40 Alumni for 40 Years
USC Upstate’s alumni have great stories to tell about their lives after leaving campus—their ambitions, career paths, volunteer work and families—as well as some interesting remembrances of their years on campus. In celebration of the University’s 40th anniversary, these 40 alumni highlighted on the next 12 pages, tell a varied and rich story about the power of their USC Upstate degree, and the influence of the institution on their daily lives. We salute these and all of the University’s 17,000 graduates!
Joy was a member of one of the first classes to graduate from then-USCS, with an associate degree in nursing. She remembers feeling like a part of history” on her first day of registration because everywhere due to the fact that construction of the Administration Building fronting I-585 had just been completed and the building was open for business. Joy has been a nurse for her entire professional career, starting out as a staff RN, and working her way up to the position she has held since 1989 as director of health services for the District 5 School system. In this position, she is responsible for coordinating comprehensive health services for over 6,800 students, supervising nine full-time nurses throughout the schools, and ensuring that everyone has access to emergency care as well as routine daily care. “My nursing degree,” she says, “gave me a wonderful foundation for my career…my instructors taught me to be a true professional.” Currently residing in Duncan, this Spartanburg County native is married to her husband of 38 years, Chuck, and they have a grown son, Ryan. She is an active member of Cudd Memorial Baptist Church and has served on various boards including Healthy Smiles and Middle Tyger Community Center.
Originally from Boiling Springs, this dean’s list student says he was well prepared for the workforce after he finished his degree back in the days when the University was a two-year institution. At Upstate, he majored in business administration which readied him for the demands of the real estate and development business, and he met his future business partner, Jim Smith, with whom he has embarked upon a successful real estate development company, Smith and Lowe Development. As a real estate developer, he feels his biggest accomplishment was the development of the Lake Adger community in Polk County, N.C. He has two children and in his spare time he enjoys boating and skiing with them. In addition to being on the Carolina Piedmont Foundation board of directors, he also serves on the board of realtors for Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Polk County. He has many fond memories of USC Upstate, and has kept up friendships and business relationships with many fellow graduates.
Nick was a student at USC Upstate when the campus was transitioning from a two-year associate degree campus to a four-year degree program. After he completed two years in Spartanburg with an associate degree in science, he transferred to the USC College of Pharmacy, where he obtained his bachelor of science degree in pharmacy. Nick says that the small classes and the one-on-one relationships with professors were very helpful in preparation for his career. Although several faculty members left lasting impressions on him, Dr. Tom Davis was a stand-out because no matter how busy he was, “he always made time for me with any concerns that I had.” Currently, Nick is employed as the assistant pharmacy manager at Publix Pharmacy at Hillcrest Shopping Center where he fills prescriptions and counsels patients about their medications. Married for 25 years to Maria, also an Upstate graduate (’85), Nick has two children, Andrew and Despina. He spends much of his spare time at his church and with his elderly parents. Whenever possible, he tries to squeeze in golf.
Mary Lou Hodge
Mary Lou was a non-traditional student with a husband and two children when she attended USC Upstate. She obtained her ADN in 1976 and her BSN degree in 1982. “I now know the entire experience of college was a building experience and at the end I began to realize how my college experience shaped my life. I think differently and am able to view the world in a more mature and confident manner,” says Mary Lou. Immediately after graduation, Mary Lou worked at the Spartanburg Regional Medical Center. In 1982, she joined USC Upstate’s nursing faculty, but left in 1992 to work at Gardner-Webb University. Eventually, Mary found her way back to USC Upstate in 2002, working full time. She is a member of the American Nurses Association, the USC Upstate Alumni Board of Directors, and coordinates a living window for Spartanburg’s holiday celebration, Dickens of a Christmas. In Mary Lou’s free time she loves to be with her family, read and cook at family gatherings.
Rita was a little older than the typical college student when she began attending classes at USC Upstate, and even though people asked her “Do you know how old you will be when you graduate?” she was undaunted by the challenge. As she walked out of her last exam on the last day of her college career, she realized that she was the same age that day as she would have been if she hadn’t pursued her dream. After graduating with honors with a degree in business administration with an accounting concentration, she worked for the IRS and then passed the CPA exam. In 1985 she opened her own accounting firm, where she still practices, at the Woodland Executive Center in Spartanburg. The small firm handles payrolls, financial statements, and tax returns for individuals, corporations, estates, partnerships and other entities. “My education at USC Upstate was a great investment for my future,” she says, adding that she feels she received a very good education for a reasonable tuition rate. A member of the R&B Shag Club, Rita resides in Inman with her husband, Gene, who also loves to shag. She has three grandchildren whom she loves to spoil, she says.
