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President of Graduate Students of Color

President, Graduate Students of Color

I am a third year Marine Biology Master’s Candidate conducting research on the zooplankton exposure to microplastics at flood tidal fronts in the Charleston Harbor. I am also President of the Graduate Students of Color Association and Treasurer of the Charleston Waterkeeper Club.

Why did you select CofC?

Having been born and raised in SC, I knew quite a bit about Charleston and The College. My family and I use to visit for vacation from the upstate all the time. I actually started filling out an application to attend here as an undergrad, but I was pulled toward Wilmington, NC instead. When applying for a Masters in Marine Biology, I knew CofC had a good reputation and it wasn’t the five-hour drive home as my undergraduate institution was.

Under the Sea

Under the Sea

What is your favorite place on campus?

As a marine biology student studying at Grice Marine Lab, I am not exposed to the main campus in the same way as many of my colleagues in other disciplines. However, from what I do know, my favorite place is Harbor Walk. Not the inside, but the outside. I love having access to a beautiful view of the Harbor and access to a dock on the peninsula where I can collect samples for my research.

What does diversity mean to you?

As my dad would say “its having to not look at the same color people all the time,” ha. In all seriousness though, diversity and having a diverse community, in my opinion, is so important. In order to evolve, learn, and help each other, it is imperative that we not only “surround yourselves with like-minded individuals” as one may often hear, but to also surround yourself with people that don’t look like you, love like you, come from where you came from, etc. Being able to incorporate all of these people in a community, whether that’s in a classroom or in the workplace, allows for the status quo to be questioned which then brings about positive change.

Under the Sea

Under the Sea

Advice to graduate students?

My advice to graduate students would be to work hard and don’t feel like you need other’s affirmation to know that you are doing a good job. The key is to continue to work hard. It is important to communicate ideas and questions with others, but it is also ok to work on your own from time to time. In addition, have fun! In my opinion, it is important to put down your graduate work every now and then and do something spontaneous or something you really enjoy doing. This will feed your creativity, social-life, or other aspects you feel you are missing from focusing on your graduate studies. It is easier said than done, I know, but it helps keep you sane and may open up other opportunities you were not expecting.

Looking and Discovering

Looking and Discovering

For more information on Graduate Students of Color: https://www.facebook.com/CofCGSCA/

under: Environmental Studies, Graduate Programs, Graduate School Office, Graduate Student Association, Marine Biology, Professional Development, Prospective Students, Uncategorized
Ed Longe, GSA President

Ed Longe, GSA President

A little bit about Ed Longe

Currently studying a M.A in history with a focus on how anti communism effected American foreign relations as well as the image of the United States abroad. I also hold a B.A in History and Politics in the first class from the University of Chester.

Why the College of Charleston?

I chose to pursue my master’s degree at the College of Charleston for a number of reasons, so I think it would be unfair to cite one specific rationale. However, one of the main reasons I elected to come here was the opportunity to study in Charleston itself. The history and architecture of the College and the city of  Charleston itself was a significant draw, coupled with the proximity to both the beautiful upstate and spectacular beaches.

Favorite places on campus?

Nothing beats studying in the Cistern Yard on a warm Charleston day!

What does diversity mean to you?

Diversity to me is more than just discussing the color of ones skin. It involves establishing an academic community that focuses on academic and cultural contributions, irrespective of nationality, race, gender, sexuality, political affiliation or religion. The aim of diversity should not be about compartmentalizing students into established groups, but ensuring that every student is given the opportunity and means to express themselves in an open and welcoming environment.

Advice to undergraduate students?

Take every and any available opportunity, you never quite know where you will end up!

If you would like more information on the GSA: http://blogs.cofc.edu/gsa/about/


under: Uncategorized
Jon Hakkila

Dr. Jon Hakkila

I grew up and attended college between New Mexico and California (with some time in Hawaii), and spent many years working in Minnesota and Alabama before coming to the College of Charleston. My undergraduate degrees are in Physics and English/American Literature, and my M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are in Astronomy. I briefly wrote poetry and worked in industry as a computer programmer/analyst before fulfilling my dream of becoming an astrophysicist. My research interests are in gamma-ray bursts and the sub-discipline of astrostatistics/astroinformatics.  

