S.C.

|

84

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

February 15; Columbia, S.C. December 31, 2011; Jacksonville, Fla. February 25; Mt. Pleasant, S.C. February 9; Erie, Pa.

February 18; Charleston, S.C. March 24; Charleston, S.C. March 25; Isle of Palms, S.C. February 18; Summerville, S.C. March 7; Mt. Pleasant, S.C. January 25; Elkin, N.C. May 2; Ladson, S.C.

February 9; Mt. Pleasant, S.C. February 9; Goose Creek, S.C. February 10; Mt. Pleasant, S.C. January 30; Moncks Corner, S.C. April 30; Ladson, S.C. April 14; Atlanta, Ga.

April 14; Greenwich, Conn.

February 11; Charleston, S.C. February 4; Charleston, S.C.


CLASS NOTES

Steffi Kirchmayr ’09 finished

fourth in January’s Ladies European Golf Qualifying School, earning her a tour card for the Ladies European Tour. Already in her short professional career, Steffi has competed in New Zealand, Morocco and Turkey. Michael Reid (M.A.) is a cost accountant for the construction company Sherland & Farrington in Brooklyn, N.Y. David Stasiukaitis was named one of Charleston Regional Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” for his work as vice president of Low Country Case and Millwork, one of the state’s largest commercial cabinetry companies. David is active in Bethany Builders and the men’s club at Bethany United Methodist Church and is the lead marching instructor for the Summerville High School Marching Band. Chris Taste is the assistant innkeeper at Sweetwater Farm Bed and Breakfast in the Philadelphia, Pa., area.

2008 Lizzie Bailey is an AmeriCorps

member serving as the community outreach coordinator for Lutheran Family Services. She lives in Omaha, Neb., and summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro in February. Tracy Brokes announces the birth of her son, Ethan Guy, born in June 2011. Amy Dummerth and Justin Smith were married in June 2011 and live in St. Louis. Rebecca Lockhart is a quality specialist with Blackbaud in Charleston. Lauren Rodgers (M.P.A.) is a project director for the Lucy Burns Institute. Lauren also writes about state politics on Ballotpedia.org. She lives in Durham, N.C. Dana Ryan earned her M.B.A. from St. Joseph’s and manages the Jenkintown, Pa., branch of Scottrade. Amanda Thompson is a front office manager for Historic Dunhill Hotel and lives in Charlotte. Joe Waring is the manager of the Sleep Inn of North Charleston. Valarie Bell Wright (M.A. ’10) is an adjunct faculty member in the College’s Department of Communication. Next fall, Valarie will enter the doctoral program at Ohio University to pursue a Ph.D. in communication studies.

2009 Bridget Borman works in

international marketing for Sam Edelman Shoes in New York City. Lizzy Cezayirli is a graduate student in Texas A&M’s M.B.A. program, where she is focusing on food and agriculture international trade. Caitlin deGrouchy is an AmeriCorps Vista volunteer with the Outer Banks (N.C.) Community Development Corporation. Natalie Martin is a founding staff member of the Teach for America – South Carolina Region. She is the manager of teacher leadership development and lives in Florence. Geoff Pallay (M.P.A.) is a project director for the Lucy Burns Institute and writes about state politics on Ballotpedia.org. Meredith Patterson is a channel integration coordinator with the InterContinental Hotels Group in Atlanta. Mark Schwartz is the owner of QuickFoxes.com,

a personal services company headquartered in Charleston. Ellie Somerville is the associate market editor for Architectural Digest. Rachel Sommer is the events manager with Aramark at The Citadel. Quin Stinchfield (M.P.A.) is the business development coordinator for the Town of Mt. Pleasant. She created Mt. Pleasant’s first business incubator program, BIZ Inc. Lauren Thompson is the assistant registrar at Museum of the City of New York. Lauren received her master’s in museum professions from Seton Hall University. Lauren Van Arsdall earned her master’s in French and Francophone studies from UCLA in 2011. Liz Vaughan received the College’s School of the Arts Award for Service in May. Liz is a co-founder of Receiver Time Based Media Festival and is active in the Charleston arts community. She is also the co-founder of the art gallery Outer Space and serves on the programming committee for Redux Contemporary Center.