Although she planned to graduate from USC Upstate and pursue a career using her business administration degree, and in fact was part owner of three pharmacies which were sold to Rite Aid in 1980, life took an unexpected turn for Freddie Wilson. Her husband Jesse became sick with a long-term illness so she never had the opportunity to develop a career. She did, however, make room for numerous volunteer activities, including serving a three-year term as state president of the South Carolina Congress of Parents & Teachers, a title which she refers to as her biggest accomplishment. Additionally, she was awarded the Order of the Palmetto in 2004 by Rep. Lanny Littlejohn. Her other civic engagements include judging flower shows and pursuing gardening initiatives on the local and state level. She is also on the board of the Mountain View Nursing Home. This native of Charleston was one of eight children, has two children and one grandchild, and is very proud of all their accomplishments.
Madora is now retired after a twenty year career in nursing that included jobs at Doctor’s Memorial Hospital in Spartanburg; Providence Hospital in Columbia; Blue Cross Blue Shield in Columbia and Greenville; Kanawha Insurance Company in Lancaster; and DHEC Home Health. A licensed practical nurse for 20 years, she came to Upstate to get her RN degree and graduated in 1981. Looking back on her education at Upstate, two professors stand out in her mind: “Nancy Babb, RN, and Juanita Thackston, RN, left lasting impressions on me because they were excellent teachers and good role models,” says Madora. In her free time, Madora volunteers as the congregational nurse at her church, Ben Avon United Methodist in Spartanburg, and she enjoys exploring genealogy. She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Colonial Dames organizations.
“I think I was an excellent teacher,” says Teresa Hough proudly. “I was Teacher of the Year three times, Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year and in the Who’s Who among Teachers and Educators,” she says. Now retired, Teresa can look back and appreciate the difference she made in the lives of her students. “My greatest accomplishment is knowing that I affected so many precious children in my lifetime,” she says. Teresa appreciates her education at Upstate and remembers Dr. Leo Bonner and his amazing support and kindness he showed his students. In her retirement, Teresa is teaching drama classes at the Spartanburg Youth Theatre and when she is not teaching or spending time with her family, she enjoys riding horses, writing scripts and gardening.
Bill was one of those students who had a lot of fun during his college years. A self-described “average student,” after four years of basketball — including the first basketball district championship—and two years of Epsilon Lambda fraternity fun, he says he was “thankful to graduate.” Dr. Earl Gordon, Dr. Olin Sansbury and Dr. Tom Davis all provided significant guidance, support and encouragement throughout his USC Upstate career. Since graduating with a degree in business administration with emphasis on information management systems, Bill’s entire professional career has been in the information technology field, either in sales support or a sales executive role. He is currently employed as a senior sales executive, responsible for sales and account management, with SAS Institute, a leader in business intelligence and predictive analytics software. Bill lives in Alpharetta, Ga., with his wife Beth and their 16 year old son. An outdoorsman in his spare time, Bill enjoys lacrosse, basketball and tennis, and even calls himself a “weekend gentleman farmer.”
Sandra has held one job since graduating with a degree in education with honors from USC Upstate, and she has held that same job for 25 years, teaching from 130 to 175 children every year at Wren High School in Anderson District 1 just outside Greenville. When she graduated from the School of Education, she was well prepared to “write lesson plans, deal with administration, work with parents, help coach softball, serve as newspaper advisor, yearbook advisor and stage manager, attend staff meetings, perform hall duty…and oh, yes, teach my subjects!” she quips. Sandra is very proud of both her children: Todd served in the Navy and is married to a teacher and has two sons, and Shannon, who famously challenged The Citadel in 1995 for the right to attend the all-male institution. Married for 44 years, Sandra is active in Bethesda United Methodist Church, and has become a certified lay minister. As a charter member of the Greenville Chapter of the Red Hat Organization she is “devoted to fun” and “meeting other women who will not let age change our outlook on having fun and acting young, even if the calendar makes mistakes.”
