HRSM Dean's Circle
Perhaps you could attribute it to his 10-year career in the National Football League. Or maybe to his third-round selection in the NFL Draft or his sense of pride by giving back to the school where he played his college ball.
But none of those embody the reasons why Travelle Wharton, a 2004 retail management alumnus and his wife, Kashema, chose to give back to the University of South Carolina and the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management.
Their education at USC is what prompted the Wharton family to get involved.
"I had a great experience while at Carolina and in earning my degree," recalled Wharton, who smiled when thinking about some of his professors like Barney Allman, a favorite among many of the retail alumni. "We thoroughly enjoyed our time at USC. You get a family feel there and that sense of a pride for your university carries with you. It's exciting to see how the College of HRSM has grown. We want to be involved and to be a part of that."
USC was the foundation for a lot of things in Travelle's life, both personally and professionally. He met his wife during their freshman year in English 101, and playing football for the Gamecocks eventually led him to the pros. "It doesn't matter how good of an athlete you are. If you don't do the right things in the classroom, it can hold you back. Not just in football, but in life. Getting your degree is a big deal."
Travelle is the first person in his immediate family to earn a college degree. That's something he takes pride in as he watches both of his siblings follow his lead in earning their degrees.
Both Travelle and Kashema insist they never felt like numbers, but always treated like individuals while at Carolina. That personal connection resonates strongly with the couple as they raise their three girls - Gabrielle (8), Kaelyn (5), Kelsey (3) - to cheer for the Gamecocks and enjoy their experience while visiting the University of South Carolina together.
Completely supported by the community, Travelle and his family run a football camp near his hometown of Fountain Inn, S.C. Surrounded by some of his former teammates and Gamecock players from both past and present, they provide instruction, lunch and a t-shirt - all free of charge - to more than 500 kids each summer.
"I knew my parents worked hard to provide for us growing up and I couldn't ask for $200 or $300 for a camp, so when I had the opportunity to run a camp of my own, I wasn't going to charge for it," he said.
As Travelle's career in the NFL came to a close in 2014 when he officially retired, both he and Kashema feel both confident and excited moving forward. They are able to rely on the foundation they've laid along the way, paved with hard work and the degrees they each earned while at Carolina, to take them to new heights.