Category Archives: Profiles

From Aynor to Air Force One: USC grad joins top cadre of journalists


Josh Dawsey sitting in The Daily Gamecock offices during an October visit to the University of South Carolina.
Courtesy of Sarah Scarborough.

By Larissa Johnson

When the U.S. fired 69 missiles into Syria, Politico White House reporter Josh Dawsey was with President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

“We were all standing underneath big palm trees and watching people clink wine glasses and all of a sudden the president came out and said, ‘We bombed Syria,’” Dawsey said. “It was a bizarre moment.”

Especially bizarre because less than 10 years before, Dawsey was living on a farm in Aynor, South Carolina, a city of 600 people and two stoplights. On the community news page of the city government, there’s just a blank space. The last local newspaper, the Aynor Journal, stopped publishing in 2011.

By then, Dawsey had already gotten his start. He covered local sports and town hall meetings for the tiny paper run “basically out of a barber shop,” he said. In summer 2008, just before he was about to enter the University of South Carolina, someone commented on a Myrtle Beach Online article criticizing the Aynor Journal: “I miss the stories written by Josh Dawsey.”

Perhaps his first accolades, but definitely not the last.

USC Student Media Director Sarah Scarborough remembers Dawsey’s first day of college. He went up to The Daily Gamecock offices and asked how to get involved.

“He was one of those people who had an eye on the (editor’s) office since the day he walked in,” she said. “He certainly scared a few people.”

He was never afraid to cold call anyone or march into his or her office, including Scarborough’s. Even as a writer freshman year, administrators started to recognize his name and persistence in getting people to talk. Jerry Brewer, the long-time associate vice president of student life, became particularly close with Dawsey and was one of his regular sources.

Sydney Patterson started as a freshman copy editor when Dawsey was news editor. Dawsey had collected a few more internships at places like the Free Times and The State and was writing articles almost daily for The Daily Gamecock.

“I remember my impression of him being like, wow this guy is super stressed out and doing a lot, but he’s like a bulldog,” Patterson said. “He never let go of a story idea.”

Dawsey’s coverage for The Daily Gamecock ranged from fraternity drama and struggles in the law school to Columbia’s World Beer Festival. His esteem around campus continued to increase, especially after breaking an investigative story on pay increases for the top echelon of USC staff.

“I cared more about reporting and being out in the field and meeting people than I did going to classes and doing my homework,” Dawsey said. “I felt that The Gamecock was probably the best part of Carolina for me.”

Patterson said that he concentrated on watchdog journalism, and when he became editor in spring 2011 he held the rest of the organization to the same standards. Patterson worked as mix editor under Dawsey.

“He was a very loud editor,” she said. “That was definitely one of the hallmarks of having him in charge.”

He would come out of the office during production yelling about an AP Style mistake and watch over the section editors’ shoulders as they wrote headlines, she said. Even though he was demanding, people wanted to work with him because they recognized his talent, Scarborough said. The perhaps overbearing leadership paid off — Dawsey won 2011 collegiate journalist of the year from the South Carolina Press Association and the Gamecock earned a record 17 awards.

“I’ve seen a lot of people come through up here and there are a handful of folks who led the newsroom that I think stand out, and Josh is probably at the top,” said Scarborough, who has worked with USC’s student media for 17 years.

In his farewell letter as editor in fall 2011, he wrote: “It is bittersweet; leaving anything you love is difficult. Yet we are all born for leaving.”

A few months later he left not only The Daily Gamecock but South Carolina. Two weeks after graduation, he moved to New York City. It didn’t matter that he had a Southern drawl because all his neighbors spoke Spanish, anyway. Without friends in the city, he would sit in his apartment at night listening to the people partying below.

“All of a sudden I moved from rural South Carolina to the middle of Upper Manhattan,” Dawsey said. “It was jarring.”

He worked as a news assistant for the Wall Street Journal covering foreign exchange and economics for seven months before being hired as a reporter for the Greater New York section. He made friends and started covering local politics, including reporting on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaigning and spending. Living in the city for over four years, Dawsey describes himself in his Twitter bio as a “Southerner & New Yorker.”

A recent article in Vanity Fair by Joe Pompeo described Dawsey in his time with the Journal as “a well-respected but not terrifically well-known New York City Hall reporter.” But over the past 12 months, he’s become a rising star, moving to Politico in December 2016. He had just six or seven thousand Twitter followers when he left the Journal, Dawsey said. Now, he has almost 50,000.

Dawsey attributed the rapid gain to his new position as a White House reporter. “Everyone wants to know every move that the administration in making,” he said. His tweets – frequently more than 20 a day – range from live Trump quotes to cheering on Gamecock football.

How many times a day does he check the social media site? “I probably shouldn’t answer that honestly because you’ll laugh at me.”

In addition to always having Twitter open to get breaking news, Dawsey often reads up to two or three hours a day to stay up on what the competition is doing and to get story ideas.

“I hate to lose,” he said. “I compete against a lot of people and I really hate to lose to other outlets.”

When he was at USC, that meant beating The State to any news about the university. Now, he’s competing against names like The New York Times. He has a unique perspective, though, coming from a heavily conservative and Christian small town.

“A lot of people in Washington really think the president’s doing a terrible job; a lot of people in South Carolina really think the president’s doing a great job,” Dawsey said. “You have to remember that how things are perceived here aren’t maybe how they are perceived out there.”

His parents still live in Aynor. He comes to South Carolina around four times a year to visit and to try to find time to relax. Sit on a porch with some iced tea in the rural South and Washington, D.C., seems thousands of miles away, Dawsey said. His parents live on a dirt road and don’t want it to be paved.

“I think they’re kind of amused by [my job],” Dawsey said. “My parents are very conservative and very supportive of Trump and they think it’s great that I get to be around him.”

While frequently seeing Trump at press briefings and on Air Force One, Dawsey has interviewed Trump only once one-on-one — in April for a feature on the first 100 days of the presidency. Trump brought up Dawsey’s South Carolina roots, mentioning his broad support in the state.

“He’s kind of disarming,” Dawsey said. “Actually has a pretty decent sense of humor.”

Dawsey’s expertise in covering Trump – the Vanity Fair article calls him a “West-Wing savant” – has earned his next big career step: joining the Washington Post’s White House team. The move, announced via Twitter on Nov. 3, puts him in one of the most prestigious teams in the country starting late November. He is just 27 years old.

