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Astronomical science – live and in living color: that’s what a group of College of Charleston faculty, students and recent alumni will offer the masses as the Palmetto State goes dark on Aug. 21, 2017, during the first total solar eclipse to be visible across the United States in nearly a century.

Ashley Turner, Annie Johnson ’17 and Logan Avera ’17 monitor images from the high-altitude balloon during a test launch in June.

Six students and recent grads along with two faculty members will be among more than 50 teams from across the country participating in NASA’s Space Grant Ballooning Project, which will broadcast the first-ever live-streaming video footage of an eclipse from cameras dangling from high altitude balloons in the stratosphere.

Cassandra Runyon, a geology professor and director of the South Carolina Space Grant Consortium, based at the College, and Cyndi Hall, director of the College’s Lowcountry Hall of Science and Math, are leading the College’s ballooning team as part of the Carolina Solar Eclipse Initiative, a collaboration between the North and South Carolina space grant consortia to promote the eclipse.

“The Carolina Solar Eclipse Initiative, specifically the high altitude ballooning program, has provided undergraduate and high school students with a unique opportunity to become part of a nationwide education initiative,” says Hall. “The students have been in control from the onset, defining and taking on various roles that will provide them a skillset needed in any twenty-first century career field.”

On the day of the eclipse, teams from Oregon to South Carolina will launch high altitude balloons 80,000 to 100,000 feet in the air where video cameras will capture footage of the moon’s shadow as it eclipses the sun along a path from the Pacific Northwest to the Southeast Atlantic coast. The video will be streamed live at streameclipse.com. NASA TV will also broadcast portions of the video feed.

Logan Avera ’17 adjusts the directional controls for the ground station antenna, which receives signals from a tiny computer attached to the balloon.

Members of the Cougar’s ballooning team will launch a balloon from a Coast Guard vessel about five miles off the coast of Charleston. Meanwhile, other students and alums will be stationed atop Fort Moultrie’s Visitor Center on Sullivan’s Island where they will track the balloon’s location, monitor the video feed and provide information to curious spectators.

“I am most excited to see the whole nationwide project come together,” says geology major and ballooning team member Ashley Turner. “This ballooning initiative is something new and creative that has never been done before. We will be viewing this solar eclipse in an entirely new way and tracking it as it sweeps across the nation.”

CofC’s ballooning team has been preparing for the eclipse for more than a year. Last summer Logan Avera ’17 and senior Sam Fink, both geology majors, traveled to Montana State University to attend a week-long training seminar through the Montana Space Grant Consortium where they learned how to launch high altitude balloons, as well as operate GPS software and remote video equipment.

“This eclipse has provided an unimaginable catalyst for me to begin learning more about high altitude ballooning, computers and long range networking,” says Fink, who is a student leader for CofC’s ballooning team. “I am so thankful for this opportunity because the things I have already learned from it are countless; from filling a weather balloon on a rocking boat to programming basic computers.”

Robert Moody inspects a tiny computer, called a raspberry pi, before attaching it to the balloon during a June test launch. (Photos by Amanda Kerr)

The students have had to learn a range of skills from engineering design, to coding, to electronics as part of the project. They’ve also had to understand the structure of the balloon payload design to accommodate several experiments that will launch along with the video camera, including a 360-degree video camera and an astrobiology experiment from NASA Ames Research Center.

“This project provides our students with a unique opportunity to work together to overcome a multitude of challenges, from building the camera systems and ground tracking station to working together and communicating as a team,” says Runyon.

Avera adds, “To me, personally, this project is the most important thing happening over the last year of my life because I’ve put so much time into it. And on Aug. 21, when the eclipse happens, we will be a part of history, being among the group of people to help make this project happen.”

under: Environmental Studies, Prospective Students, Student Services, Travel, Uncategorized

CofC Named America’s Most Beautiful College Campus

It’s official: the College of Charleston is the prettiest college campus in America.

