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The Coastal Experience

The Spring 2001 issue of Coastal Magazine had a cover story titled

ABOVE: The opening spread of "The Coastal Experience" from the Spring 2001 issue of Coastal Magazine

The Coastal Experience

Coastal offers lots of great opportunities for student achievement—both inside and outside the classroom. Meet four students who have found new paths of discovery and success by making the most of their Coastal experience.

Active Voice

When David Woodley was elected president of Coastal’s Student Government Association (SGA) for the 2000-2001 academic year, he took his job description seriously. Taking an oath to lead the organization whose primary function is to represent student opinion and serve as the liaison between students and the administration, Woodley says he felt duty bound to speak out in behalf of his fellow students.

 That his zeal took some members of the administration by surprise, occasionally resulting in the butting of heads, is something about which Woodley feels neither proud nor apologetic. To him it’s simply his job. To do less would be to shirk his duty.

Woodley, a senior sociology major from Lancaster, S.C., feels that his most important achievement as SGA president has been taking the lead in organizing “Erase the Hate,” a week-long series of events held this past February focusing on multicultural understanding on campus. Although there have been no reported incidents of hate-related violence at Coastal, the issue of multicultural freedom is one that Woodley felt, based on his own pulse-taking of the student community, needed raising.

“It’s something I feel strongly about,” he says. “Even though there are events in place on campus which have helped promote a climate of understanding, I know from interacting with students that many do not feel full acceptance. Every student on campus, regardless of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, should feel equally valuable, equally free to express himself or herself.”

Erase the Hate events included campus forums led by student organizations inviting students to speak up about their concerns regarding diversity issues. The centerpiece of the event was a public screening of the documentary film “Journey to a Hate-Free Millennium,” about recent hate-motivated murders in America.

“The film drew about 400 people to Wheelwright Auditorium,” says Woodley, “and in the discussion afterword it was obvious that a lot of students were very moved and motivated by it. They were asking, ‘What can we do to help?’ I think that’s very positive.”

Woodley has also taken a strong stand in support of a better intramural field. The present field near the residence halls is inadequate and largely unusable because of drainage problems. Mindful of the dramatic rise in the number of students participating in intramural sports at Coastal, Woodley has advocated higher institutional priority for a better field—not a popular stance with the administration at a time of shrinking state budgets and many costly building projects on the waiting list.

From Woodley’s perspective, achieving something tangible for the students he represents is more important than popularity. As he graduates in May, he hopes that his tenure as SGA president will have made a difference, if even in a small way, particularly in the area of multicultural relations.

“I think it’s something I may have learned from my father,” says Woodley. “Everyone who walked into his office, no matter who they were, he made a point of treating them with equal respect. Respect is the key word. People talk about tolerance, but tolerance isn’t good enough. We have to respect each other.”

 

Hunting for the First Americans

Marine science major Angie McManus stood calf deep in mud, swatting mosquitoes and looking out for snakes, but she was aware that she might be helping to make history. “It was always in the back of my mind: if this is true, it will rewrite textbooks,” she said.

Having worked at Sea World in Cleveland during her middle school and high school years, McManus knew she wanted to study marine science and she was accepted into Coastal’s program in fall 1998. Although she is primarily interested in ocean-related studies, when she heard one of her professors, Paul Gayes, talking about an unusual archaeological excavation going on near Allendale, S.C., she was intrigued. When Gayes, who is director of Coastal’s Center for Marine and Wetland Studies, called for volunteers to work for a weekend at the site, known as “Topper,” she and 10 other students signed on.

There they met Topper project director Albert Goodyear, archaeologist with the University of South Carolina’s Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. Goodyear has worked on the site since 1983, shortly after a local man named Topper first took him there to inspect what turned out to be a Stone Age quarry. Digs in 1985 and 1986 unearthed many prehistoric blades and tools. But it wasn’t until 1998 that Goodyear hit archaeological pay dirt.

The accepted textbook theory, which has held sway for more than 70 years, is that the first Americans were descendants of East Asian tribes who followed herds of big game from Siberia into Alaska and then spread out across the Great Plains and eventually reached the East Coast. This is known as the Clovis model, so names for artifacts found in Clovis N.M., in the 1930s which were dated at 12,000 years old and held to belong to the oldest human settlement in the New World.

The Clovis theory began to be challenged in the late 1990s by the discovery of artifacts in Montverde, Chile, and Cactus Hill, Va., which purported to be older than those found in Clovis. These finds inspired Goodyear and his team of scholars and students to dig deeper into the Topper site, which has up to this point yielded only Clovis-era artifacts. Going down to depths between six and seven feet, Goodyear began finding tiny tools, micro blades, stone flakes and other materials unlike anything he had ever seen before. He believed he had found another significant breakthrough in the “Clovis barrier.”

