2021 USC Union Awards Program

USC Union Awards Program is designed to acknowledge the outstanding efforts of USC Union students pursuing Associates of Arts or Science, as well as Bachelor degrees through Palmetto College. This includes honoring students who have demonstrated academic excellence within a particular discipline, as well as students who have generally displayed overall merit as a student of USC Union.
Congratulations to all of this year’s recipients!

Congratulations to our student award winners for 2021! In the face of a particularly unusual and challenging year, you have risen to that challenge by excelling in your academic pursuits here at USC Union. We are all extremely proud of your accomplishments and know that you will continue to be successful as you finish out your USC Union careers and embark on whatever comes next for you. We are also all very proud of our staff and faculty who are recognized this year for their service and accomplishments to the campus and in support of the success of our students, who we are here to serve. Thank you for all you do as well!Dr. Randy Lowell, Interim Campus Dean

STUDENT ACADEMIC SUCCESS CENTER LEADERSHIP AWARD: Tomi LaChance

“The Student Academic Success Center (SASC) Leadership Award is presented to Tomi LaChance for her dedication to student success. Tomi has displayed leadership within the SASC by encouraging students and supporting them in their academic achievement, along with promoting campus involvement. Tomi serves as a lead tutor in a variety of subjects. She displays patience, motivates students, and goes beyond what is expected to ensure the Center meets the needs of the student body. Congratulations, Tomi. Thank you for your service. This award is well-deserved.”Christen Mayes

ACCOUNTING AWARD: Joshua Nelson

“To enter the world of accounting, one must embrace accountability, show respect for the rules, have regard for regulations, and have passion for the soundness of policies and procedures.  Accountants must be willing to be immersed in a world of constant change. In current times, accountants must have a global perspective of international business, embrace, and apply a  dynamic and diverse approach to growing complexities in the financial arena.  What does that look like in the classroom? Leadership!  It is easy to spot those students who are well respected by their peers.  They are always prepared, always willing to help others, and always encouraging to the team. This year, even in a world of cyber academics, a student emerged as the leader.  It is my honor to present to the 2021 Accounting Discipline Award recipient Joshua Nelson.” –Dr. Deborah Hudson

AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES AWARD: Caden Jackson

“We are proud to nominate Caden Jackson for the African American Studies Award in recognition of his scholarship. Caden is currently conducting research on police civilian-relations within the African American community.  Caden’s commitment to research is evident when reading his essays.  Caden brings to his studies curiosity and dedication.  He has embraced the ethos of justice and uses the tool of  ethnography and critical thinking. The faculty expect that Caden will publish his research and fully enter the current debate in his chosen field.”Dr. Tekla Johnson

ART STUDIO AWARD: Kevonna  Eison

“I have had the pleasure of teaching Kevonna Eison for both drawing and painting, where she has shown exceptional skill and is motivated to continue learning and growing in the field of art. Her ability to create is parallel to how she talks about art; not only is she essential in giving insightful feedback to fellow students during class critiques, she also has a natural understanding for speaking about her own work. As her work has progressed this semester, I have begun to see parts of her personality reflect into her work, giving a unique style to her evolving skill. It is for the reasons above that I have chosen Kevonna for the Studio Arts Award for the 2020-2021 school year. Congratulations, Kevonna, and thank you for sharing your beautiful gift! “Jennifer Emswiler

BIOLOGY AWARD: Hannah Hockgeiger

“Hannah Hockgeiger is an exceptional student on the Nursing track. As a non-traditional student, she wears many hats, but does so with huge courage and intensity. Hannah understands what it takes to be a successful student and works very hard to be one. Hannah is always ready to try to answer all questions (especially in class) even when she thinks she doesn’t know the answer (she usually does). Hannah is an excellent example of a student with strong Biology knowledge and will someday be a great nurse.”Dr. Lee Morris

CHEMISTRY AWARD: Creighton Wood-Carter

“ I have had the pleasure of counting this student as one of mine in both CHEM111 and its sequence CHEM112, lecture and lab. This student has always shown work ethics and constant efforts in both classroom and laboratory. He owned his learning experience and was involved in class discussions. He never hesitated to help out his lab mates when needed. His hard work definitely paid off. It is my great pleasure to present the 2021 Chemistry Award to Mr. Creighton Wood-Carter.”Dr. Helene Maire-Afeli