The College was named the winner of Travel + Leisure’s Most Beautiful College Campus” contest on Thursday afternoon after two weeks of open online voting. Before polling closed on Thursday, CofC had nearly 20 percent of the vote and was several points ahead of the next top vote-getter, the University of Montana.

“The College of Charleston community has known for centuries that we have one of the most beautiful college campuses in the world,” said College of Charleston President Glenn F. McConnell ’69. “I’m thrilled that renowned Travel + Leisure magazine has formally recognized the College with this No. 1 ranking and affirmed to everyone that our world-class beauty matches our world-class instruction.”

He added, “this recognition would not be possible without the incredible work of our talented grounds crew, led by Paty Cowden. She and her team deserve much of the credit for this unique and well-deserved honor.”

The College bested nineteen other universities across the country, including schools such as Princeton University, Duke University and the University of California Los Angeles. CofC was the only South Carolina institution in the contest. The photo of campus featured on the online ballot was submitted by sophomore Alison Rourk.

Students, families, faculty and staff have long lauded the College for its historic vistas, Spanish moss-adorned live oaks and its historic Cistern Yard.

Travel + Leisure has also given high marks to the city surrounding the College. The media outlet named Charleston the best city in the world in 2016, and it has ranked the city, its restaurants, attractions and lodgings among the best in the nation.

under: Uncategorized

“Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.”

Those words – written by Maya Angelou – have special significance for Lydia Geathers St. John BA ’15, MS ‘17. For her, that’s what it means to be a child life specialist.

Lydia Geathers St. John BA ’15, MS ‘17 (Photo by Reese Moore)

Geathers St. John came to the College from Ridgeway, South Carolina, and completed her undergraduate degree in early childhood education in 2015. Two years later, she walked across the Cistern stage and proudly received her Master of Science in Child Life from the College of Charleston.

Child life specialists serve a unique role. They provide vital psychosocial care and support for children and families who are dealing with illness, injury, disability and hospitalization. Through the College’s child life program, Geathers St. John developed the expertise and garnered the experience necessary to thrive in this field.

It shouldn’t be surprising that Geathers St. John excelled in this work. Her passion for this field prompted her to complete advanced graduate coursework in infant, child and adolescent development as well as therapeutic play, pediatric illness, family systems, death, dying and loss; health communication; and other foundational coursework in child life and research methods.

“Lydia epitomizes all the qualities of a child life specialist – leadership, flexibility, excellent communication and organizational skills, along with playfulness, sensitivity, self-awareness and a respect for diversity,” says program director Susan Simonian.

In addition to her coursework, Geathers St. John completed significant hands-on training in child life though the program’s integrated practicum at the Medical University of South Carolina. There, she worked under the mentorship of the 11 certified child life specialists.

Geathers St. John also augmented her experience through a network of nonprofit organizations that partner with the child life program. She led bereavement groups in a local school and Shannon’s Hope Camp, and organized play days for hospitalized children and their siblings at MUSC, Palmetto and Greenville Health System Children’s Hospitals.

After receiving several offers for internship placement, she chose to complete her child life internship at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she excelled in every aspect of child life intervention, including non-directive, medical, and therapeutic play; procedural preparation; and family-centered care.

This summer, Geathers St. John will begin her professional career as a Child Life Specialist at Palmetto Children’s Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina. Recognizing that hospitalization of a child not only impacts that child but also the child’s siblings, Geathers St. John plans to implement weekly sibling programming in her new role.

“There really is a need for an outlet within the hospital where the siblings of chronic patients can play, express themselves and ask any questions regarding the hospitalization or treatment of their brother or sister,” she says. “During my internship, I found that I was having powerful interactions with the patients’ siblings, and discovered that there are many misconceptions they have regarding the treatment of their brother or sister that they are afraid to ask about for fear of upsetting parents or family members.”