Kathlen Elam came to Upstate from New Orleans, La., as a non-traditional student with three children in high school. She remembers being a determined student who graduated with a 3.6 GPA and a BA in elementary education. Kathleen worked as an elementary school teacher for more than 22 years, and is now retired. In 1994, she was one of the first six teachers in South Carolina to receive the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards Certification. Kathleen’s fondest memory of Upstate was when she and another student were given an assignment to portray themselves to the public as students with special disabilities. She says she will never forget how the public responded to them. “This realistic happening gave me insights that remained all during my career as an educator,” she adds. Two of Kathleen’s three children are also graduates of USC Upstate.
Originally from Bobingen, Germany, Claus Foerster received his BS in biology from USC Upstate. Claus credits Dr. Jack Turner, professor of biology, with leaving a lasting impression on him. He also appreciates “being encouraged to solve problems on my own and being held accountable for the decisions I made” during his time at Upstate. “While I’m not using my degree in my career, the experience did help me gain confidence and make a smoother transition from academics to the real world,” said Claus. After graduation, Claus worked as the regional supervisor for a rental company for five years before moving into the investment and financial planning industry. He handled the financial affairs for a group of families and private foundations in the Southeast - first with J.C. Bradford and then with Smith Barney. Claus recently became vice president of Morgan Keegan, another financial planning firm with offices in Greenville. But even as a successful businessman, he counts his biggest accomplishment as helping his wife, Laura, raise their two daughters. Claus enjoys spending his free time fishing and hunting at the family’s house in Seabrook.
As a member of the cross-country team Patrick McLaughlin learned that teamwork, consistency, discipline and confidence were keys to succeeding in life. “I still use those invaluable principles today as a navy officer and author,” said McLaughlin. “USC Upstate allowed me to be a student-athlete and learn lessons in both areas.” When asked about his fondest memory of USC Upstate, McLaughlin said, “Easy! The people — whether it was students or my teammates. In the early 1980s USC Upstate was smaller and the student body was fairly close knit. It was a fun place to be as a student.” Coming in a close second was his memory of setting the USC Upstate course record in cross-country (25:43 for five miles), making the all-district team and representing the school in the NAIA national championships in 1982. Having received a master’s in divinity and a master’s of sacred theology, McLaughlin is currently a commander in the Navy and the Second Marine Logistics Group Forward Chaplain where he supervises 20 chaplains and religious program specialists on three bases forward deployed in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq. He also embarked upon a career as an author with his first book, No Atheists in Foxholes, was recently released by Thomas Nelson Publishing.
Landrum native Danny Duncan, who graduated with a degree in computer science, started his own computer services and consulting company, Respect Technology, Inc. in November 2007. After spending 20 years with Hamrick’s and ASI, respectively, performing various functions ranging from programmer and customer trainer to hardware and software installer, program writer and information services director, his new company is offering computer services and consulting, “from IBM iSeries to pc’s to networking and anything in between.” Computers are not only how he earns a living – they occupy his spare time as well. In his free time as a student he enjoyed being in the computer club, and today he spends his spare time learning new computer programming languages and techniques. Danny is married to Tammy and he has a 13-year old stepson. He stays involved with Five Forks Baptist Church in Simpsonville and enjoys playing and watching football with his son.
According to Kelly, she was a typical student. “I always read ahead on the syllabus to see how long I could put off writing the required papers as it was my least favorite academic task but overall, I enjoyed the classes and interactions with the classmates,” says Kelly who earned her BA in early childhood education in 1998 and her M.Ed. in early childhood education in 1997. “P.O.E.T.S. Days,” or Put Off Everything ‘Till Saturday Days, are a fond memory for Kelly, who says that the campus community would get together on the Quad for these Friday afternoon events. The late Dr. Bryan “Doc” Lindsay left a lasting impression with Kelly who says that “he dared us to think beyond our capabilities, face challenges, try new things, think about other people’s perspectives in relation to our own and to value ourselves and others.” For the past 18 years, Kelly has worked at Burrough’s Child Development Center, located on Upstate’s campus, where she is responsible for supervising clinical students, student teachers and supervising the center when the director is absent. She says she feels a sense of pride seeing young children learn and grow, and seeing parents being able to complete their education at Upstate while their children are attending the CDC. In her leisure time she enjoys photography and painting. “I like the challenge of recreating the images on canvas and combining elements of my favorite photographs,” says Kelly. This Little Chicago, S.C. native currently lives in Inman, with her husband and their two dogs.
