Alumni Class Notes - Coastal Carolina University
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Tony Cox has been named vice chairman of the South Carolina Department of Transportation. He is an executive vice president of real estate at Burroughs & Chapin in Myrtle Beach.

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Tim Perkins has retired from coaching after working 33 years as an assistant football coach at Marion High School. His background includes serving as the athletic director for Marion School District One. He also serves as the Marion County School District transportation supervisor.

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Pam Goecke Kemp has opened All Suds, a soap-making and retail shop in Fayetteville, Ga. She specializes in artisan soaps, lotions and bath products.

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Jay Kirby has been promoted to vice president of public affairs at Santee Cooper Cooperative in Kingstree, S.C.

Andy Rosenbaum was recognized as the employee of the quarter for the Department of the Navy Office of the General Counsel. He is a civilian paralegal managing the command’s Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act programs at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic in North Charleston, S.C.

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Blake Kline has opened Atlantic Coast Pain Specialists in Florence, S.C., which is a branch of his

Conway office. His background includes working at Florence Neurosurgery and Spine, and as chief of anesthesiology at Carolinas Hospital System.

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Kirk Kirkland has been named a real estate broker at Charleston Metro Homes Real Estate. His background includes more than 25 years in the yacht brokerage business.

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Mandy Gardill Dunlap recently celebrated her 20th anniversary at RE/MAX Southern Shores. During her career, she has been a Top 10 RE/MAX agent in the Carolinas, RE/MAX Southern Shores No. 1 sales agent for multiple years, inducted into the RE/MAX Hall of Fame, and honored with the RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jim R. Rogers’ one-act play, Geriatric Monologues, was selected for the 2019 Piccolo Spoleto in Charleston, S.C. The performances are scheduled for May 25 and 26, and June 1 and 2 at the Threshold Repertory Theatre. The play is based on Rogers’ books of poetry, Starts and Stops Along the Way and Looking Around.

Chris Thomas is a psychology instructor at Florence-Darlington Technical College in Hartsville, S.C.

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Steve Childers was recently promoted to assistant principal at Sedgefield Middle School in Goose Creek, S.C. He and his wife, Nikki are expecting a baby in June.

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Mike Chambers has been promoted to executive vice president chief banking officer at Partners Bank of California. A founding employee and investor of Partners Bank, he has worked there for 11 years, most recently as senior vice president.

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Greg Ackerman has been named a senior manager at Webster Rogers LLP, an accounting and consulting firm. Based in Myrtle Beach, he specializes in performing financial audits and reviews of various types of companies and organizations across multiple industry lines. Ackerman also is a member of CCU’s HTC Honors College and Center for Interdisciplinary Studies board of visitors.

James Smith is the system director of financial aid reporting and reconciliation at Lone Star College in Houston, Texas.

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Benjamin Hill, an associate professor of clinical neuropsychology at the University of South Alabama, is a fellow at the National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN), where he was elected to the board of directors. In 2017, he earned the NAN’s Early Career Award, which is given to individuals who make substantial scholarly contributions to the field of neuropsychology within 10 years of receiving their doctoral degree. Hill earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Louisiana State University in 2008.

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Eric Bennett is an analyst with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality in the Underground Storage Tank/Leaking Underground Storage Tank program. He previously was the acting minerals administrator for the U.S. Forest Service at Boise National Forest working out of the Idaho City Ranger District.

Pattie Dyson Carmichael has been named the teacher of the year at Aynor Elementary School in Aynor, S.C. She has been teaching in the school’s child development area for 21 years.

Rob Spino has been named teacher of the year at Forestbrook Elementary School in Myrtle Beach, where he has taught for nine years. He teaches physical education. Spino also is a teaching associate at CCU.

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Kevin Cox has been promoted to sales supervisor for HTC’s Business Services Department. He also was re-elected to the CCU Alumni Association board of directors.

Christopher St. John recently earned a Ph.D. in financial and retirement planning from the American College of Financial Services. He also earned an MBA from CCU and a master’s degree in financial services from the American College. In addition, he has earned more than nine key financial designations including: Certified Financial Planner™, Chartered Financial Consultant®, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™, Chartered Advisor for Senior Living™, Chartered Life Underwriter®, Certified Fraud Examiner, Accredited Estate Planner®, and Chartered Advisor of Philanthropy. He also serves on the Coastal Educational Foundation board of directors, Wall College of Business board of visitors, Chanticleer Athletic Foundation board of directors, and the Department of Finance and Economics advisory board.