What do you like most about working at COFC? I love the people, the work environment, the climate, and the city of Charleston. Everybody should live here, but then again, we don’t want them to.

What is your favorite hangout on campus? My favorite hangout on campus would have to be the Graduate Office (Randolph Hall Suite 310; come by and visit if you have a chance). I work with amazing, friendly, productive colleagues who are really fun to be around.

Most memorable trip? I love to travel, especially with my family. As a result, I have to say that my most memorable trip is usually my most recent one. I have been to many wonderful places and countries. One Holiday break trip does stand out where our family spontaneously drove from Charleston to California, visited relatives, and drove back, all in nine or ten days.

Tell us about your family? My wife Fahn is a talented, hardworking, and generous woman who loves establishing connections between American and Chinese cultures. We met in San Diego when we discovered that we both love to eat good food. We have two wonderful daughters: Oriane is a third-year law student at Columbia University, and Leotie is a sophomore at Emory University interested in environmental studies and medicine.

Leotie's High School Graduation

Leotie’s High School Graduation

What does diversity mean to you? To me, diversity is a process by which we introspectively and empathetically share our disparate cultural backgrounds to become better-rounded, more fulfilled people. I feel fortunate that my life has allowed me to cross many cultures barriers and to live a diverse life.

The Hakkila Family

The Hakkila Family

My two daughters Leotie and Omarie

My two daughters Leotie and Oriane with the chicks

under: Accountancy, Arts Management, Business Administration, Communication, Computer & Information Sciences, Diversity, Early Childhood Education, Education, Elementary Education, English, Environmental Studies, ESOL, Fine Arts, Gifted & Talented, Graduate Programs, Graduate School Office, Graduate Student Association, Guest Bloggers, Historic Preservation, History, Languages, Marine Biology, Mathematics, Middle Grades Education, Networking, Peace Corps Masters International, Performing Arts, Professional Development, Prospective Students, Public Administration, Science & Math for Teachers, Special Education, Statistics, Teaching, Learning, and Advocacy, Uncategorized, Urban and Regional Planning

Alumni Spotlight: Catherine Willoughby ’12

Posted by: McCrayCC | September 8, 2016 | No Comment |
Catherine W and Member of Goose Creek Lions Club

Catherine Willoughby and Member of Goose Creek Lions Club

Catherine Willoughby ’12 graduated from the University of Charleston, South Carolina with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Arts Management. During graduate school, Catherine was able to expand her passion for arts advocacy and administration through an internship position with the City of Charleston’s Office of Cultural Affairs, a close relationship that she still maintains today. She has worked with Piccolo Spoleto as a Box Office Administrator for the past five years and plans to assist with the widely-anticipated MOJA Festival this October. Shortly after graduation, Catherine received an opportunity to serve as a civilian federal employee for the navy within their human resources department.

The leadership, policy advocacy and non-profit management skills she obtained through her experience and education in the MPA program has served Catherine well during her position as President of the Goose Creek Lions Club; the Lions Club raised over $40,000 for various charities under her 2014 – 2016 tenure. During her spare time, Catherine enjoys exploring museum and studio exhibits, theatre, live music of virtually kind, and trying out new restaurants in Charleston’s ever-evolving culinary industry.

Just me!

Just Catherine!


under: Arts Management, Graduate School Office, Guest Bloggers, Networking, News, Professional Development, Public Administration


What I really wanted to study, when I first started thinking about college, was ACTING. I wanted to be a star, to be the next Bette Davis or Angela Lansbury. I wrote my Oscar’s acceptance speech; I could see myself sailing elegantly down those red-carpeted stairs in my black velvet dress with the long gloves and sparkling tiara, smiling benignly at all the losers, until I trip on the hemline and go a@()# over teakettle to land in Robert Redford’s lap. At least, that’s what it felt like when my parents said “Nope, acting doesn’t pay a living wage, you need to find something else.” So, I caved. I now have a degree in Broadcast Journalism, a Masters in English and an almost-Masters in History with a little Arts Management certificate thrown in. Life sure is strange.
I joke a lot about being a “perpetual student” – after all, I have been taking classes here at the College since 2006 almost without a pause. But the really cool thing I discovered when I started taking graduate classes in Fall 2006 is that I love the classroom! And I don’t want to stop. I will finish my Masters in History in May (if the gods are willing, and I can complete my thesis) and I think I will maybe look at classes in Public Administration. Or maybe Creative Writing. Heck, I might even take a swing at Computer Science! But what I know is that being in class, meeting the amazing faculty and students that roam the campus here at the College, is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. And helping others to step into this special place called Graduate Education is just icing on the cake!

