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Something to Talk About Personal notes and news.

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  • Student winners announced for research competition

    April 2 2012

    Here are winners of the 4th Undergraduate Research Competition whose presentations scores were in the top three. 

    First place: Claudia Ortuno and Abigail Smith "Alcohol and Energy Drinks" $500

    Second place: Kevin Kern "Multimessenger Astronomy" $300

    Third place: Rebecca Ringrose " Twenty-First Century Learning" $100

    The competition is part of the Celebration of Inquiry, which ended March 31.

  • Elise Testone rocks 'American Idol'

    March 30 2012

    'American Idol' saved the best for last during the final March performance of the nine remaining singers, and it was Elise Testone (2005).

    The CCU graduate sang Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" to end the show with a rock 'n' roll standard that got her a standing ovation from the celebrity judges and the audience.

    And in rehearsal, she sang a charming duet with Stevie Nicks, who was coaching the singers prior to the show.

    "As Stevie pointed out, Led Zepplin is not easy to sing, but one would never guess that after hearing and seeing Elise's performance on Wednesday. Not only did Elise hit every single note with perfect pitch and conviction, she completely owned the stage," wrote the Christian Science Monitor.

    The weekly eliminations continue Wednesdays and Thursdays on the popular reality show, so be sure to vote for Elise.

    The New Jersey native earned a degree in musical theatre, performing with the late English professor Paul Rice, and vocal teacher David Bankston, as well as in the POP 101 group and various bands around town.

    She made her TV debut on the season opener, singing Janis Joplin's "Get It While You Can," and wowed the three celebrity judges.

    Testone has been living in Charleston since 2006, working as a voice teacher and performing at various venues.

  • The Oestreiches welcome new daughter

    March 21 2012

    It's a girl! Eleanor MacWilliam Oestreich was born March 21, 2012, in Charleston. She weighed in at 7.2 pounrds, 19 inches. Mother Kate Oestreich and daughter are healthy and happy. Dad Joe Oestreich and older brother Beckett are also fine.

  • First Book Spring Luncheon fundraiser set for April 28

    March 30 2012

    Jane Spillane is the featured speaker for the First Book Spring Luncheon on Saturday, April 28, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Islamorada Fish Company adjacent to the Bass Pro Shop at Myrtle Beach Mall.

    Spillane is the widow of the late crime novelist Mickey Spillane; she will discuss "Life with Mickey" at the luncheon, which is a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization with the mission of providing new books for area children in need.

    Tickets are $25 and may be purchased from board members; more than half the ticket price will go to the charity, and funds will be spent in Horry County. In addition to the luncheon, there will be a silent auction and door prizes that include handcrafted items, gift certificates to restaurants, spas and resorts, golf packages and more.

    First Book board members from CCU who are selling tickets include Aneilya Barnes, Keith Gurley, Margene Willis, Megan McIlreavy and Mona Prufer.

    The event celebrates the cultural legacy of novelist Spillane, who lived in Murrells Inlet for more than 40 years. Six years after his death in 2006, Spillane’s legacy — which includes the sale of more than 225 million books worldwide — continues to grow, with the promise of publishing of manuscripts he left behind.

    Proceeds from the luncheon will benefit First Book of Horry County, an organization that provides new books to children in need. To date, nearly 50,000 books have been distributed to children's programs with literacy components in Horry County.

    The local organization is part of First Book’s national network of volunteer-led advisory boards in communities across the country. Fundraisers such as the luncheon allow the organization to fulfill its mission. For every $25 collected, First Book is able to purchase 10 children's books through its national publishing partners.
    For more information or to make reservations, call Prufer at 843-349-2087 or  Willis at 843-333-4056. Or you can email


  • CCU staffer has winning photo in magazine

    March 30 2012

    One of Joan Trupiano's photos was just published in the Grand Strand Magazine, April/May 2012 Issue. She is an administrative specialist in the Department of Communication and Journalism.

    “Images of the Grand Strand" features some beautiful winning photos, including Trupiano's “The Marsh in Amber Twilight."

    The Myrtle Beach native has a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in business management and archaeology. She attended Coastal Carolina when it was a satellite of the University of South Carolina.

     Trupiano has worked with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, the hospitality industry and the Burroughs & Chapin Company. 