COMPUTER SCIENCE AWARD: Courtney Seymour

Computer Science travels at the speed of light.  In 1969, we had less than 10 connections in the forerunner of the Internet.  It was used solely for governmental research.  In May 2020, we had 4 billion users, with 660 billion connections to the Internet.  What does that mean for the world of Computer Science?  The computer science student, graduate, and careerist will forever be a life-long learner. Can anyone in a classroom show this type of promise? We have the ideal student who will be capable of embracing all things that technology promises:  a better world, a more inclusive world, a world of knowledge, but best of all, a world of hope. It is my pleasure to present this very talented student as the 2021 Computer Science Discipline Award Recipient:  Courtney Seymour.”Dr. Deborah Hudson

EDUCATION AWARD: Haleigh Palmer

“Haleigh Palmer is an outstanding student in the field of education.  She is well prepared and always strives to be her best.  An out of the box thinker, Haleigh goes above and beyond on her assignments and is committed to learn as much as possible through extended research.  The lives of the students she will serve will be enhanced once she steps foot in to her own classroom.“Dr. William Royce

ENGLISH AWARD: Annalee Wyatt

“I have had Annalee in three classes and each time I work with her, I’m inspired by her intellectual curiosity, work ethic, passion for social justice, and ability to shine in any form of class discussion. She is one of the best students I have had during my time at USCU, and I am happy to recommend her for this important award.” Dr. Andrew Pisano

FILM STUDIES AWARD: Abby Gibson

“Amber Gibson is a quiet member of Film Culture 180, but she makes herself loud and clear when asked to respond to each of the movies we are watching.  She is open-minded and insightful, as her excellent grade average will attest.”Randy Ivey

FRENCH AWARD: Millard “Andrew” Smith

“Albert Einstein once said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” To learn a different language, one needs to practice and with practice one will make errors in pronunciation and grammar and from those errors, one is able to perfect one’s language skills. However, the fear of making errors sometimes inhibits us from achieving the goal of learning another language. This certainly has not stopped Millard “Andrew” Smith from his goal of learning French. Each day, he arrives to class smiling, ready to learn in order to accomplish his goal with a contagious wonderful attitude that only lifts up those around him. Andrew has his eyes set on a successful career in business and it is certainly with no doubt that his developing language skills in French will complement that successful career of his.”Kevin Torres

GEOLOGY AWARD: Haleigh Palmer

“Haleigh Palmer has received the Geology Award because she is an excellent student. Haleigh does everything a good student should, showing up on time to every class, completing all her assignments, and always being prepared. Haleigh also is not afraid to ask questions and admit when something doesn’t make sense. Our class is a hybrid with the lecture being completely online and the lab  being in-person. Haleigh always brings her notebook which is full of notes she has written from the online lectures. When completing her labs, she does not look for the answer that is ‘good enough’ but instead the  answer that makes sense to her. She is motivated and disciplined in her schooling and that is why I have  chosen her for the Geology Award.” –Niki Hill

HISTORY AWARD: Jessica Mallett

“Jessica Mallet is the history faculty’s top choice for this prestigious history award.  Jessica is always   prepared for class and she willingly and respectfully engages in class discussions.  Her course work has been fantastic this term.  Her research project focuses on the history of the Gullah people of South Carolina and include oral histories from members of her own family.  Jessica’s research will add new knowledge about Gullah history and culture.”Dr. Tekla Ali Johnson

ITALIAN AWARD: Jennifer Turner

“To speak another language is to experience this world through another lens. That very lens is like a work of art in progress requiring similar talents to those of  Michelangelo. Jennifer Turner has approached her learning of the Italian language with those same  talents viewing that lens as a piece of art that requires time, patience, attention to detail and mastery of the content. She arrives each day building on her language skills in Italian so that the results of her hard work and determination project the same beauty of Michelangelo’s Cappella Sistina (Sistine Chapel).”Kevin Torres