english graduate


And don’t worry about the whole acting bit – I’ve seldom gone more than six months without doing at least one show, and I’ve even been lucky enough to win a couple of acting awards along the way. In fact, I am going to be in the Flowertown Players’ production of The Importance of Being Earnest at the end of September – you can see for yourself where at least some of my passion lies!!


What is your favorite part about working in the Graduate School?

The office is full of people who are all incredibly hardworking, open-minded, and yet so different from one another, which makes each day in this office exciting.

What inspires you?

Seeing students who thought they could never come to a place like CofC and watching them grow and thrive on campus after graduation.

What does diversity mean to you?

Diversity, to me, means not just recognizing that people come from all different backgrounds and hold different perspectives, but celebrating that fact. Seeing life from a new perspective and allowing that new vision to influence your own life.

Favorite place on campus?

My office is my safe place. It makes me happy.

Any advice for new graduate students?

  • Expect to feel out of place for a bit
  • Recognize that graduate school is a job
  • “Networking” is not just a word for MBAs
  • Recognize that graduate school should not be your entire life
  • Build an online profile
  • Share what you know with others
  • Spread your wings and soar!
under: Academics, Accountancy, Arts Management, Business Administration, Charleston, Communication, Computer & Information Sciences, Early Childhood Education, Education, Elementary Education, English, Environmental Studies, ESOL, Fine Arts, Gifted & Talented, Graduate Programs, Graduate School Office, Graduate Student Association, Guest Bloggers, Historic Preservation, History, Languages, Marine Biology, Mathematics, Middle Grades Education, Peace Corps Masters International, Performing Arts, Professional Development, Prospective Students, Public Administration, Science & Math for Teachers, Special Education, Statistics, Teaching, Learning, and Advocacy, Urban and Regional Planning

Aaron Holly-Working for the sake of the City

Posted by: McCrayCC | August 10, 2016 | No Comment |


Aaron Holly ’16  graduated from the University of Charleston, South Carolina, with dual Master degrees in Environmental Science and Public Administration with an additional Graduate Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning. Aaron started working for the City of Charleston as a City Planner in May 2016. For his position, he works on a variety of projects for the City such as bike and pedestrian planning initiatives including assisting in a City study on the potential economic impacts of the Legare Bridge bike and pedestrian path and updating City zoning maps and database information. His time in graduate school helped to prepare him for working in local government, particularly aspects of working multiple stakeholders including representatives from other local municipalities, non-profit organizations, and private businesses. For his final masters project, Aaron completed an academic internship with Charleston Moves and the Coastal Conservation League examining areas with high densities of bike and pedestrian collisions in Downtown Charleston. In his spare time, Aaron enjoys biking, running, cooking, watching the Olympics, and helping to ensure a high handicap for his old bowling team.




under: Uncategorized


The new Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing at the College of Charleston is pleased to announce the first recipients of the Woodfin Scholarship, Nick Plasmati and Laura Cannon.  The two $5000 scholarships will be awarded annually to the best creative writing portfolios submitted by students accepted into the MFA program.

The Woodfin Scholarships are made possible through the extraordinary generosity, vision and good will of an alum of the College of Charleston, and are designed to attract the very best writers from across the country to come study writing at the College in its new graduate program in creative writing. Each year, the Woodfin Scholarships will be awarded to the incoming writers whose creative portfolios show the highest merit. These awards, which will go to offset tuition costs, will be available for renewal for the second year of study as well.

“This is an extraordinary moment in the new life of the MFA,” said program director Bret Lott, “and this incredibly generous gift from our alum is a hallmark in the development of our ability to reward the writers who come to study with us here at the College.”

The College of Charleston’s Master of Fine Arts Program is a two-year degree offering advanced training to students who wish to gain expertise in the writing of poetry and fiction. A unique feature of the program is its two tracks of study: Studio, the traditional track involving workshops and the study of literature; and Arts Management, which combines workshops with courses offered through the College’s graduate program in Arts Management.

