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Coastal Carolina University graduates largest senior class

May 7, 2005

A total of 610 students, wearing specially made gold medallions on teal ribbons in recognition of the university's 50th anniversary, participated in the commencement ceremony today at Coastal Carolina University's Brooks Stadium. A record number of 710 students, both May and August candidates, were eligible to participate in the ceremony.

Commencement speaker U.S. Congressman Henry E. Brown Jr. urged graduates to consider a life of service, to hold on to their principles and to strike balance in all things.

Brown invoked King Solomon, Albert Einstein and Ben Franklin in his remarks, telling students to reflect on their lives and where they are going, to not be obsessed with "acquiring stuff" and to "connect your life to a cause larger than yourself."

Brown, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree along with educators Edward M. Singleton and John W. Dawsey. Internationally famous writer Mickey Spillane was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Spillane told the graduates: "The man who says it can't be done is always interrupted by the man who did it." Spillane was recognized for a lifetime of literary achievement as one of the world's most popular mystery writers with more than 25 novels to his credit.

Singleton, who received a standing ovation, is chancellor emeritus of Coastal and served as chief administrative officer for 20 years, longer than any other leader of the institution. Dawsey, former superintendent of education for Horry County, served on the Horry County Higher Education Commission for nearly 35 years.

For the first time in Coastal's history, four students won the President's Award for Academic Achievement, given to the graduating senior with the highest cumulative grade point average. Jessica Nicole Brinkman, Mariana Levi, Matthew Scott Miller and Tina Marie Shuppy all earned a 4.0 grade point average for their collegiate work and graduated summa cum laude.

Brinkman, of Erlanger, Ky., earned a double major in biology and marine science. She was an Honors student, and her research focused on the behaviors of dolphins in rehabilitation. She was co-coordinator of Students Taking Active Responsibility (STAR), the university's service organization, and spent the last three spring breaks as a Habitat for Humanity volunteer, helping to build houses in Florida, Louisiana and California. She is applying to veterinary school.

Levi, of Myrtle Beach, had a double major in accounting and finance and was named the Outstanding Student in the accounting program. Her research in the Honors Program focused on employee theft in the hospitality industry. Among Levi's many honor society affiliations and activities, she served the community through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Along with her proficiency in accounting, Levi is fluent in English, Bulgarian and Hebrew. She will intern this summer at the Small Business Development Center. while she finalizes plans for the CPA exam and for graduate school.

Miller, of Huntersville, N.C., majored in finance and was named the Outstanding Student in the finance program. His research in the Honors Program was titled "The Warren Buffet methodology: If it works, how can investors succeed?" Another of his research papers won the graduate student division at a major regional conference. As a Wall Fellow, Miller completed an internship with the Bayer corporation in Sankt Augustin, Germany. He is employed by a start-up investment company called Chanticleer Holdings, Inc., which was founded by a Coastal alumnus.

Shuppy, of Surfside Beach, majored in sociology and was named the Outstanding Student in the sociology program. Her research focused on the homeless. Her internships have been with Helping Hand and Waccamaw Mental Health, and she has been a volunteer with Guardian Ad Litem and Family Outreach of Horry County. Shuppy is a wife and mother of two children, ages 10 and 12, and she plans to work locally in the non-profit sector.

Also among the graduates was Bree Yednock, the first student to earn a Master's of Science degree in coastal marine and wetlands studies.