With such a quick rise, Dawsey can’t predict what he’ll accomplish in his career.

“Everything is moving too fast,” he said.

Johnson is a multimedia journalism senior

Showing Up Is Half the Battle: Wes Saunders and the Persisting Football Dream

Weslye Saunders training at Flamingo Park, Miami, FL
Photo courtesy of Wesyle Saunders/Instagram

By John Wagoner

In 1973, Barry Saunders took a bus to Chapel Hill to try and get legendary Tar Heel head coach Dean Smith’s attention and get a scholarship to play for the University of North Carolina, as he told The State.

Over 50 years later, his son, Weslye Saunders, flew himself to Seattle and Indianapolis to try and get the attention of the head coaches of their professional football teams, and regain a spot on a National Football League roster.

Proving that history tends to repeat itself, neither of them left with what they came for. The difference? Weslye Saunders is still vying for an NFL contract, and he has not been on the field in three years.

Saunders was the late bloomer of the star-studded 2007 recruiting class for South Carolina, but when he bloomed, Gamecock fans took notice. Staying after practice with his quarterback Stephen Garcia paid off for Saunders, as he had a field day against the Gamecock’s Upstate rival.

He accounted for two of the four touchdowns in that 34-17 victory over Clemson that kicked off a five-game winning streak. David Cloninger, long-time South Carolina beat reporter, recalls thinking after his performance in that game that Saunders “was going to play on Sundays.”

“That’s one way to go out,” in Saunders’ words.

His senior season would never come. A series of suspensions left him watching his former team beat the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide from the student section on their way to a date with the Auburn Tigers in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

“A bad attitude” got Saunders suspended in January 2010, according to Cloninger. Saunders still participated in spring practice. Then in early summer, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, came calling over a string of social media posts pegging Saunders at a party funded by a sports agent in Miami. Saunders said the issue at hand “wasn’t even the monetary amount…it was the favors.” The bigger issue would end up being what the NCAA would dig up while investigating Saunders.

He and nine other Gamecock football players were staying in the Whitney Hotel, now known as the 700 Woodrow apartment complex. The situation was considered off-campus housing, a move approved by the school.

As the NCAA began to investigate, it found out that there were players several months late on rent. Steve Spurrier, head coach at the time, told the media in August that he encouraged the players to settle their debts and move out to avoid further trouble. All the players heeded their coach’s warning, except Saunders. By his account, Saunders stayed to try and right the wrongs and clear his name from any wrong-doing. He “ended up digging [himself] into a bigger hole.” A $5000 hole. Saunders applied for a loan “against [his] future earnings,” to cover his debts at the Whitney according to Cloninger.

“Wesyle Saunders is not a member of our team anymore.”

Head coach Steve Spurrier’s words to Travis Haney of the Charleston Post and Courier echoing a press release from the university earlier that day. Saunders had been suspended for some time after missing team meetings and showing up late to practice.

Even though he says the “NCAA really wasn’t the one calling the shots, it was the school,” Saunders flew himself to the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. To no avail, he tried to clear his name. He felt like the school was just trying to wash their hands of him and move on, even after settling his debts. Saunders heard the message loud and clear.

With South Carolina in the rear view, Saunders still had a high draft stock in his eyes. So he took his talents to Texas where he trained for the NFL Draft combine on Nike’s dime, as a potential sponsor. One month in, the tunnel lost its light at the end. Saunders broke his foot after overextending himself, never having been injured before.

With tunnel vision in full effect, he participated in both the NFL Draft Combine and South Carolina’s Pro Timing Day for scouts on that broken foot.

Expectations were waning for Saunders. Bleacher Report had him ranked as the 11th tight end and 229th overall prospect in the 2011 Draft, and Walter Football claimed “It is unlikely some team will spend a draft pick on an underachiever with serious character concerns.”

No one did use a draft pick on Saunders, but he still signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers and made the regular season roster as their third-string tight end. Saunders even notched his first and only professional touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in November of that same year. Then, just two months later he was back to square one, he had been suspended for Adderall use.

By his own admission Saunders got the pills from his brother, and took them to counteract the sluggish effects of his pain medications for his broken foot. He also says he was unaware of the rules regarding the use of Adderal in the NFL. The league puts on various rookie orientation activities designed to help them understand these rules, but Saunders did not participate in these due to his late signing.

“I shot myself in the foot once again,” Saunders said.

The Steelers released him following that suspension in 2012 but after signing with the Indianapolis Colts, Saunders was suspended again by the NFL for eight games. This time he was suspended for an expired Adderall prescription. He battled with his replacement, Jack Doyle, after returning to action in 2013 but the Colts ultimately decided on Doyle after Saunders was released from his contracts twice in 2014.

Saunders was confident that his physical abilities and NFL connections win out for him in the end.

That was three years ago.

The calls never came for him, so he went to them; just as his father had done all those years ago.

He flew himself out to Seattle prepared to show off his skills to the Seahawks coaching staff; he was promptly banned from their training facility and left without an agent after a falling out over the decision to go to Seattle. Before he got to his next stop, the Colts got a call he was coming – and banned him from their property too. Saunders frequently posts the internal memo the Colts sent out about his banishment from their facilities on social media, riddled with harsh language and swift action against him when he got to Indianapolis.

He supposedly had a strong relationship with the decision makers at the Colts, but he has not heard back from anyone at the Colts since this memo was published in June. My phone calls to the Colts about him were not returned either.

Around this time, the word “blackballed” began being thrown around. Some said Saunders had been blackballed by the NFL for showing up at team facilities, even he himself becoming suspicious there was collusion. In typical Wes Saunders fashion, he got on a plane again to New York City to try for a meeting with the NFL commissioner, and again nothing came from that either.

Saunders is still training, still promoting himself on Twitter using #WhyNotWes, and back in Miami. A man that is self-described as “unemployed,” Saunders takes advantage of his membership in the NFL Players Association by utilizing free training plans and meal plans to stay ready when that phone rings. He uses social media to craft the image he wants people to see; constantly posting his workouts, highlights and charitable work in the Miami community. He has adopted a vegan lifestyle and claims to be in the best shape of his life now, down 25 pounds from the last time he played.