“It’s an incredible honor to receive the inaugural Woodfin Scholarship award,” said Nick Plasmati of the good news, “and it is with the sincerest gratitude that I thank all of those involved in making this scholarship possible, not only for supporting individual writers but also for promoting the arts and helping to foster a creative atmosphere in Charleston.” Plasmati, who lives in Foxboro, Massachusetts, is a 2010 graduate of William & Mary, and will soon be moving to the Lowcountry to begin classes in the MFA, where he will be in the program’s Arts Management track.

Nick Plasmati - Woodfin

(Pictured above Nick Plasmati)

Laura Cannon, a 2009 graduate of our very own College of Charleston, is the second recipient. “To say I’m honored to accept the Woodfin Scholarship to aid in my MFA studies is an understatement,” she said. Cannon lives in North Charleston, and is electing to take the program’s Studio track. “I am deeply thankful to all of those who have made this experience possible, and eagerly anticipate what possibilities lie before our class. Thank you, again and again!”


(Pictured above Laura Cannon)

For further information, please feel free to contact Bret Lott, MFA Program Director, at lottb@cofc.edu.

under: Academics, Fine Arts, Fine Arts, Graduate Programs, Graduate School Office, Graduate Student Association

Graduate Student Orientation 2016

Posted by: McCrayCC | July 20, 2016 | No Comment |

Orientation Flyer Summer 2016

To help you prepare for your graduate studies here at the University of Charleston, S.C., we encourage you to attend The Graduate School orientation on Monday August 22, 2016. This event brings together entering students from a wide range of disciplines and provides key information on topics such as campus and community resources, campus health services and health insurance, and life at UCSC from a graduate student perspective.

We look forward to seeing you on August 22 – and to working with you in the years ahead. Our offices are located on the third floor of Randolph Hall. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions about orientation or anything else during your time here at UCSC. (843) 953-5614 or gradstud@cofc.edu.

under: Accountancy, Arts Management, Business Administration, Communication, Graduate Programs, Uncategorized

Alumni Spotlight: Jeremiah Rees

Posted by: Allisyn Miller | June 22, 2016 | No Comment |

Jeremy Rees Photo

Jeremiah Rees completed the Master of Public Administration program from College of Charleston’s Graduate School in December of 2014. He hails from the town of Good Hope, a small farming community near Athens, Georgia. Jeremy was homeschooled throughout his early education and split his undergraduate education between Grace College (Winona Lake, IN) and Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA). He completed his undergraduate education in 2010 with a degree in Organizational Leadership. Mr. Rees has been a member of the United States Army Reserve since April of 2002 and has completed two overseas tours, one to Iraq in 2003-04 and another to Honduras in 2006-07. He has been decorated for military service with the Joint Service Achievement Medal for his work with the Honduran military and has received numerous other awards, commendations, and medals during his time in the Army. He currently operates at the rank of Staff Sergeant.  Jeremy began working with Water Mission in February of 2013 as the Production Supervisor. His primary responsibilities include supervising daily teams of 8-12 volunteers, stock ordering, and international shipping. He has subsequently been promoted to Director of Operations overseeing all of those same activities and coordinates shipping life-saving water treatment equipment to dozens of countries on 6 Continents. Mr. Rees is also responsible for budgeting operations, facilities maintenance, strategic relationships, and coordinating logistics for +4,000 person events.



under: Uncategorized


Check out these 10 great tips every graduate student should do over the summer:

1. Get to know the faculty

Graduate programs are the mecca of expert professionals in your field or industry. Colleges and universities really focus on having incredibly intelligent, influential, and experienced faculty and adjunct professors to train and teach the next generation of professionals in the field. Take some time to Google and research the faculty members in your program–even read some of their scholarly publications and research. Their work may inspire you to study specific topics, and you may even find a mentor or advisor to guide you through your career. Plus, they’ll be impressed if you know about their work!

2. Catch up on current events

Specialized advanced degrees are meant to prepare you and provide practical experience for a career. It wouldn’t be surprising, then, to find that your coursework will tie back to real issues, problems, and topics that are currently happening in your field. Start getting into the routine of checking the news every day–whether it’s online, on television, or even on Twitter–to brush up on current events that could have real implications in your career field.