Working as a pitching instructor, raising two children and being a wife, Traci Farrington stays very busy. Since her graduation from Upstate with a BS in physical education, she has worked as a physical education teacher for all grade levels, a back rehabilitation specialist, and as a pitching coach assistant for Upstate. Traci currently works at Southeast Region Fastpitch. She believes her biggest accomplishments are being a wife and mother, and influencing young people through sports and making a difference at Upstate. She is heavily involved in her community, but when she is not working, volunteering or spending time with her family she like to SCUBA dive.
Listed in the Wall Street Journal as one of the top 200 real estate agents in the nation for closed transactions, and as a member of the RE/MAX 2007 Hall of Fame, Rusty credits his business management degree from USC Upstate as the “perfect match for working in today’s real estate market and for operating a real estate office that specializes in foreclosures and bank owned properties.” Now a licensed realtor and broker for RE/MAX in Spartanburg, this Spartanburg native focuses on marketing, maintaining and disposing of foreclosed bank assets in the Upstate as well as parts of North Carolina. Rusty has six full-time assistants and three work crews. Offshore boating and travel abroad are his leisure-time hobbies, and he is involved with Spartanburg Children’s Shelter, the Peace Center for the Performing Arts, Hatcher Gardens and with USC Upstate’s own Susan Jacobs Arboretum.
It’s been a busy 18 years since graduation for Greenville native Victor Austin, who left USC Upstate with a bachelor of science in marketing. He has worked for Fed Ex, Met Life, and owned a Port City Java Coffee got married along the way and has three children. Currently, he owns Palmetto Home Care Upstate, a company that provides in-home care to individuals who want to maintain an independent lifestyle. Victor has served the Boy Scouts of America on the board of directors and as district commissioner. He was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and served two years as president of the African American Association while a student and says that his years at Upstate were marked by active and involved participation.
Many USC Upstate students have found that professors can be a great connection for finding summer internships or research opportunities and even landing that first job. Tracey Jackson is one such alumnae who launched her successful career with the help of an Upstate professor. A cum laude graduate in political science, Jackson credits Dr. Ron Romine with helping her find her first job as a campaign coordinator for the Harris for House campaign. Tracey is now the executive director of Piedmont Care, Inc. Located in Spartanburg, Piedmont Care is a nonprofit organization providing HIV and AIDS care, prevention and advocacy. Piedmont Care provides outpatient medical care, medication, transportation, nutrition, housing, insurance assistance and other services to local community members living with HIV/AIDS. Tracey considers the growth of Piedmont Care as one of her greatest accomplishments. Under her vision and leadership, Piedmont Care grew from a volunteer-run clinic that was only open one day a week to a full-time clinic with eight staff members. In addition to her busy professional life, Tracey maintains an active civic life, serving as treasurer of The Snail’s Pace, on the family selection and support committee for Habitat for Humanity, as a volunteer and member of Fernwood Baptist Church, and as a member of the Board of Advisors for USC Upstate’s Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.
Banking is David Miller’s life passion. While a student at Upstate, he founded the University Business Society with guidance from Dr. Lilly Lancaster. After graduating with a BS in administration with a concentration in management, he worked fifteen years for four different banks, going through the ups and downs of mergers and acquisitions, management and culture changes. He realized that along the way he had made excellent connections and customer relationships that would benefit from a bank with a simple motto: “The customer comes first.” So, with partner Allan Ducker, Miller opened CommunitySouth Bank & Trust, a bank with $340 million in assets that covers the Spartanburg, Greenville, Greer, Anderson, Easley and Mauldin markets. With 85 employees and expansion plans on the table, the president of this successful startup bank still has time for his wife of 15 years, Sharon, their two children, the Rotary and Sertoma clubs, as well as golfing and SCUBA diving. 1991
A non-traditional student graduating with a 3.7 GPA, Jayne Case claims that she owes half her degree to her husband because he took care of the house and their two children while she attended USC Upstate to get her nursing degree. “I was a Mary Black Memorial Hospital Scholarship recipient for all three years so I had to keep grades high to retain the scholarship,” says Jayne. She credits Professor Jim Ferrell for his “gentle demeanor the helped students to learn with less intimidation.” After graduation, Jayne worked at the Mary Black Memorial Hospital. In 1996, she began teaching at Spartanburg Community College. Recently, Jayne received her master’s degree from Clemson and is currently serving as the department’s interim department head. She is very proud of her two sons, Will and Nathan, and believes that raising them to be successful men has truly been the biggest accomplishment of her life.