Ryan White and his wife, Tracy, welcomed their first child, Harrelson Elizabeth White, on Jan. 27, 2019. He owns Ryan White Agency, which offers products from the Horace Mann Insurance Company. Based in Conway, he has been providing insurance and financial services to educators in Horry County for the last 18 years.

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Meredith Sherman Delcamp has been named a partner at Shutts & Bowen LLP, a full-service business law firm with offices throughout Florida. She works in the business litigation practice group in its Tampa office. Delcamp earned a certificate in environmental law from Tulane University Law School, where she also earned a juris doctor degree.

Brian Lowe is senior promoter for Live Nation Clubs & Theaters Midwest. His 17-year career within House of Blues Entertainment/Live Nation Clubs & Theaters began in January 2002 with an internship during his senior year at CCU. He lives in Lakewood, Ohio, with his wife, Britny, and 2-year-old son, Archie.

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Amanda Phillips has been promoted to vice president at CresCom Bank in Litchfield, S.C. She originates mortgage loans in Litchfield/Pawleys Island and surrounding areas.

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Patricia Collins Frady is a senior manager at Heath, Fania and Co. PC in Surfside Beach. She is a certified public accountant and a master analyst in financial forensics.

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Jason Cox has been named the new athletics director at Conway High School in Conway, S.C. He worked the last 10 years at Green Sea Floyds Middle and High School, including five years as its athletics director.

Anne-Marie D’Onofrio is an associate technical editor/report administrator for the Integrated Air Services team of Weston Solutions Inc., based in West Chester, Pa. Weston provides environmental and infrastructure support services to federal, state and local government, and industrial, utility and commercial clients.

Jae Hatchett is vice president of business development and operations manager at Oneliance Corporation in Charlotte, N.C. He also owns three Two Scoops Homemade Creamery locations in the Charlotte area. His daughter was born in March 2018.

Staff Sgt. Claudia Witte McNally represented Fort Bragg when she ran in the 2018 Army Ten-Miler on Oct. 7 in Washington, D.C. The psychological operations specialist was recently accepted in the Army’s Officer Candidate School.

Benjamin Staples is included in The State’s 20 under 40 class for 2019. He is an assistant vice president at Ameris Bank. According to reports, the class members use their talents and energy to excel in their professions and to push the Midlands to greater heights.

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Ryan Belcastro and Kamee Locke were married on Dec. 1 in Larned, Kan. He is the warehouse manager of Pumps and Controls in Denver, Colo.

Stacie Bowie has been named vice president of finance and administration at Lander University in Greenwood, S.C. She most recently served as a senior vice president of public finance with Stephens Inc., an independent financial services firm.

Derrick Wise is the founder of the Wise Education Foundation, based in Columbia, S.C. Named for Wise’s parents, Rev. Dr. Patrick and Mablean Evans Wise, the foundation offers scholarships to help deserving individuals pursue higher education. Justin Pichey is the foundation’s director of public relations. Harry Titus ’16 serves on the organization’s board of directors. Since the foundation started in 2014, it has awarded 20 scholarships. For more information, visit

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Zack Byrd has been named an assistant women’s golf coach at the University of Mississippi. He previously held a similar position at Colorado State University.

Alexis Skelley Elliott is therapist/owner of Diabetes and Obesity Treatment Strategies in Myrtle Beach. She also is a behavioral health coach at the Diabetes Wellness Council. She is a licensed clinical social worker, a certified diabetes educator and a health education specialist. Elliott earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Ashley Moore Hinch has been named teacher of the year at Conway High School in Conway. She teaches AP environmental science to juniors and seniors, and biology to college prep and honors sophomores.

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Catherine Frederick earned a Ph.D. in marine bio-resources from the University of Maine in December 2018. She lives in Bangor, Maine.

Ciera Young has published her first book, Cheers to Him, which recounts the journey of a 29-year-old woman who spent years of getting relationships wrong and dealing with the consequences. Young also is the owner of fanCEE, a photography and visual content business.

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Amy Haggard is the new assistant director of alumni and student engagement for the Honors, Scholars and Fellows House at Florida State University.

Lauren Moore is a real estate attorney at Harvey & Vallini LLC. She earned a juris doctor degree from the Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville. Moore lives in Murrells Inlet.

Tyler Parker is a senior manager of premium partnerships for the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center.