2010 Lawson Ballard played rugby in

Sydney, Australia, for the University of New South Wales, and is now a financial adviser for Morgan Keegan in Greenville, S.C. Dan Callahan oversees investment operations for Morris Financial Concepts Inc. in Mt. Pleasant. Andrea Carlisle (M.P.A.) is the membership manager for the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis, Tenn. Gabriel Compton is a graduate student in MUSC’s vascular perfusion training program. Jenna DiForio is a corporate communications specialist with a.i. Solutions, an aerospace company in Washington, D.C. Emily Fralinger is the catering director for Cru Catering in Charleston. Alison Gabrielle is a sales manager at the Hilton Garden Inn in North Charleston. Laura Hoffman is the event meetings manager for the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Charlotte. Somers Maky is the sales manager at Aloft Charleston Airport and Convention Center in Charleston. George Patrick McLeer is a member of the Board of the S.C. Arts Alliance and the co-founder of the S.C. Young Professionals Arts Network. Chris Mellon is a prospective graduate applicant at the American University of Beirut, where he studies Middle East politics and Arabic. Gibbon Miler is a development associate at MUSC’s Hollings Cancer Center. Michael Milewski is co-owner of Charles Towne Bound, a limousine service in Charleston. Maureen Mullaney (M.P.A.) is the office manager and executive assistant for the Roper St. Francis Foundation in Charleston. Maureen and Jason Tokarczyk were married in November. Mark Murphy is a client concierge at BevForce in New York City. Caitlin Patton (M.P.A.) is the founder and executive director of the National Music Festival. Caitlin and Richard Rosenberg were married in June and live in Chestertown, Md. Brock Renkas (M.S.) and Julie Ohlandt ’11 (M.P.A.) were married in November and live on James Island. Brock is a marine biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, and Julie is a grants administrator at the College. Brittany Schneider and Brandon Lake were married in February 2011 and live in Mt. Pleasant. Dan Taber is a student support services coordinator with the College’s IT department.

Joey Vitale is an export documentation representative for OOCL in Charleston. Kelsi Ward is a Peace Corps volunteer promoting health, advancing education and developing community in rural Peru. Gabriel Wright is a resident actor with the Charleston Stage Company.

2011 Gray Anderson is the

communications assistant at Coastal Community Foundation in Charleston. Melanie Baker-Matthews is the catering sales manager at Tides on Folly Beach. Sara Bengston is a luxury service coordinator with Orient-Express Hotels in Charleston. Kristen Beres received the College’s Good Neighbor Award at the ExCEL Awards ceremony this spring. Katharine Catania is a first-grade teacher in Summerville, S.C. Steve and Shanon Rusk Dooley live in Mt. Pleasant and are the owners of StorageCentral of Byron (Ga.). Patrick Gallant is the co-owner of Charles Towne Bound, a limousine service in Charleston. Andrea Elizabeth Granath and Joseph Landry were married in March. Jonathan Hoard is a financial services representative for SunTrust Bank in Greenville, S.C. Gabriella Korba participated in Marriott International’s Management Development Program in Washington, D.C. Rebecca Lazear is a sales manager with PSAV Presentational Services in Charleston.

Jeff Lucas ’11 is the founder and

CEO of the social media company Fipeo, which uses video messaging and live video chat to revive face-toface communication.

Schuyler McCabe is the housekeeping manager at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando. Jeri Mintzer is a government affairs associate with Smart Growth America. Ashley Montano is the sales manager at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites Charleston Airport in North Charleston. Julie Ohlandt (M.P.A.) (see Brock Renkas ’10 [M.S.]) Dil Patel, a medical student at MUSC, is president of the College of Medicine’s Class of 2015. Taylor Rains (M.A.) is an account coordinator with Rawle Murdy, an ad agency in Charleston. Joanne Richardson is the lead reception agent at The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Raleigh, N.C. Thomas Savage received the College’s Eddie Ganaway Distinguished Alumni Award at the ExCEL Awards ceremony this spring. Thomas is a teacher at Rollings Middle School of the Arts in Summerville. Allison Schanke (M.P.A.) is the director of sales at Charleston Stage.

2012 Javier Gomez-Lavin is a Ph.D.

student in CUNY’s philosophy program. Laura Jackson is a Ph.D. student in the University of Alabama’s genetics and genome science program. Candice Ulmer is a graduate student in the University of Florida’s Ph.D. program in analytical chemistry.

Check out College of Charleston Magazine’s website at magazine.cofc.edu.