LEADERSHIP (PCAM 205) AWARD: Shanna Brown

“Shanna Brown is an outstanding student in the area of leadership.  She brings about a style of thinking which will serve her best in years to come.  This is most evident in her interactions with classmates and professor. Her strongest leadership skill she possess is her ability to see the bigger picture. She is going to do great things.”Dr. William Royce

MANAGEMENT AWARD: Jessica Baumeister

“Jessica Baumeister is this year’s 2021 Management Award winner. In a class of students that work at a high level, Ms. Baumeister is at the top of the curve. She is able to identify management trends of today’s business and convey the facts with her thoughts at a high level. Ms. Baumeister’s work is well thought out, presented in a professional manner, and comes with insight that is engaging with her classmates. Instructor recommendation for Jessica Baumeister would be for her to continue her education after her Bachelor’s degree if needed because she is already producing work at that level needed.”Chad Ulmer

MARKETING AWARD: Dimia Thompson

“This year’s Marketing Award Winner is Dimia Thompson. Ms. Thompson is a student that consistently stays ahead on her work and does so at a high level. Ms. Thompson is able to offer her insight into the subject matter covered and academically apply it to the lessons covered. Her works in class are engaging and relevant to today’s business environment. Ms. Thompson performs at a high level and works with a since of urgency to get work completed on time with quality outcomes.”Chad Ulmer

MARINE SCIENCE AWARD: Timothy “Sulley”  Wood

“Timothy “Sulley” Wood is not a Marine Science major, but was nevertheless a successful Marine Science student. While he did well in lecture, where he really shined in lab. Sulley always attacked the labs with enthusiasm, and used imagination in the open-ended labs. Sulley also went above and beyond with a couple of labs at the suggestion of his professor, doing extra investigations to better understand some concepts and help his professor understand how she can teach the labs better in the future.”Dr. Lee Morris

MATHEMATICS AWARD: Melissa Catrone

“Success in mathematics requires a willingness to develop a capacity for clear logical thought,  attention to detail,  and the discipline needed for applying and putting together previous knowledge to solve new, complex problems. These pre-requisites are obtained only through a studious mind set and a strict adherence towards regularly solving problems. Ms. Catrone exemplifies the qualities just mentioned.  Those qualities, combined with her strong work ethic, have enabled her to achieve those skills mentioned at the outset and to become an outstanding student of mathematics.  Her work should be commended and emulated.”Dr. David Mitra

MUSIC AWARD: Joshua Nelson

“Joshua exemplified an exceptional discipline while taking music classes this school year.  He is a very  intelligent young man with a bright future that is  limitless. Exercising discipline is a trait that is unique in college students and distinguishes him from the norm. Music is one of the many options Joshua has available to him and he will excel in whatever he pursues.”Kerri Redding

PALM CAPSTONE e-Portfolio AWARD: Tomi LaChance

 “Tomi Lachance is by far one of the most engaging students I have had. Her ability to make connections amongst the various subjects she takes and then apply to real world situations is truly unique and shows a level of preparation for graduate school that few students can achieve prior to entering a graduate program. Her e-Portfolio and Capstone paper show a maturity in writing and thinking that go beyond a typical analysis of class content, pulling from research and her own experiences. In her work, I saw her weaving together many complex ideas, but she presented them in a way that was enjoyable to read, which is a very difficult task in the world of academic writing. While I could wax poetic about the type of student she is, I should also mention that she is a fantastic human being as well. As a tutor for the Student Academic Success Center, I have seen how she genuinely cares for the students that she helps, often going above and beyond. She did all of this while taking a full-load of classes and yet still had time to conduct independent research. She is nothing less than a super star.” –Dr. Steve Lownes

PHILOSOPHY AWARD: Haleigh Palmer

“The recipient of the 2020-21 Philosophy Award is Haleigh Palmer.  Haleigh took my Introduction to Deductive Logic class last fall.  She had excellent attendance, always did her homework, and regularly volunteered to go to the board.  There were really good students in this class, but what elevated Haleigh to the top was her impressive ability to reason out a problem on her own without relying on a mechanical procedure. Congratulations, Haleigh!!” –Dr. Avery Fouts

