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uscTIMES Stories, snippets & scenes from the

University of South Carolina. Aik

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5 /9/2 0 1 3

Benitez-Nelson recognized as Professor of the Year





or marine science fresh-

get them engaged in some way, and once

men who sometimes feel

I get a response, I’ve got’ em.”

they are lost at sea, adrift

Benitez-Nelson knows all about feeling

without a clear sense of

adrift and unconnected as a student. She

direction, Marine Science

was that person 25 years ago as an under-

101 must seem like

graduate at the University of Washington.

a lifeboat. The introductory

“But I had these two professors who went out of their way to help me find my

course is taught by Claudia

way,” she said. “They didn’t have to, but

Benitez-Nelson, a profes-

they did, and I wouldn’t be a professor

sor and director of the marine science program

now if it weren’t for them. So I’m paying

who has made it her mission to connect with

it forward.”

every first-year student in the program. Does she learn everyone’s name? Check. Incorporate some tidbit of information about

“She’s super approachable, keeps the class interesting and really wants to help!” USC’s faculty in 2002. “I’ve been asked to give talks all over the world because I’ve become good at explaining

Benitez-Nelson passion for engaging with students extends beyond her own discipline. “Once you’re my student, you’re always my

science to non-scientific people,” she said. “That’s a direct result of what I do in the classroom.” Explaining difficult material and answering

each student into her lectures? Count on it. Bring

student. Whether you stay in marine science or

endless questions can be a challenge, Benitez-

full-on enthusiasm to the classroom? Every day.

you switch to business or photography or what-

Nelson said.

“My goal is to get them to respond,” said

ever, we’re still good; I’m here for you,” she said.

Benitez-Nelson, winner of the 2013 Mungo Distinguished Professor of the Year award. “I want to

Student questions are, in fact, the fuel that has powered Benitez-Nelson’s career since joining

“But I get so much out of it, from new ideas in research to friendship. And at the end of the day I like to talk to people — it’s that simple,” she said.

“We can look at the fervor of the deposits coming in for the Gamecock Gateway and see that people in South Carolina recognize the benefits of USC and will find their pathway to a Carolina degree.” — Drew Newton, coordinator of Gamecock Gateway, a partnership between USC and Midlands Technical College Gateway students live in the Roost residence hall and take classes at the Airport campus of Midlands Tech. After successfully completing 30 credit hours, students are eligible to transfer to Carolina. All of the 170 slots for fall 2013 are already filled. This year’s students recently wrote letters welcoming the rising freshmen to the program.


University of south carolina

SUCCESSFUL GRADUATES With more than 6,000 total degree candidates taking home diplomas in this year’s commencement ceremonies, USC has quite a few graduates to brag about. Here’s a look at some of the class of 2013 who will likely be making a name for themselves across the world.


Maddie McDowell, Advertising McDowell will take on a job as a copywriter with The Richards Group in Dallas. “My time at Carolina has been about the people. I have been inspired by the truly incredible accomplishments of my peers, and it has been my great fortune to have professors who became mentors, truly invested in my success. I have done so much more with my college years than I could have ever imagined as a freshman, and I owe it all to the community that supported me along the way. My identity as a Gamecock has meant more to me than I could ever describe.” Ernest Taylor, Finance and insurance and risk management Taylor will be working as a financial consultant at Northwestern Mutual in Columbia, moving up from his current position

Calvin Elam dreamed of going to college at

as an intern. “Carolina really prepared me for the working

USC. When he graduated from high school

world. With all the resources, the opportunities at USC have

in 1980, he joined the U.S. Air Force to pay

no limits.”

for college. While stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, he worked during the day and

Purva R. Choudhari, Chemical engineering

attended USC Sumter at night.

She will be attending the University of South Carolina School

During his time at Carolina while jug-

of Medicine where she hopes to study neurology. “Of my

gling his studies and his military career,

wonderful experiences at USC, I am most grateful for those

Elam had to drop courses for a tour abroad

experiences which helped me discover my desire to share

in Saudi Arabia. Although his tour in the Air

knowledge with others and am excited to continue to do so

Force had ended, he signed up for the S.C.

as I follow my path to becoming a doctor.”

Air National Guard to finish his degree.

Pooja R. Choudhari, Chemical engineering

“The degree helped

She will be attending the University of South Carolina School of Medicine where she hopes to study internal medicine or pediatrics, “USC has given me the opportunity to explore the interests that I am passionate about. My most significant opportunities have helped affirm that my second love after medicine is teaching.” Matt Mikrut, Law Mikrut will be working as a post-graduate fellow for the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions, which assesses, reviews

validate my ability to perform at a high level.”

and rules on infractions investigations conducted by the enforcement division.“All of my interactions with fellow students

By 1987, Elam had finished his under-

have been positive. USC law students work together rather

graduate studies at the Darla Moore School

than against one another. They are always willing to lend a

of Business, graduating with a marketing

helping hand, and I cherish the friendships that I have devel-

degree six years after he began.

oped, both on a professional and social level.”

