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Stella Rounsefell ’19 & other Southern Studies success stories

Posted by: Julia Eichelberger | August 19, 2020 | No Comment |

The Southern Studies program graduated its first students in 2019, and students are already putting their learning to good use, even in a season of COVID-19.

Stella Rounsefell wearing mask in classroom

Stella Rounsefell ’19, masked up and ready to teach

Stella Rounsefell ‘19, who majored in English and also minored in Religious Studies, is now teaching fourth grade at Butler Academy in Hartsville, SC. After graduation, Stella’s wide-ranging knowledge helped her land her first job at the reference desk of the Hartsville public library. This summer she began working as a fourth-grade teacher, where once again Southern Studies gave her a competitive edge as well as a passion for the work.

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Shout-out for Stella from her new principal

Stella reports that applicants for her job had to submit online audio responses, with timed answers, including one question about the country’ educational achievement gap. Responding, Stella first said she could not answer that question in only three minutes, then went on to note, “The achievement gap started when this country was founded. It started with colonization. It started with slavery.” Her principal later called this the “Drop the Mic Award” and reminded all the staff that Stella’s “head-on approach is important because if we can’t name the problem, we can’t defeat it.” Of her time in the Southern Studies program, Stella recalls taking  “an insanely wide array of classes that melded perfectly with my major and other minors. I took Black Atlantic Religions, Charleston Writers, Evangelicalism, Art in the South, and many more.” Before these couses, Stella wrote, “I thought I knew all there was to know about the South. I was totally and utterly wrong! The histories, cultures, traditions, peoples, and foodways of the South are so much more expansive. . . Southern Studies is American Studies. We are a microcosm of our country. . .  It is important, now more than ever, to listen to the South’s people, books, and artifacts. They will tell us things we need to know. . .  If you want to understand more about the world, start with the people, places, objects, ideas, and traditions around you. Southern Studies teaches you to think critically–something that we will need in order to shape, change, and grow ourselves as a country moving forward.”  Stella is now excited to be working with  young scholars and contributing to the community in Hartsville.

Coursework and photo of Liz Whitworth

           Liz Whitworth’s Program of Study

Other students are pursuing their passions and interests. Patty Ploehn ‘19 is beginning the joint Clemson/C of C MS in HIstoric Preservation. Tanner Crunelle ‘20 will begin teaching English in Madrid, Spain. (Look for a full interview with Tanner in a future blog post.) Liz Whitworth ‘20 had expected to begin working as a substitute teacher upon graduation, but the pandemic has sidelined those plans with both her children attending school online and at home for at least the first nine weeks of the school year.  She told us, “I’ve been reading a good bit over the summer- catching up on some Southern fiction. The Book of Polly was a really fun one and I finally had time to read Swamplandia.

Michael Lucero, an English major with another minor in Geology, will finish our program this fall with a Geography course, “Reading the Lowcountry Landscape.”  The minor has let Michael “delve deeper into aspects of Southern culture and history I hadn’t considered before. . . . such as the white resistance to Reconstruction and the Black resistance to that resistance. My only regret is that I started the minor late into my time at Cof C. I would have liked to have taken Historic Preservation, more African American History, etc. The use I’ll make of it will be in thinking more deeply about the present and past of the South, and in incorporating some lesser-known aspects of the culture and history into my fiction writing.”

List of courses and photo of student

Michael Lucero’s Program of Study

When asked why she’d chosen the minor, Grayson Flowers ‘21 wrote, “When I discovered I could minor in Southern Studies, I was ecstatic!. . . . One of the best parts of the minor is the ability to tie in a wide variety of different courses to the research paper that becomes the focus of the capstone. No two papers were alike and it was so worthwhile to have a space in the College to analyze how and why as a Southerner I feel the way that I do about buildings, sites, and the history that has been passed down.” Grayson plans to use her remaining time at C of C “to learn as much as I can about everything I can.”


Images of courses taken for SOST minor

Program of Study for Grayson Flowers

under: C of C Program in Southern Studies, Racial Disparities, SC, Students

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