About the Students - Coastal Carolina University
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2023 Departmental Awards: About the Students

Students are listed according to their respective college and departmental award. Undergraduate programs are listed after graduate program award recipients.

Conway Medical Center College of Health and Human Performance

Cari Rosiek came to Coastal Carolina University as an undergraduate softball player from Greencastle, Pa., and finished her bachelor’s degree in 1999. She has been employed by the Coastal Carolina Athletic Department since 2003 and is currently the Senior Woman Administrator and Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Enhancement. In 2019, she decided to continue her studies by working on a master’s degree in sport management. She serves on the NCAA Division I Volleyball Selection Committee as well as the Sun Belt Conference Strategic Planning Steering Committee. She was recently appointed to the board of directors for the Grand Strand Miracle League. Rosiek plans on continuing in her current role with the University.



Alexis Coleman is a native of Columbia, S.C. Since arriving at Coastal Carolina in 2019, Coleman has been actively involved in her exercise and sports science major. Throughout her time at CCU, she had research published, and she presented at the SEACSM Conference this spring in Greenville, S.C., on “Mitochondrial and Pulmonary Oxygen Uptake Kinetics Following Moderate Intensity Cycling” with Professor Timothy Rotaruis. Coleman made the President's List six semesters and the Dean's List in Spring 2022. Coleman is the vice president of the Sigma Xi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and a member of the Exercise Science Club and Order of Omega. After graduating from Coastal Carolina University, Coleman plans to further her education by beginning her doctoral degree in physical therapy at High Point University in May 2023.



Diana Hernandez Rodriguez , a native of Myrtle Beach, S.C., is a health administration major. Her exceptional academic performance resulted in her acceptance into the 2023 Dyer Fellowship cohort, and she has consistently made the Dean's List each semester. As part of her fellowship with the Dyer program, she conducted research on the opioid crisis in Horry County while spearheading efforts to enhance access to naloxone on Coastal Carolina University's campus. In her spare time, Hernandez Rodriguez participates as a forward or a flank for the Coastal Carolina's Club Rugby team. After completing her undergraduate degree, she intends to pursue a master's degree in business administration, specializing in health or business analytics.



Madison Candler will graduate with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in December. She was born in Chicago, Ill., and has traveled most of her life as part of a military family. Candler earned her associate of applied science degree in nursing from Horry-Georgetown Technical College prior to coming to Coastal Carolina University. She is working at Conway Medical Center as a registered nurse on the surgical unit. Future plans include continuing to provide direct patient care as a nurse and potentially pursuing graduate school.



Jessica Cedeno is a senior from Conway, S.C., majoring in public health with a concentration in health care administration. She is a member of the HTC Honors College, the Public Health Honors Society (Eta Sigma Gamma), and the Pre-Health Professions Association. Cedeno is interested in helping others understand health issues that could affect their lifestyles and educating them on how to embrace healthy behaviors for themselves and their families. Her keen intellect is reflected in her grades, with Cedeno achieving the President's List two semesters and the Dean's List for four semesters. Due to her academic success and strong work ethic, she was awarded a prestigious Dyer Fellowship. As part of the fellowship, Cedeno is researching childhood obesity in South Carolina public schools with Professor Sherer Royce. She aims to develop a policy that allows schools to work one-on-one with parents and students by providing nutritional and physical activity checkups. The goal is to decrease childhood obesity rates throughout South Carolina. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school and study healthcare administration.



Since Chelsea Jameson arrived at Coastal Carolina University from Richboro, Pa., she has been a very active student. During the last three years, Jameson was the head manager for the Coastal Carolina women’s basketball team. While serving in this role, she was consistently named to the President’s and Dean’s lists. She is a board member of Student Chanticleer Athletic Foundation and a lead sport ambassador with Chanticleer Athletic Foundation. She has also competed with the club soccer team for the past four years. She is planning on pursuing a law degree after graduation.


E. Craig Wall Sr. College of Business Administration

Trenton Friedman, from Surfside Beach, S.C., is earning a master’s degree in accounting. Friedman made the President’s List five semesters and the Dean’s List one semester and was honored as the Accounting Student of the Year while completing his undergraduate accounting degree. He is working on passing all sections of the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam. Upon graduation, Friedman will be moving to Charlotte to pursue a career in public accounting with Elliott Davis, CPAs.