Saunders knows he’s getting old (for the NFL at least) at age 28, so he’s promising himself one final year before he is officially out of his prime. His former teammate Stephen Garcia echoed that, “it’s crazy he’s not on an NFL team right now.”

The legacy he leaves has to yet to be seen. If you take a look through his Twitter feed, you will find a littering of fans of all his former teams asking why he is not on a roster. Saunders volunteers his time speaking to kids about life after making mistakes. But for some, like tenured Steelers beat reporter Ed Bouchette, they may only “have minimal recollection of him.”

Saunders rattled off a litany of skills he is prepared to put to work if football does not work out, such as writing, personal training and his experience in motivational speaking. World Wrestling Entertainment looked to test his physical skills in the ring after he was brought in for a tryout earlier this year. It would not be unprecedented for a former Gamecock football player to get between the ropes (see: former All-American Del Wilkes as “The Patriot”) but World Wrestling Entertainment could not be reached for comment as to their specific interests in Saunders.

But for now, you can find him every day in the sands of South Beach or at Flamingo Park working on the skills that gotten his this far: football skills. The dream he just cannot seem to give up.

Wagoner is a broadcast journalism senior.

USC Student Elevating Homegrown Talent

By John Wagoner

Students in the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications are often working to put their own name on the map, but Kaleb Partilla has grander aspirations. The broadcast journalism student born in Missouri, spent his formative years in Michigan but calls Charleston home. Partilla is on a mission to illuminate the homegrown music scene in South Carolina with his latest venture – “843 Metro Fest.”

The core of what Partilla does, in his words, is about “owning where you come from.” Those words are what inspired him to start this event. This summer interning for Fox in Los Angeles, Kaleb saw the music scene there and desired something similar in Columbia. He fondly recounted attending a free show at the Santa Monica Pier with emerging R&B artist Khalid. The show was expected to draw around 15,000 people that drew closer to 60,000.

Partilla bolted up in his chair speaking about concerts being put on every night in the City of Angels and the atmosphere surrounding music festivals like Coachella, hoping people will take to new artists even if they lack the big-name status of established musicians.

While he made it clear he did not expect that same level of response back in the Palmetto State, he repeated that South Carolinians should know about the artists in their state. Partilla said a big problem with local artists getting publicity is “everyone goes to Atlanta,” a city known as a mecca for trap music and Southern rap.

Partilla needed an action plan to put together his vision for promoting local music. He found it on Twitter and other social media sites. Ment Nelson, in particular, became famous promoting all things South Carolina, including his own art depicting life in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Partilla saw how Nelson could simultaneously promote the successes of others from South Carolina and share his own work in a balance for his followers.

“843 Metro Fest” has been a project for Kaleb all the way back to his summer in California, where he spent his time outside his internship reaching out to venues, musicians, artists and sponsors. The event was originally scheduled to be in Columbia at The Music Farm, however after a falling out with management the event was moved to Charleston to its current venue, The Purple Buffalo on September 8.

Partilla took this setback in stride, repeating an understanding that closed doors are a part of life, expressing he knew he was always going to get ignored but “you have to keep reminding them you’re there.”

In five years, Partilla hopes to be back in Los Angeles pursuing his dreams in the media industry either back with Fox or with another company, but “[he] will never forget trying to push people here.”

843 Metro Fest takes place September 8 at The Purple Buffalo, 2702 Azalea Drive, Charleston, SC. The show is slated to begin at 7 PM.

Wagoner is a broadcast journalism senior

“Ghoulie and ghosties” Found at Historic Mill Converted to Apartments

Photo by Mackenzie Ryan
Olympia Mills stands on the corner of Olympia Ave. & Heyward St.

By MacKenzie Ryan

“Olympia was where everyone wanted to live but after three years in that building, I can’t wait to get out. No place has ever given me the creeps more,” said current resident Rylee Merger,

“The worst was the feeling of always being watched, no matter what room in the apartment you were in it was always like someone or something was there with you.”

Olympia Mills luxury student apartments are a staple of South Carolina’s capital city. Located just south of downtown Columbia in the historic Olympia Mills Village, Olympia Mills exterior remains as it was over 110 years ago when the building was first constructed. Instead of running looms and the hustle and bustle of an operating mill, the building is now home to a new kind of noise. Roughly 1,100 University of South Carolina students now call it home, after renovations turned the old vacant textile mill into upscale college style apartments in 2007.

According to the South Carolina Historic and Architectural Inventory, Olympia Mills finished construction in 1899 shortly after her sister mill Granby Mills in 1897. Both mills are located close relation to the Congaree River. These textile mills were the creations of architect and engineer William Burroughs Smith Whaley in an attempt to move South Carolina toward a New South economy following the collapse of the state’s agriculturally dominated infrastructure by the end of the Civil War.

Olympia Mills was Whaley’s masterpiece. The most technologically advanced of all of Whaley’s owned and operated mills, Olympia was at one point the largest textile mill under one roof in the world, housing over 2,400 looms, 104,000 spindles and employing hundreds in the Columbia area.

Whaley hoped Olympia would help establish Columbia as the cotton manufacturing powerhouse of the South. Olympia along with four other South Carolina Mills owned and operated by W.B. Smith Whaley and Company brought prosperity to the capital city as well as the poverty that accompanied the surrounding mill villages.

Following the collapse of the South’s predominantly agriculture-based economy, Southern families would often migrate from the rural countryside’s to cities in search of a better life.  Along with better jobs with better pay than on the farm, mill employment meant free housing. A select few were even provided some form of education in exchange for labor.

However, Olympia Mills, like many other textile mills during that era exploited its workers with long hours and low wages. On average, Olympia Mill employees earned 60 percent less than that earned by mill hands in other parts of the country.

Another dangerous practice also took place.  Used for their small size, children often were used to keep mills running. Children sometimes as young as 7, from sun up to sun down, would work in extremely unhealthy conditions alongside their parents for wages equaling less than $1 a week.

The hardship and neglect in the mills didn’t just pertain to dangerous working conditions. Many mills weren’t above corporal punishment and the belittlement of their employees, Whaley included. And during a organized mill workers strike in the early 20th century, Olympia Mills let many workers go,  evicting them from their homes when they refused to show up for their shifts in protest of  unfair working conditions.

The dangers of working near machinery were an ever-present threat. Children, commonly used to go into the looms to make adjustments or replace a bobbin, often ended up dead or  maimed.