Rob Shields, the owner of NautiFish Rum Bar at the Lake of the Ozarks, has been recognized as a Rising Star under the age of 40 by Lake Lifestyles magazine. In addition, he recently opened Missouri Grown ReLeaF and is striving to become the largest vertically-integrated medical/recreational marijuana company in Missouri. The company’s goal is to help people in need, decrease opioid abuse and educate the community on the health benefits of cannabis.

Matthew Tremaine is the new installation manager at IZON Golf, a leader in GPS technology for the golf industry. Before joining IZON Golf, he was a project manager at Clear Channel Outdoor. Tremaine lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., and is pursuing a master’s degree in software engineering at Arizona State University.

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Eric Heiken is the digital marketing manager at Condo-World Resort Properties in North Myrtle Beach.

Gloria Kleich is an accounts payable accountant at The Brandon Agency, a leading brand strategist agency based in Myrtle Beach.

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Josh Brown has been named teacher of the year at Midland Elementary School in Galivants Ferry, S.C., where he teaches fifth-grade social studies and math.

Kevin Colyer and Kristen Vanneman were married at Atalaya Castle at Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet on July 13, 2018. Their reception was held at The Hall at St. John’s. They live in The Market Common in Myrtle Beach.

John Paribello and Sadie Giza ’14 were engaged in New York City. Their wedding date is Oct. 12, 2019. While at CCU, she was a founding member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority, and he was a member of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.

Nathan Rood is the new SEO digital marketing manager with InterCoastal Net Designs in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.

Sebastian Soderberg, professional golfer, will be playing on the European Tour in 2019. He finished fifth on the European Challenge Tour’s order of merit, to be one of 15 players to graduate to Europe’s top circuit. Soderberg is No. 309 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

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Sadie Giza and John Paribello ’13 were engaged in New York City. Their wedding date is Oct. 12, 2019. While at CCU, she was a founding member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority, and he was a member of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.

Lauren Gross is engaged to John McCants Jr. They plan to get married Nov. 16 at Belin Memorial United Methodist Church in Murrells Inlet. She is a second-grade teacher at Seaside Elementary School in Murrells Inlet.

Megan Harmon has been named teacher of the year at Kingston Elementary School in Conway.

Abby Merrell, an art teacher at Conway Middle School, has been named the school’s teacher of the year.

Kara Metzner and Nicholas Ciaston ’16 were married in CCU’s Lackey Chapel on Oct. 27, 2018. Kara, who also earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from CCU in 2016, is a first-grade teacher at Carolina Forest Elementary School, and Nicholas is an engineer at the Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center Hotel. They live in Conway.

Alex Palumbo is a photographer and cinematographer in Long Island, N.Y. Learn more at

T’ara Smith is the project manager for Beyond Type 2, a resource website for those impacted by Type 2 diabetes. She earned a master’s degree in nutrition education from American University in Washington, D.C.

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Lauren Allen graduated from the American University Washington College of Law in May 2019. She has accepted an associate position at Diaz Reus & Targ in Miami, Fla., following completion of the bar exam in July 2019.

Megan Gooch works for First Command Financial Services in Highland Falls, N.Y.

De’Angelo Henderson is a running back with the NFL’s New York Jets. He previously played with the Denver Broncos, who drafted him in the sixth round of 2017 NFL Draft.

Ali Rogers Huggins has been named teacher of the year at East Elementary School in Dillon, S.C.

Tonisha Lee is pursuing a master’s degree at Winthrop University.

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Nicholas Ciaston and Kara Metzner ’14 were married in CCU’s Lackey Chapel on Oct. 27, 2018. Kara, who also earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from CCU in 2016, is a first-grade teacher at Carolina Forest Elementary School, and Nicholas is an engineer at the Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center Hotel. They live in Conway.

Ryan Faust and Emilye Rybarczyk, who were engaged March 29, 2019, plan to get married in May 2020 in Greenville, S.C. They met during their sophomore year at CCU.

Samantha McKenzie is pursuing a master’s degree in social work at the University of South Carolina. She is doing her field placement in the crisis unit at Three Rivers Behavioral Health.

Dana Radford and Eric Bennett were married Sept. 1, 2018, in Marion, S.C. She is a health and fitness coordinator at Verizon in Wilmington, N.C., where the couple lives. She also is pursuing a master’s degree from New York Chiropractic College, and previously served in the U.S. Army from 2005 through 2012.