Lina Perugini has been a top-performing student and student-athlete since coming to CCU from Bethlehem, Pa., in 2019. While competing as a member of the volleyball team, she earned a bachelor's degree in public health in three years as a member of the HTC Honors College and then began to pursue her MBA. Perugini was recognized as a Dean’s List and President’s List student, and named to the Commissioner’s List of the Sun Belt Conference. Perugini was president of the Coastal Carolina Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) and a threeyear team captain of the volleyball team. After graduation, she will enroll at Penn State University to study corporate innovation and entrepreneurship and compete as a member of the Penn State volleyball team to take advantage of her COVID year of extra competition.



Carl Curtiss grew up in the Tampa Bay, Fla., area and graduated from Keswick Christian High School. After attending the University of North Florida for two years, Curtiss enlisted in the Army, where he served four years in the 25th Infantry Division and one year in the 82nd Airborne Division. His service also includes a deployment to Afghanistan. After being honorably discharged from the military, Curtiss enrolled at CCU. He has achieved the President’s List for three semesters and the Dean’s List for two semesters. Curtiss is a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma business honor society, a student member of the South Carolina Association of CPAs, and has interned for the past two years at Smith Sapp CPAs in Myrtle Beach. Following graduation, he plans to pursue his CPA licensure and continue working in the public accounting field.



Michael Reiss is originally from Long Island, N.Y., but has lived in Myrtle Beach for eight years. He is an economics major with a minor in actuarial science. He made the President’s List in each of the four semesters he enrolled at Coastal Carolina and is a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma business honor society. After graduating, he plans to work as an actuary in the insurance industry and eventually pursue a master’s degree in economics.



Bailey Ruhf hails from Laceyville, Pa., and attended Wyalusing Valley High School. Ruhf has earned a place on the President’s List for five semesters and the Dean’s List for one semester. She is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma business honor society. This semester, she completed her honors thesis research with Professor Hazel Dadanlar analyzing Southwest Airlines and its strategic managerial and financial decisions. Following graduation, she plans to return home and start her career working with Child Hunger Outreach Partners, a nonprofit focused on eliminating childhood food insecurity.


Originally from Santee, S.C., Erin Malone is a hospitality, resort and tourism management and marketing double major with a minor in information systems technology. She has been an active member of Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, serving in multiple leadership positions, as well as Beta Gamma Sigma business honor society, Eta Sigma Delta hospitality honor society, and the Student Executive Leadership program. In addition to the dedication she has shown to her organizations, she also has shown dedication to her classes, as illustrated by her seven semesters on the President’s List and semester on the Dean’s List. After graduation, she plans to pursue an MBA with a focus in accounting.



Leah Tashian is a senior from New Jersey, double majoring in marketing and management with a concentration in human resources. She has repeatedly been on the Dean’s List and received invitations to join the Student Executive Leaders program and the Order of Omega Greek honor society. Tashian joined Gamma Phi Beta sorority in Fall 2019, serving a term as financial vice president and two terms as academic chairwoman. In Spring 2020, Tashian joined the CoBE Institute. As a junior associate, she completed several consulting projects prior to being promoted to senior associate and ultimately associate director, running all daily operations of the program, together with the executive director. In her time as associate director, Tashian has personally managed 25 peer-led client consulting projects in a variety of industries, organization types, and organization sizes. After graduation, Tashian will join Verizon in their human resources leadership and development program in June. She will continue her education at CCU as an online MBA student.



Originally from Hudson Valley, N.Y., Jessica Nicosia enrolled as a marketing major at the sophomore level after completing two semesters of college credits while in high school. Since arriving at Coastal Carolina, she has consistently achieved the President’s List all six semesters, and was selected to join Beta Gamma Sigma, the international business honor society. Nicosia was an associate with the CoBE Institute and a recipient of the E. Craig Wall Sr. College of Business Board of Visitors Endowed Scholarship. In May 2022, Nicosia began an internship with Garden City Realty as their multimedia marketing intern and has continued this internship through her final two semesters. After graduation, Nicosia will be relocating to Charlotte, N.C., to begin her professional career.

Gupta College of Science

Zach Czoer, originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, joined the Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies program after receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science, specializing in ecosystem restoration, from Ohio State University. As a master’s student, his thesis research focused on investigating sealevel change during the last 3,000 years in the Northern Gulf of Mexico to decipher regional scale variations over centennial to millennial timescales. Czoer received multiple research grants, including the Kathryn D. Sullivan Space Grant from the NASA South Carolina Space Grant Consortium and the Douglas D. Nelson Fellowship. He presented his research at the annual American Geophysical Union Fall Conference and will present at the International Union for Quaternary Research Congress this summer in Rome, Italy. Czoer was elected as the graduate student representative for the Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies program since March 2022. Following graduation, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. to continue research on the sustainability and development of coastal wetland systems.



