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Destination Charleston

Young alumni find life, work and happiness in the Holy City.

Charleston, S.C., continues to find itself at the top of national and international tourist destination lists, and young Wofford graduates completely understand why.

Recent Wofford alumni have found great success as students at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and the Charleston School of Law, but they’re also blazing less traditional paths and in the process making their Terrier family proud.

“Once you visit Charleston you fall in love,” says Joseph Tecklenburg ’12, a commercial real estate broker with CC&T Real Estate and the former campaign manager for John Tecklenburg, his father and the first new mayor of Charleston in 40 years. “You walk the historic streets, eat the incredible food and you realize you want to be here. There’s always something going on, and the new mayor’s all right too.”

Tecklenburg grew up in Charleston, played basketball on two Southern Conference championship basketball teams and two NCAA Tournament teams at Wofford, and went on to earn a master’s degree in public administration from the University of South Carolina. He loves living in Charleston and says it’s always fun to run into other Terriers in the area.

“Whether it’s in a professional setting or socially, I’m always seeing Wofford people,” says Tecklenburg. “There’s even a Wofford men’s breakfast in Charleston that meets on the third Wednesday of each month. Mostly the guys get together and tell tall tales about their days at Wofford. I’m usually the youngest one there, so I don’t question whether their stories are true or not. Honestly it doesn’t matter. It’s just fun to get together and talk about Wofford.”

Raul Ceballos ’11 — A voice of Charleston

You’d never know Raul Ceballos ’11 is doing voiceover work by watching him read. His face contorts while his hands tell the story. He crouches and leans and twists as the voices change from Jack Black to Bugs Bunny to Robert De Niro. His voice may be making the money, but he’s still acting from head to toe.

“I do whatever I have to do physically to get the sound out,” says Ceballos. “Sometimes I have to get my whole body into it.”

Ceballos, whose voice is live on Pandora and Spotify, is also the voice of Bob the Shark for the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, one of his favorite projects so far.

Bob is a stuffed animal and the imaginary friend of a boy named Miles. Together Bob, a crazy, wild, fun-loving and hyperactive shark, and Miles have fun learning about marine life and promoting the aquarium. 

“So far this is the closest I’ve gotten to the animation voiceover work that’s my ultimate dream job,” says Ceballos. “I jump at the chance to do character work.”

Ceballos says the faculty in the Theatre Department at Wofford helped him learn to develop a character from the ground up.

“I’ve always been good with impressions, mimicking cartoon characters, celebrities and (he ducks his head) teachers,” says Ceballos, “but I didn’t really have the tools to create a complete, unique character until Wofford theatre.”

Ceballos works on both the front end (laying voice tracks) and back end (editing and filtering). He does most of his work from a home studio, and admits that he’s still surprised when he recognizes his work on the air.

His wife, Luisa Gonzalez Ceballos ’11, a school psychologist with Charleston County Public Schools, recently was working out, listening to Spotify, when she heard Ceballos’ voice on an ad for Mike’s Hard Lemonade. 

“It’s always a surprise,” says Ceballos. “My mom will call and say, ‘Your uncle just heard you on the PetSmart commercial. He TiVoed it.’ It’s great. I’m fortunate that I have so much support from family and friends.”

Recently, Ceballos also has picked up some voiceover work in Spanish. He appreciates the new opportunity to use another skill he honed at Wofford and build a portfolio while earning a living doing something he loves.

Ceballos says his first memory of doing characters was when his parents would send him to his room for misbehaving as a child. 

“There was never a dull moment when I was grounded and sent to my room,” he says. “I’d stand in front of the mirror for hours practicing voices and faces. Porky Pig, Tom Hanks, Doug … those voices are ingrained in my memory.”

Raul and Luisa chose to live in Charleston because the area has a little bit of everything. It’s also increasingly becoming a destination for the film industry. Ceballos recently filmed his first on-camera job for season two of The Inspectors, which airs Saturday mornings on CBS. 

“Most of the animation voiceover work is on the West Coast, but we’re seeing a paradigm shift,” says Ceballos. “I hope that continues because we’d rather stay here because we have so many family and friends nearby.”

Ceballos also is finding ways to plug into the Charleston theater scene. In October he will play the role of Vladimir in the Charleston Stage presentation of Dracula. 

“It’s crazy, but none of this feels like work to me,” he says. “I’ve lived it all my life. This path has been in front of me all the time, but I just didn’t recognize it.”

Blair Cadden ’13 — finding her niche in the Charleston theatre scene

When Blair Cadden ’13 graduated from Wofford she said that one day she would start her own theatre company. She just didn’t expect it to happen so soon.

A year after earning her degree in theatre with a minor in creative writing, she founded 5th Wall Productions in Charleston’s West Ashley area. 

“We’re the only theatre company in West Ashley,” says Cadden, who serves as artistic director for the company. “We just announced our third season; it’s the second in our own space.”

In September, 5th Wall presents “Clue: The Musical.” November and March will feature world premieres of two new scripts. “One Bear Lake,” a comedy, comes to the theater in January, and in February the theater presents “V-day: An Evening of Monologues.” The season concludes in April with “Burn This,” a play that Cadden is particularly excited about because she’ll be back on stage.

“I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to play the part of Anna,” says Cadden. “It’s a challenging role because the character has strength but she’s in a really broken place.”

Cadden loves Charleston because of the established but growing theatre community. She says there’s a collaborative vibe that offers a lot of support for new work, and 5th Wall is definitely finding its niche.

“I select the shows and directors. I’m also responsible for establishing our brand,” says Cadden. “I prefer productions that ask questions rather than provide answers. After leaving a 5th Wall production, you can expect to have something to ponder or talk about on the way home, hopefully longer.”

Justin Buchanan ’13 and Jake MacDowell ’13 — Charleston’s new rum runners

Toward the end of their four years at Wofford, Justin Buchanan ’13 (right) and Jake MacDowell ’13 (left) started to question their traditional plans, investment banking in New York for Buchanan and law school for MacDowell.

“Because we thought it would be useful no matter what we decided to do, we participated in a workshop on how to write a business plan through the professional development office at Wofford. That’s when we started to consider different options,” says MacDowell.

They wanted to do something they loved (microdistilling), and they wanted to love where they lived. 

“We Googled ‘Charleston, history and liquor,’ expecting bourbon to pop up,” says MacDowell, who was a business economics and Spanish major at Wofford. “Instead we learned that in the years preceding the American Revolution, Charleston was a huge rum port. Rum reigned.”

According to Buchanan, an economics, history and philosophy major, “Rum is one of the most loosely defined spirits. As long as sugar cane is involved, it’s classified as rum. Our rum is produced in charred barrels, just like in Colonial times.”

Once they landed on rum and developed a spirit, Buchanan and MacDowell built a story (now printed on the back of their bottles). They designed the shape of the bottle and hired an agency in Charleston to create a logo and label, all with a Colonial feel. The wax-sealed bottles, which add to the authenticity, are on shelves throughout South Carolina as well as in Savannah and Atlanta, Ga.

Although Buchanan and MacDowell only started Red Harbor Rum a year ago, the brand already is gaining momentum, but it’s still just a two-man operation. 

“The whole process — from molasses fermentation to bottling — takes about three months, and we do it all,” says Buchanan.

“We’re the salesmen, janitors, distillers, marketers and bottlers,” adds MacDowell. They’re also the process engineers and quality control technicians making sure that every bottle meets standards of excellence and that their process is as cost-effective as possible.

“We can do this because of the education we got at Wofford,” says MacDowell. “More than what you learn, Wofford teaches you how to learn and how to think. That’s something that we do every day.”

by Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89

Summer 2016