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Alumni spotlight: College Guardian Society members

When a donor makes a planned gift to the University, he or she is invited to join the Guardian Society, an exclusive organization that recognizes those who have invested in Carolina’s future. The College of Information and Communications is honored to count more than three dozen members as supporters. These dedicated alumni and friends have demonstrated their commitment to the college – and to its students – by including it in their estate plans. Several of them shared their stories at the March Guardian Society luncheon.

Where it all began - Cameron & Anna Fox Burnette

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Cameron and Anna Fox Burnette received much more than an education from the University of South Carolina. The couple, who recently welcomed their second daughter, credit the School of Journalism and Mass Communications for bringing them together.

“Cam and I met in a J-school class taught by Dean Bierbauer,” Anna said. “In some sense, the J-school was our matchmaker.”

A member of the U.S. Navy, Cam attended USC through the ROTC Seaman to Admiral program and graduated in 2005 with a B.A. in political science. Anna followed suit with a B.A. in public relations in 2007. The two went on to earn master’s degrees at other universities and eventually settled in Spain for Cam’s job as a surface warfare officer on a U.S. Navy Destroyer.

But even on the other side of the world, the Burnettes have never forgotten where it all began.

“When we were planning for our family and took out life insurance policies, it only made sense to us to give back to a place that had given us so much – education, each other, family, friends,” Anna said of their decision to make the school a beneficiary. “Neither of us would be where we are now without the knowledge and experiences we gained while at USC.”

A chance to lead - John “Jack” Bryan

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John “Jack” Bryan III is a living example of how education can transform a community. A native of New York, Bryan uprooted himself in 1973 and entered the University of South Carolina’s new Master of Library Science program. It was a big move and an even bigger chance to take, but it was a decision that paid off.

His experience in Davis College, both challenging and inspiring, led to a successful career with the South Carolina Attorney General’s office.

Now retired, the impact of his education continues through his planned gift. The Cook Evans Kaminski Fellowship Fund and the Scholarship for Services to Persons with Learning Disabilities Fund will pave the way for other students to make a difference.

Bryan believes that making a gift to the school was a simple choice to make in light of the opportunities his degree afforded him.

“I decided that this school had done a lot for me and that I needed to do something back,” Bryan said.

Giving is essential to this ecosystem - Stephen Brown

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Being a Gamecock is an intrinsic part of Stephen Brown’s identity. A 1995 Honors College alumnus with a degree in advertising and public relations, Brown spent his four years at Carolina serving in every role he could, from Homecoming commissioner to president of Carolina Productions.

Now the chief innovation officer for Cookerly Public Relations in Atlanta, his service continues from afar. A member of the Gamecock Club in Atlanta, Brown volunteers with USC Maymester students each year. He comes to sporting events, speaks to classes and helps other alumni find jobs in his market. He even established the Stephen M. Brown Student Services Suite in the new School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

“I learned an incredible amount at USC and in the School of Journalism that I apply in my everyday life,” Brown said. “I love being able to pass along the things I’ve learned to new generations of students.”

His love of influencing students is one of the reasons Brown decided to make a planned gift to the college in 2014.

“USC has endured for many years through the contributions of faculty and staff and students who ultimately become donors,” Brown said. “Giving is essential to this ecosystem.”

A partnership and a vision - Gayle Johnson & Fred Roper

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Gayle Johnson jokingly refers to herself as “Mrs. Roper.” During the 17 years Dr. Fred Roper led the College of Library and Information Science, Johnson was with him every step of the way, serving first as administrative assistant and eventually as assistant dean.

“When I retired it was like a death or a divorce because we had been with each other every day,” Roper said, laughing.

Johnson played an integral role in expanding the college’s distance education efforts, a contribution that still reverberates today. Roper says it was one of many things his colleague did to support him and the school.

“She made my life so much easier during the time that I was here, and she was such a great friend. So I wanted to make a gift to the school in her honor and I wanted it to be a discretionary fund for the director to use as he or she sees fit.”

This gift, the Gayle Douglas Johnson Endowment Fund, will enable future program directors to pay for faculty travel, student projects, staff support and other needs. But it also honors an extraordinary partnership, one which will impact the school for years to come.

 


To make a planned gift, or to learn more about how you can support the College of Information and Communications, contact Elizabeth Quackenbush, director of development, at 803-777-6898 or elizaq@mailbox.sc.edu.