As a psychology major, John Feith learned early on in his time at USC Upstate “that to ‘get along and get ahead’ in the workplace you have to be very perceptive of what goes on around you because there are all sorts of formal and informal networks in the workplace…and anywhere, really.” While many psychology concepts make sense in the academic setting, John’s professors were quick to point out that applying those concepts to the workplace is not as cut and dry. “They made me understand that the better I understood these concepts, the better prepared I would be in the workforce, managing a workforce and managing workforce behaviors,” he said. John and his family live in Dyersburg, Tenn., where he is CEO of a string of medical clinics across West Tennessee. He uses the lessons learned as a student daily in two of his most important roles: hiring employees who can lead and work well in teams, and staying accessible to his workforce. When asked if any faculty left a lasting impression on him, John says that he owes a great debt of gratitude to Dr. Jan Griffin. “As a child, I had always struggled with school and I was perfectly content to do the absolute minimum to get by,” he says. “But when I met Dr. Griffin, she wouldn’t let me slide by. After my first test in her class she pulled me aside, looked me straight in the eye and basically told me that she wouldn’t accept mediocre work from someone who could do much better. If Dr. Griffin had not intervened and persevered with me, I’m certain that I would still be struggling for direction and living a much different outcome.”
Farming was not the career choice Eric Hunter had planned while a student and baseball player at USC Upstate. But he did always have the entrepreneurial spirit, even while working post-graduation management jobs in retail and restaurants. After he and his wife, Kristi Ulmer, also a USC Upstate graduate, adopted a son Ryan, now 11, Eric struck out in the strawberry growing business on acreage near Easley in 1997 as a part-time venture that would allow his wife to be a stayat- home mother. But when the “Hunter Farms” business took off, he became a farmer full-time. A pumpkin crop was added as well as the greenhouse business where he grows bedding plants, and a corn maze soon followed. While he began farming “with absolutely no experience whatsoever – I had never in my life grown anything,” the farm grew into a family affair with his wife and mother employed full-time, and 15 – 20 part-timers employed at the peak of the season. Always an athlete, Eric uses his spare time to compete in triathlons both on the South Carolina level, where he finished the year ranked ninth for his age group, and on the international “Ironman” level where he competed in Cancun, Mexico, and Clearwater, Fla., last year. On Sundays, you can find Eric at Set Free Christian Fellowship in Powdersville where he is a care pastor and a teacher in the children’s ministry.
All the jobs Michael has held since graduating with a degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting have been in the accounting sectors as a bookkeeper, business analyst and financial accountant. Recently, however, he made a career switch and is now employed by USC Union as a transfer/career counselor where he advises students with career choices and transfer opportunities. Originally from McCormick County and currently residing in Inman, Michael says that the “leadership opportunities at Upstate gave me the practice and confidence to meet most challenges” and that his service in student organizations improved his interpersonal skills and helped him meet his job expectations. He fondly recalls Drs. Carson, Wiles, Drucker, Martino, Rector, Butler and Clary and says that “overall, I enjoyed all my professors, the staff and classes.” Other memorable moments include seeing (and blushing at) the French Quarter while in New Orleans for a Gamma Beta Phi convention, winning the Earl Gordon Medal, and walking across the stage to graduate. Married to Nikki, Michael is raising a son, Shaquielle, now in the ninth grade. In his leisure time, he enjoys listening to NPR, reading and “tinkering” with his Web site muatas-quest.com.
2005 was a momentous year for Spartanburg native Shelly Butterfield. She gave birth to twins Beth Anne and Zachary, and she opened her own business, a CPA firm specializing in small business tax accounting. As the owner of a growing Greenville firm that integrates accounting and tax preparation and planning for entrepreneurs, Shelly is in charge of “networking, human resources, administration and sometimes washing dishes!” A nontraditional student who says that she was more serious about college after her first attempt, Shelly credits Dr. Diana Clary and Dr. Meyer Drucker for encouraging her to succeed giving her practical advice to jump into her career. Shelly has been married to Marc for 12 years, and she is active in various civic groups including Dining For Women, Downtown Sertoma Club and the YWCA.