PHYSICAL EDUCATION AWARD: Max Necklen

“Max is an outstanding young man that demonstrates leadership in my  Physical Education classes.  He volunteers to help with skills and is a team leader during team sports activities.  Max volunteers his free time to help Coach Whitney with her volleyball team. He is a great young man, is very disciplined, and has a great future ahead of him in any career he chooses.”Gene Lipsey

POLITICAL SCIENCE AWARD: Payton Boyd

“When I say that Payton Boyd has the heart and mind of a politician, I mean that as a sincere     compliment.  And, he would accept it as such.  Throughout the past 2 semesters, I have had the pleasure of teaching Payton.  He is a leader in the classroom and no doubt, will be a leader upon his graduation.  He comes to class eager to learn and eager to share his thoughts and opinions.  His enthusiasm for knowledge is infectious. Payton, I look forward to voting for you on the 2026 ballot!”Greta Bailey

PORTUGUESE  AWARD: Haleigh Palmer

Haleigh Palmer is bright and inquisitive with a thirst for knowledge. This thirst for knowledge has led her to have exemplary grades, choose an out of the ordinary language, Portuguese, and to provide interesting and well researched work that is a pleasure to read. She is a model student that searches for new ways to engage with the material. Not only is she smart, she is kind and puts everyone at ease when they meet her. She is the type of student that makes teaching worthwhile. Her plans to go on to study elementary education make me excited for her future students (hopefully teaching them a little Portuguese). But I should mention that not only will she make a great teacher, she’ll be one that I would want my son to have.”Dr. Steve Lownes

PSYCHOLOGY AWARD: Caden Jackson

“Caden Jackson has taken multiple Psychology classes and earned top grades, and he’s currently enrolled in a PSYC 399 Independent Study this semester. The project/experiment at the center of this independent study is the result of regular discussions and meetings over the past year, born from his interest in the topic that was sparked during a PSYC 330 class project. He has a genuine curiosity about these issues and has shown a high level of initiative in getting to this point. While he was working through ideas for this experiment over the past year, he was also working with Tomi LaChance on her experiment in the Perception, Attention, Language, & Memory (PALM) Psychology Lab, including learning how to use the Muse EEG headband as part of that experiment, completing all the CITI Human Subjects training modules online to be able to run participants, and co-presenting those findings with Tomi last semester at a virtual Research Club event. They also had those findings accepted for the SEPA/CEPO poster session last Spring, but that conference ended up being canceled and converted to online. He and Tomi got it accepted into this Spring’s virtual SEPA/CEPO conference though, so they had a chance to share it in that format. He recently did an online interview with Dr. Easley at USC Lancaster as part of their Research Club’s year-long virtual conference to talk about his experience with research, as he works toward completion of his Graduation with Leadership Distinction in Research with his dual Associates in Arts and Sciences this Spring. For his new experiment, he is also learning how to operate the EyeLink 1000 Plus eyetracker in the PALM Lab. Finally, he has submitted a Magellan Scholar Grant proposal in pursuit of funding to put toward his work on this new experiment from the Office of Undergraduate Research in Columbia. Overall, Caden has displayed a high level of aptitude and ability in the realm of Psychology and has certainly earned the honor of being named this year’s Psychology Discipline Award winner!”Dr. Randy Lowell

RELIGIOUS STUDIES AWARD: Jennifer Turner

The recipient of the 2020-21 Religious Studies Award is Jennifer Turner.  Jennifer took my Comparative Religion class last fall.  Comparative Religion is not the easiest course, not to mention that this particular class was quite competitive with    several really good students.  But Jennifer, in her quiet and unassuming manner, surfaced as the top student with her excellent attendance, thorough note taking, and diligent study.  She can be proud of her accomplishment.  Congratulations, Jennifer!!”Dr. Avery Fouts 