Geathers St. John also hopes to further the development of evidence-based interventions within child life practice. Specifically, she would like to research the medical and psychosocial benefits of J-Tip usage during IV placement. She believes that this additional step can make a significant difference for nurses when placing an IV on an anxious child.

She also plans to research the use of Lidocaine Epinephrine and Tetracaine (LET) ointment as an alternative to numbing injections for children who are having lacerations repaired with sutures.

“There are still some misconceptions among medical staff regarding when and where LET can be used, and I think continued research could help me better advocate for the use of LET instead of injections,” she says.

It’s clear that Geathers St. John will be a strong advocate for children and families as she works with an interdisciplinary health care team. The child life services she provides will help countless children and families in South Carolina during a very difficult time. For her, it’s all about seeking that silver lining.

For more information on our Child Life Graduate Program: http://www.cofc.edu/academics/graduate-degree-progs/graduatedegreeslist/child-life.php

under: Child Life, Graduate School Office
Buongiorno! Bret Lott here, and yes, it’s that time of year again: The College of Charleston’s month long program of study we hold each year in our sister city of Spoleto, Italy. I want you the ready to enjoy vicariously our course of study here in Umbria. This is our eighth year in the villa, 15th century farmhouse just outside town that looks out on the Umbrian Valley toward Assisi. This year we have fourteen students from five different states and with six different majors. We all arrived safely after almost two days of travel and within a half hour some of the students were already in the pool ( Yes there is a pool). Later, just after sunset, they all sang Happy Birthday to Brett, who turned 20, celebrating with Tiramisu cake they bought for her at the grocery store down the hill. So here are a few. We have one graduate student Kaileigh Ashby first year (Masters of Arts in English student) with us on the trip! And here we go–


Kaileigh is our MA English Graduate Student

Liz, Caroline, Mattie and Kaileigh

The Villa

Day #2

Ciao! Day number two broke bright and early and gave us the view below of the fields sloping down into the Umbrian Valley. This was taken at 6:00, when the rooster next door got to work in earnest. It’s the same view as every time we are here, but different nonetheless, and always beautiful. We had classes in the morning, then walked for the first time into town for the annual tour of Spoleto with Luca, our guide, who seems never to get any older—he’s been leading us for eight years now. Students were suitably agog at the history, the architecture, the art and gelato (of course we stopped for gelato) of their new home for the next month. But, sadly, there was some evidence of the earthquakes (“terremoto” in Italian—a lovely and terrible word) last fall here in Umbria, including one building next to the library riddled with newly installed high-tech earthquake bolts and a metal support frame to keep it from falling down. Charleston has more in common with Spoleto than simply the international arts festivals they both stage each year. Both cities have a history of terremoti; earthquake bolts in Charleston are one of the architectural elements you’ll hear carriage tour guides point out, the same element Luca points out in the buildings here. Despite the recent earthquakes, Spoleto’s beauty and stateliness and charm remain intact, timeless characteristics the students appreciated all day long.

The gang and Luca at the duomo.

The view, yet again

Day #3

Cari Lettori (look it up). Day 3 is our first Saturday, which means our first day trip. In honor of Italy’s greatest poet, because these are writing courses we’re teaching over here, we visiting Dante’s beloved little medieval town of Gubbio, and the hill beside which it sits, Colle Eletto. In Canto XI of Paradiso, Dante writies, ” A fertile slope falls from a high mountain, between the Tupino and the Chiascio, the stream that drops from the hill chosen by the blessed Ubaldo…” This is Colle Eletto, at the top of which is a monastery over a thousand feet above the town. Inside the minor basilica there you’ll find the mummified body of Sant’ Ubaldo in a crystal coffin, his body in regalia, replete with miter and jewel-encrusted vestments. Almost sixty years ago, the townspeople decided to create an easier access to the top of the mountain, and therefore to the basilica and Sant’ Ubaldo, than the mountain trail up to it and set about building the coolest ride in all of Italy: The Funivia Colle Eletto. Its a chairlift-birdcage, a one-person stand up contraption that was a blast to ride up the mountain. And so, on this August literary excursion, we went to the top, where we had cappuccino and espresso and ciocollata calda at the little café there. Yes, we saw mummified Sant’Ubaldo and later toured the extraordinary Palazzo Dei Consoli Museo in town, a towering medieval palazzo filled with the history of Gubbio. But that Funivia thing was cool!