Carolyn Farr Smith
As a communications/journalism major, “working on deadline” is a familiar phrase to newspaper and TV journalist Carolyn Farr Smith, who graduated with newspaper experience already under her belt from working on the student-run newspaper, The Carolinian. Her Carolinian experience, in addition to Dr. Ray Merlock and Dr. Nancy Moore’s friendship and advice, taught her the importance of deadlines, “which has served me well in my career.” After stints at The Union Daily Times as lifestyles editor and the Spartanburg Herald-Journal as features editor, she made a career switch to TV. As the assignment editor at Fox Carolina news, she gathers and assigns news stories to the reporters and photographers, monitors various news sites for possible news stories, and talks with members of the community about upcoming events, possible story ideas and important issues to viewers. Married with a two-year-old son, this Greenville native also serves as chair of Piedmont Media Professionals, president of Media Women of South Carolina, and on the USC Upstate alumni board.
Stacey and Jackie Mills
Stacey and Jackie Mills first met in the Dean of Students’ office where Jackie was working as a student assistant. Married for ten years with three children, Stacey is now a senior minister at Mountain View Baptist Church in Greenville and a teacher at Woodmont High School while Jackie teaches biology at Eastside High School in Greenville. During their time at USC Upstate, the couple was very active in student life activities on campus, each serving as president of student organizations and participating in leadership development sessions. “We were exposed to community and human service organizations which gave us opportunities to work in the trenches with everyday people who struggle to make life work for them,” they said. “Those experiences, coupled with the faculty and staff who pushed us to succeed, have given us a sincere desire to give back to our community in many ways.” In addition to the obvious highpoint of meeting each other, the Mills’ count their involvement with the search committee that brought Chancellor Stockwell to campus as one of their fondest memories. “That was a historic event for USC Upstate and we were involved with the search committees and the inauguration,” they said. “It was an incredible time.” Stacey and Jackie consider their work with young people in the community to be one of their biggest accomplishments thus far. “Our family backgrounds and personal experiences have given us insight into potential obstacles that keep people from achieving their goals,” they said. “We partnered with Greenville Technical College at our church last spring to offer a GED program in the community. Twenty-two people enrolled in the class, ranging in ages from 18 to 75. Watching those who thought they couldn’t do it, prepare and take the GED test was definitely rewarding.”
Tim Drummond was a nontraditional student in more ways than one. Drummond actually started his first business before graduating. Currently an executive recruiter at his company, Drum Up Personnel located in Simpsonville, his experience at USC Upstate was instrumental in laying the groundwork for his successful career. “I wasn’t an excellent student, but I understood the value of a quality education and how it would benefit my career,” says Drummond. “I was taught the necessary skills needed to become a better business leader, a better manager, and better at building sound business relationships.” During his time at USC Upstate, Leon Wiles left an indelible impression on Drummond. “Leon Wiles is very passionate about helping students accomplish their goals. He always had a positive attitude and a way of encouraging students to do their best. He was definitely a role model,” Drummond says. Drummond’s biggest accomplishment to date has been obtaining his BS and MBA degrees. “It is very important for me to be a role model for my two sons,” he says.
Every college student likes their pizza and beer, but when you use them to help explain economic principles, as Dr. Duncan Bailey did for Hines, “it allowed me to put economics to use in real life situations.” A nontraditional student who commuted to school, worked 25 hours a week at his father’s business and interned at Merrill Lynch for 10 hours a week for two years, Hines feels that his degree in business administration with a concentration in economics from USC Upstate has helped him tremendously in the financial planning and wealth management career field. He worked his way up at Merrill Lynch from intern to client associate to financial advisor, and then left in 2004 to help build the wealth management firm, Global View, LLC, a company that now manages $130 million for its clients. As a certified financial planner, he works with individuals and business owners on retirement plans, education funding, estate planning and asset protection. Hines resides in Greenville with his wife and when he has leisure time he enjoys reading, hunting and fishing. He also serves on the USC Upstate alumni advisory board.
Frank Allgood may have been, in his words “an average [high school] student with average grades,” but this Earl Gordon Medal recipient proved himself anything but average in his time at USC Upstate. After meeting his future wife, Jeneane (formerly Rekowski), during his senior year of high school, Frank began taking education more seriously and became very active in campus activities, University committees, the Spartanburg community and the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity. “My experience was more than ink on paper at the end of a four-year term,” said Frank. “I was taught to be decisive, to be innovative, proactive and how to be a team player. More than anything, I was taught how to be a good leader.” Now the managing editor of GSA Business, the bi-weekly business journal for Upstate South Carolina, he credits his success in business with the experience gained at Upstate. “Perhaps the greatest challenge for most graduates is too many think in terms of a job and not a career. And they are not prepared to deal with corporate culture. My experience with SGA, Pi Kappa Phi, other organizations and university committees, as well as working as news editor for The Carolinian, equipped me with the tools necessary to succeed in business.”