Erica Robles is a senior registered behavior technician at SOS Health Care, where she works with special needs children.

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Marquay Byrd is a Navy cryptologic warfare officer with Cryptologic Warfare Activity 66 in Fort Meade, Md.

Theresa Calabrese has been hired as a graphic designer at Jack Porter, a multidisciplinary design group in Greenville, S.C. She previously worked at T2H Advertising in Myrtle Beach.

Jonathan Krause has been named a customer service representative at CresCom Bank. He works at the Meeting Street branch in Charleston, S.C.

Casey Schroeder has opened Clean Eatz Café in Columbus, Ohio. He is also is a catcher for the Birmingham Barons, the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.

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Brandon Brown is the marketing director for his family-run NASCAR Xfinity Series operation, Brandonbilt Motorsports.

Lucas Byrd is a part-time fitness specialist and a certified personal trainer at the McLeod Health & Fitness Center in Florence, S.C. He earned his personal training certification from the American College of Sports Medicine in August 2018.

Matthew Perdue is an economics teacher at Carolina Forest High School in Myrtle Beach.

Connor Wrightson was recently named an associate of sales and leasing at Avison Young, a full-service commercial real estate services firm. He specializes in office/flex space leasing. His responsibilities include both tenant and landlord representation services for corporate and private organizations throughout the Washington, D.C., metro area.

Connor Wrightson

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Alumnus of the Year

Christy Smith Everett

Christy Smith Everett Christy Smith Everett ’08

Christy Smith Everett, chief operations officer of Grand Strand Water & Sewer (GSWSA), earned an MBA from Coastal Carolina University in 2008. She joined GSWGA 17 years ago and is responsible for the engineering and construction division, including the planning and implementation of its capital improvement plan.

Since 2013, Everett has served on CCU’s College of Science board of visitors and is a member of Women in Philanthropy and Leadership at the University. She also serves on the boards of the United Way of Horry County, the Conway Medical Center Foundation and the Conway Medical Center. She is a senior fellow of the Waccamaw American Leadership Forum and serves on the Socastee High School Athletic Association board. In addition, she was a member of the Horry County IMAGINE 2040 comprehensive plan steering committee.

Everett is a licensed professional engineer in South Carolina and North Carolina and holds a water and sewer utility contractor’s license in both states. She is a member of the S.C. section of the American Water Works Association, the Water Environment Association of S.C., the S.C. Water Quality Association, and serves as vice chair of the S.C. Water Utility Council.

A native of Horry County, Everett lives in Socastee with her twins, Lewis and Andrea. She earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Clemson University in 1995.

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Young Alumnus of the Year

Whitney Shipman Glenn

Whitney Shipman GlennWhitney Shipman Glenn ’18

Whitney Shipman Glenn was named the 2017-18 Horry County Schools Teacher of the Year. She earned a Master of Education in language, literacy and culture from CCU in May 2018. A second-grade teacher, she began teaching at Pee Dee Elementary School in 2012, where she has also taught kindergarten.

Glenn serves on the CCU Spadoni College of Education board of visitors and the EdTech Task Force for Horry County Schools.

She lives with her husband, Steven Glenn, in Conway. She earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Clemson University in 2007.

Candidates nominated for the Alumnus and Young Alumnus of the Year Awards are chosen by a steering committee consisting of the college deans. Criteria for the annual awards include loyalty to CCU, record of service and accomplishments, and demonstration of positive attributes.

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Alumni Profile

Randy Furtner ’90 – Net present value

Holly and Randy FurtnerHolly and Randy ’90 Furtner

Fresh from active duty in the Navy, Randy Furtner ’90 was looking for his next challenge. His wife, Holly, and her parents encouraged him to further his education. It was an intimidating idea for him because no one in his family had ever attended college. Living at the time in Little Creek, Va., he began working his way down the East Coast in search of a college to attend.

“I saw a lot of schools, but was most comfortable at Coastal,” said Furtner, who enrolled as a freshman at age 27. “The people were great. They treated me really well and were very welcoming and embracing.”

With moral and financial support from Holly, who was a nurse, Furtner focused all his attention on earning a finance degree. He remembers being academically challenged in classes taught by the likes of professors Gerald Boyles, Darcy Carr, Eddie Dyer, James Eason, Linda Henderson and others.