SOCIOLOGY AWARD: Caden Jackson

“I first had Caden in my class in Fall 2020 semester and with knowing him only virtually and for such a short time, his positive attitude shines through and I can tell that he possesses a high-level genuineness and integrity. Despite being fully online, Caden is always very attentive and inquisitive in the virtual classroom. He sailed through Introductory Sociology and then took on an upper level Sociology class in the second half of the semester where again, he excelled. To be successful in online classes, students need both discipline and initiative and Caden has both and has been a pleasure to have in my classes. He seems to be very interested in sociology (taking yet a third sociology class this Spring semester) and has taken to it very quickly – even becoming a sociology tutor at the USC Union campus. From observing his dedication as a student, I know that Caden has the perfect demeanor to be successful in whatever field he chooses to go into and I hope that somehow, his studies in sociology will be helpful! Wishing you all the best of everything in your future endeavors Caden!”Dr. Samantha Hauptman

SPANISH AWARD: Jason Inabinet

“Jason Inabinet is a rock star student. As a dual enrollment student, he took all three levels and progressed to an impressive intermediate level of Spanish while in high school. He is intelligent and has an amazing sense of humor that will take him far in life. Despite his already impressive grades, he constantly searches for new ways to engage with the language. Several years ago, the former dean of the South Carolina Honors College Dr. Peter Sederberg suggested that students be barracudas in their education and not sponges. Jason exemplifies this idea of an educational barracuda, constantly hungry for new knowledge. Not only is he a man of letters, but also of humanity; he often talked about taking care of his little brother and the love he has for family. It was always nice to hear about his life as he relayed it to me in Spanish, and to see him mature as a student and person.”Dr. Steve Lownes

SPEECH AWARD: Tashel Wilson

“Tashel has exemplified a fine public communication student.  She has displayed a professional attitude and careful preparation. Her presentations were performed with confidence and excitement. In order to really communicate to people through speech, you need to have passion about your subject. Tashel exuded a level of sincerity in her emotion when communicating to her audience. Her presentations moved them. She also spoke in a natural voice while using a variety of voice modulations. It is with great pleasure Tashel is awarded the Speech award for 2020-21.”Neill Hance

THEATRE AWARD: Benjamin Coffey

In acting and theatre, you learn how to listen. Benjamin portrayed excellent listening skills with his acting partners and drama students. You must also learn to speak with confidence. While memorizing lines and being able to connect to a person or an audience is just the practice needed for acting which is what Benjamin displays. Being an actor demands a lot. Benjamin also mastered juggling homework and school obligations while memorizing lines and doing work. Benjamin also displayed a knack for improvisation which is learning to think on your feet. It provides a competitive edge that leads to success inside and outside of the classroom. Benjamin is also very engaged in the classroom and works extremely well with his acting partners and other drama students. Benjamin Coffey is presented the award for theatre award for 2020-21.”Neill Hance

UNIV 101 AWARD: Jacob McGee

“Jacob was a terrific student. He was very thoughtful and reflective in all online discussions. He was very engaged in class and actively participated in all class activities. He was always willing to ask questions about topics that helped the other students understand the material. He turned all of his assignments in early, and his assignments were always completed with a high degree of quality. Jacob was a model student and did so while being a member of the Bantams Soccer Team and being active in student life on campus.“Brad Greer

ALL-AROUND BANTAM AWARD: Grace Lee

“Grace Lee is a driven, hardworking, and intelligent student. She is dedicated not only to her studies but to the academic success of her peers. She works in the Student Academic Success Center where she tutors Statistics, Biology, Math, Sociology, and Anatomy and Physiology. Grace is outgoing and articulate when she speaks. She is able to connect with her peers and help them understand difficult material. I have heard Grace referred to as “a superior and brilliant student” by a professor and “the best tutor in the Success Center by a student. She embraces the three central concepts of professional values, communication, and role development required to be accepted into upper division nursing. I have observed Grace personally and can without a doubt say that choosing her as this years All Around Bantam was an excellent choice.”Lynn Edwards 