Some 110 years after Olympia Mills opened for business as a leading innovator in textile mill design and production, the building is  home to a different generation of children. But many of the college students who live at Olympia today nsist the mill’s child employees never clocked out — even though Olympia closed textile production permanently in 1996. Paranormal occurrences have been reported by students since the mill was turned into apartments.

Current resident Rylee Merger has lived in Olympia Mills since the start of her sophomore year. Now a senior, she couldn’t be more excited to graduate and leave the mill behind.

“It’s such a fun place to live and just about everyone tries to get a place here but, just like with everything it has its cons,” said Merger, “I just wish I knew before signing my lease I was signing on for more than two other roommates.”

Merger and her sophomore year roommates, Alex Ravins and Emily Williams, lived in Olympia for different periods of time, in multiple apartments. Still, all three women said they experienced supernatural phenomena and unexplained occurrences.

“Being (in) the South I knew just about every building had a history, I just didn’t think one of those places would be my apartment,” said Ravins, who after her sophomore year requested a new apartment following a frightening experience.

“I remember it like it was yesterday. It was just too weird. There was no other explanation other than ghosts,” said Ravins.

Awake well into the early morning hours Ravins was preparing to leave for the weekend on an early flight when she decided it was time to shut down the television and head to her second-floor bedroom.

“I vividly remember turning the TV off with the volume very low because everyone else in the apartment was asleep. Not even 5 minutes after my head hit the pillow, our TV turned on with the volume full blast and the channel had switched to Ghost Hunters or something spooky like that,” said Ravins.

Williams remembers the night just as vividly. “I was asleep in my room and all of a sudden I woke up to our television blaring so loud out of nowhere I was frozen in my bed,” said Williams. “It felt like an eternity until our other roommate Rylee’s boyfriend finally gained enough courage to shut it off.”

This was hardly the last time the ladies of apartment 332 experienced a ghostly encounter. Ravins and Williams recalled another chance encounter with the supernatural that drove home their reasons to switch apartments come the end of the semester.

“I’ve never been more genuinely terrified in my entire life.  We weren’t remotely close to the kitchen or even using anything in there but, somehow one of the top cabinets came flying open and immediately shut again scaring Emily and I half to death,” said Ravins.

“We couldn’t believe what was going on right in front of us. I didn’t think it was really happening but, I’ll never think twice about the existence of ghosts again,” Williams said.

“We just grabbed each other in shock as two more cabinets swung open, after that I couldn’t really sleep right in the apartment. Too many weird things were happening that had no explanation.”

Reports of the paranormal at Olympia continue. Leasing office manager Zach Kiritsy never leased an apartment in  complex while he was USC student. But that didn’t protect him from experiencing some ghostly encounters while working within the building.

“It’s not something we publicize within our leasing office but ghosts and things that go bump in the night defiantly come along with living in such an old historic place. I don’t think many college kids realize that when coming down to school in an area so heavily affected by slavery and the Civil War,” said Kiritsy.

Olympia Mills remains standing today as a member of the National Register of Historic Buildings, known for bringing prosperity and a working population to the city. Today the building represents a new wave of the Columbia community, housing college students during their four-year journey through university.

 

Social Media Empress Connects USC Students

By Emily Rhodes
 
Throughout the Columbia community, Gamecock fans gather in dorms, houses and bars. Students have spent the day eating, drinking, putting on their jerseys and chanting “U-S-C-Goooo Cocks” all day. When 6 p.m. hits the clock screen, everything goes silent. One girl refreshes her twitter feed and with the sound of a bubbly ping, her phone screen reads “It’s game time.”
 
Life as a Gamecock in the month of March was one of the most exciting times in student history. Not only did both basketball teams qualify for the tournament, but the men’s team beat Duke and made it to the Final Four. The women’s team won the entire tournament to become national champions. After these recent victories, the University of South Carolina has been booming with a sense of school spirit like never before.
 
Facebook videos and tweets showed students running through Five Points or celebrating in the Thomas Cooper Library fountain.
 
“Social media has helped pull in many people to root for us, especially since we were viewed as the underdog in every game during the tournament,” says Jay Hill, a senior sports management major at USC.
 
C.J. Lake, the university’s first social media strategist, contributed significantly to the success of the social media campaign during March Madness. Luke has real talent and knowledge in her field. She’s a graduate of the USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications and now has a year’s experience in the university’s social media department under her belt.
 
At only 25, Lake has already set the stage for a USC social media makeover and newfound online voice. Much of her success on social media was on Twitter, where Lake possessed a humorous online voice she dubs “trolling,” or cleverly provoking people on the internet.
 
“Lake has brought our platform from a typical boring university account and made it shine- to where people look at our pages more than they ever had before. Our channels are transformed into a haven for prospective students, current students, alumni, and anyone else that wants to know where our university is headed,” says Lauren Crank, a senior social media intern at USC.
 
“People” magazine took note of Lake’s social media success, in a tweet posted after USC defeated Duke. The tweet was in response to USA Today’s prediction of an easy path for Duke to win the winning the whole tournament. When South Carolina defeated Duke, Lake posted on the University of South Carolina account, “Oops” with an upside down emoji and a link to the USA Today post. This post generated over 2,000,000 organic impressions, 10,000 likes and 22,000 retweets.
 
When Lil Wayne, a rapper with almost 30 million followers, tweeted at USC to congratulate South Carolina on the win, Lake zapped him back with one of his own song lyrics expressing gratitude and appreciation of his support. 
 
Last August, USC made a video on millennial slang words, featuring teachers giving their interpretation on what they think certain words mean. The video received tons of success, generating reposts, likes and comments as USC students noticed a friendly, familiar voice from the social media account. Since then, social media engagement with the university has nearly quadrupled, according to Lake.
 
Lake has worked hard to keep this brand voice active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Her main strategy is to keep up with current student lingo, and focus on feeding the “appetite for humor” she sees in her audience.
 
Words like “lit” or “mood,” complete with an emoji, illustrate a brand that goes far beyond the literal meaning of the words. Lake has learned to brand University of South Carolina students as a community that welcomes celebration, confidence and humor.
 
“It’s been really cool seeing our fans gather around and voice support for a team that wasn’t supposed to make it this far, and the women that were supposed to make it this far. A lot of times where people go to do that is social media, so helping mitigate and talk back to people has been a lot of fun,” Lake says in a video interview with The State.
 