Coastal’s involvement with the project began with a series of parking lot encounters among scientists at USC. One day last year, Goodyear ran into Doug Williams, a geochemist and associate dean of USC’s Honors Program, and they chatted about Goodyear’s progress at the Topper site. His archaeological digs there had unearthed all sorts of potentially revolutionary finds—possibly pre-Clovis tools and artifacts—but he was having trouble establishing the age of the discoveries. One of Goodyear’s problems in accurately radiocarbon-dating his artifacts was the presence of modern charcoal in the soil. More and better soil testing was needed in order to develop a geographical history of the site area. Later that day, Williams bumped into Paul Gates, who was at USC for a meeting, and told him about Goodyear’s dilemma. Gayes thought he could help.

“Stratigraphy is one the things we do best—drilling and analyzing core samples of earth and sediment,” says Gayes. The Center for Marine and Wetland Studies has earned a high reputation internationally in the field of marine geology for its work in charting the geographical history of the coastline. The fact that the Topper site is located on the banks of the Savannah River made it ideal for Coastal researchers, who have long experience in studying coastal waterways. “What we do along the coast we could do just as well at Allendale,” said Gayes. Goodyear welcomed Gayes’ offer and invited him to the site one weekend in August 2000.

Given the significance of the Topper project—it had already been reported in Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, National Geographic and several other national science publications, Gayes knew that it would provide an extraordinary opportunity for student involvement. A group of 10 students traveled to Allendale with him and other Center staffers to help with the coring on two separate weekends in August and November. Another 10 USC students accompanied Doug Williams.

“This was something that Angie and the other students did solely because they wanted to,” says Gayes. “We didn’t have a grant for this, so no one got paid. It was not part of a class, so no one got credit. But it gave these students the best possible opportunity to see how what they’ve learned in the classroom can be applied. And it’s also an example of reaching out to help solve someone else’s problem, which is extremely important in scientific research today. Nobody out there is an island. Nobody is an expert in everything.”

Gayes and Williams were working to put together other student collaborative projects. McManus and several other Coastal students met with a group of USC students in March 2001 to talk about future student-driven research projects.

“Coastal has resources which USC doesn’t have, and USC has resources Coastal doesn’t have,” says McManus. “By working together, sharing facilities and drawing on the unique strengths of each institution, students can get involved in some really interesting research—above and beyond our regular course work.”

In February 2001, dating specialists in thermos luminescence, a new dating technique, officially determined that the Topper artifacts are at least 15,000 years old. Older than Clovis by approximately 3,000 years. It is likely that textbooks will be rewritten, or at least amended, because of Topper and other digs—which points to a whole new theory of the First Americans. Researchers analyzing recently discovered skull and skeletal remains found throughout the Western hemisphere are also making a claim for diverse, un-Clovis-like migrations to this continent by ancient peoples from many parts of Asia and even from Europe.

Whether or not Topper and other discoveries change the course of prehistory, the experience of participating in the dig has changed the course of McManus’ next few years. “It was such a great experience and such an exciting process,” she said. “Before Topper my plans after graduation were undecided, but now I’m definitely planning to go on to graduate school in geology.”

 

Power of the Mind

It’s been said that if you want to get noticed, you sometimes have to throw your weight around. That’s exactly what Coastal Carolina University sophomore Amber Campbell did this past spring. Sort of.

Campbell, a member of the Chanticleers’ women’s track and field team, gained national attention for her outstanding performance in the weight throw event at the 2001 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships held in Fayetteville, Ark., in early March. In just her second season competing in the event, she threw the 20-pound weight a distance of 19.65 meters (64 feet, 5 ¾ inches) to capture seventh-place honors at the championships. That mark equaled her personal best toss and allowed her to become the only underclassman to earn All-American status in the event.

“I felt great going into the championships,” said Campbell. “I wish I could have finished higher but overall I am very pleased.”

Campbell, a native of Indianapolis, is majoring in psychology at Coastal and was named to the Dean’s List last fall.

Besides excelling in athletics and in the classroom, Campbell is also actively involved with a variety of campus activities. She is co-captain of the women’s track and field team and is its representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council. She is a member of the campus chapter of the NAACP and is a community council member at The Gardens, the on-campus residence hall where she lives. She also sings in Coastal’s Gospel Choir.

“I’ve been singing since I was a little girl growing up in church,” said Campbell. “I don’t have a great voice but I really enjoy singing. The people in the choir are just great. We all met at Orientation and decided to join the gospel choir. We just wanted to get to know more people. I think it is very important to be involved in activities on campus. The more you get to experience just adds to a positive campus life. Campus life is all about getting an education, meeting people and having fun.”