ALL-AROUND PALMETTO AWARD: Tomi LaChance

“I am pleased to honor the 2021 recipient of the All-Around Palmetto Award at USC Union, Tomi LaChance, who graduated in December with her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, and another Graduation with Leadership Distinction (GLD) in Research, after having already graduated previously with her GLD at the Associates level. Her ability to earn this degree with us, with an extremely high GPA, is impressive given the extent of her engagement and accomplishments while at USC Union. This includes her work as a tutor in the Academic Success Center, her roles as Vice President and President of the USC Union Research Club, and her extensive time conducting original research in the PALM Psychology Lab at USC Union. Regarding her research, this has included a series of three different experiments related to social media and personality, for which she has made multiple local and regional presentations and earned a Magellan Mini-Grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research in Columbia to fund the purchase of the Muse EEG/mediation headbands for use in her third experiment. As she looks toward the start of graduate school this summer in pursuit of her goal to become a licensed therapist, she certainly has demonstrated the motivation and aptitude to reach that goal, as well as the empathy and service to others that is critical in that field. Tomi has also grown tremendously in her confidence and communication skills, while demonstrating a genuine curiosity about the connections between the mind and spirit, which will also be extremely helpful in that line of work. Congrats Tomi!” –Dr. Randy Lowell

PALMETTO COLLEGE DISTIGUISHED SCHOLAR AWARD: Myriam Castaneda

The recipient of the 2020-21 Palmetto College Distinguished Scholar Award is Myriam Castaneda. Originally from Mexico, Myriam now resides in Joanna, SC with her husband, Mario, and teenage son. Myriam is an excellent and dedicated student, always willing to help and provide feedback to faculty, staff, and students, all while  working full time as a technician producing textile fabrics at Milliken in Laurens, SC. She is a perfect example of how Palmetto College can and does open opportunities for  a wide variety of students.” –Matt Dean

YEARS OF SERVICE AWARD: Tony Gregory, 10 Years

“Tony Gregory began his career with USC Union in 2009 as the campus’ first ever Health, Safety and Security Officer. He has been instrumental in providing students, faculty, and staff with a safe learning and working environment. He continually goes above and beyond his duties to look after the needs of the campus. Before coming to USC Union, Tony served as a Captain for the City of Union for 25 years. He is a graduate of the S.C. Police Academy and the S.C. Fire Academy. Tony and his wife Sue are lifelong residents of Union County. They have a daughter and son-in-law ( Ellen and Chris Griffin), and a son ( matt Gregory). USC Union is very fortunate to have Tony Gregory as an employee. We congratulate him on his 10 years of state service.”Michele Lee

YEARS OF SERVICE AWARD: Christine Sixta Rinehart, 10 Years

“Congratulations to Dr. Christine Sixta Rinehart for her ten years of service in the USC System. Dr. Rinehart serves as: Professor of Political Science, Academic Program Assessment Coordinator, and Faculty Senate Past Chair. Dr. Rinehart has demonstrated her dedication through effective teaching, prolific research, and significant service contributions. We honor her dedicated service and commitment to USC Union.  Thank you for your hard work and for being a valued member of the USC Union family.” Dr. Majdouline Aziz

YEARS OF SERVICE AWARD: Helene Maire-Afeli, 10 Years

“Congratulations to Dr. Helene Maire-Afeli for reaching her ten-year service milestone within the USC System. We applaud Dr. Maire-Afeli’s dedication to student learning and success within and outside of the classroom. This remarkable accomplishment symbolizes her commitment to the values and principles upheld by our institution. Thank you for your contributions to USC Union and being a valuable member of the Bantam family!”Dr. Majdouline Aziz

YEARS OF SERVICE AWARD: Linda Wendel, 10 Years

“Linda Wendel left the Union County School District Adult Education Office in September 2010 and joined the USC Union staff as Assistant Director of Financial Aid.  She immediately became active in the South Carolina Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (SCASFAA) and South Carolina Association of Veterans Administrators (SCAVA).  Linda works with USC Union students, Palmetto College Students and local students in assisting them with opportunities to fund their college education.  She successfully completed Leadership Union in 2013 and is active in various community activities.  Married to Dale Wendel for 40 years they are the proud parents of Travis Wendel and Erin Player (Alex) and grandparents to Asher and Etta Player.” -Bobby Holcombe