While there have been plenty of changes in Kimberly’s life since graduating from USC Upstate, such as becoming a mom twice, earning a master’s degree in teaching school administration, and a move back to her home town – she says that two things have not changed. “At USCS I was known for my hair and shopping habits and those habits have not changed — I love shopping and being fabulous!” she says. Now pursuing a doctorate degree in education, Kimberly is enjoying being the assistant principal at Newberry High School, where she helps students “to understand their purpose and once they understand their purpose then they will know their possibilities.” This former member of the USC Upstate Gospel Choir proudly boasts that Newberry High has initiated its own gospel choir, with students readying to travel to New York for a competition. Dr. Warren Carson, who directed Kimberly in the USC Upstate Choir, challenged her to do more than just get by because “just enough was not good enough.” Kimberly says that Dr. Carson’s “confidence in my leadership skills and by sending me to a leadership conference, inspired me to be who I am today.” Kimberly graduated from USC Upstate in 1999 with a degree in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in sociology and criminal justice.
A teacher since graduating in 2000 with her master’s in education, Tonya is currently employed as a master teacher at Houston Elementary School, a 4K-6th grade school in the heart of Spartanburg School District 7. Named Spartanburg School District 7 Teacher of the Year in 2007-2008, Tonya was surprised to receive the recognition for her school and “totally floored” when she won for the entire district. When Tonya came to Upstate for her graduate degree she was working full-time as a teacher, and she was a wife, mother and taking classes part-time. “I was a hard worker. I could not afford to mess up, to fail any classes, or to be slack about getting my post-graduate degree because my family and career would suffer if I took any longer than I did getting my degree,” says Tonya. She credits Dr. Charles Love for contributing to her success as a teacher because he “gave us meaningful assignments that made us think on much higher levels then we were used to…he was fun in class but he was also serious about helping us become better educators.” When she is not teaching, she is an avid reader in her spare time. She also enjoys writing poetry, and has recently written a teen novel that she is looking to publish.
In the eight years since he graduated from USC Upstate with a bachelor of science in education, Todd Hardy worked his way from social studies teacher up the ranks to assistant principal and is now the principal of James F. Byrnes Freshman Academy in Duncan. With a staff of 60, Todd is responsible for the full operation of the school which is designed to provide the “fundamental steps for successful transition into high school” for students living in Spartanburg School District 5. Todd remembers his time at USC Upstate fondly, saying that Dr. Jim Charles was a mentor to him along his non-traditional path through college, and that he was well-prepared for his career due to the “wonderful, practical knowledge” he gained here as a student. Married for seven years, Todd has two children and spends his free time enjoying his family, church, reading and working out. Todd serves on the board of directors for the Middle Tyger Community Center, board of trustees for Piney Grove Baptist Church, and was runner-up for the Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership and Community Change.
Having attained the position of director of global operations for corporate security with Fluor Corporation, Dan Collins says that he had much support along his career path and as a nontraditional student at USC Upstate. He attended classes year-round in the evenings and worked full-time during the day, drawing support from both Dr. Eb Barnes, professor of physics, and his wife, Angie, who he says “was the sustaining force of the family during those years of school.” The scope of Dan’s job with Fluor, the world’s largest publicly held engineering, procurement, construction management and maintenance service providers, has led him to travel abroad extensively, including trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, to oversee security operations for the company. But family comes first when he has free time at home in Greer, where together they enjoy Gamecocks football games and boating. Dan received a bachelor of science in interdisciplinary studies.
There was no “getting one over” on business professor Dr. Faruk Tanyel, Cameron remembers fondly about classes at Upstate. “He could see through a bogus presentation or sales pitch like it was nothing and he would not tolerate anything less than a maximum effort. I remember thinking that he was the worst thing that could ever happen to a soon to- be college grad!” says Cameron. But it was through meeting the tough standards of his professors that led this business administration major to accept and excel at the challenges presented to him in the working world, he feels. After working for Fairway Outdoor Advertising as an account representative, he moved on to become a sales rep for Signature Graphics, a company specializing in production of large format graphics. He is based in Alpharetta, Ga. Cameron grew up in Spartanburg but is now enjoying all the cultural, sports and dining attractions, as well as the numerous networking groups, available in the Atlanta area.
