CHARLESTON, S.C. - A total of 51 current and former student-athletes participated in a pair of May Commencement ceremonies held at the College of Charleston on Saturday on the Cistern Yard.
A tradition unlike many other colleges and universities, CofC students who complete their undergraduate degrees do not wear robes or caps for the spring commencement ceremony. Instead, women don white dresses and men wear white dinner jackets. For decades, this annual tradition has taken place in front of The College's oldest building, Randolph Hall, with ancient live oak trees draped with Spanish moss setting the stage.
Of this year's diverse and articulate group of political science, arts management, psychology, international business, geology, marine biology and biochemistry majors, CofC women's basketball standout Tonia Gerty (Port Orange, Fla.) beat the odds as a first-generation college graduate in her family with a bachelor's degree in communication. She finished an impressive four years with the Cougars ranking second all-time in career games played (121), sixth all-time in career points scored (1,230), first in career assists (466) and second in career steals made (203). Gerty hopes to play professional basketball overseas post graduation.
CofC women's tennis player Emma Hayman (Wanganui, New Zealand) was the recipient of the Willard Augustus Silcox Tennis Award, while 2010 Southern Conference Men's Tennis Player of the Year Lukas Koncilia (Tyrol, Austria) was the recipient of the Pat Kelly Award in Social Activism.
Hayman, a business administration major, recently completed a sports marketing internship with Dunlop Sport during the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island and is looking to pursue a master's degree in marketing at Durham University in England next year. Koncilia, a communication and political science double major, is in the process of opening his own film company, "Tierra Unida," with the hope of setting up a base for activist filmmaking in St. Leon, Nicaragua. He and his fellow production group of activists have a local documentary in the works on the lack of food access on the eastside of Charleston called, "America Street."
Equestrian rider Alex Percival (Rock Hill, S.C.) garnered outstanding student and department honors in English, while softball pitcher Alexa Datko (San Diego, Calif.) and women's cross country distance runner Kristin Jenkins (Cheyenne, Wyo.) earned outstanding student honors in biology and mathematics respectively.
Most notably, 14 student-athletes in the Class of 2011 graduated with honors including Jenkins and third baseman and 2010 SoCon Baseball Player of the Year Matt Leeds (Boca Raton, Fla.), who graduated at the top of their class, summa cum laude, with a 3.9 or better grade-point average, thanks to the help and guidance of the CofC Student-Athlete Academic Services (SAAS) office headed up by director Keith Merritt II and academic advisor Kate Tiller and learning specialist Karen Donovan.
Koncilia, Percival and softball centerfielder Kristi Woodall (Huntersville, N.C.) graduated magna cum laude (3.750-3.899 GPA) followed by Datko, Ali Dowty (Vernon, Conn.) of equestrian, Justin Fojo (Port of Spain, Trinidad) of men's soccer, Jamie Holler (Rock Hill, S.C.) of baseball, Brynne Johnson (Centerville, Ohio) of women's track and field, Kelley Kroll (Irmo, S.C.) of equestrian, Annie Pease (Marietta, Ga.) of women's soccer, Amanda Raymond (Richmond, Va.) of women's soccer and Mary Zolga (Raynham, Mass.) of women's track and field, cum laude (3.500-3.749 GPA).
Former guard Danny Johnson (Morganton, N.C.), who starred for the CofC men's basketball team from 1998-99, returned to The College after 10 years of playing professional basketball to finish coursework towards his degree in sociology. Since 2009, Johnson has been the owner of Teacups and Trucks, a small business he built specializing in custom birthday parties for children.
The majority of CofC's graduating student-athletes have benefited from scholarship funding throughout their academic and athletic careers provided by the Cougar Club, the athletic department's fundraising arm. If you would like to become a member to help continue to support student-athlete scholarships, please contact executive director Brandon Stevens at (843) 953-8255.
COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON ATHLETICS MAY 2011 GRADUATES (in alphabetical order by last name)
Cole Allsopp, Sailing, Annapolis, Md., Business Administration
Jackson Benvenutti, Sailing, Bay Saint Louis, Miss., Political Science
Morgan Benz, Women's Soccer, Clifton, Va., Psychology
Isabel Boersma, Women's Track & Field, Franklin, Tenn., Biology
Mickael Boyer, Men's Tennis, Meudon, France, International Business
Justin Brewer, Baseball, Greer, S.C., Economics
Garrett Campbell, Men's Basketball, Myrtle Beach, S.C., Mathematics/Secondary Education Cognate
Kinsey Casey, Women's Tennis, Alpharetta, Ga., Business Administration
April Coyne, Women's Swimming & Diving, Shelby, N.C., Psychology
Ryan Daniels, Baseball, Victoria, Texas, Business Administration
Alexa Datko, Softball, San Diego, Calif., Biology, Cum Laude
Brianna Davie, Women's Basketball, Goose Creek, S.C., Business Administration
Ali Dowty, Equestrian, Vernon, Conn., International Business, Cum Laude
Kolby Epley, Baseball, Yadkinville, N.C., Communication
Sean Flatley, Men's Soccer, Virginia Beach, Va., Business Administration
Justin Fojo, Men's Soccer, Port of Spain, Trinidad, Physical Education and Health, Cum Laude
Sara Gardocki, Women's Swimming & Diving, Suffield, Conn., Communication
Tonia Gerty, Women's Basketball, Port Orange, Fla., Communication
Emma Hayman, Women's Tennis, Wanganui, New Zealand, Business Administration
Jamie Holler, Baseball, Rock Hill, S.C., Physical Education and Health, Cum Laude
Cristy Jamison, Sailing, Rye, N.Y., Communication
Kristin Jenkins, Women's Cross Country, Cheyenne, Wyo., Mathematics, Summa Cum Laude
Robert Jeroszko, Baseball, Greenville, S.C., Business Administration
Brynne Johnson, Women's Track & Field, Centerville, Ohio, International Business, Cum Laude
Danny Johnson, Men's Basketball, Morganton, N.C., Sociology
Paige Johnson, Volleyball, Sleepy Hollow, Ill., Business Administration
Patrick Jones, Men's Swimming & Diving, St. Simons Island, Ga., Geology
Lukas Koncilia, Men's Tennis, Tyrol, Austria, Communication/Political Science, Magna Cum Laude
Kelley Kroll, Equestrian, Irmo, S.C., Marine Biology, Cum Laude
Matt Leeds, Baseball, Boca Raton, Fla., Accounting, Summa Cum Laude
Jesse Mesa, Baseball, Miramar, Fla., Business Administration
Harrison Moore, Men's Golf, Orangeburg, S.C., Sociology
Keely Mulligan, Women's Tennis, Miami, Fla., Communication
Katie Nutaitis, Softball, Vienna, Va., Business Administration
Austin Parks, Men's Golf, Mt. Pleasant, S.C., Business Administration
Annie Pease, Women's Soccer, Marietta, Ga., Political Science, Cum Laude
Alex Percival, Equestrian, Rock Hill, S.C., English, Magna Cum Laude
Katie Pesature, Softball, Brewster, N.Y., Physical Education and Health
Ginny Phillips, Volleyball, Raleigh, N.C., Business Administration
Amanda Raymond, Women's Soccer, Richmond, Va., Biochemistry, Cum Laude
Jose Rodriguez, Baseball, Hialeah, Fla., Political Science
Faye Rossi, Equestrian, Warwick, N.Y., Accounting
Whitney Russell, Volleyball, Decatur, Ga., Communication
Joshua Shinoff, Men's Cross Country, San Diego, Calif., Biology
Jeremy Simmons, Men's Basketball, Lithonia, Ga., Communication
Jesse Simpson, Baseball, Baton Rouge, La., Communication
Travis Stewart, Baseball, Laurel, Md., Arts Management
Crystal Threlfall, Equestrian, Ridgefield, Conn., Business Administration
Kip Watson, Sailing, Duxbury, Mass., Political Science
Kristi Woodall, Softball, Huntersville, N.C., Business Administration, Magna Cum Laude
Mary Zolga, Women's Track & Field, Raynham, Mass., Business Administration, Cum Laude