James Olivencia is from Long Island, N.Y., but has been a resident of Murrells Inlet, S.C., for the past six years. After leaving law school, he received his teaching degree from Coastal Carolina University and has been a teacher for Horry County Schools for the past three years. Olivencia is interested in network security and artificial intelligence and hopes to apply the knowledge of what he learned in the MSIST program in his future career path.



Emma Keiner hails from Longs, S.C., and is an applied mathematics major with a minor in statistics. Since her freshman year, she has been a part of the HTC Honors College, which has provided her with an opportunity to engage in advanced coursework, research, and experiential learning. Keiner is an active member of the Phi Sigma Pi National Honors Fraternity, where she has served as the scholarship committee chair for the past three semesters. In recognition of her leadership skills and academic achievements, she was recently inducted into the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society and the national mathematics society, Pi Mu Epsilon. Keiner has been on the President’s List every semester since she came to Coastal Carolina in 2019. After graduation, she plans to further her education in graduate school with a possible concentration in dynamical systems.


Grant McCager "Cage" Mitchell As a legacy student – both his parents and his sister graduated from CCU, Mitchell has thrived at Coastal Carolina University. He has been on the President’s List every semester and has sought to constantly immerse himself in all aspects of student life. He serves as the founder and president of the Physics and Engineering Club, a Presidential Ambassador, a physics tutor, and a student learning assistant. Prior to landing a paid NASA internship, Mitchell conducted research on engineering ways to passively filter microplastics out of the environment. After travelling through Central America in a converted sprinter van, he plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in environmental engineering.


Tyler Rielly is a local to the Grand Strand, originally living in Steubenville, Ohio, and moving to Myrtle Beach, S.C., in 2014. He is a double major in applied statistics and political science. He has completed capstone research in the analysis of NFL playoff overtime rules using absorbing state Markov chains and the differences between split and straight ticket voting. Rielly was a resident adviser for two years and is completing an internship with the Coastal Carolina Baseball data analytics team. He is also part of the Dyer Fellows, where his research includes ways to increase voter turnout by means of voter registration. After graduation, Rielly plans to go into the field of data analytics.



Anna Tingler is from Hurricane, W.Va. She completed her honors thesis research with Professor Bryan Wakefield studying the synthesis of phidianidine analogs containing modifications in the indole, aromatic, and biaryl ring systems. Tingler is president of Omicron Delta Kappa and the Biochemistry and Chemistry Club. She is also a member of Phi Eta Sigma and the National Society of Leadership and Success. Tingler has been a tutor and lab learning assistant for the chemistry department. After graduation, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences.


Matthew Defreitas is a biology major from Fort Bragg, N.C., and has been on the President’s List at Coastal Carolina every semester since earning his associate degree from Horry- Georgetown Technical College. He has been very active in the Gupta College of Science, participating in multiple clubs related to biology, being selected for the Biology Honors Society, and serving as a lecture assistant for Physics for Life Sciences. Defreitas has also excelled in research outside of the classroom by examining the gene function of a bacteriophage with biology professor Daniel Williams. This research has led to two presentations at scientific conferences with two more conference presentations planned. This research project will serve as the basis for his honors thesis. Defreitas is planning on earning a doctorate in microbiology or molecular biology and pursuing a career in biomedical research.



Auston Hefling is from Northport, Wash., and did not attend any formal schooling before coming to Coastal Carolina University. Instead, he acquired his GED and enlisted in the U.S. Army, working over the course of four years to earn the G.I. Bill, which he has used to help pay for his tuition. Since arriving at CCU, he has been named to the President’s List for all but one semester, when he was on the Dean's List. He is set to graduate summa cum laude. For most of Hefling's time at CCU, he has worked as a computer science department tutor, as well as a student research intern with Los Alamos National Laboratory and Professor William Jones, doing various tasks including neural net, machine learning, and artificial intelligence research. After graduation, Hefling plans to pursue a career in software engineering and related fields.



Julianna Davis (they/she) has made the President's List for nearly every semester attending CCU. They are an engineering science major and applied mathematics minor and will graduate as part of the HTC Honors program. They have assisted with department research for five semesters and hope to attend graduate school in a Ph.D. program and continue doing research in a national lab, focusing on renewable energy and sustainability. Davis also plans on presenting their most recent work in radiation transport simulation to the American Nuclear Society Student Conference in 2023.