Lake’s biggest success has come from using that exact method of conversing. By behaving mostly like a friendly fan, she attracts student, making it more likely that they will repost and interact with the university on social media. Even students who couldn’t be there for the tournament were made to feel like they were right there in the basketball arena.
 
With strategists like C.J. Lake and USC’s school spirit, social media is influencing students. Especially in retaining and reaching new students, it’s important to show off the school in the best light. Combining the athletic prowess USC showed in March with Lake’s 200,000 impressions on Twitter suggests there’s a strong possibility at an influx of excited prospective students.
 
Lake’s social media campaign during the tournament has given the university a new brand for itself. As shown in the last few twitter posts, it’s a school that laughs along with the super fan dressed in a chicken costume on Greene Street, runs along with the students sprinting straight to Five Points after a victory, and trolls Duke fans on Twitter.
 
Brooke Tatore, an advertising and visual communications student at the University of South Carolina, spends a lot of time working on building graphics for brands and raves about the university’s recent success online.
 
“Lake makes it look effortless on social media. Her strategy is incredible, but not too advertise-y. She informs us on what we need to know, but grows hype and excitement for the school at the same time. When reaching university students, that’s the end goal,” says Tatore.
 
The mixed use of media has contributed to Lake’s social media success. Whether on Facebook or Twitter, the posts are a mixed use of text, images, gifs, stats, videos and quotes. There’s always an emoji and hashtag to keep it modern, lighthearted and all connected.
 
“USC did a really great job sharing pictures, videos, and articles about both teams on Facebook. I constantly saw people sharing the school’s posts and even shared a few myself, which I rarely used to do,” says Sarah Casasnovas, a public relations student at the University of South Carolina.
 
Students who rarely post online, and especially rarely repost information from the school, were posting during the tournament. Pride from tournament victories led students to a newfound sense of school spirit online.
 
“Social media has become an inescapable driving force in today’s society. It gives users the power to communicate past the boundaries of reality and share unlimited amounts information,” says Casasnovas. “Lake has created that online relationship with students that combine the flow of information and the sass of a successful athletic program.”
 
As we can see from Lake’s success, followers want to feel connected, and want larger than life programs to still remain transparent and humane.

“Shameless” Star Strives to Lead Normal Life

Picture taken by Shanola Hampton
Shanola Hampton smiles for her favorite guilty pleasure, a selfie.

By Anya Middleton

Shanola Hampton, a Summerville, South Carolina native, can be seen as a popular character on Showtime’s “Shameless.” Her character Veronica is vibrant, wild, and very sexually expressive. Veronica, along with the show’s lead Fionna, find themselves in a lot of interesting situations to say the least. Although Veronica is known for her wild and edgy character, Hampton is almost a completely different person.

“First of all, I don’t do mean,” Hampton said, which is a motto she carries throughout her life. Hampton is a true Southern girl, the daughter of a pastor, a wife and mother of two.

So what does “Pastor Dad” Gralin Hampton have to say about his daughter’s role on screen? He is extremely supportive as any father would be. “Shanola has always been over the top– or for lack of a better word, wild. Although her show may be a bit much for many Christian households, we know she is just acting and we know her heart and mind are still with the Lord,” Gralin Hampton said.

Keeping good values and being a good person remain important to Shanola Hampton, who still attends church every Sunday. Hampton has not adopted a crazy Hollywood lifestyle. She says her faith and the support of friends has helped her remain level headed

“The key is education,” Hampton said when asked how a small town girl has made it this far. “Unlike many of the cliché Hollywood stories you may hear about people in the business, I didn’t just up and move to California with a dollar and a dream. I studied and perfected my craft and I obtained two degrees before moving to Los Angeles.”

A proud graduate of Winthrop University, Hampton earned her masters at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  While studying in Illinois, she also gained some of her most meaningful experiences as an actress.  She  lessons she learned made a huge impact in her career. “Just after my mother passed, I landed the role of Charlotte in ‘Charlotte’s Web.’ It was one of the most influential parts of my career because it was my first time playing and learning how to be a lead. It also came at a pivotal moment in my life. This would be the first work I was in that my mother wouldn’t see in person,” Hampton said.

Hampton leads a normal life. She says her life revolves around her daughter, Cai, aged 3, and her son, Doc, aged 1. She wakes up before sunrise, goes to the gym and  then comes home to cook breakfast for her children. During her work week she takes her children to different extracurricular and cultural activities, meets with friends and business partners, and spends  quality time with her husband.

“Veronica and I are alike in the way that we are both free spirited and adventurous,” said Daren Dukes, her husband.  “Shanola, like her character Veronica, has a vibrant personality and a smile that lights up the room. Although Veronica’s adventures are more on the risqué side, Hampton’s adventures include her love of travelling the world and trying new crazy things.

“I’m not against trying everything once,” Hampton said.  She and her husband travel internationally once a year and make it a point to try something new and exciting with every trip.  “We actually just got back from a trip around Canada! It was so serene,” Hampton said, “My favorite part was the food of course. My friend’s family made us a seafood feast of lobster and scallops that was to die for. The meal is still heavy on my mind even days later.”

Hampton and Dukes, are celebrating 17 years of marriage this year.  They are a college love story; they met on the campus of Winthrop University. Hearing Dukes talk about his wife is truly special.  One can see the love he has for her on his face.

Duke’s main focus right now is to support his wife.. “Shanola and I have always made a great team. This time in our lives it is extremely important for me to support her as career continues to flourish. We have reversed the ‘norm’ gender roles, I stay home with our children when she shoots, which in 2017 we don’t see a problem with and don’t know why others would,” Dukes said.

He said that he never wants his wife to feel held back or overwhelmed and he goes the extra mile to be help her.

Outside of her family life, Hampton loves to give back to the community. One of the main foundations she supports is the Art of Elysium, which empowers communities to join together and emotionally triumph over circumstances through art,  She will be recognized for her work for the foundation next year.

She is  passionate motivating others, “It took over a thousand ‘no’s’ before I got that one ‘yes’ that changed my life. It is so extremely important to me to encourage others to follow their dreams and achieve their goals.”