  • CCU Students Exhibit at BigSUR

    March 30 2012

    Two Coastal Carolina students have had works of art accepted to the Big South Undergraduate Research (BigSUR) Intercollegiate Juried Exhibition. The artworks of Visual Art students Emily Schrag and Hannah Wehrman will be displayed alongside artworks from across the South in Winthrop University’s Lewandowski Gallery. The works were chosen for exhibition in recognition of their compelling craft and quality content.

    In addition to the Big South, this exhibition was open to students from Appalachian State University, College of Charleston, Davidson College, East Carolina University, Mercer University, UNC Charlotte, USC Columbia, USC Upstate, Wingate University and Wofford College.

    The juror for the exhibition was Virginia Derryberry, professor and chair of the Art Department at UNC Asheville. Derryberry's work has been shown in venues such as the Carnegie Museum of Art, the London Institute of Art and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. Her work is included in the collections of Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Ga., and Nashville International Airport. Derryberry has also received numerous grants and fellowships, including a residency fellowship from Moulin a Nef, in Auvillar, France, in 2004, as well as an artist fellowship from the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA).

    The exhibition will run April 2-13.

  • Tomczyk receives Rotary Club award

    March 30 2012

    Charmaine Tomczyk, director of undergraduate research at Coastal Carolina University, received the Dr. Carl Busbee Distinguished Service Award from the Rotary Club of Conway at the club’s March 8 meeting.

    Tomczyk was presented the award for epitomizing the Rotary Club’s pledge to “Service Above Self” in all facets of her life. As director of vocation for education in the club, she promotes the importance of education at all levels, teaching the importance of dictionaries to elementary school students, developing student-mentor relationships with high school students and helping CCU students receive the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship. She has also worked with the Salvation Army, Coins for Charity and the Conway Chamber of Commerce.

    In addition to her work in undergraduate research, Tomczyk is the director of the Celebration of Inquiry conference (this year’s held on March 30 and 31) as well as Faculty Ombuds. She also serves as the president for South Carolina Women in Higher Education, whose mission is to promote leadership qualities to women in an effort to give women a stronger voice in higher education.

    The Rotary Club of Conway was established in 1945 in Rotary District 7770, which serves the areas around Beaufort, Charleston, Hilton Head, Columbia and Myrtle Beach. For more information on the club, visit

  • Small nominated for top professor of SC

    March 30 2012

    Kenneth Small, associate professor of investments and corporate finance, was recently named Coastal Carolina University’s 2012 Distinguished Professor of the Year, an achievement that also earned him a nomination for the 2012 Governor’s Professor of the Year from South Carolina colleges and universities.

    Small, also the director of the Graduate Program for the E. Craig Wall Sr. College of Business Administration, was one of 35 nominees invited to attend a March luncheon at the University of South Carolina. During the luncheon, he was presented with a certificate in recognition of his nomination and for being named Coastal Carolina’s Distinguished Professor for 2012. 

    J. Ralph Byington, dean of Wall College, said, “As the director of the Wall College graduate program, Small has overseen the restructuring of the MBA and the creation of the MAcc. He has the perfect skill set for a University professor, with outstanding teaching, exceptional research and dedicated service.”

  • Swain Science Building gets 'topped out'

    March 30 2012

    A "topping out"ceremony was held recently for the new Kenneth E. Swain Science Building that's under construction on campus. University officials, workers and retired Myrtle Beach pharmacist Kenneth E. Swain signed the final beam before it was lifted and secured into place. President David DeCenzo and Science Dean Michael Roberts were also present to sign the steel beam.

    The 40-000-square-foot addition will be located next to the R. Cathcart Smith Science Center. It will house the University's health and science programs, 20 science labs and faculty office space.

    The floor plan of Swain Hall was designed to encourage a climate of academic interchange, with health science classrooms and labs sharing the first floor with biology and chemistry areas. The physical structure also promotes a strong connection between teaching and research activities, according to Dean Roberts. On the second floor, for example, the genetics teaching lab is across the hall from the genetics research bases.

    "It sends a message that at Coastal Carolina University there is no barrier, no gap between teaching and research," said Roberts. "Swain Hall demonstrates an integrated vision, with teaching, research and outreach meaningfully connected in one structure."