Elyssa Sexton is from Lancaster, S.C., and has spent her time at Coastal Carolina pursuing a B.S. in information systems with a minor in graphic design. She was dedicated to her academics, with five semesters on the President’s List and three on the Dean’s List. She has been a member of the international honor society Upsilon Pi Epsilon since 2021. Sexton was also actively involved on campus, spending three years working as an Orientation Leader, serving two years as a building manager in the student union, and spending her senior year as a resident adviser in Eaglin Hall. Upon graduation, she plans to move to Nashville, Tenn., to begin her career as a consultant at Capgemini.



Breanna Thornell hails from Andrews, S.C., and attended Andrews High School, where she graduated salutatorian of her class. While attending Coastal Carolina as an information technology major, she has earned a spot on the President’s List for four semesters and a spot on the Dean’s List for one semester. Thornell is enrolled in the Degree in Three program, and she is attending Coastal Carolina on the Presidential Scholarship and the S.C. Palmetto Fellows Scholarship. She will be graduating with summa cum laude honors in May. In her senior capstone course, she worked with two fellow students to implement a Web Stack on Alpine Linux. Upon graduation, Thornell plans to pursue a career in web development.



Tiffani McNeil hails from Guston, Ky., and is graduating as a double major in marine science and languages and intercultural studies. Last year, she was awarded a scholarship to complete a semester abroad in Taipei, Taiwan. McNeil is completing her second student research project with Professor Lauren Stefaniak. Her work includes DNA barcoding of ascidian samples from Belize and dissection of the samples under a microscope. She has presented her research at the National Benthic Ecology Conference and the CCU Research Symposium. After graduation, she will be employed as a lab technician applying her molecular taxonomy skills in the medical field. Her long-term goal is to work overseas, combining both her Mandarin Chinese skills and her marine molecular ecology skills.



Nikki Boon is from Dronten, a town in the Netherlands. Boon is a psychology major with a behavioral neuroscience concentration and a minor in applied mathematics. She is also a member of the CCU track and field/cross country team. She has worked as a research assistant with Professor Ryan Yoder, studying the effects of early hypoxia on the exploratory movements of adult leopard geckos. Her work on this project resulted in presentations at the CCU Undergraduate Research Competition, the Midwestern Psychological Association, and the Society for Neuroscience. Boon was named to the President’s List seven times during her studies at CCU. After graduation, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience. 


HTC Honors College and Center for Interdisciplinary Studies

Katelyn Cilino is from Myrtle Beach, S.C., and is graduating summa cum laude earning a bachelor’s degree in sustainability and coastal resilience with a concentration in science and ecosystems and a minor in environmental science. During her time at CCU, Cilino has been an EcoRep for Sustain Coastal, a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma, founding president of the Sustainability Club (2022–2023) and served on the Green Team for Sustain Coastal. She was a resident adviser (2020–2022) as well as an orientation leader (2021). Her accomplishments include the President’s List (2019–2022), serving as a Dyer Fellow (2023), and RA Mentor of the Year (2022). She is a recipient of the Dean’s Excellence Scholarship, CCU Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship, South Carolina LIFE Scholarship and South Carolina Scholars Award. Cilino is applying for a variety of careers like sustainability coordinator or consultant. She plans to apply for her teaching certification upon graduation to become a high school science teacher. Her goal is to become president of sustainability operations for a business and/or start her own company.


Brianne Mack-Bingham hails from Frankfort, Ky., and is graduating with a double major in political science and women’s and gender studies. While at Coastal Carolina University, she has been on the President’s List and a member of the Philosophy Honors Society and Triota Honors Society. Mack-Bingham was also a Jackson Scholar, President’s Scholar, and a United Nations RISE (Resilience, Innovation and Sustainability through Education) intern. Following graduation, she will be working in Ketchikan, Alaska, for a local business until the fall.


Spadoni College of Education and Social Sciences

Kristy Floyd is a Marine Corps veteran from Crossville, Tenn., and a graduate of Cumberland County High School. She completed her Ph.D. research in curriculum, instruction, and assessment with Professor Suzanne Horn, studying the relationship between professional capital, adaptability, and job satisfaction of secondary science teachers. Floyd is a member of Kappa Delta Pi and was the inaugural winner of Coastal Carolina University's 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition. She represented CCU at the 3MT Conference of Southern Graduate Schools. She plans to continue teaching high school science, publishing her ongoing research, and designing online science courses.



John Smith is a native of Cheraw, S.C., and is working on his fourth college degree. Upon graduating from Cheraw High School, he completed a B.S. in physics from Francis Marion University in 2007, then earned a M.S. in meteorology in 2010 from Florida State University. For over 12 years, Smith worked professionally as a broadcast meteorologist in Albuquerque, N.M., and Myrtle Beach, S.C. He returned to Francis Marion University to complete a B.S. in mathematics in 2022. Over the course of his academic career, Smith has been inducted into several academic honor societies, including Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Pi Sigma, Kappa Mu Epsilon, and Kappa Delta Pi. Upon graduation from CCU, Smith plans to serve as a high school math teacher in Horry County.


