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Management lecturer publishes second novel, wins SC Humanities award

Management lecturer Kāsie Whitener considers herself a lifelong storyteller — a trait she says makes her a more effective instructor and feeds her passion for writing.

Whitener is releasing her second full-length novel this month and was recently recognized for her dedication to the arts by South Carolina Humanities.

While Whitener earned her Ph.D. in organizational management and leadership, she has a master’s in American literature and a bachelor’s in English. She balances her roles as a lecturer for the Moore School, a managing partner for a business consulting company and a fiction writer.

Over the course of her career, Whitener has taught management, strategic management and entrepreneurship courses at multiple higher education institutions. She said she thrives on her interactions with her students and enjoys sharing her real-world experience with them. She also teaches a South Carolina Honors College course for writers about the publishing industry.

Along with her Moore School teaching and writing, Whitener manages her business consulting company, Clemson Road Creative. She also serves on the South Carolina Writers Association board; hosts a weekly radio show, Write On SC; and is on the South Carolina Humanities Speakers’ Bureau.

Whitener recently received the 2021 Fresh Voices in the Humanities Award given by the South Carolina Humanities in recognition of her dedication to the literary arts. Her debut novel, “After December,” has more than a 4-star rating on Amazon and Goodreads. Her follow-up novel, “Before Pittsburgh” will be released in August 2021.

Read below as she discusses her passion for teaching and writing.

How does it feel to have a published novel for sale, especially one that has 4.5 stars on Amazon and a 4.2 rating on Goodreads?
Amazing. Fiction was why I majored in English in undergrad and my master’s program. While my Ph.D. is business-oriented and my career has been in training and development, I’ve been a storyteller all my life. There’s something particularly satisfying about letting readers into your made-up places to mingle with your made-up characters. “After December” was my first novel and “Before Pittsburgh” is its follow-up, answering a lot of questions from the first book. I grew up with these characters and am very, very proud of the work.

You have quite an impressive list of courses you’ve taught at a number of higher education institutions. Why do you love teaching in higher education? 
It’s the point-of-discovery. I remember being in undergrad and going to a particular class and having my brain lit up with new ideas, possibilities and optimism. In grad school, I would think so hard I’d be exhausted after every class. I like to think students come into the classroom willing to be changed by what they discover. I’m passionate about the subjects I teach, and I constantly offer that enthusiasm to my students. I believe every class is a chance to light that spark for someone, like it was once lit for me.

What aspects of your real-world work do you bring into your lessons for your management courses? 
So many! Certainly, in Strategic Management it’s the experience of being a trainer in a multi-national firm through multiple acquisitions and growth. In Entrepreneurship, it’s my work as a business owner and in the Columbia ecosystem and also my passion for starting something new: the resilience, grit and commitment it takes to strike out on one’s own. My Honors College class for writers is about the publishing industry, and it’s so disrupted right now, there are so many paths to publishing and opportunities for storytellers, it’s electric. All of my classes draw on my “real-world” experience because that’s how I can be authentic. For me, the classroom is a collaborative learning environment and I look forward to what students can teach me, too. That approach is entirely rooted in my professional life where I’m always learning and growing.

Anything else you want to add about your writing career, teaching or courses?
It’s an honor to be part of my students’ experience at South Carolina. I tell them about “After December” and my fiction life, but I usually suggest they wait until after the semester to read it. Between the books, the radio show, the blogs, the YouTube channels and my various activism efforts, it’s impossible to hide who I am from them. I’m constantly breaking the fourth wall to share more of myself with them in the hopes that they’ll share themselves with me and we’ll all be enriched by the experience. Their success is my primary motivation. In our learning collaboration, I think we’re all changed for the better.


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