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College of Education

CarolinaLIFE announces new program director


Chelsea VanHorn Stinnett was named the new director of the CarolinaLIFE program at the University of South Carolina. She will succeed Tony Plotner who led the program for nine years and will continue to serve as a faculty member in the Department of Educational Studies and consultant to the program.


I am excited to continue to empower our students to reach their full potential.

Chelsea VanHorn Stinnett, CarolinaLIFE director


CarolinaLIFE provides individualized support for students with diverse learning needs in meeting their academic, employment, independent living, and personal development goals. More than 80 students have been served by the program. Students take courses related to their professional field of interest while also learning skills to prepare them for independent life after college. They are immersed on campus — living, learning and experiencing inclusive college life as a USC student.

“I’ve been so grateful for the opportunities and mentorship that I have received during the last four years,” Stinnett says. “I am excited to continue to empower our students to reach their full potential and spread the message about how important and effective CarolinaLIFE is for not only our students, but also the university, the community, and the state of South Carolina.”

Stinnett has served as an instructor and coordinator for CarolinaLIFE for four years as part of her doctoral fellowship. During this time, she has mentored dozens of students and helped them find employment while on campus and after they graduate.

“We are so excited to have Chelsea as the new director,” Dean Jon Pedersen says. “CarolinaLIFE is an extremely important program in our college. We are thrilled to continue to support CarolinaLIFE and its bright future with Chelsea leading the way.”

Stinnett received her bachelor’s degree, as well as a Master of Education, from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. This summer, she will complete her doctorate in Special Education from the University of South Carolina. She is also an assistant research professor.

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