Shanola’s sister Andrea Hampton, who is a South Carolina school principal can attest to this. “Shanola has been to my school several times to speak to the students. I work in a very rural area with less than 500 students and Shanola’s visit is something that the children don’t ever stop talking about. Former students who are on their way to college still rush up to me with memories of the times she came to visit them. It means a lot to me because all students don’t come from . . . encouraging households however she provided them with encouragement to last them a life time,” Andrea Hampton said.

“Acting has been my passion since I was a very little girl, I just hope that I can inspire others to achieve their dreams and wishes as well,” Shanola Hampton said.  She said  she is fortunate to have the support of wonderful fans. She feels that “Shameless” is just the beginning of her career and is excited for the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where Shopping is a Pleasure

Photo by Rashaan Anderson
Photo of the newly built Publix in Chapin, South Carolina before the grand opening.

By Rashaan Anderson

When pulling up to the parking lot of my local Publix supermarket, the first thing I notice is how employees are taking customers’ groceries out to their cars. I have never seen any store carry out groceries before. I could tell, just from the outside, that Publix is different from other stores. Once inside, you are immediately greeted with a “Hello, welcome to Publix.”

But it doesn’t stop there. As I was walking through an aisle looking for seasoning, I noticed an employee working. As soon as I walked by he asked, “Are you finding everything O.K?” I had been in the store less than 5 minutes and already I felt more important than any other store I had been too. When it was time to check out, the cashier and bagger both asked how I was, in a manner that seemed like we were all good friends. This kind of “royal treatment” is what store founder, George Jenkins, wants for every single customer since he started Publix in 1930

The first Publix Food Store made its grand appearance on September 6, 1930 in Winter Haven, Florida. In the first four years, Publix Food Store made a profit of $120,000 all off of sales and was able to open a second store in 1935. For most companies, the 1930s was a hellish period due to The Great Depression. A time where businesses were shutting down left and right and unemployment was at an all-time high. But Jenkins was determined not to let Publix become a statistic because of the Depression. Instead, Jenkins wanted to weather the storm and keep his business dreams alive.

Jenkins’ determination paid off in 1940 with the opening of the first Publix Supermarket. The additions of innovations like fluorescent lighting, electric eye doors, terrazzo floors and in-store music made Publix stand out among other supermarkets. Customers were so impressed by the look and feel of being treated like royalty, it was dubbed, “the food palace.”

Fast forward to the 1950s and Publix was becoming the talk of the town, or state in this case. So much so that in 1951, a 125,000 square-foot warehouse and headquarters complex was built in Lakeland, Florida, to keep up with the rapid expansion of the company. In 1969, there were 150 stores in Florida. The more stores that opened, the more profits Publix acquired. By 1969, the stock value of Publix was worth $44. A huge number considering that the first Publix supermarket opened just 20 years earlier.

From then on, Publix continued to grow and get better with time and compete with other major supermarket companies. Between 1951 and 1982, Publix began providing different services to its customers with the additions of a deli, bakery, seafood and floral departments. In 1982, the first Publix opened up outside of Florida in Savannah, Georgia. South Carolina acquired its first Publix in 1993. Another big milestone in the short history of Publix was that in 2009, Publix opened its 1,000th store in St. Augustine, Florida. With this opening, Publix became one of five stores in the United States to reach this milestone

Today, Publix has a total of 1,147 supermarkets and continues to grow. With each Publix, comes an extensive list of awards including being ranked No.3, by Indeed.com, for best job security and being No.1, according to Fortune, as the best company to work for. Jason Vermillion, the current manager of the Publix store on Kennerly Crossing in Irmo, South Carolina, says that all of the awards that Publix has won, have something in common. “Every award is based on George Jenkins’ mission statement.”

The first part of the mission statement focuses passionately on customer values. This is the biggest factor that sets Publix apart from other supermarkets. If you don’t believe me, read the company slogan, “Where shopping is a pleasure.” Publix is dedicated to pleasing all of its customers’ needs whether it is checking prices, special ordering items or just offering a smile. Publix goes above and beyond of its customers.

Customers, like Shannon LaFrance, are willing to drive pass four to five other supermarkets just to come to shop at Publix. “There is just a vibe about Publix that is so unique and welcoming that I much rather prefer to drive 10 minutes to go my local Publix.” LaFrance also added that the quality of food is top notch over other stores.

Part two of the mission statement is being intolerant of waste. In 2016, Publix donated around 29 million pounds of bakery products to local donation places like Harvest Hope and Feeding America. Publix is also very responsible in terms of recycling materials and promoting saying the environment, hence the theme of green that Publix is known for.

Mission statement No.3 deals with the dignity, value and employment security of the associates. No company can survive without the hard work of the employees and Publix is considered the best retaining and gaining associates. One big reason is the benefits that can be acquired for both part-time and full-time employees. Benefits like health insurance, dental care and even start saving for retirement.

Elizabeth Eells, who worked for Publix for 5 years, says that benefits are what sold her. “Where else could I start saving for retirement after just one year of working?” Publix is also a company that is always promoting from within. For example, if a customer service staff member leaves, a cashier who has been with the company for some years could be trained to work the customer service desk.

The fourth mission statement is giving stockholders the highest standards of stewardship. Publix is a privately-owned company, meaning that only active associates and members of the Board of Directors can buy Publix stock. George Jenkins had the belief that if employees owned Publix, they would care about what happens to it.

The final mission statement is being responsible citizens in the communities. At least 5 times a year, Publix gathers donations for charities like Special Olympics, Food for Sharing, Habitat for Humanity and for Harvest Hope Food Bank just to name a few.

While Publix has had its fair share of success, based on its reputation and dedication to the customers, there have been some failures. One of these being PublixDirect.

Launched in September 2001, PublixDirect was once believed to have been the “future of grocery shopping.” The thought of ordering food and it being delivered to the comfort of one’s own home, was thought to have been Publix’s “golden ticket.” Instead, in 2003, it was shut down due to the lack of demand in the area. Both of these failures cost Publix millions of dollars.

Publix has endured a number of complaints, from employees and loyal customers alike, about Publix being too “nice” to customers. Publix has a policy called the “Publix Promise.” It states that if a customer has any complaints about a product or if a price is higher than advertised, then customers can return the product, with their receipt, and they can get their money back in full.

