By Robert W. Dalton
Tiwandi Jones always kept her son, Quashon Greenlee ’22, focused on two things when he was growing up in Anderson, South Carolina: education and football.
Education was the key to a better life. Football was the vehicle that would get him the education she wanted him to have.
And then, when Greenlee was 16, his mother died of complications from congestive heart failure.
For so long it had been the two of them against the world, and Greenlee was devastated. But he knew what he had to do.
“Her death put a fire in me,” Greenlee says. “I had to graduate from high school, and I had to go to the hardest college and get the best education possible. That’s why I ended up at Wofford.”
On Sunday, Greenlee will walk across the stage and receive his degree in business economics. He and his wife of nine months, KiKi Hoffler Greenlee, will then head off to Anderson to begin their next chapter together.
He’ll start work as a management trainee with Enterprise Rent-A-Car on Wednesday. She’ll begin teaching first grade in the fall. They’ll work together to turn their two-bedroom rented townhouse into a home.
It’s not a fairytale ending – no one waved a magic wand and gave Greenlee his heart’s desire. His is a story built on heartache, hard work, and the support of teammates, coaches and community. It is an ending, and a beginning, that he didn’t imagine even a year ago.
After his mother died, Greenlee moved in with his great-grandmother. She kept his attention locked on the goals, education and football. He excelled at both at T.L. Hanna High School, maintaining a 4.05 GPA and developing into a powerful offensive lineman adept at pushing obstacles out of his way.
“I was good enough to have some offers,” Greenlee says. “I looked at several colleges, and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to come to Wofford.”
Greenlee is a first-generation college student. He struggled with the rigors of football and academics his first semester at Wofford.
“I didn’t really know how college worked,” he says. “I had to study a lot harder than I did in high school.”
A mentoring program started by head football coach Josh Conklin helped Greenlee adjust to college life. He says the program connected younger players to the “roots of Wofford,” and that his mentor, Dr. Sterling Allen ’71, taught him how to be a leader.
“It was amazing,” says Greenlee. “He took me under his wing from the moment we met.”
Allen, a retired dentist who lives in Anderson, says he knew at their first meeting that Greenlee would thrive at Wofford.
“He’s going to be successful at whatever he does,” Allen says. “I helped him with time management and encouraged him and introduced him to leaders in the Anderson community who also graduated from Wofford. This has been a very good relationship for both of us.”
During his second semester, Greenlee started working as a dishwasher at Zach’s Food Court on Wofford’s campus to pick up some spending money. It was the first of many jobs he’d have over the next three years.
When COVID-19 hit and sent everyone home, Greenlee worked at a grocery store and a refuse collection company in Anderson. When the college returned to in-person classes, he resumed working at Zach’s, this time as a line cook. He also worked security on weekends.
Shortly after Greenlee returned to campus, his great-grandmother died. His world was turned upside down again, but his teammates kept him going through the bad days.
“I was really down, and they checked on me every day just to make sure I was OK or to see if there was anything I needed,” Greenlee says. “They were my family, too.”
Greenlee continued working at Zach’s until this past January. He started an internship with Enterprise in February, which led to the full-time opportunity he begins on Wednesday. Getting that job offer was a big relief, he says.
“I needed to have a job locked in,” Greenlee says. “I needed to have money coming in. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have anyplace to go after I walk across that stage.”
Greenlee is looking forward to getting his career started and settling into a routine with his wife. Grad school could be in his future, but that’s a decision for down the road. Whatever comes next, he knows he’s ready for it.
“Life is going to continue to throw a lot of stuff at you,” he says. “After everything I’ve been through, nothing has stopped me yet, and nothing is going to stop me.”