STUDENTS PUT KNOWLEDGE INTO PRACTICE WITH INTERNSHIPS AND RESEARCH EXPERIENCES
Without question, Wofford’s academic program is rigorous, and that rigor has been a foundation of the college since 1854. Internships, research experiences, work, study away and community-based learning — ways to extend the educational experience — have also become a tradition. Enjoy these stories of students who committed to a summer of experiential learning and how they’re putting themselves in a position for long-term success.
“IT’S VITAL THAT WE CONTINUE TO EDUCATE OURSELVES AND OTHERS AND CONTINUE TO FIGHT FOR THE THINGS THAT WE BELIEVE IN. MY BIGGEST TAKEAWAY FROM THIS SUMMER WAS THAT OUR VOICES TRULY DO MATTER.”
LIVING, WORKING AND LEARNING IN D.C.
WOFFORD GRADUATE FUNDS INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCES FOR 10 STUDENTS
By Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89
This summer, 10 Wofford students gained experience and connections in Washington, D.C., that will give them an advantage when they enter the job market after graduation.
Alex Horn ’25 better understands what it means to work in a fast-paced, global firm.
Sarah Greenlee ’24 and Dalton Perry ’25 learned about the interplay between government, corporate and nonprofit sectors and how they all have a role in ensuring the protection of vulnerable populations.
Ben Kendall ’25 dedicated his summer to monitoring and researching the progression of bills through Congress while analyzing data in support of underfunded rural hospitals.
Austin Givens ’24 learned to challenge common misconceptions regarding employee-funded political action committees.
Madi Fike ’24 and Lily Butler ’25 learned that the opportunity matters more than the work, and every day is a chance to practice communications, critical thinking and diplomacy skills.
Ethan Cornell ’24 and Mallory Cass ’25 enjoyed stepping out of their comfort zones to navigate the capital city, take classes at a large university and experience work in an entirely new environment.
Simrin Channa ’25 arrived for her internship in Washington, D.C., at the start of Hospice Action Week on Capitol Hill. From the beginning, she was a part of important conversations surrounding hospice and palliative care policies, regulations and funding. The rest of the summer involved work on the marketing and communications team for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
“My experience in D.C. brought to light the fact that our generation will be the leaders of our country one day,” says Channa. “It’s vital that we continue to educate ourselves and others and continue to fight for the things that we believe in. My biggest takeaway from this summer was that our voices truly do matter.”
These experiences are the point of a summer internship program available to Wofford students through The Fund for American Studies. The experience is costly, and Paul Atkins ’81, former commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission and founder and chief executive officer of Patomak Global Partners, made a gift to the college to make the internships possible for all 10 Wofford students.
“New college graduates may have great credentials and skills, but they all have to start at the lowest levels unless they have prior experience,” says Atkins. “Opportunities like this give our students a leg up.”
While in Washington, D.C., the TFAS interns also participate in a variety of lectures, briefings and networking events. Students participating in the program leave Washington with more than 250 hours of professional experience.
According to Dr. David Alvis, associate professor of government and advisor to the Washington, D.C. summer interns, students should walk away with extensive networks and connections as well as an understanding of how our government works.
“We’ve had success with a past Washington internship program during Interim, but that was for three weeks. This program takes most of the summer and covers all expenses — the internships, housing, a stipend to cover meals and a course either on economics or the presidency,” says Alvis. “Students also take a linked course at Wofford, and we bring in guest speakers to give advice on living and working in D.C. We want our students to make the most of their experience.”
Greenlee was on the South Asia Research team for her internship with Free the Slaves, an organization devoted to ending human trafficking and modern slavery. She learned from both her successes and her moments of uncertainty.
“Every moment in D.C. felt like a learning experience,” says Greenlee. “Beyond my internship, it is worth noting other experiences such as navigating (and subsequently getting lost) in the Senate office buildings while searching for a lecture, popping into a Smithsonian on my lunch break or simply debating public policy with my colleagues. D.C. is full of opportunity and meaningful exchange.”