Kimberlyn Mendez is originally from Kinston, N.C., but calls Conway, S.C., home. She received her undergraduate degree in special education from East Carolina University. Mendez has been nominated as the building-level Teacher of the Year three times and earned her National Board Certification while working with Horry County Schools. Mendez is the instructional coach for Aynor High School. Upon graduating, Mendez plans to continue her work with the educational leadership team of Aynor High School.



Originally from Chicago, Ill., Angélica Rainwater is a first-grade Spanish language immersion teacher in Florence, S.C., and was voted teacher of the year in 2021. She earned her Bachelor of Science in early childhood education from Francis Marion University, where she was awarded the Thomas W. Sills Memorial Award in Early Childhood Education. She decided to pursue a master’s degree in instructional technology at CCU to prioritize the use of technology in education. At CCU, she also earned a certificate in online teaching and training. After graduation, she plans to continue designing technology-rich lessons in math, science, and social studies that empower, engage, and prepare students.



Chris Bonanny is originally from Wilkes Barre, Pa., and attended high school at Milton Hershey School, where they graduated as a member of the National Honor Society in 2016. They completed a Bachelor of Science in elementary and special education with a minor in psychology at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, graduating summa cum laude in 2020. Bonanny began working as a special education teacher in 2020 and is employed with Horry County Schools. They plan to pursue further study towards a doctoral degree in education after graduating.


Jessica Basyari, originally from Caledonia, Miss., was a 2015 magna cum laude graduate in fine arts from Mississippi State University, where she was a studentathlete on the track and field and cross country teams as well as a member of the Shackouls Honors College. She was awarded both the Bulldog Honor Roll in 2014 and the SEC Academic-Athletic Honor Roll for three years consecutively, as well as SEC Freshman Academic Excellence in 2012. In addition, she was selected by MSU coaches to represent their female student-athletes on the SEC Track and Field Community Service Team for exceptional service efforts.



Hannah Truman hails from Little River, S.C. Truman has completed her Associate of Science degree and is now completing her bachelor's degree in anthropology and geography at Coastal Carolina University. She is a member of the Anthropology and Geography Club. Truman will be attending the Johns Island Field School in the summer of 2023, in which she will work on the preservation of historic African American sites, and will be attending Clemson’s Historic Preservation master's program in the fall of 2023. She received a fellowship from Clemson for the program. Truman has achieved the President’s List for four semesters and the Dean’s List for four semesters. Her research has focused on the preservation of Horry County, and she has worked with the Horry County Historic Preservation Commission to document grave sites. Truman has earned multiple scholarships, including S.C. Life Scholarship, Federal SEOG, and Coastal Transfer Scholar Award.



Jaqueline Badillo was born in Los Angeles, Calif. She moved to Myrtle Beach, S.C., in 2013 and is a Carolina Forest High School graduate. She joined the South Carolina Army National Guard after high school and decided to attend CCU in Fall 2019. She has been on the Dean's List for five consecutive semesters and the President’s List for two consecutive semesters. She is a part of the Army ROTC program, Social Justice Club, and Sociology/Criminology Club and is actively involved in her community as a volunteer soccer coach at Socastee High School.



Gabriella Dintino, from Powhatan, Va., will graduate from CCU with a Bachelor of Arts in early childhood education. She is a member of the Chi Omega Fraternity and serves as leader of the Friend’s Club at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Conway. A Degree in Three student, Dintino received the Presidential Scholarship and has been recognized as a member of the President’s List every semester since arriving at CCU. She has also served as a mentor in the Dalton and Linda Floyd Family Mentoring Program. After graduation, Dintino will pursue her teaching career in Horry County Schools. She plans to pursue her master’s degree in language and literacy.


Alexa Passamonti is from Toms River, N.J., and came to CCU in 2019. She has been in the elementary education program since her junior year of college. She has achieved Dean’s List in all semesters except one in which she earned President’s List. She has been a part of Alpha Xi Delta since her first semester and has held a leadership position while being a member. Passamonti was inducted into the Kappa Delta Pi fraternity, an education honors society. After graduation, she plans on moving to St. Augustine Beach, Fla., and taking a second grade position in a local elementary school while pursuing a master’s degree.