The problem comes when customers intentionally damage products and then return them and are still able to get a refund. Not only does it put in question every customer that returns items, but it also makes people wonder where the line is drawn in terms of what customers can get away with. \

Despite these failures and critical complaints, Publix has been able to maintain and even grow its customer base. With more and more Publix stores continuing to be built every year, not only across the South, but even the southeastern part of the states, it is hard to see Publix dropping off anytime soon. In the end, Publix is one of the fastest growing and most profitable supermarket companies in the United States for a reason. Top-notch customer service, high quality products and a positive staff, truly makes shopping at Publix, a pleasure.

Anderson is a broadcast journalism senior

Why “Blue Lives Matter”

Photo by Nicholas Spano                           Photo taken over spring break of Officer Dan Gilliam’s country side home in Western Maryland.

By Nick Spano

Visiting the nation’s capital on a sunny afternoon in mid- March to soak in history is a great activity. Living in the area for the last 22 years, it is not odd to see rallies and a lot of tourists exploring Washington. This afternoon, American flags waving and signs saying “Blue Lives Matter” caught my attention.

Protesters were stuck like glue outside the White House all day expressing their beliefs. Law enforcement was supported by Washington’s downtown district in the past. But difficult months of violence between citizens and police officers have complicated it all. And there has been backlash against men and women in blue all across the United States. This has left authorities feeling under siege.

Dan Gilliam, is a retired United States Park Police officer in Washington D.C. He spent 17 years working with the park service police in D.C. He views all the controversy over police treatment of citizens as very upsetting. All lives matter in this world. I’ve seen death, destruction of families, and much more,” Gilliam said.

Gilliam wants to better help others understand that officers are people, too. His main focus is: “We put on the uniform to serve and protect the community in any which way possible.

The United States Park Police shares a rich history as the nation’s highest ranked and oldest police agency. While the agency performs routine police work, such as traffic stops, writing tickets, and dealing with emergency calls, it also works closely every day with the United States Secret Service.

Being part of the White House secret service provides you “detail work,” a code they use for escort schedules, training maneuvers, and protocol. Gilliam worked with the motorcycle unit most of his career. That post is considered a very high ranking position in the department. He dealt with escorting the president, vice president, and many dignitaries. Working with Secret Service meant taking risks, but also gaining opportunities.  Gilliam has met the King of Jordan, the Dalai Lama, and many sports stars.

The biggest honor came at roll call one day. He was assigned to lead the motorcade to escort the funeral procession of the 40th President of the United States, President Ronald Reagan. Talking with Gilliam’s coworkers, you see a different side of the department and glean their views on “Blue Lives Matter.” They stress police officers should be protected in any situation they are put in.

A hardworking 27-year veteran for the Washington D.C. Park Police, John Summer deals with a lot of street crime. A street patrol officer,  he see seen firsthand the hatred against the police. Before being assigned to the Park Police unit, he worked four years in undercover work .

Neighborhood watch groups were complaining that there was prostitution taking place in business district parks. Sometimes he ended up locking up runaway girls as young as 16. The tasl was heart breaking since his own daughter about that age.

“Seeing derogatory signs and having rocks thrown at you in your own community you protect every day is extremely hard to deal with,” Summer says. He says the lowest point in his career came in January, when riots escalated as President Trump was sworn into office. “Helping others became harder because you were more worried about your own safety,” he said.

Worrying about your own safety and seeing your fellow officers hurt physically n  these situations becomes no laughing matter. He joined the police department with a thought to save and help people inside their communities.  i

Having a family can be hard at times Gilliam and Summer said. Corruption and a negativity with the police might be overcome if people remembered that “any person who is willing to leave their family to protect yours is a good officer,” according to Gilliam and Summer.Gilliam’s wife feels deep support for the Park Police. “The department is a family in its own, they watch each other’s backs and respect their integrity and reputation they must hold at a high standard,” she said.

Police in Washington and in Columbia say “Blue Lives Matter.”  Richland County Police Officer Jamie Russell, a newer officer, agrees. “All lives matter, especially cops who go above and beyond the call of duty,” he said, taking out his badge after sitting down at his favorite breakfast spot.

The badge provides a legal authority to its wearers and shows their allegiance to communities they serve, Russell said.  Taking an oath is something every officer must do. It’s explained as not a privilege but an honor to wear the badge in order to protect and serve for the people. Recent killings of police officers worry officers’ families. Russell’s daughter, Blair, fears for her father’s life every day he puts on the uniform and leaves the house.

Police officers can sometimes be taken for granted, “There’s far too many things directed to officers who keep us safe,” said Blair Russell. “I see news articles of fallen officers somewhere in the United States killed in the line of duty and makes me scared.”

“This has to stop, no more violence should be tolerated,” she said.

Spano is a public relations senior

 

 

Life: Decently and in Order

Apostle Daemon Christoper Terry Sr. and wife Tara Terry answering a biblical question asked by 10 year-old Zeal Robinson.
Photo by Aalayah Faulcon-Sanders

By Aalayah Faulcon

A peek into the lives and perspective of Christians who believe self-discipline is the best ingredient to living a purposeful and God driven life.

New fads, music and television shows entice the world every day. Christians are not exempt from falling into the trap of wanting to watch the newest shows or listen to the newest rap songs. This epidemic has become the challenge and opportunity, according to Christian leaders. The Kingdom Learning Center located in Irmo, South Carolina and its members share the same Christian values and drive for holiness without cutting corners. The riddance of secular music, secular television shows, vulgar language, alcohol and other worldly objects may seem like isolation from reality, but to The Kingdom Learning Center’s members, it is the right way to live.

When examining the life of Jesus and his followers before the electronic era we live in today, their lives were a lot more confined than those at The Kingdom Learning Center. Apostle D.C. Terry Sr. and his wife Apostle Tara Terry have lived a life without secular influence since salvation and built the foundation of their ministry based off of str Continue reading Life: Decently and in Order

Standing tall for Seattle’s Invisible Nation

Photo by Sydney Bugg
Chief Seattle’s illustration hangs outside of the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center in west Seattle with the following message: “Chief Seattle is Watching.”

By Sydney Bugg

Chief Si’ahl of the Duwamish Native American people has a name that is known to the world through his namesake that went on to become the largest city in the Pacific Northwest after his death. Si’ahl’s Anglicization is what is commonly known as Seattle. Unlike many other cities in America today, Seattle’s indigenous people are still around in modern times.