“Attending Coastal was so profoundly life-changing,” Furtner said. “The school has a very warm spot in my heart. I loved all my classes, but I’ll never forget Dr. Boyles’ first class. The first thing he wrote on the board was a net present value calculation. And he said if you learn nothing else from this class than this, you will have learned something truly important. And it’s been foundational to everything I have done during my career.”

Furtner aspired to be a college professor, but that quickly changed when Boyles encouraged him to obtain an MBA. Furtner said he wasn’t sure what to expect as he transitioned from the smaller, lesser known Coastal to the nationally ranked program at the University of Washington.

“There were students from all the elite private schools in the country,” he said. “I had no problem whatsoever with the coursework and working with the students on any projects. My Coastal education was all that I needed to be successful in graduate school. And that same foundation has carried me through my career.”

Just nine years after earning his MBA, Furtner was named the divisional CFO of Armour Swift-Eckrich, which is owned by Conagra Foodservice. His background also includes serving various roles at Conagra, two stints as CFO at Trident Seafoods and a similar role at CTI Foods.

In February 2018, Furtner became the CFO at Grimmway Farms in Bakersfield, Calif. The family-owned company, founded 50 years ago by the Grimm brothers Rod and Bob, is the largest carrot grower in the world, harvesting roughly 2.5 billion pounds annually. Grimmway owns 43,000 acres of organic farmland and also is the largest organic vegetable grower in the United States. It provides more than 60 organic vegetables to numerous major grocery store chains, including Albertsons, Publix, Safeway, Kroger, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

During his career, Furtner has found his niche as a financial change agent. He helps companies redefine their business processes, creating strategies for growth and profitability. He says the hardest thing to do is to come in, become a part of the team and change their processes without changing the foundation of who they are and what made them successful.

At Grimmway, he’s helping to develop the company's first strategic plan, building a data warehouse and implementing Tableau, a business intelligence and analytics software.

“We are putting in the tools and processes that will allow us to be scalable,” Furtner said. “Our goal is to double or triple our revenue given the strong demand for organic vegetables.”

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Alumni Profile

Carlos Figarella ’09 – Virtual reality

Carlos FigarellaCarlos Figarella ’09

With his Coastal Carolina University marketing degree in hand, Carlos Figarella ’09 has been a rising star in the consumer technology industry. He’s worked in sales and client services in New York City for companies such as MarketStar, BDS Marketing and Beats by Dr. Dre. For the last three years, Figarella has been thriving at HTC VIVE in Seattle, Wash.

VIVE touts itself as a first-of-its-kind virtual reality platform, built and optimized for room-scale VR and true-to-life interactions. With the advancement of extended reality (XR), artificial intelligence, blockchain and 5G, VIVE envisions a truly immersive and connected world. Its goal is to create the reference platform for both VR hardware and software, with a commitment to engineering premium products and experiences.

“Our mission is to unleash the human imagination through virtual reality,” said Figarella, who serves as the company’s senior strategic account manager. “The smart phone has been such a transformational piece of the technological revolution. But we think this will be even bigger. This will take the screen out of your hand and put you into immersive worlds. We are taking gaming, training, simulation and entertainment to the next level.”

Figarella’s responsibilities include leading VIVE’s retail partnerships and distribution. He manages how the company’s products look and feel as well as how they eventually reach the consumers. “I work with Amazon, Microsoft, GameStop,

VIVE virtual reality system. VIVE virtual reality system.

Best Buy and like distribution channels to tell the VR story. My goal is to really help people understand what the capabilities of our products are as well as what the creative process can look like if you use them.”

Figarella strongly believes VR will change not only how the world consumes content, such as media, music and games, but how everyone will learn and acquire new skillsets. He says that during the evolving Fourth Industrial Revolution, new skills and advancements will be needed to further develop digital technology.

“I think VR will be that bridge to help us get there,” he said. “I want to encourage people to create and leverage that technology for where we go next. With this being so cutting-edge, I really believe that this is going to change humanity.”

While Figarella has high hopes of becoming a global executive within the VR industry, where he can drive innovation and empower those who use the technology, he hasn’t forgotten where it all began.

“When I look back at my Coastal experience, I would have never thought I would be sitting where I am today,” said Figarella, who was born in Puerto Rico and attended high school in Augusta, Ga. “Coastal helped set the foundation for me and strengthened my core principles and values. Getting into the real world and always having that to reference back to is something that I have always appreciated. You have to dream big. No matter where you are today, as long as you are improving on it tomorrow, you’ll always get to where you want to go.”

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