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Chauncey’s Champion Someone making a difference.

Mirinda Chestnut: an 'unsung hero' in financial services

by Nicole Pippo Bookmark and Share
Mirinda and her husband Twig Chestnut, a CCU graduate and a founding father of Sigma Phi Epsilon at CCU.
Mirinda and her husband Twig Chestnut, a CCU graduate and a founding father of Sigma Phi Epsilon at CCU.

Many Coastal Carolina University students depend on Mirinda Chestnut, administrative specialist for the Office of Financial Services, although they do not even realize it. Chestnut has been a loyal member of the CCU family for 28 years.

While her duties might seem tedious to some, Chestnut loves her job. She processes, prints and sends 300 to 400 checks every day for "check-write." Check-write is the process of paying campus vendors and University employees from all departments on campus. Accounts Payable sends scanned images of invoices to Chestnut, who then writes, prints, folds, seals and finally sends the checks.

Another major part of her job is to process student refunds. When a student has been awarded excess financial aid money for an academic year, he or she will receive a refund either through direct deposit or a paper check sent to their home address. During extremely busy times such as the beginning of fall semesters when students receive their refunds, Chestnut writes and prints 4,000 to 5,000 checks to be dispersed. 

She says check-write for CCU employees and students constitutes 80 percent of her work, and she attributes the explosive growth of the campus to how many checks need to be processed daily. The rest of Chestnut’s job is administrative work, which entails scheduling meetings for the office and answering loads of phone calls and emails.

“Mirinda Chestnut is an unsung hero on campus, and she helps more students than anyone realizes,” said Annie Johnson, cash receipts supervisor for Student Accounts. “She cuts the checks for check-write each week and ensures that the students get their excess funds for living and school expenses.” 

Her colleagues say she constantly goes above and beyond to not only ensure she completes her responsibilities, but also to assist coworkers and employees in other offices on campus. “[My coworkers] are my favorite people besides my family,” she said.

“She has always been accommodating when I ask for something to be added or for a separate check-write, even if she has to stay late to make sure it happens,” said Lori Richardson, interim payroll director in the Office of Financial Services.

Johnson and Richardson nominated Chestnut for Chauncey’s Champion after seeing how she consistently handles pressure with a positive, selfless attitude. She will often stay until 7:30 or 8 p.m. to finish her work.

One example of her commitment to service was on a busy day when she was processing around 400 checks. The Student Accounts office needed a special check printed for one student at that moment to be picked up right away. Chestnut made sure the check was printed, which obligated her to stay in the office until almost 8 o’clock that night to make sure her regular workload was completed.

Even when Hurricane Florence shut down CCU for an extended period of time, Chestnut did not stop doing her job. Despite her neighborhood being cut off by flooding, she took her office computer home and processed checks from her dining room table.

While the job is chaotic at times, Chestnut takes her work seriously. From her own experience as an undergrad student at CCU and sending her children to college, she understands the impact she has on students’ lives.

Chestnut was in her early 20s when she began working at CCU and has held several positions since then. She worked in the financial aid office while enrolled as a student, then joined the CCU staff in 1983, working in the postal services department for three years, and transitioning to the student activities office for a short period. In 1987, a position became open in the Office of Financial Services, a job she thoroughly enjoyed for more than 10 years. She worked part time at a credit union on campus for around seven years, then returned to the financial services office again and has been the administrative specialist for financial services ever since. She is also the secretary for the Horry County Higher Education Commission (HCHEC), which oversees use of Coastal Carolina’s county tax money.

“Being able to come to work every day and like the place you work, love the people you work with and be proud of the place you work - I can’t imagine ever working anywhere else,” Chestnut said. “I’m sure somebody will come along with more education than I have, but I guarantee you nobody will come along who tries harder than I do. I am very proud of the work I do."

A native of Pleasant Hill, S.C., near Hemingway, Chestnut and her husband Twig have two sons, Reed and Barkley. The Chesnut family has an interesting story with regard to their names. Chestnut’s father-in-law was born at 1.5 pounds and lived to be 97. He was nicknamed “Stick” because he was so thin and lanky. When Stick had his first son, he called him Twig. When Mirinda and Twig had their sons, they wanted to continue the tradition with names reminiscent of wood. Reed graduated from CCU in 2017 with a degree in exercise and sport science.

Twig is a CCU class of 1980 Coastal alumnus and helped start the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity on campus. Chestnut said they like to go to Chanticleer football games, and Twig often gets recognized by current fraternity brothers. One of the major highlights of Chestnut’s time at CCU so far has been watching the baseball team win the national championship in 2016. Although her free time is rare, Chestnut enjoys spending it with her friends and extended family, as well as her Jack Russell terrier named Ginger. She is also an active member of the First Baptist Church in Conway.

Chauncey’s Service Excellence Champions are University employees (faculty or staff) who perform service-oriented actions that go above and beyond their job duties and that meet at least one dimension of service quality. These employees are recognized for outstanding performance and embody the Feel the Teal initiative. To nominate someone for Chauncey’s Champion, visit coastal.edu/feeltheteal, fill out the form and submit it. Approved nominees will receive an exclusive Chauncey’s Champion gift as well as consideration for additional recognition. View all the Chauncey’s Champions at coastal.edu/feeltheteal/champions/champs.php. 

Related Photos

Mirinda has a furry friend, Ginger, who is an energetic Jack Russell terrier. Mirinda and her husband Twig Chestnut, a CCU graduate and a founding father of Sigma Phi Epsilon at CCU. Mirinda's coworkers are her "favorite people" besides her family. Mirinda is pictured with Lila Taylor, senior accountant for financial services.
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