This year, Elam was promoted to brigadier general, becoming the first African-

Chelsea Ostebo, Marketing

American general officer of the S.C. Air

Ostebo, who was Sorority Council president at Carolina, will

National Guard.

serve as a collegiate leadership consultant for Gamma Phi

“Having a degree from the university

Beta. “I am frequently asked how I was able to accomplish

has done a lot for me,” he said. “The de-

so much in my four years here and quite often my response

gree helped validate my ability to perform

is the same — I worked really hard and I had a lot of help

at a high level.”

along the way. From advisers to students, each Carolinian has taught me so much, and I don’t think there is another university that has quite the same dynamic of camaraderie as we

Elam’s military career now spans more than three decades. “It becomes a part of you,” he said. “I’m

have. When I struggled, I had a Gamecock on my right and

going to continue to serve until it’s time to

left to support me, and when I had a success I had a Game-

step down.”

— Liz McCarthy

cock on my right and left to congratulate me.”

FUTURE GRADS Watch out for these juniors. With one more year at Carolina, they are likely to have more bragging rights before finishing their degrees in 2014.

Paul Williams, retail management

Ravenel Godbold, history major

Winner of the 2013 Spring Design-

Recipient of the Jewish Studies

er Student Showcase held during

Travel Grant

USC Fashion Week

Godbold will travel to Israel this

Williams, who is also a minister,

summer to study at The Hebrew

wants to use his talents as an art-

University of Jerusalem where

ist and designer to open a retail

she’ll learn firsthand about co-exis-

store, selling clothing, music and

tence in the Middle East and work

books with a biblical focus. “USC

on her thesis about Jewish history.

has opened my eyes to the world of fashion and how neces-

“I’m excited to learn about what is going on from people who

sary it is to give life to your imaginations and dreams. I know

have actually had a part in what I’m studying. I’m excited to

who I am and what I’m called to do, and because I know my

talk to people who have experienced it and give a different

purpose I must fulfill it.”

perspective on how they deal with it. It’s probably a chance I wouldn’t get anywhere else.

USC Times 5/9/2013





avid DeWeil was one of the first people Bewer Eberly met on campus as a freshman four years ago. DeWeil was his University 101 instructor then. But when Eberly walks across the stage during commencement, DeWeil will be there as his friend.

Clear Skies Ever stare at the moon through a hunk of

In the four years that Eberly, a senior biology student, has been on

the Carolina campus, he has developed a close relationship with DeWeil, assistant principal of Capstone Scholars. Immediately the two bonded during the First-Year Reading Experience over their love of the popular TV show “The Office,” their hometown and their spirituality. “His passion

for students and campus is inviting,” said Eberly,

beach glass? OK, the view through the main telescope

who was recently awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan award, the university’s highest honor for

at USC’s Melton Observatory was never as cloudy as that, but because of a misshapen mirror and approximately 130 years of use

undergraduates. Likewise, DeWeil said he knew after that first

and abuse, the heavens seen through it have

conversation that he would be a part of Eberly’s

never appeared quite as clearly as they

four years at Carolina. As a sophomore Eberly took a position as an

should — until now. Last year, using a grant from the College

undergraduate assistant in the Capstone Scholars

of Arts and Sciences, observatory Director

program. By his junior and senior years, Eberly

Alex Mowery began a series of improve-

became the peer leader in DeWeil’s U101 class.

“He cuts through the small talk to the deeper conversations that I’m particularly fond of.”

“Our conversations moved from talking about

ments to the nearly century-old observatory and the even older telescope it houses.

how to make our course better to talking about Jesus or marriage or life,” Eberly said. “That’s one of the

Among other things, Mowery has had the

things I love about David. He cuts through the small talk to the deeper conversations that I’m particu-

telescope’s hand-ground 19th-century mir-

larly fond of.”

rors professionally polished and, yes, even

DeWeil, ’02 media arts, knew he wanted to work on a college campus after his experience at Caro-

slightly reshaped. Once they are reinstalled

lina when staff members at USC’s campus ministry organizations had the same impact on DeWeil, shar-

in the coming weeks, he anticipates a mo-

ing their life with him, he said. “I saw firsthand the type of growth a person could experience during those four years of college,”

ment of unprecedented clarity.

DeWeil said. “I loved the idea of being able to mentor young students and help them move along in the

“The large mirror was supposed to be a perfect parabolic shape, but when it was tested it ended up measuring something like

growth process.” Now, as Eberly moves on to attend the School of Medicine, DeWeil said he has seen a big change in his student.

97 percent parabolic,” says Mowery. “Now we’ve corrected that, so it’s going to be bet-

“I will definitely miss being able to teach University 101 with him. I viewed him as my equal in many ways,” he said. “I can see the impact that I have made in his life and vice versa. I’ve learned a lot from

ter than it’s ever been.” — Craig Brandhorst

S ystemwide

him. He made me want to continue to have an impact on others.”



Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, a librarian at USC Lancaster’s Medford Library


How are librarians creatively using social media to engage students? Facebook is definitely part of the academic librarian’s social media toolkit, and many librarians also use Pinterest to show off new or rare book covers that are unique to their library collections. We also use lots of technology tools for teaching and learning.

How are students using academic libraries when studying abroad? I hope to find that out as I move forward in my scholarship here at USC Lancaster. A project I’m seeking funding for focuses on the information seeking behaviors of American students studying in South Korea. I’m looking at how they use academic libraries and the effects of culture shock on these processes as they pursue their education in a new and very different culture.

What about access to continuing education in rural libraries? In my research with Deborah Tritt (USC Aiken, Gregg-Graniteville Library), we have learned that for many information professionals, state and local library associations — like the South Carolina Library Association - play an important role in providing access to opportunities for professional development, scholarly communication, and informal and formal networking.


University of south carolina



wo years ago Laura Aboyan, ’05 public relations, won a contest from the Columbia Visitors Bureau for the state’s Restaurant Week. She had won 25 gift cards to restaurants, bars and cafes across the city.

But quickly her winnings became more than

a few nights out. Aboyan, a certification and assessment administrator in the College of Education, started documenting her brunches, lunches and dinners on a blog, The Hungry Lady. The idea took off. This year she released a book, “Columbia Food: A History of Cuisine in the Famously Hot City,” which details the delectable history of Columbia cuisine. What do you like most about blogging about food? “I love to eat and I like to try new things I wouldn’t otherwise.”

Zhùhè nín! Congratulations to the first group of stu-

What is something memorable from your time

dents to graduate from the International

tasting Columbia’s best cuisine?

Business and Chinese Enterprise program

“I’ve rediscovered beets. I fell in love with them.”

in the Darla Moore School of Business. The

Is it easy to find local, non-chain dining options in the city? “There are so many originals. Sometimes you have to dig to find a Columbia original, but more and more are popping up.”

innovative program features undergraduates from Chinese University of Hong Kong and USC who spent two years studying in Hong Kong and two years in Columbia. “These 31 students are true pioneers. Their courage and commitment is an enormous

What’s your favorite restaurant?: “I’d have to go with Terra in West Columbia. It was the first place I ate and it set the bar so high. The atmosphere, the food, the staff.” —Liz McCarthy

accomplishment that will serve them well throughout their lives. Their greatest asset is each other and the network of peers they have built,” says David Hudgens, director of the IBCE program.

USC MOM For years USC students have put Viki Sox Fecas’ number in their cell phones but not with her name. Typically she’s identified as “USC Mom.” Fecas’ nurturing spirit has been evident in all of her work with students — from teaching 28 sections of University 101 in the past 25 years to her job at the USC Career Center from which she retired in 2011. In both capacities, she helped guide a generation of students through the journey of preparing for college life, graduation and entry into professional


careers. “University 101 has offered me incredible opportunities for professional development and a way to challenge and support students,” said Fecas, who enrolled “Fecas was not just a professor to her stu-

in the course as a freshman in 1979. “Teaching University 101 is a neat way to

dents but guided us with care as a motherly

connect with students who are desperate to find their place in a large institution

figure. With me being so far away from

with someone who knows their names and understands the struggles they’re

home that sense of security she provided

going through.”

was very helpful and heartwarming.”

This year she was recognized as the Outstanding Teaching in University 101 winner. —Chris Horn

S CIENCE CORNER OH BABY! MAPPING THE INFANT BRAIN Six-month-old infants are beginning to develop brain areas that are extremely sensitive to faces and critical for recognizing familiar people. Psychology professor John Richards recently created the first infant brain atlas that consists of average MRIs from 3 – 12-months-old infants. The brain atlas is used to relate a MRI of an infant’s brain to the electrical brain activity when the baby looks at its mother’s face. The atlas identifies the specific brain area that generates the EEG, revealing the brain areas that may be important for a baby remembering its mother’s face.

uscTIMES Vol. 24, No.9 | May 9, 2013

USC Times is published 20 times a year for the faculty and staff of the University of South Carolina by the Division of Communications. Managing editor: Liz McCarthy Designer: Linda Dodge Contributors: Peggy Binette, Craig Brandhorst, Frenché Brewer, Glenn Hare, Thom Harman, Chris Horn, Page Ivey, Steven Powell, Megan Sexton, Jeff Stensland and Marshall Swanson Photographers: Kim Truett

To reach us: 803-777-2848 or Campus correspondents: Patti McGrath, Aiken Candace Brasseur, Beaufort Shana Dry, Lancaster Jane Brewer, Salkehatchie Misty Hatfield, Sumter Tammy Whaley, Upstate Annie Smith, Union

The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities or decisions for qualified persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetics, sexual orientation or veteran status.

USC Times May 9, 2013  

Stories, snippets and scenes from the University of South Carolina. A publication for faculty, staff and friends of the university

USC Times May 9, 2013  

Stories, snippets and scenes from the University of South Carolina. A publication for faculty, staff and friends of the university