They have chosen to live where they have for over 4,000 years, even though doing so meant losing homes that would not be replaced and maintaining an “invisible” status as they co-existed lacking adequate resources while the city around them thrived economically from a booming tech scene. Cecile Hansen, great-great grand-niece of Chief Seattle is one of those people, and she has been fighting for over 40 years to get her home back.

Less than 5-feet tall, Hansen still has taken on giants like the federal government and fellow Native Americans within the Bureau of Indian Affairs fearlessly. Unlike many of today’s Native American tribes, since 1855 Hansen’s tribe has had legal documentation of what her people are owed. 1855 was the year that changed everything for the Duwamish people. In 1855, after years of welcoming and helping settlers, Chief Seattle signed the Point Elliot Treaty, turning over more than 50 acres of land to settlers in exchange for promises to hunting and fishing rights along with other benefits for the Duwamish people. To date, this promise remains unfulfilled.

As a result, today’s descendants of Chief Seattle and the Duwamish people who chose to identify as such are forced to manage without government recognition on a tribal status level, and the benefits that come with such recognition. “I want people to stop saying recognition. We have been recognized and we have a document that proves it! What the Duwamish people need is acknowledgement”, Hansen says.

What comes with federal recognition/acknowledgement? As Hansen says, “Money. We need money. We don’t have a casino like all these other tribes do. We don’t even necessarily want to have a casino. We just want to take care of our people.”

Over time, neighboring tribes in Seattle and Washington began to achieve recognition as soveirgn nations. Hansen believes one of those tribes in particular has played a role in preventing the Duwamish from receiving Federal Recognition through the Indian Bureau of Affairs: The Muckleshoot. The Muckleshoot tribe also has a casino that funds scholarships, benefits for tribal members, and has help build new facilities on their reservation. Unfortunately, outside of these benefits, casinos have highly politicized and economized Native American affairs, birthing what Hansen has nicknamed “SOS,” short for “straight on stupidity.”

Nonetheless, the products of government funding and casino money have been enough to draw many Duwamish people away from invisible coexistent lives in Seattle and on to reservations where they also have a sense of living communicably in addition to quality of live improvements. Hansen’s brother is one of these people. After being cited for fishing in the Duwamish River in the 1970s, he’d decided he’d had enough and moved to a reservation where he would have rights to fish as he originally would have that day in the Duwamish river if the Treaty of Point Elliot had been honored

. When asked about how she feels about the migration of so many Duwamish people over the years who chose to identify with other tribes Hansen says, “I don’t blame them. They’ve got to take care of themselves. Even though there is rivalry between our tribe and others, I still have many family and friends all over the state and country who are a part of other tribes. I’ve got friends everywhere.”

For this reason, there are only 600 or so people who today identify ethnically as being Duwamish as reported to the U.S. Government. Many Duwamish people share ancestry with other tribes and others have chosen to identify with their ancestries that are favored on a federal level. Although as Hansen says, “You can’t go anywhere in this city where [Duwamish people] didn’t live.”

The self-proclaimed Duwamish who stick around in Seattle co-exist in assimilated fashions with no designated land of their own.

In 2009, a small victory in the battle fighting back against broken promises was won. With community help, the Duwamish raised enough money to build the first longhouse in the area since the late 1800s when all of Seattle’s long houses were burnt down by pioneer settlers. Amongst efforts to help build the Longhouse were those from the descendants of pioneer settlers. I think they felt a little guilty,” she says. This symbolic place is the only “home” for today’s Duwamish. The Longhouse welcomes visitors from all around the world to learn about Duwamish culture and history, and the outside of its wooden walls bears the following message in bright orange lettering “Chief Seattle Is Watching.”

This achievement reaffirms the determination of the Duwamish people that has lasted since their first refusal to leave the city and move elsewhere. Working around a need for government recognition, Hansen was able to get 501 (c) (3) non-profit status for Duwamish initiatives. Still, eight years later, there are certain issues only government funding can fix (healthcare being one example). And paradoxically, even with the longhouse, it’s hard to work towards the task of lobbying for government action

. “I don’t have time for pr,” Hansen says, “I don’t have money to pay people to work or even sit at the front desk to answer phones.” At the long house, Hansen points to a young bald white man with a bright red beard and says, “He’s one of our few helpers out here. He’s an anthropology student working here as a volunteer and intern.”

Several visitors from around the world who come to the long house leave with the intent to do what they can to help advocate for the causes of the Duwamish tribe. Many of these small actions come in various forms, whether a charitable donation or a letter to a congressional leader. “A lot of people who aren’t Duwamish care too. In general, most people in the city have a sense of who we were at least and what we did for the city even if they do not care,” says Hansen.

Aside from the longhouse, newcomers to Seattle can also quickly get a sense that the modern city was built on Indian land, more specifically Duwamish land. Downtown Seattle is home to a giant monument sculpture of Chief Seattle, streets and district names bear tribal names accompanied by Native American designs in street art, and even public transit station stop logos. Upon arrival to the airport foreigners are presented with exhibit-like displays with information on Seattle’s first people. Their tales are presented in almost mythical fashion here, with storied accounts of how the Duwamish arrived to the area traveling by canoes. The Seattle-Tacoma airport went as far as placing speakers near this exhibit with tribal melodies of the Duwamish on repeat.

The homage paid to the Duwamish is more than many other tribes will receive as far as being remembered goes. However, the city’s depiction of the Duwamish almost exclusively as being part of a history instead of depicting the Duwamish as also being living breathing people within the city has aided in fostering their sense of invisibility. This invisibility is why Hansen has repeated and adopted the phrase “we are still here” as almost a slogan for today’s Duwamish.

Although invisible to society, Duwamish elders have worked to ensure children grow up with knowledge of their culture. “We know who we are,” Hansen says. “We have pride in being Duwamish. We teach the kids the songs. People still care about this culture.” And as far as the fight goes for everyone else to know who they are today; Hansen isn’t giving up anytime soon. Another denial bears little effect on Hansen’s tenacity. She remains busy every day, planning trips for grassroots lobbying and events for fundraising and awareness at the longhouse. “It’s not over,” Hansen says, “I’m not giving up. I have hope. If I didn’t have hope what else would I do? Walk around downtown sad and drunk with my Indian basket?”

Bugg is a public relations senior