As for her substantial success on the field, Campbell gives her coaches a lot of credit.

 “I thank God for the coaches I have,” she says. “Coach (Alan) Connie bends over backwards for us. He does everything in his power to help us so we can have good college careers, not only athletically but academically as well. Coach (Carrie) Lane is always there to give me encouragement and is dedicated to taking care of all the details when we are at an event on the road. Coach (David) Vandergriff’s knowledge in the throws is so extensive but he knows how to bring it down to a level where I can understand it.”

Vandergriff, Coastal’s volunteer coach for the throw events, says that Campbell has enormous potential.

“I can give her a recipe but it’s up to her to go out and cook it,” said Vandergriff. “She cooks hard and she cooks a lot. The hardest thing with Amber is trying to make her rest when she is supposed to rest. She doesn’t like to back off from training. She is extremely dedicated and wants it bad.”

According to Vandergriff, Campbell has been able to master the weight throw because of her ability to learn the advanced technique of moving the ball in orbit as opposed to turning the body as fast as possible. He also attributes Campbell’s success to her astonishing strength. She can squat more than 400 pounds, which, says Vandergriff, is outstanding for a female athlete.

Some of Campbell’s future goals include attending graduate school and qualifying for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. But for now she is content on being an actively involved student-athlete on Coastal’s campus.

“I don’t really consider myself a leader although I know I am in a leadership position because I am very involved on campus,” said Campbell. “A leader shouldn’t always have to speak out on everything. If you are working hard and doing what you’re supposed to do, people are going to notice.”

Just like they did at the NCAA Championships.

 

The Importance of Being Involved

Like a lot of high school students, Brett Hysinger was uncertain about his future. “I knew I was going to college—my parents had more or less made that decision for me, but I didn’t know where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do with my life.”

Hysinger answered the first question for himself his senior year at Baylor High School in his native Chattanooga. Following the advice of a classmate, he made a trip to Coastal to look over the campus. “As soon as we drove on campus, that was it,” says Hysinger. “Although I had never been to the area before, I knew this was where I wanted to be. I liked the size and feel of Coastal.”

The answer to the second question was slower in coming, though in time “everything fell into place in ways I could never have imagined,” says Hysinger. He applied and was accepted at Coastal, enrolling in fall 1997. Like all freshman who enter Coastal without declaring a major, he was required to take the Freshman Success Seminar, a two-semester course designed to help new students make the transition to university life. The seminar is taught by a faculty member and an upperclassman who serve as faculty and peer “mentors” for the freshman in their class. Hysinger’s faculty mentor was Linda Kuykendall and his peer mentor was Pete Green, both of whom would have an impact on his college career.

“I recognized that Brett had a natural gift for communicating with other students,” said Kuykendall, senior instructor in theater and speech at Coastal. “He had a wonderful rapport with them and I knew freshman could talk to him about their problems and concerns.” Kuykendall recommended Hysinger to become a peer mentor when he became a junior, and the experience has helped him recognize and develop his leadership skills.

Green, a 2000 graduate who was president of Coastal’s Student Government Association (SGA) and active in Greek affairs, encouraged Hysinger to get involved in SGA and Greek life on campus, as well as intramural sports. During his junior year, Hysinger was appointed SGA communications director and he was elected SGA vice president for the 2000-2001 academic year. During his senior year he was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, a prestigious national leadership fraternity. He also served as an Orientation Assistant and has been active as a Student Alumni Ambassador and as officer in Coastal’s chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.

“Through these activities, I found out that I get a real satisfaction in being an advocate for students,” says Hysinger. “I like negotiating and interacting—and sometimes disagreeing—with President Ingle, the administration and the board of trustees.”

In high school, he played football, soccer, and was on the track team. He wanted to continue his involvement in sports so he tried out for Coastal’s cheerleaders and has been a member of the team all four years of his college career. This past spring the team traveled to Daytona to compete in the National Cheerleader Association annual competition—the first time the Chanticleer cheerleaders have qualified to compete at the national level.

Hysinger first declared a major in accounting but later switched to finance. After graduating in May 2001, he hopes to go on to graduate school and is thinking of law school as well, hoping to specialize in tax and contract law.

“So many great things have happened since I started here, I really kind of hate to leave—especially with all that’s going on now with the new buildings and the football program,” says Hysinger. “I’m already looking forward to coming back. You can bet I’ll be the first one in the stands cheering on the Chants in ’03.”

 

This is the cover from the Spring 2001 Coastal Magazine

The cover of the Spring 2001 Coastal Magazine