Posted on: October 20, 2017
John Grady rarely has first-year students in the classes he teaches at the University of South Carolina. However, he has built a legacy of first-year impressions by going out of his way to be involved with those who are new to the Gamecock community.
The University recently honored his work by naming him the 2017 winner of the Outstanding Advocate for First-Year Students Award. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant and extraordinary contributions to the development of the academic, professional, and/or personal lives of first-year students.
Grady has worked at UofSC for 13 years and is an associate professor and the undergraduate program director in the Department of Sport and Entertainment Management. In addition to his primary roles, he has worked with first-year students in the Sport and Entertainment Management Living and Learning Community, as a faculty associate at Preston Residential College, and while serving as faculty advisor for the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.
“First-year students have all the optimism and all the ideas,” Grady says. “You get the chance to shape their path with them.”
Morgan Bueter, a sport and entertainment management student, nominated Grady for the award, and Bueter is just one of many students whose lives Grady has touched.
“Professor Grady has been an incredible resource, friend, and mentor to me throughout my college career,” says student Andrew Co, who got to know Grady while living at Preston Residential College. “He has offered me sincere life advice, assistance with finding internships, and has an adorable dog!”
Grady says putting students first has always been a priority for HRSM faculty and staff, and he believes helping offer a great first-year experience can lead to a bright future and to strong and lasting relationships.
“You kind of meet them where they are,” he says. “It allows you to develop a much deeper connection.”
Associate Dean Sam Todd of the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management says Grady’s work is exemplary. “In many ways, the College of HRSM is built around service disciplines, and as such, Dr. John Grady is an excellent example of the mindset,” Todd says. “The unparalleled service he delivers to many student groups is a high standard; we thank him for the good work and celebrate all his accomplishments with him.”
Grady recalls the energy and optimism of a freshman named Anthony Carson who arrived at UofSC full of ideas for sport research. Those ideas led to Grady and Carson traveling to the Rio 2016 Olympics to conduct sport sponsorship research, and they’ve been working closely together ever since. Carson is now a senior in college, and they will present their research at Harvard Law School next month.
“Dr. Grady invests in his students unlike any other professor I've ever interacted with,” Carson says. “His goal is for me to find my own success in whatever pathway I choose. The way he motivates, teaches and prepares his students is rare - and speaks volumes to his character.” Grady says he feels that helping students find their calling is a big part of his role, and that it starts as soon as the students arrive on campus.
“When you have a good first-year experience, it can parlay itself into something quite incredible.”