Meet the Staff
Director, Fellowships & Scholar Programs
Education/Major(s): Wofford College, BA in English and Sociology
USC, MEd in Student Personnel Services, Higher Education
About Me: Married 23 years to Jim Beskid, also a Wofford alumni. Together we are proud parents to Austin (junior at USC) and Caroline (11th grader at A.C. Flora) and love supporting them in their activities and passions.
Favorite Spot On Campus: The Horseshoe
Length of Time at USC: 30+ years. Began in January 1984 as a graduate student and have been here ever since!
Favorite Gamecock Moment/Best Part about being a Gamecock:
Best memory is Pope John Paul II’s visit to USC in September 1987 as a part of USC’s ecumenical year - being a part of the staff support for the event and attending the program on the Horseshoe and the mass at Williams Brice Stadium was an unforgettable experience. Best part of daily life as a Gamecock is helping students crystalize their dreams and start on the path to achieving them which is an honor and a privilege.
Jan Phillips Smoak
Education/Major(s): Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200), Carolina Yoga Teacher Training; M. Ed. in Student Personnel Services, University of South Carolina; BA in Journalism, University of South Carolina
About Me: A born and bred Gamecock, I love to communicate in writing, but also using social media such as Facebook and Twitter. I am a very off and on blogger. As an undergraduate at USC, I was very involved in campus life – Greek life, The Gamecock, and what is now called Garnet Circle (Student Alumni Association). I have only traveled abroad twice – to Cozumel, Mexico, and to France & Italy, but the latter trip gave me great insight into why our scholars enjoy international travel. I have several roles: University administrator, yoga teacher, mom, and wife to a UMC pastor to name a few. I enjoy coffee, chocolate, being outdoors, Food Network, and talking with students.
Favorite Spot On Campus: It’s a tie between the Russell House and the Horseshoe. I have fond memories of eating in the cafeteria as an undergraduate student here, but now with an office on the Horseshoe, it’s my favorite place to catch up with students.
Length of Time at USC: 18 years! Because of the students’ intelligence and diversity, I never tire of my University work.
Favorite Gamecock Moment/Best Part about being a Gamecock: ESPN’s Gameday on the Horseshoe and women's basketball!
Jennifer Bess (Jen)
Education/Major(s): BA in Religion from Dartmouth College; MA in Theological Studies from the University of Dayton
About Me: I’m originally from Chicago, where I grew up with two younger brothers. I’ve been an academic advisor, a campus minister, and a high school teacher. My house is full of yarn, fabric and felt, as I love to craft. When I’m not at home, I like to be off traveling the world. My best trip ever was a 500-mile walk across Spain in 2011, on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Feel free to ask to see pictures!
Favorite Spot On Campus: It’s really hard to beat the Horseshoe
Length of Time at USC: Since January, 2012
Favorite Gamecock Moment/Best Part about being a Gamecock: As a life-long Cubs fan, it’s a nice change to cheer on a winning baseball team!
Scholar Programs Coordinator/SCHC Advisor
Education/Major(s): BA in Sociology, USC; Ed.S. in Counselor Education with a focus in Marriage, Family, and Couples Counseling, USC
About Me: Though I wasn't born and raised here, I consider Columbia to be home. I've worn several hats at USC including undergraduate, Magellan Scholar, Magellan Ambassador, graduate student, graduate assistant in the Office of Undergraduate Research, temp, and now advisor! I am so excited to have the opportunity to advise the newest generations of Gamecocks!
Favorite Spot On Campus: The Horseshoe, specifically in the early morning. You can feel the history!
Length of Time at USC: 8 years. I started here as an undergraduate in 2007 and just can't seem to bring myself to leave!
Favorite Gamecock Moment/Best Part about being a Gamecock: The best part about being a Gamecock is that there is something for everyone. Whether your passion is research, athletics, theater, community service, traveling, or even skydiving, you will be able to find somewhere to thrive. As for my favorite Gamecock moment, watching Kenny Chesney's sound check with my coworkers on the Horseshoe the day before ESPN's College Gameday aired from campus in 2014 was incredibly memorable!
Education/Major(s): BA in Interdisciplinary Studies (emphasis on Sports Administration and Business Information Systems) from the University of South Carolina
About Me: I'm married to Dale (for 12 years!) and Mom to two awesome little boys – Nate (8), a third grader at BLES and Owen (4), a K4 student at BLPS. Our family enjoys participating in Cub Scout activities together! I’m a third generation gamecock and have a brick on the horseshoe beside my sister, grandfather, and great grandfather. While at USC I was a Carolina Classic – a group that assisted with recruiting football players and other student athletes.
Favorite Spot On Campus: It’s a toss-up between the Horseshoe and Williams Brice Stadium
Length of Time at USC: 18 years
Favorite Gamecock Moment/Best Part about being a Gamecock: I’ve watched USC Football go all the way from winning their first postseason game as a student to beating a nationally ranked team (#1 Alabama at the time) to seeing USC host ESPN’s Gameday on the Horseshoe three times in the last few years!
Education/Major(s): I graduated from Western Kentucky University with a Health Science degree and a Social Work minor.
About Me:. I am a graduate student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program and am proud to be earning my spot as a Gamecock. My husband is a graduate of the South Carolina Honors College, and we loved his time there so much that we named our miniature schnauzer, Harper, after Harper College here on campus. I love dogs, and am happy to share pictures, stories, or puppy-sit anytime! When I’m not chasing Harper, I enjoy painting, reading, and finding new shows on Netflix.
Favorite Spot On Campus: It's cliche', but it's famous for a reason, I love the Horseshoe!
Length of Time at USC: I started in April 2014
Favorite Gamecock Moment/Best Part about being a Gamecock:The best parts of being a Gamecock are the opportunities to build lasting connections with faculty and staff. I promise we don't bite!.