Distinguished Alumni Award
At USC Upstate, Cyndi was a non-traditional student—married with one child. She says she was able to have peace of mind by attending a quality college that was affordable. "I have fond memories of my English professor Dr. Provine and our discussions of Beowulf and Grendel," Cyndi says. "English Professor Dr. Moore pushed me to be a better writer. My history professor, Dr. Wilson reenacted events from Asian history. Dr. Davisson, my children’s literature professor, had us deep-dive into fairy tales by Perrault. My political science professor Dr. Romine encouraged me to challenge Spartanburg County Council concerning neighborhood zoning and erosion, and my music professor, Dr. Colloms had us organizing her May Pole event. I had been to a larger school for one semester, and at Upstate, I felt like a person and not just a number. These professors were the reason for that."
After graduating from Upstate, she taught for five years. During her last year as a teacher, Cyndi met her best friend Cathy McCabe. "Without getting my education degree from Upstate, I would probably never have made this lifelong connection," she says. "After I left teaching to go into financial services, I got re-acquainted with Dr. Moore and Dr. Colloms in the Business and Professional Women’s Club. The main reason I joined was due to the USC Upstate connection. My education degree also helped me get my foot in the door to start my banking career. I was hired by C&S Bank to oversee the Upstate Training Department in which my teaching experience was a plus. This allowed me to get an idea of where I wanted to land for the long haul and after 3 years, I was able to obtain a lending role. I have been in financial services for 34 years with my last 15 years as a commercial lender with Park National Bank, formerly Carolina Alliance Bank, a community bank started by one of my mentors and a big supporter of USC Upstate, John Poole."
Cyndi has supported USC Upstate by working on a phone-a-thon, serving on the Alumni and Foundation Boards, and even helping students move into dorms one fall semester.
"Attending Upstate allowed me to learn about the community I would call home for more than 40 years," she says. "I have been active in Kiwanis of Spartanburg and was awarded the George Hixson Award by my local club and served as President one year. I was also the local President and the state President for Business and Professional Women. In this role, I led the vote to sell our headquarters building in Columbia to invest that money with the Spartanburg County Foundation to be used for various purposes by our clubs throughout the state. I have also served on the Healthy Smiles Board and on various United Way committees."
Cyndi says it has been exciting to see USC Upstate grow into a metropolitan campus to serve the higher education needs of the Upstate citizens. "It has always been a place for non-traditional students to call home, and because of that, I was able to complete my college education in a welcoming environment. For that, I will always be grateful," she says.