SUMMER 2012 |

85

|


[ faces and places ] 3

2

1 4

6

5

9

7

8

A lot goes on at the College. Here are a few highlight s: 1 May Commencement: Norman Arnold, honorar y degree recipient 2 Charles ton Librar y Societ y returns Henr y St. John Bolingbroke’s A Disser tation Upon Par ties to the College’s Mackenzie Collec tion: David Cohen (dean, Addles tone Librar y), Debra Gammons ’87, Steve Gates (CL S), John River s (Friends of the Librar y), Bet s y Saal and Dunne Saal (Schot t Foundation), Anne Walker Cleveland (CL S) and Ken Seeger (MW V ) 3 Friends of the Librar y Winthrop Roundt able: gues t speaker Sean Brock (award-winning chef ) 4 May Commencement: Arlinda Locklear ’73, commencement speaker and honorar y degree recipient 5 Graduate School Commencement: Dick Wilker son, commencement speaker and honorar y degree recipient 6 May Commencement: Gerr y Sue Arnold, honorar y degree recipient 7 Accepted Student s Weekend reception in the cour t yard of the new School of Sciences and Mathematic s Building 8 Annual Dance Marathon in TD Arena, which raised more than $36,000 for MUSC Children’s Hospit al 9 Can’t Hide the Pride Weekend: |

86

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e


CLASS NOTES

10

11

13

14

12

15

16 14

17

18

19

Amber Alwahab Echols ’06 in the deserts of Saudi Arabia 10 Retiring Board of Trus tees member s: Philip Bell, L arr y Miller, Marie L and and Jimmy Hightower ’82 11 Indian ambassador’s visit to campus: President Benson, Ambassador Nirupama Rao and Jane Benson 12 Pride Weekend: political science major Sarah Beth Mentrup at the Great Wall of China 13 Multicultural Student Programs and Ser vices ceremony: Board of Trus tees member s Don Belk ’00, Demetria Noiset te Clemons ’75 and Greg Padget t ’79 (chairman) 14 Two legends honored: retiring coaches Bobby Cremins and Nanc y Wilson with Dwight Johnson (Board of Trustees) and Joe Hull (athletic s direc tor) 15 Pride Weekend: Susan Cornell Cleveland ’97 in Geneva, Switzerland 16 Accepted Student s Weekend: Brian Beckley ’98 17 Pride Weekend: marine biology major Olivia Ahern in Brisbane, Australia 18 Pride Weekend: Jessica McGrail Bat ten ’06 and Parks Bat ten ’05 about 30 feet deep in the Atlantic Ocean near Key Largo, Fla. 19 Conrad D. Festa Communit y Lec ture in Science and Mathematic s: environmental writer and journalist Bill McKibben SUMMER 2012 |

87

|


My Space

Second Floor, Calhoun Annex if the classrooms are where you learn, the student media offices are where you do. They are the laboratories for the social sciences. And those laboratories are my favorite place on campus. We’re always running experiments in our offices. The students who come up to the second floor of the Calhoun Annex are thrown into the changing world of media. Any student, in any major, is welcome to write for our website and magazine, produce video packages or spin a few tunes on the online radio station. We’re constantly thinking of new ways to do this, to inform and entertain the student body, all while becoming better prepared for a professional career in |

88

| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e

media. The Calhoun Annex is the place that makes this possible. Over the past year, we began our grandest experiment: We’d no longer print a newspaper; instead, we’d throw our energy to the Web. It has worked better than we imagined because of the energy in the Annex. You see, the Annex is special because it’s the type of place where you just drop by. It’s open 24/7, and is alive at midnight and noon just the same. In between classes, I’ll come by and make a change on the website. Some afternoons, I might enter the studio and lend my voice to a radio spot. In the evening, my friends will rendezvous and order dinner before working on the latest

issue of G Magazine until the rest of the campus is fast asleep. These drop-ins are what make these experiments happen – that constant jolt of energy from new and different people. Drop by the offices sometime. You are bound to find someone running an experiment here – and your presence may just be the variable their experiment needs. – Geoff Yost ’12 Geoff, a double major in communication and political science, served two terms as editor-in-chief of The George Street Observer and was also the general manager of the College’s radio station for a year.


While this sand-sculpted Randolph Hall may be the envy of everyone on the beach, it will disappear with the next tide. A legacy gift, however, is something that exists for perpetuity. No matter the ebb and flow of time, an estate gift will have a dramatic impact on the College and will inspire jaw-dropping awe in students for generations to come.

www.cofc.edu/giving

843.953.1835

College of Charleston Magazine  

Within these pages, you're going to find many stories showcasing the College of Charleston's dynamic and intellectually vigorous culture.We...