Lott run and jump

The beloved medieval town of Gubbio, noted in Dante’s Paradiso, Canto XI, as seen from the funivia.

Note the glee with which Kaileigh laughs at the vaunted professor’s less-than-graceful embarkation.

Day #4

Salve! The weekend is almost over—7:30 Sunday evening. Tomorrow we head into town for the first full day of classes at the biblioteca (more than likely there will be photos of that incredible place!). But until then, here are actual unretouched photos of students in their native habitat already hard at work for their travel writing and short fiction courses.

Student study conditions at the villa.

Day #5

Buongiorno! Classes began in full today. For years we have been meeting on the third floor of Palazzo Ancaina, a beautiful old building that fronts on Piazza della Liberta. But because the building sustained some damage from the terremoti last fall, Gilberto Giasprini, the director of the office of tourism for the city of Spoleto, and our old friend for all these years, arranged to have us moved to the extraordinary Palazzo Mauri, built in the mid 1600s by the Mauri family, nobility in the region all the way back then. Recent renovations have revealed Roman mosaic floors and foundations about six feet below the present building-these can be seen through the glass floor in places on the ground. But now its the biblioteca, the city library, and we have the honor of meeting in one of the primary rooms on the second floor. The photo showing the students is really our classroom, and those are really 17th Century frescoes on the walls-the originals. The photo of the window shows (1) more frescoes, (2) the thickness of the walls, keeping the building cool all summer long, and (3) the incredible view out the windows of our classroom. Nothing other to say than we are humbled to be here, thankful for the generosity of the city, and looking forward to our studies in this grand building.


Palazzo Mauri, a couple streets up from the old classroom

This really is our classroom


Day #6

Salve! Today is always one the of best days we spend in Umbria: our wine tour day. We start at Duccio Pompili’s very very very small vineyard and winery, Fontecolla, just outside Montefalco, a hilltop town famous for its Sagrantino wines. This is a  one-man operation-literally. Everything on his four-hectare plot of land ( a hectare is close to four acres) is done by hand, and because next week he starts stripping the shoots that have grown off the trunks of the vines, the students with his permission, went ahead and started helping. His aging room, is the size of a three car garage. Then we go to Antonelli, an internationally known vinter three kilometers down the road, where the aging room is a whole lot bigger. Big as a hangar. Given that the land Antonelli works is ten times the size of Duccio’s, its no wonder. But the very good thing about this experience of big and small is that the wines are absolutely beautiful in both places. That’s because they’re all grown with love under the Umbrian sun in a place as beautiful as the previous photo of the hillside sloping away from Montefalco toward Spoleto.


The volunteers at work.

Cristiana in the Fontecolla aging room, with Duccio looking for something in a bin of bottles. I couldn’t tell you what.

And Wendy, our guide at Antonelli, in their aging room. A little bit bigger.


More to come,

Bret Lott


under: Diversity, English, Prospective Students, Student Services, Travel, Uncategorized

submitted by  Nathaniel R. Walker, PhD

The College of Charleston has long hosted one of the nation’s largest historic preservation undergraduate programs. This fact is well known, but less well known is the full name of that program: Historic Preservation and Community Planning (HPCP). This name clearly asserts that historic preservation is not an isolated discipline concerned with the caretaking of individual, hermetic structures that host a few human lives at a time, but rather must extend its theories and practices to the broad, interconnected fabrics of the places that we call home as communities. Preservation is political.