For Travis Bryant, two Upstate faculty members made a lasting impression on him in his time at USC Upstate. Laura Puckett-Boler, dean of students, “was there to give me praise and encouragement when needed,” he said. “Dean Boler gave me an opportunity to make a big impact at USC Upstate. It was great to have a faculty member that I looked up to and received great advice from.” Dr. Tony Pritchard, assistant professor of education, also made an impact on Travis’ life. “He pushed me in every class that I had with him. I was convinced that he was trying to fail me,” he said. But, as it turned out, “the pushing from Tony was exactly what I needed. I still hear his voice in my head.” In addition to earning his degree in physical education, Travis was very involved on campus with a number of organizations and activities including Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, Orientation Leader, CAB and Campus Recreation. Now an elementary physical education teacher at Belleview Elementary School in his home town of Rock Hill, S.C., Travis was recently named the Elementary Beginning Teacher of the Year for Rock Hill School District 3. In addition to teaching kindergarten through fifth grade during the school day, he also is the fifth grade teacher in the after school program.
Originally from southern Virginia, April Dove moved to Greenville with her husband in 2003 and graduated from USC Upstate two years later with a BA in sociology. Now as a graduate student working towards a Ph.D. in sociology at USC Columbia, April feels her experience at Upstate helped prepare her for the transition from undergraduate to graduate work. While at Upstate, Dr. Lizabeth Zack became April’s mentor and encouraged her to pursue a graduate degree in sociology. April remembers Dr. Zack’s classes as challenging the students to be the best they can be. “I worked harder in her classes than any others that I took,” said April. “She was an excellent mentor. I’m glad to say that we are still in contact and are very good friends.” In fact April and Dr. Zack are working together on a research project they began in her last year at USC Upstate and plan to send the manuscript to a peer-reviewed sociology journal this year. April also credits her husband, Nathan, for playing an important role in her success. “He’s always been very supportive of what I do and he is definitely one of the driving forces behind my success so far. I appreciate him more than I can say.”
Currently working at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, named the seventh best children’s hospital in the country by Child Magazine, nursing graduate Laura Fowler is extremely happy with her job. “I sleep well at night knowing that I have made a difference in someone’s life,” says Laura. Originally from Spartanburg, she found her calling in Missouri at St. Louis Children’s Hospital where she works with patients with congenital heart defects, or who need heart and lung transplants. Laura looks back on her education at Upstate and recalls a professor who stood out from the rest: “Dr. Rush’s passion for teaching was palpable, and her love of nursing was an inspiration to many nursing students,” says Laura. Her fondest memory of USC Upstate is being a work-study student in the office of Alumni Affairs. Laura is currently in graduate school working towards a master’s degree in nursing education. She claims if she hadn’t had such a “loving and supportive environment” from her family, she would not be where she is today.
Barbra “Annie” Trout
“I had a wonderful experience at USC Upstate,” says this Fountain Inn native who graduated recently with a bachelor of science degree in nursing. The nursing program was like a “close group of friends, and it felt like my second family because we shared the same interests and the same challenges,” she adds. Upon graduation, Annie went to work part-time as a staff nurse at Allen Bennett Memorial Hospital, which is part of the Greenville Hospital System, on the medical/surgical floor. A typical day for her could include everything from a hysterectomy to a stroke patient to a total knee replacement. Annie is also excited to be in the master’s program at Clemson, having been encouraged by her undergraduate nursing professors to pursue further educational opportunities. She is also working part-time as a clinical instructor at USC Upstate, where she takes two groups of nursing students to Mary Black Hospital to show them the fundamentals of nursing. Married with three children ages 11, 9 and 18 months, Annie, who now lives in Landrum, still finds time to exercise and stay involved in the nursing ministry team at her church.
Drew excelled vastly while obtaining his bachelor of science degree in nursing from USC Upstate. He was on the Dean’s list every year, was selected president of the Student Nurses’ Association, and received the School of Nursing Leadership Award and the Dean’s Award. After an eight-year stint in pharmaceutical sales, he decided to change career paths and become a nurse. He is currently working at the Greenville Hospital as a nurse in the Coronary Care Unit. Drew believes that Upstate has made him a competent nurse, saying that “USC Upstate helped me develop the skills necessary to becoming a critical care nurse.” When he is not working, a lot of his free time is spent in activities with his five children. He also enjoys traveling, snow skiing and hiking.
Compiled by Stephanie Bingham (‘07), Heather Alexander-Engelbrecht and Claire Sachse