3. Join a professional organization or association

Graduate school should be considered the beginning of your professional career, where you’ll be regarded as a specialist or scholar in your particular field. You’ll be exposed to a large network of other professionals and have access to tons of resources to help you excel in your career. Every profession has a related association or membership club that provides professionals and students with relevant tools. Some are free to join, but most have a membership fee.

4. Subscribe to industry publications and newsletters
While you’re scoping out the right professional associations to join, add yourself to the mailing lists of other relevant websites and blogs to stay on top of industry trends, issues and even potential job opportunities.

5. Work on your resume/CV and set up a LinkedIn page

Many graduate programs will require that you complete an internship or have relevant work experience in order to graduate. Most programs even have a “Resume Book” for employers to search for qualified candidates from the program. You’ll definitely want to have your resume included in this! Check with the career services office within your school or program to make sure that your resume or CV is formatted according to industry standards. You should also create a virtual resume through your LinkedIn profile – another resource that employers use to seek candidates.

6. Polish your professional side

Now that you want to be taken seriously as a professional, you’ll want to ditch your collegiate persona. Whether you were the campus jock, the popular sorority girl, or the fun-loving socialite in undergrad, you’ll want to update your Facebook page and even consider creating a more polished Twitter account. People in your new professional network will certainly Google you and inevitably find your social network profiles. Make sure those profiles speak well for you!

7. Network with your cohort

“Cohort.” Fancy, right? You’re in graduate school. You get to use words like this now.

For the next year or two that you’ll spend in your graduate program, you’ll be surrounded by the same eager, ambitious, and tortured faces. You and your classmates will be going through #thestruggle together; studying for exams; working together on group projects; calculating what your weighted grade will be; and navigating the many challenges you’ll encounter in grad school. This is not the time to be shy. These folks will not only be your friends in school, but they’ll be long-term professional contacts whom you’ll keep in touch with long after graduation.

8. Get organized for next semester

Graduate school will not only demand your time and energy inside the classroom, it will take up your time outside of the classroom. You’ll want to take full advantage of guest lecture series, attend helpful workshops, travel to conferences, take on an assistantship with a faculty member, fulfill an internship or job requirement, join a student club or professional association… oh yea, and study! It’s best to get organized as early as possible. Get started with a day planner or calendar and use it diligently. There are also really helpful websites and mobile applications that can keep you organized when you’re on the move. My favorite apps to use are Evernote and Google Calendar.

9. Scout out your favorite study spot

Full disclosure: you may have already found out that graduate school is not like undergrad. In undergrad, it may have been easy for you to get by on last-minute studying, or you may have been able to talk your way out of a penalty on a late assignment. But graduate school shows no mercy. In fact, for a lot of programs, grades that are lower than a C are considered failing!

Take graduate school seriously; it’s not worth your money or time to slack here. You’ll want to get into a routine of studying regularly. Find a place where you’ll be able to concentrate on your work and not fall asleep. For some folks it’s at home, for others it’s a library. Or maybe it’s a nearby coffee shop with free wifi. Wherever it is, find it, and start calling it “home.”

10. Relax and enjoy the summertime

By enrolling in graduate school, you have already determined that a quality education is important to you. So be ready for the tough stuff. Once next semester starts, you may have to again sacrifice your social life and free time, but trust me, it’ll be well worth it. Before classes begin, find some time to enjoy the summer – take a trip, check out a summer concert, hang out with friends and family (before you put yourself in exile), and reward yourself for making it this far. You’ve signed up for another year of schooling – something that most people wouldn’t even dare to accomplish!

Happy Summer!


under: Accountancy, Arts Management, Business Administration, Charleston, Communication, Computer & Information Sciences, Early Childhood Education, Education, Elementary Education, English, Environmental Studies, ESOL, Gifted & Talented, Graduate School Office, Graduate Student Association, Guest Bloggers, Historic Preservation, History, Holiday, Housing, Jobs & Careers, Languages, Marine Biology, Mathematics, Memorial, Middle Grades Education, Peace Corps Masters International, Performing Arts, Public Administration, Science & Math for Teachers, Special Education, Statistics, Teaching, Learning, and Advocacy, Urban and Regional Planning

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