To keep the promise of that name, the College of Charleston’s HPCP program has lately been increasing its engagement with the realms of community building. This has culminated in the creation of a new MA program dedicated to Community Planning, Policy, and Design (CPAD), launching this fall (pending SACSCOC approval). There are two main reasons this will be a unique program of interest to both contemporary practitioners of design and to scholars of history. The first draws upon Charleston as a place where citizens have long been privy to the power of architectural placemaking as an economic and political tool. Charleston’s commitment to urbanism was famously fueled by the governance of now ex-Mayor Joe Riley, who has been instrumental to the new CPAD program. Its curriculum will thus fortify design studio courses with classes on the ethics of public policy and the economics real estate, so that students can come to grips with the realities of development and the effects that it has upon human lives.

The second unique feature of CPAD is its design ethos: “progressive traditional” architecture. It was primarily this feature that sailed the new program through more than a dozen institutional and state committee hearings with an unprecedented record of 100% unanimous approval. What does the phrase “progressive traditional” mean? Charleston provides the answer. The city is famous for its beautiful traditional architecture, but the chief point interest for the average scholar is not the abundance of Corinthian columns or other telltale signs of Euro-American luxury, but rather the rich poetics of the city’s contributions to vernacular architecture, which are much more diverse in origin. The Charleston Single House, for example, is a product of cultural blending between Europe, West Africa, and the Caribbean, and as such tells an empowering story of intercontinental human ingenuity that defies the bitter, broken old narratives of white supremacy that give the city its undertone of melancholy and cast a shadow on many of those Corinthian columns. CPAD insists that traditional design, like historic preservation itself, can only make good architecture when it aspires to good politics–which is to say, when it works to ennoble and inspire every member of society, and to empower the disempowered. The “progressive traditional” design ethos will thus draw upon the world’s rich variety of useful, sustainable, and beautiful architectures, from any and all corners of the globe, celebrating the vernacular, the pluralistic, the humanist, and the hybrid, as keys to democratizing, while also generally improving, traditional architecture.

The CPAD program in unique, but it does not spring fFigure 1- 25 Tupelo Street, Seaside, Deborah Berke, 1984. Photo by Nathaniel Robert Walker.orth out of a total vacuum. There are architects working today who have made real contributions to traditional design along these politically illuminated lines, and our students have already set themselves to studying these accomplishments. This week, a group of College of Charleston HPCP undergrads travelled to Seaside, Florida, at the behest, and with the support, of the Seaside Chapel Board. It is no secret that Seaside and the New Urbanism have both been subject to a fair amount of criticism by scholars of architecture, including prominent members of the VAF; it must be said, however, that a deeply considered appreciation for vernacular architecture played a role in this resort town’s evolution that often goes unacknowledged. In the beginning, the town’s architectural model was the aesthetically simple, ecologically sensible bungalows of rural Florida. Renowned architect Deborah Berke, now Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, designed many of the first Seaside structures in the early 1980s (figure 1). Most remain today and are fondly looked upon by planners Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk as inspired renditions of regional vernacular traditions that should have, perhaps, been felt more keenly as the town exploded in size and popularity, becoming a living place that no architect or planner could fully control.

In 2001, as larger, more formal, and occasionally pretentious villas began to displace, and even replace, those elegant little bungalows, the Seaside Interfaith Chapel was designed to leverage the vernacular as an architecture of civic resistance. Architect Scott Merrill methodically drew upon the humble local churches of rural Alabama and the vernacular architecture of Florida’s rapidly disappearing industrial grapefruit-sorting structures to craft a huge, prominently cited civic monument that added spiritual gravity to the town (figure 2).As an interfaith chapel, it was important that the building not display any architectural forms or details that were specific to any given liturgy. Locals frankly have no idea how to describe the building’s complex, abstract stylistic pedigree, deploying phrases like “Carpenter Gothic” despite its conspicuous lack of any Gothic hallmarks. The vernacular here served two purposes: it provided an architectural model that could equally serve many different religious congregations, and it differentiated the structure from the surrounding, increasingly classical residential architecture. The traditional relationship between the informal, vernacular, everyday private architecture and the formal, classical, special public architecture was thus inverted!  But the distinction was preserved, honoring the public in the process.