Part of the reason Atkins supported the experience for Greenlee, Channa and the other TFAS interns is because of the transformational internships he had as a Wofford student. He also says having interns is good for business.
“Interns are good for Patomak,” says Atkins, who looks for motivated students from a wide range of majors. “We try to give them a good taste of what it’s like to work here, and we get a lot out of them. A good internship program is a recruiting tool, plus having young folks around livens up the office.”
Alvis says Atkins is being humble. “If you follow the world of financial regulation, Patomak’s team reads like a Who’s Who list. He’s taken on several Wofford interns and given them an introduction into the highest levels of finance and government. He has been generous with his time, resources and connections, and our students are the beneficiaries.”
MORE ABOUT THE STUDENTS WHO PARTICIPATED IN TFAS INTERNSHIP PROGRAM IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
LILY BUTLER ’25 completed an internship with Parents Defending Education. She’s a government major from North Augusta, S.C. She has served on Campus Union and is involved in the Edward K. Hardin Pre-Law Society, the Admission Ambassador program and Kappa Delta sorority.
MALLORY CASS ’25, a finance and government major from Dunedin, Fla., interned with the National Automatic Merchandising Association. She is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and has completed other internships in the legal field.
SIMRIN CHANNA ’25 spent the summer in a marketing and communications internship with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. She’s a finance and international affairs double major from Boiling Springs, S.C. She’s also on Campus Union and is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority.
ETHAN CORNELL ’24, an environmental studies and international affairs double major from Greer, S.C., interned with U.S. Rep. William Timmons’ office during the first half of the summer and the Washington Council of Lawyers during the second half. Heavily involved in pre-law preparation at Wofford, he is a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
MADI FIKE ’24 interned with U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman’s office. The government major from New Smyrna Beach, Fla., is a member of Campus Union and the Edward K. Hardin Pre-Law Society and serves as president of the National Political Science Honor Society. She is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and Wofford Live.
AUSTIN GIVENS ’24, an English and government double major from Mount Pleasant, S.C., interned with the National Association of Business Political Action Committees. She’s a member of Campus Union and Zeta Tau Alpha sorority.
SARAH GREENLEE ’24 worked as an intern with Free the Slaves. She’s an international affairs and Spanish double major with a minor in government from Myrtle Beach, S.C. She’s on Orientation staff and is an Admission Ambassador and a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority.
ALEX HORN ’24 is a government and finance major from Lexington, Ky. A member of the student-managed James-Atkins Investment Fund, Orientation staff, the Edward K. Hardin Pre-Law Society and the men’s tennis team, he interned with Patomak Global Partners.
BEN KENDALL ’25 worked for The Picard Group, a lobbying firm. He’s a government major from Fairhope, Ala., and a member of Kappa Alpha Order, the Honor Council and the Edward K. Hardin Pre-Law Society.
DALTON PERRY ’25 interned with the National Disability Rights Network. He’s a government major with an international affairs and history minor from Chapin, S.C. Perry is vice president of the Edward K. Hardin Pre-Law Society and a member of Campus Union and Sigma Nu fraternity. He also has interned with U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn and served as a courier for several law firms.
A MORE COMPLETE HISTORY
LILLY ENDOWMENT GRANT WILL CONTRIBUTE TO A MORE INCLUSIVE INSTITUTIONAL HISTORY
By Dudley Brown
Five Wofford College students spent the summer filling a void in the college’s recorded history, and their research will contribute to ongoing campus conversations.
The students collected stories from Black alumni, primarily from the late 1960s through the early 1980s, as the first part of a research project organized by the college’s Office for Civil Rights, Compliance and Community Initiatives.
The Wofford project is one of 18 receiving “Reframing Institutional Saga” funding through the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE), which is supported by the Lilly Endowment. Projects funded through the NetVUE grants are charged with updating the history and missions of institutions based on today’s context.
“This is the first of what we hope will be several projects to fill gaps in our institutional history,” says Dr. Dwain Pruitt ’95, the college’s chief equity officer and vice president for community initiatives. “We want to bring more people into the college’s narrative.”