YEARS OF SERVICE AWARD: Bobby Holcombe, 30 Years

“The University of South Carolina Union would like to acknowledge Mr. Bobby Holcombe and his thirty years of service in the University of South Carolina System. Mr. Holcombe began his career in the mid 1980’s in College Admissions and then in 1990 accepted a position at USC Upstate in the Financial Aid Office. He has been the Director of Financial Aid at USC Union since June 1998 and serves as the Miss USC Union pageant coordinator. It is with great pride that we congratulate you on this remarkable milestone and we thank you for the many years of  service and dedication to making our Mission and Vision come true every day for every student. You are a valued member of the USC Union team. We look forward to your ongoing contributions and celebrating your future accomplishments.” –Dr. Majdouline Aziz

STAFF MEMBER OF THE YEAR: Christen Mayes

“The recipient of the 2020-2021 Staff Member of the Year Award is Christen Mayes. Christen plays a vital role in student success serving as the Academic Support Specialist for the Office of Academic and Student Affairs and Coordinator of the Student Academic Success Center. Christen’s commitment to the mission of USC Union is exemplified daily through her interactions with students, her high quality contributions to the campus, and her positive impact on her colleagues. As an advisor, Christen possesses the ability to relate to students and support them on their educational journey. She is always available to students on an individual basis, providing them with outstanding advising services. Through her work in the Success Center, Christen enhances the student experience by providing students with the resources they need to be successful in the classroom and with various academic and professional workshops and activities to further develop their skills and abilities outside of the classroom. Christen is deserving of this award for many reasons, and we are blessed to have her as a member of the USC Union family. Congratulations to Christen Mayes!”Dr. Majdouline Aziz

TEACHER OF THE YEAR SECOND RUNNER-UP: Dr. Steve Lownes

“The second runner-up in the 2020-2021 USC Union Teacher of the Year voting was Assistant Professor of World Languages, Dr. Steven Lownes. Dr. Lownes offers a variety of courses each semester including Spanish and Portuguese, as well as courses that specifically help students complete their Graduation with Leadership Distinction track such as senior capstone courses. Fulfilling the Mission of USC Union, he creates a supportive learning environment and a global classroom by providing quality instruction that transcends discipline and cultural boundaries and highlights the connections between theory, research, and practice. To engage students outside of the classroom, Dr. Lownes is active in the USC Union Research Club and maintains an impressive service load on various campus and system committees. He is a valuable member of the USC Union faculty and has demonstrated a positive impact on students and colleagues alike. Congratulations to Dr. Steven Lownes!”Dr. Majdouline Aziz

TEACHER OF THE YEAR RUNNER-UP: Dr. Avery Fouts

“The runner-up in the 2020-2021 USC Union Teacher of the Year voting was Dr. Avery Fouts, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies. Dr. Fouts consistently demonstrates his commitment to excellence in the classroom and dedication to the well-being of the campus by teaching a variety of courses and maintaining an impressive level of service activity to the campus and USC-system. Dr. Fouts teaches regular USC Union sections of his courses, but also regularly takes on dual enrollment and pre-nursing sections. Recognizing the importance of reaching all students, he also regularly travels to the Laurens location to provide students there with face-to-face instruction. The effectiveness of his teaching strategies are reflected through positive course evaluations and are demonstrated through thorough knowledge of the subject matter and his ability to get students to think critically about important concepts and issues. Dr. Fouts remains a valuable member of the USC Union faculty. Congratulations to Dr. Avery Fouts!”Dr. Majdouline Aziz

USC UNION DISTINGUISHED TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Professor Kevin Torres

Receiving this award from UofSC Union means more than I can describe, and it certainly is a testament to the teachers who taught me and how they influenced me in my career as well as to my colleagues who have mentored me. I wouldn’t have come this far without the support of my parents either. This award is the humbling highlight of my 5 years of teaching and I’ll cherish it always. Thank you to my students, colleagues and UofSC Union!”Prof. Kevin Torres