For these reasons and more, students from the College of Charleston Historic Preservation and Community Planning program have spent the past few days photographing, measuring, and 3D scanning the Seaside Interfaith Chapel for submission to HABS. We believe, tentatively, that this will be the youngest building to make it on the list, if indeed it does. But we nonetheless sincerely believe that it deserves to be recorded and archived through HABS, for the same reason we are thrilled to be launching our new CPAD in “progressive traditional” design this fall. If traditional architecture is going to have a future, it must evolve on several levels, becoming more politically thoughtful and thus more inclusive. Historic preservation should dedicate itself to revealing our shared past, and community planning must commit itself to a shared future. Vernacular architecture is abundantly rich in design resources that are perfect for sharing.

From the Field

From the Field,

Nathaniel Robert Walker, PhD
Assistant Professor of Architectural History

The College of Charleston

For more information on the Community Planning, Policy and Design program: http://sota.cofc.edu/graduate-programs/community-planning-policy-and-design/index.php


under: Charleston, Diversity, Graduate Programs, Guest Bloggers, Holiday, Housing, Uncategorized

Brandy Francis, Graduate Student ExCel Award Winner

Posted by: McCrayCC | April 18, 2017 | No Comment |

Congratulations to Brandy Francis our Graduate Student Excel Award Winner. The annual Excellence in Collegiate Education and Leadership ( ExCel) Awards program honors members of the College and community who promote excellence and contribute to the College’s core values of diversity and inclusion. The award ceremony was held  on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at the Sottile Theatre.

Brandy Francis

Brandy is working on her Masters in Communications. Additionally, she teaches a lab associated with the undergraduate course, Media in the Digital Age. She is the social media coordinator for the Office of Admissions and the president of the department’s graduate student association, Masters in Communication Student Association. She recently finished an internship with Charleston Wine + Food as their marketing and communication fellow.
During her time with Charleston Wine + Food, she partnered with a strategic communication capstone course here at CofC, and she was able to act as a mentor to the students, which was an inspiring journey in and of itself. I also built and led a team of undergraduates in my social media coordinator position to help implement our multi-mediated campaign for Accepted Students Weekend. These two experiences paired with her teaching assistant position have really shown her how much she enjoys teaching and mentoring others. As a first generation college student, she knows how difficult it can be to find support outside of your family, so she hopes to continue with mentorship positions throughout her professional career.

Congratulations Brandy! You are truly destined for greatness!

For more information on our Master in Communications Program:




under: Communication, Diversity, Events, Graduate School Office, Graduate Student Association, Networking, Professional Development, Prospective Students

Think about the last time you had to move…particularly in Charleston. Beautiful city, but the streets were not made for U-Hauls or large trucks. Maybe you even had to carry all your belongings up multiple flights of steps. How great would it be to show up to the place you are moving into and most (if not all) of your belongings are already there? NowShip is here to save the day!

NowShip.com provides rugged shipping boxes with $100 insurance included to transport personal effects from one destination to another here in the USA and internationally door to door. Through their program, 1BOX1TREE, they also support the Fourth Grade Foresters, providing one tree per one box shipped. Through this program, they are able to help educate and allow our younger generations to learn environmental stewardship, community responsibility and enjoy the benefits of reforestation, one tree at a time. 

Founder John Krisch and business partner David Simpson III of Simpson & Partners LLC, have spent the last few weeks working with the MBA Taskforce. The purpose of this collaboration has been to do market research and create a marketing plan that will act as a model for urban college campuses across the United States and potentially globally. NowShip.com is priced for the college budget and we believe the Task Force’s plan to bring this company to students will positively affect their success in the college consumer market and their bottom line.

