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CCU Kenneth E. Swain Scholars named for 2020-2021

October 8, 2020
Alyssa Simpson is a biology major and chemistry minor from Charlotte Hall, Md.Casey Sullivan is a sociology major and a criminology minor from Walpole, Mass.

Two Coastal Carolina University juniors have been selected as Kenneth E. Swain Scholars for the 2020-2021 academic school year. Alyssa Simpson, a biology major and chemistry minor from Charlotte Hall, Md., and Casey Sullivan, a sociology major and a criminology minor from Walpole, Mass., were selected after a completing a written application and interviewing with a committee of department chairs from the Gupta College of Science. They will work alongside Sharon Thompson, Ed.D., professor of public health, who is the faculty adviser of the program.

Students selected as Swain Scholars work with CCU faculty and community agencies to research health-related issues and implement community health programs. Simpson and Sullivan will be researching intimate partner violence in Horry County and how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem.

Along with recently being selected as a Swain Scholar, Simpson is a chemistry laboratory assistant, a member of the CCU’s Honors program, and a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship. Throughout Simpson’s undergraduate career, she has had an interest in researching and implementing studies on hereditary genetic disorders and gene therapy. After earning her bachelor’s degree, Simpson plans to earn a certification as a physician assistant and continue her work to coordinate clinical trials and therapeutic procedures in genetic medicine.

“This year with the Swain Scholars program, I am most looking forward to working closely with Casey and Dr. Thompson on our selected topic,” said Simpson. “I am very interested in getting to interview some of our community members and getting their perspective on our topics. I want to see how community members in different career paths might approach our topic.”

Sullivan’s time at CCU has been full of experiences that have been impactful in her academic development. Last fall, she completed an internship at the New Directions Men’s Homeless Shelter, and during this past spring and summer, she worked as an applied behavioral analysis therapist for children with autism. After graduating from CCU, Sullivan plans to earn her master’s degree and work in a career field involving criminal rehabilitation.

“I’m looking forward to conducting research and furthering my academic career,” said Sullivan. “More importantly, I am hoping that our research, education, and advocacy can positively impact our community.”

Swain Scholars are selected from top undergraduate students in CCU’s sociology, public health, biochemistry, biology, exercise and sport science, and chemistry programs. The students receive scholarships up to $5,000 per year for a total of four semesters, funded by Kenneth E. Swain, a CCU benefactor and retired Myrtle Beach pharmacist who founded the program in 2009. In recent years, the Swain Scholars have presented their research findings at national conferences that focus on meeting community health needs.