Pruitt, a historian, says the college’s archives document the arrival and graduation of Wofford’s first Black students, Al Gray ’71 and Doug Jones ’69, but there’s little else offering insight on the historical Black experience on campus.
“In America, we are addicted to stories with heroes and happy endings,” Pruitt says. “In our history, we have the civil rights struggle and then there’s Martin Luther King Jr. as the hero who solved the problem of racism. That’s not how history works. Civil rights struggles are ongoing. Just because you have a victory on Sunday doesn’t mean you don’t struggle on Monday. The battle doesn’t stop in one day.”
Interviews with Black graduates from 1989 to the present will be conducted during the 2023-24 academic year and during summer 2024. A history of Wofford’s Black students, faculty and staff will be published in fall 2024 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Wofford’s desegregation.
Pruitt says recording the stories of Black alumni can help the college community gain a more complete understanding of its history and offer insight into today’s campus culture. The students spent 10 weeks focused on the project. They began the summer reading books and articles documenting the college’s history beginning in 1964, when Gray arrived on campus. Pruitt says he challenged the students to identify gaps in the integration narrative and to think through interview questions for alumni. The students learned how to record oral history, ask questions and fact check while experiencing the art of storytelling and communicating ideas effectively.
“This project is community driven, and I’m looking forward to meeting alumni who look like me,” says student researcher Da’Juan Green ’24, a business economics major from Spartanburg, S.C. “I also expect the satisfaction of knowing I made a little contribution to making the college’s history more inclusive.”
In addition to Green, the project’s student researchers were Daniel Brasington ’25, an economics major from Woodruff, S.C.; Dani Emmen ’26, a sociology and anthropology major from Conway, S.C.; Zion Sampson ’26, a biology major from Aiken, S.C.; and Laila Villeda ’26, an undecided major from Cumming, Ga.
Alumni interested in participating in the project are invited to contact Pruitt by email at email@example.com or by calling 864-597-4046 to schedule an interview. Arrangements can be made to interview people through teleconferencing services if alumni live outside of Spartanburg. Plans also are being made to collect stories during Homecoming and other events when alumni return to campus. Alumni are encouraged to donate photos, memorabilia and publications for the college’s archives or loan materials that can be scanned.
NADIA FERGUSON ’25 GIVES WINNING ‘ELEVATOR PITCH’ ON RESEARCH PROJECT
By Robert W. Dalton
Nadia Ferguson ’25 didn’t have the opportunity to work on a research project after her first year at Wofford College. She made up for it in a big way this summer.
Ferguson, a chemistry major on the pre-med track from Spartanburg, S.C., won the top prize for best overall project presentation in a competition at Furman University. She beat out 14 other students in a competition to give the best “elevator pitch” about their research.
“The goal was to tell why you wanted to do the research, what you gained from it and then what your research was about in under two minutes,” Ferguson says. “Public speaking is not my forte. I prepped in front of the mirror and by reading to myself. I was really surprised when they called my name as the overall winner. There were some really good presentations.”
The goal of Ferguson’s research was to enhance a poloxamer in hopes of developing a treatment to help reduce the side effects of radiation therapy. Dr. Robert Harris ’09, assistant professor of chemistry, was her faculty collaborator and mentor. She plans to continue the research in the spring.
Last summer, Ferguson’s focus was on recovery rather than research. She was seriously injured in an automobile accident on May 1, 2022.
“I got t-boned,” she says. “I was in the hospital for a bit and in a wheelchair for three months.”
Ferguson’s experience this summer helped solidify her plan for her future. She wants to attend medical school to become an OB-GYN.
“I wanted to get closer to research because I was on the fence about what I wanted to do,” she says. “Doing this helped me decide that I don’t want to work in a laboratory; I want to be in a clinical field.”
She plans to specialize in minority maternal health. It’s something she’s wanted to do since watching a documentary on the maternal fatality rate among Black women when she was in seventh grade.
“Black women have a higher fatality rate,” she says. “You have to look at the past — how your mother or grandmother gave birth — to help the present. I want to have a hands-on role in making a positive change.”