This has been an amazing opportunity for MBA students to not only put their classroom knowledge to use in a real-world situation, but also to learn about entrepreneurial spirit and the mindset that goes into a local start-up business.

Working with Nowship has given us the opportunity to apply marketing skills that we been learning in this MBA program to real business problems. It is truly a win-win scenario,” said Christian Buss, College of Charleston MBA Class of 2017, Cohort


Left to Right: David Simpson Simpson & Partners, John Krisch Founder NowShip, Krin Erickson CofC MBA Task Force, Christian Boss CofC MBA Task Force, Michael Haverstick CofC MBA Task Force, Matthew Whipple CofC MBA Task Force Leader, Missing Taylor Price-Kellogg CofC MBA Task Force

under: Academics, Business Administration, Charleston, Diversity, Guest Bloggers, Jobs & Careers, Networking, Professional Development

Erin Hausmann

A little bit about me: I grew up on a farm in a small town in Nebraska, so it quite a culture shock when I moved to Charleston! Currently, I live in Norman, Oklahoma where I am contiuing my education in Pure Mathematics.  I love being outside; whether it’s reading outside, going on walks, or just enjoying the weather. When I’m not studying, I like to bake. Recently, I’ve been attempting to make homemade breads. I also love traveling; a couple of summers ago, Joey Randich and I spent about two months backpacking Europe. My favorite place was Riomaggiore.  To be honest, I didn’t have a “real” reason for attending the College of Charleston. I had just graduated from my undergraduate at Wayne State in Nebraska, and I was pretty unsure of what the next step to take in life was (i.e get a job, peace corps, more school, etc). Laura, my friend from high school, had told me about how she loved the College of Charleston; so I decided to apply and go visit. I’m happy I did, I love the Mathematics department; everyone is great and really prepared me for further schooling. I think it was a great fit for me.

What did graduate school teach me? The best thing graduate school taught me was how to be a good student. Not just in the sense of getting good grades, but of wanting to learn the material on a deeper level. And it really taught me how to manage my time between having GA duties, classes, homework, and still enjoying time to myself/with friends. But the main lesson I learned is that graduate school taught me to ACCEPT, OVERCOME, and LEARN from failures and find solutions. And in the end, I am a much stronger person and equipped to better handle things in the real world in my future career. I am confident to say that grad school has made me a much better mathematician, and I value the training/education that I was fortunate enough to receive.

Guess what I’m doing now? I’m in the Ph.D program for Pure Mathematics at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. I’m taking a few classes and teaching college algebra, which is much harder than what I thought!

Advice to graduate students: Take time for yourself. Everyone deserves a break now and then, even if its just to go on a walk or to have a coffee/beer at Kudu. I know my quality of work decreases if I’m not happy.  As tough and frustrating as grad school can be, it is important to keep your head up and push through.  If you feel like giving up, ask yourself what got you here in the first place. Be proud of how far you have made it. Try to focus on the positives. If you can’t: take a break and revisit whatever is bothering you tomorrow. Yes, it is a long process but you are not the only one faced with something that may seem impossible at first. I’ll just tell you that once you reach the ‘end,’ you will realize how ‘possible’ everything is and actually was in disguise.Go out and conquer the world!

To learn more about our Mathematical Sciences program: http://cofc.edu/academics/graduate-degree-progs/graduatedegreeslist/math.php

under: Graduate School Office, Graduate Student Association, Guest Bloggers, Mathematics, Networking, Professional Development, Prospective Students

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. ~Albert Einstein

Michael Del Vecchio’16 is originally from NJ, but has been living in Myrtle Beach, SC since 2007.  Michael graduated from the College of Charleston in the Summer of 2016 with a Master of Science in Mathematics and a Graduate Certificate in Statistics.  Currently, Michael is a Math instructor at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC. Michael says teaching mathematics has always been a lifelong passion. He is truly living his dream!  He previously taught math at Andrews High School, Piedmont Technical College, and Horry Georgetown Technical College.  In 2006, he earned his undergraduate degree at Rutgers University double majoring in Mathematics and Computer Science.  Besides teaching, Michael is passionate about music and playing the guitar.  Michael plays the guitar for the worship band at his church.  Michael is happily married with three children.