The recipient of the 2020-2021 Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award is Instructor Kevin Torres. Kevin is an amazing educator and epitomizes effective teaching. By developing a culture of learning in the classroom, Kevin encourages excellence and fosters an environment in which students feel invested in their own learning and success. Kevin’s ability to connect and communicate with his students and his enthusiasm and genuine desire to meet the needs of his students makes him deserving of this recognition. Understanding the importance of providing students with a diverse array of world language options, Kevin is certified to teach Spanish, French, and Italian. To expand those offerings even more, he is also currently working towards becoming certified to teach German and Russian. Outside of the classroom, Kevin regularly engages in various service activities that contribute directly and indirectly to student learning and success, including serving on the USC Union Peer Review Committee, the USC Union Financial Affairs Committee, and as Vice-Chair of the USC Union Faculty Organization. Kevin is a valuable member of the Bantam family and we are lucky to have him. Congratulations to Instructor Kevin Torres!” –Dr. Majdouline Aziz

ADJUNCT INSTRUCTER OF THE YEAR: Professor Chad Ulmer

“It is an honor to receive the award. USC Union has a lot of talent and to even be considered is an honor. While the recognition of service delivery to the students is important, I’d be remised if I did not thank the leaders who put me in position to teach classes, the advisors who sign the students up for my classes, HR who makes sure I’m compensated, IT for giving me the avenue to teach many classes, and Aisha Haynes who helped guide me in building my online classes. I’m truly blessed to be in a machine designed for success in the University of South Carolina education system.”Thank you, Chad Ulmer

The 2020-2021 USC Union Adjunct Instructor of the Year is Chad Ulmer, Adjunct Instructor of Management and Marketing. Chad began teaching at USC Union in 2010 and has taught a variety of courses through a variety of means (face-to-face, beaming, online) for USC Union and Palmetto College. This well-deserved recognition comes as no surprise as students consistently sing his praises through positive course evaluations. Bringing valuable industry experience into the classroom, Chad is able to teach students important theoretical principles, as well as how to translate skills into practice. To further support student learning, Chad makes himself available to students inside and outside of the classroom, and clearly communicates expectations. We are lucky to have Chad as a member of the USC Union faculty. Congratulations to Chad Ulmer!” –Dr. Majdouline Aziz

2021 DISTINGUISHED RESEARCH SERVICE AWARD: Dr. Majadouline Aziz

“I am honored and humbled to be named one of the 2021 recipients of the Distinguished Research Service Award from the UofSC Office of the Vice President of Research. It is my belief that service undergirds the creative process essential for student learning and success and to be recognized for such work is very special. I plan to continue engaging in service work as there is no greater pleasure than serving our students on campus and within the USC system. Thank you.”Majdouline Aziz

USC Union is excited to recognize Dr. Majdouline Aziz as the recipient of a 2021 Distinguished Research Service Award. This award was created by the Office of the Vice President for Research in Columbia in 2018 to honor University of South Carolina faculty members from around the system who demonstrate outstanding commitment to internal research programs. They have honored Dr. Aziz in 2021 because of her steadfast commitment and service to these programs, which serve to enhance research activities on campus, both for students and colleagues.

Dr. Aziz joined USC Union as a full-time Assistant Professor of Sociology in 2014, after having taught classes as an Adjunct Instructor prior to that. In 2020, she earned tenure and was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor at USC Union, and also moved into her current role as Interim Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs. During her time at USC Union, Dr. Aziz has taught in a variety of formats, including face-to-face, beaming, and online, as well as dual enrollment; and has earned the Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award for the Union campus along the way.

Her teaching has extended beyond the classroom as she has worked with students on independent research projects and on her own line of inquiry. Notably, this has resulted in student research presentations at professional conferences, student research grant funding, and students as co-authors on a peer-reviewed journal publication, as she has always supported student involvement in research activities. In addition to these efforts, Dr. Aziz has also been a great advocate for research on the system level in serving as a reviewer for the Magellan Scholar Grant program, and as a reviewer and on the Editorial Board for the Caravel undergraduate research journal, both through the Office of Undergraduate Research in Columbia. Professionally, she has served as reviewer for articles submitted to other peer-reviewed journals as well. Between her research service and other avenues of service to the campus and system, Dr. Aziz was also recognized by Palmetto College in 2020 as that year’s recipient of the Chris Plyler Excellence in Service Award. Congratulations to USC Union’s Dr. Majdouline Aziz on her 2021 Distinguished Research Service Award!” –Dr. Randy Lowell

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