Coming from Gaffney, S.C., Mary Morgan came to Coastal Carolina with the goal in mind of earning her degree in middle level education and going on to become a math and science middle school teacher. She would do so with high academic standing, making the President’s List for seven semesters during her studies. Morgan did all of this while also holding executive positions in both Teaching Fellows and the Coastal Elasmobranch Society. She plans on teaching seventh and eighth grade math in Horry County Schools.



Callie Bryant is from Marion, S.C., and is a South Carolina Teaching Fellow. Bryant has been a part of the South Carolina Army National Guard, Physical Education Teacher Education Club, and Reserve Officer Training Corps. She has made the Dean’s List for three semesters and the President’s List for four semesters. After graduation, Bryant will be teaching in Marion County School District in her hometown at North Mullins Primary School and McCormick Elementary School. She also will be continuing her military service as an engineer officer in the North Carolina Army National Guard.


Margaret Shoop, from Massillon, Ohio, will be graduating from CCU with a Bachelor of Science in marine science, a Bachelor of Arts in political science, a Bachelor of Arts in languages and intercultural studies, a minor in Asian studies, and a minor in applied mathematics. Shoop was the recipient of the Taiwanese Ministry of Education Huayu Enrichment Scholarship for Chinese language study in Taiwan. Shoop was also an Intercultural Language Resource Center Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Fellow, as well as a Jackson Scholar through the Jackson Family Center for Ethics and Values. Following graduation, Shoop will be attending graduate school for energy and environmental policy. 


Adonya Pertell hails from North Myrtle Beach, S.C. While at Coastal Carolina, she was named to the President's List seven semester and the Dean’s List one semester. Pertell was a Research Fellow with the Spadoni College of Education and Social Sciences in 2021-2022. She was named the 2022 Carolina Undergraduate Social Science Symposium winner for her research. Pertell has been part of the Jackson Scholars program’s 2021-2023 cohort and is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, Triota Honor Society, the Incarcerated V.O.I.C.E Advisory Board, and the HTC Honors College. Pertell’s honors thesis, titled “Student Survival: Sleep and Social Parameters During a Pandemic,” was presented at the 2021 Undergraduate Research Competition. During her time at Coastal, she was heavily involved in many clubs and organizations, including being co-president of Social Justice Club, a member of the Sociology and Criminology Club, Women of Color, and NAACP. After graduation, Pertell plans to continue her education in hopes of becoming a lawyer or professor of law.



Teresa Antunes is a special education major, originally from Fairfield, N.J. She will be graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in special education (multi-categorical). She is a member of Council for Exceptional Children, where she served as secretary from 2022– 2023. She is also a member and vice president of Student-South Carolina Education Association. Antunes was awarded the Coastal Choice academic scholarship for all four years that she attended the University and the TEACH Grant for the past two years. She has been recognized on the Dean’s List for one semester and has been on President’s List for five semesters. After graduation, Antunes will pursue her teaching career in New Jersey. Once getting settled, she will continue her education towards becoming a board-certified behavior analyst.


Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts

Hailing from London, United Kingdom, Oscar McConnell arrived at Coastal Carolina University in Fall 2021 and has since achieved the Dean’s List for three semesters and the President’s List for one semester. McConnell represented the Coastal Carolina men’s soccer team and was named to the All- Conference USA team. His capstone research thesis focused on the persuasion factors that influence steroid use in gyms. After graduation, McConnell plans to begin a career in sales.



Richard Anderson was raised in Detroit, Mich., and graduated from CCU with a B.A. in political science with a focus in global politics. His interdisciplinary graduate studies combine academic perspectives from both political science and history. Anderson recently presented his paper, “A Vision of a Multipolar World: Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao,” at the South Carolina Political Science Association conference. Beyond his studies, Anderson actively participates in the CCU men’s club rugby team. After receiving his master’s degree, Anderson plans to pursue a doctorate and hopes to become a Foreign Service Officer.


Dani Gainey hails from Darlington, S.C., and received a Bachelor of Music in commercial music from Anderson University. While at CCU, she has been named to the President's List each of her four semesters. After graduating, Gainey plans to expand upon her experiences as a graduate teaching associate and continue mentoring students within the industry of music technology.



Since joining CCU’s Master of Arts in Writing program in the fall of 2021, Emma Streberger has taught several sections of first-year composition, completed an internship as a digital humanities writer and editor for the Collaborative Organization for Virtual Education, served as the creative nonfiction assistant editor for Waccamaw, and represented the MAW program at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference. This fall, Streberger will be joining the writing, rhetorics, and literacies doctoral program at Arizona State University, where she has been awarded a University Graduate Fellowship and teaching appointment. 