Mike and Wife

Why did you choose UCSC?

To obtain my long term goal of teaching higher education I needed to get my masters degree in Mathematics.  Seeking a college that offered a graduate degree in my area was not an easy task.  I had visited Charleston and loved the city.  When I talked to the Math department I felt welcome and a sense of community. I was impressed with their quality and convenient program.  Because of my family I was not able to live in Charleston.  In 2014, I decided to take a break from working and began to commute 89 miles each way twice a week to begin earning my masters degree at the College of Charleston.  I was a little nervous after not taking college level math classes in eight years, but the welcoming and supportive professors and the student body quickly put me at ease.  Each semester got a little easier.  My advice to furture students is to never give up on your dreams and pursue the degree you need. Do not get overwhelmed and just keep pushing forward. The world is yours to conquer!

Mike-Francis Marion University

Learn more about our Mathematical Science Masters Degree Program: http://cofc.edu/academics/graduate-degree-progs/graduatedegreeslist/math.php

under: Charleston, Computer & Information Sciences, Graduate Programs, Guest Bloggers, Mathematics, Networking, Professional Development, Prospective Students, Science & Math for Teachers, Tips on Applying to Grad School

Maria Royle and one of her students

On Monday, August 21, 2017 Americans will witness one of the most unique and historical events – a total Solar Eclipse. What makes this Solar Eclipse event SO special and unique?  It will traverse the entire United States for the first time since 1918!  Other similar events have been seen throughout the US, but it has not traversed the country since 1918.   That’s why the NASA Space Grant Program is making such a big fuss over it!

Teams from the NASA Space Grant College and Fellowship program will be in the path of totality, collaborated to coordinate and plan the amazing High Altitude Balloon (HAB) Solar Eclipse Event.  Several states from across the USA (including Puerto Rico) participated in a training to prepare for this event.  Multiple teams gathered and trained, practiced, and learned how to set up high altitude balloons (and launch) along with specialized equipment in order to stream live video for NASA and the entire world.


Of the teams who received this intense training, three teams were from Charleston, SC, and of those, two teams were local public schools from the Charleston, SC area. The schools who participated were R.B. Stall High School and Palmetto Scholars Academy. These were the only two teams who had high school students! What’s more special yet for Charleston SC is that the students from R.B. Stall H.S. were ESOL students including their teacher Ms. Maria Royle, bilingual and an Alumni of the College of Charleston. Ms. Royle was invited to participate in this event by the South Carolina Space Grant Consortium Director Dr. Cass Runyon, also a professor of the College of Charleston.

Under the direction of Dr. Runyon, Team Carolina (name of the three Charleston teams) will prepare to launch HAB’s from different locations throughout the Charleston area and film live for NASA.

Maria Royle and her students

Come see what the whole fuss is about! Check out the links below and come join them! If you wish to provide support/assistance you may contact Dr. Runyon at: runyonc@cofc.edu. You may also contact Ms. Royle at: mlroyle@g.cofc.edu

Team Carolina could definitely use support in the form of funding for the purchase of helium (for the balloons), and funding for the purchase of additional balloons for practice events.



For more information on our ESOL program: http://cofc.edu/academics/graduate-degree-progs/certificateprograms/cert-english.php


under: Charleston, Diversity, ESOL, Graduate School Office, Graduate Student Association, Guest Bloggers, Middle Grades Education, Networking, Professional Development, Science & Math for Teachers

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