Joyner Institute director Veronica Davis Gerald, Coastal Carolina University associate professor of English and renowned Gullah educator and scholar, brings both indigenous and academic perspectives to the study of the culture. She was born in Mullins, South Carolina, a descendant of African slaves brought to the Brookgreen and Longwood Rice Plantations in Georgetown County from the grain coast of West Africa in the 17th century. She grew up within the Gullah community, learning about its food, music, lifestyle and history on a daily basis from family members and neighbors. Davis graduated in the first racially desegregated class from Conway High School in Horry County and attended the University of Maryland, Atlanta and Emory Universities. After holding professorships at Illinois State University and Morehouse College, she returned to Conway in 1980 to accept a teaching position at CCU. She has earned various awards including the South Carolina Governors Award in Humanities, the Distinguished Teaching Award at CCU, and the Jean Laney Folk Heritage Award.