Ava Starnes, from Florence, S.C., is earning a Bachelor of Arts in art history and a B.F.A. in visual art. During her four years at CCU, she has been a regular on the President’s and Dean’s lists, was a recipient of the Martha Baker Thomas Endowed Scholarship, was treasurer of CHROMA, and worked on the Rebecca Randall Bryan Art Gallery staff. She has exhibited her work in the PeeDee Regional Art Competition, CCU’s first and second annual juried student exhibitions, and the Coastal Carolina Cube Galleries. Starnes’ work was published in the 2022 Archarios Literary Art Magazine. She was commissioned by Conway Downtown Alive to design and execute a mural on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Laurel Street. Following graduation, Starnes plans to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in painting.



Autumn Sheree Abigail Belvin is from Honolulu, Hawaii. At CCU, she has achieved the Dean’s List, worked as a studio monitor and front office support person for the Department of Visual Arts, and was active in CHROMA. Belvin excels at metal work, and she recently created a copper piece titled "Embrace, a metal lei," which is designed to thank and acknowledge her upbringing and welcome a new future. After graduation, Belvin plans to pursue a graduate degree.


A communication major with a concentration in interactive journalism and a minor in marketing, Dyneira Brown is from Round O, S.C. During her time at Coastal Carolina University, Brown served as captain of the Chanticleer Regiment colorguard, a peer leader for University Advising, a member of the Edwards Research Fellows, and a member of the Edwards Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Student Advisory Committee. In addition, Brown served as a reporter for The Chanticleer newspaper, a writing intern for Her Campus Media, and a show host for WCCU Radio. Brown is a part of the HTC Honors program and has been named to the President’s and Dean’s Lists for several semesters. She received the Teal Scholar Award and the Edwards Board of Visitors Annual Scholarship. Brown plans to pursue a graduate degree in journalism and eventually have a career in the media field.



Hailing from Bristol, N.H., Leslie Shattuck is graduating from CCU with a degree in digital culture and design with a film and production studies minor, funded by both a Chanticleer Grant and a Pell Grant. Every semester, she's made either the Dean's List or the President's List and, in addition to her studies, has worked as the manager of the men's club volleyball team. She has also worked as a social media and design intern for the English department and DCD program. After graduation, Shattuck plans to pursue a career in the film industry.



With a concentration in composition, rhetoric, and linguistics, Evelyn Scott has explored and contributed to various discourses, including disability studies and gender studies, to amplify the voices of marginalized communities. Furthermore, as a writer for the English Corner, she’s interviewed countless faculty, students, and alums and shared their unique experiences. Upon graduation, she aims to connect with others, get their stories out there, and contribute some of her own.



Tiera Rivers transferred to CCU from her hometown of Lexington, S.C., in 2020. Rivers achieved the President’s List for two semesters, the Dean’s List for three semesters, and has earned an Edwards Board of Visitors Annual Scholarship and a Coastal Carolina University Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship. As the art director of The Chanticleer newspaper since Fall 2022, Rivers determines the artistic elements and overall design layout prior to publication. Upon graduation, she plans to start her graphic design career through professional internships by using the skills she learned during her time at the University.



Valentina Bermejo is originally from Myrtle Beach, S.C. At Coastal Carolina, she has studied history and language and intercultural studies with a concentration in Hispanic studies (double major). She is a member of Phi Alpha Theta and Sigma Delta Pi. She has made the President’s List every semester and received awards for Spanish Student of the Year and History Senior Student of the Year. She is a Teal Scholar and receives a work-study scholarship for her time as a tutor at the Intercultural Language Resource Center. Upon graduation, she plans to apply her passion and commitment for social justice and advocacy by attending attend law school.



Kristian Nesheim, from Ashburn, Va., is the Intelligence and Security Studies Department Senior of the Year. A student who has regularly made the President’s List and the Dean’s List, Nesheim also worked with a faculty member on a research project that he presented at an international-level intelligence conference. Nesheim serves as a member of the executive board of the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief and as a member of the Women in Intelligence and National Security student organization. Outside of the department, Nesheim has assisted freshmen students by serving as a Peer Leader. After graduation, Nesheim hopes to pursue a career in the U.S. intelligence community.



Ola Louisa Watson lives in Pawleys Island, S.C. Majoring in interdisciplinary studies, she has combined coursework in sociology, political science, and history. Watson is a member of Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society, and she has been on the President’s List in each of her full-time semesters. Following graduation, Watson is considering pursuing a master’s degree in liberal studies and plans to continue her work as an advocate for local human services nonprofit organizations. 



Jordan Roballo is from the small town of Waseca, Minn. She is an interdisciplinary studies major, concentrating in marine biology and conservation. She was a member of Coastal Sea Turtle Club during her first two years at Coastal Carolina University and has assisted Professor Derek Crane in data analysis on a research project. Roballo earned a place on the Dean’s List four times, the President’s List twice, and, because of her outstanding academic achievement, has received the Coastal Scholar Award throughout her time at Coastal Carolina. She will be graduating magna cum laude. After graduation, she will intern with Sharklife Conservation Group in Sodwana Bay, South Africa, and has plans to work with AIS as a fisheries observer before attending graduate school.



Hailing from Massillon, Ohio, Megan Shoop is a triple major in languages and intercultural studies, marine science, and political science, with minors in Asian studies and applied mathematics. This May, she will earn a B.A. in languages and intercultural studies with focus on Mandarin Chinese and Arabic. Among her accomplishments in language study, Shoop has received two prestigious international scholarships for Chinese, completed a semester in Taiwan, served as a Coastal Intelligence Brief and Intercultural Languages Resource Center fellow, and worked as a Chinese tutor. Shoop plans to attend graduate school with a specialty where she can apply all of her abilities and interests.


Samuel Hickman, a Conway, S.C. native, is finishing his bachelor of arts degree in commercial music and jazz. Over the course of his studies, he has been in several Coastal Carolina music ensembles, including the jazz combo, jazz big band, and world percussion ensemble. Hickman has appeared on the President’s List and the Dean’s List while at Coastal Carolina, as well as earning a President’s Scholar Award and South Carolina Life Scholarship Award. After graduation, Hickman plans to continue his studies at the graduate level.



A music education major from La Plata, Md., Joshua Hackley has remained on the President’s List since his first semester at CCU. He has held many leadership positions within the music department, including student director of choirs, vice president of CCU Choirs, treasurer of CCU NAfME, choral librarian, and student assistant. He is also involved in many collegiate and professional organizations, including the Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Society, the National Association for Music Education, and the American Choral Directors Association. He also taught music at the Coastal Carolina Early Childhood Development and Literacy Center. After graduation, Hackley will complete a summer internship at the renowned Interlochen Arts Camp in Interlochen, Mich., as an ensemble librarian, and will begin his career teaching high school choir in August.



James "Jim" Lundie embodies the ideals of higher education — exploring and opening one’s mind to new ideas. A USAF combat veteran, he has traveled and read broadly. He has regularly attended Philosophy Club events and continues conversations about philosophy at every opportunity with classmates, professors, and friends. As a sociology minor, he participated in community programs with faculty in that department. After graduation, he wants to continue to explore ideas, broaden his mind, and be an active member of the intellectual community.



Cooper McGill hails from Grovetown, Ga. Since arriving at CCU, McGill has been an instrumental leader of and participant in the Inclusive Theatre Group, a student organization on campus that offers opportunities for people with diverse abilities to participate in theatre activities. In addition, he has volunteered for Project Lighthouse, a community organization that advocates to end youth homelessness in Horry County. McGill also has participated with Baptist Collegiate Ministry and BUD Ministries, and he has spent the last several years as a resident adviser with Campus Housing. From 2019–2020, McGill proudly served as the college mascot, Chauncey the Chanticleer, including donning the teal feathers several times a week to lift school spirit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following graduation, he plans to move to New York City and pursue his dreams in theatre, television, and film.



Alexa Castro-Giovanni hails from West End, N.C. She has been a part of many organizations in her time at Coastal Carolina University, including Tap Club, Upstage, Dance Club, and Alpha Psi Omega. Castro-Giovanni works annually with the Out of the Darkness Walk, which advocates for breaking the mental health stigmas. This year, Castro-Giovanni was the initiator and director for the Discovery Series performances of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night- Time, an entirely student-led production that explored the sensory experiences of a neuro-divergent individual. After graduation, she plans to pursue a professional apprenticeship program with a regional theatre company.



Jay Orcutt, from Southampton, Mass., is earning his B.F.A. in visual communication design. In his four years at CCU, he achieved Dean’s List, placed first in a juried showcase, and was president of CHROMA, the University’s art and design organization. During Summer 2022, Orcutt was selected for a competitive internship at High Alpha Innovation and also explored the rich culture of Italy during Coastal Carolina’s Maymester study abroad program at Arezzo’s Accademia dell’Arte. Based on a competitive concept and design process, Orcutt was selected to represent the Edwards College at an international conference in Mainz, Germany. After graduation, Orcutt intends to pursue a design career in the corporate cosmetic industry.

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