The first degree

Carole Sox didn't set out to make history when she started a Ph.D. program three and a half years ago, but she'll accomplish that Saturday (Aug. 9) when she becomes the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management's first doctoral graduate.

Sox, who will receive a Ph.D. in hospitality management, was part of the college's inaugural cohort of doctoral students. One of 14 degree-granting colleges and schools within the University of South Carolina, the college recently added another Ph.D. program in sport management.

"I think all of us in this first group of Ph.D. candidates are honored to be part of the college's progress," said Sox, who had been an adjunct instructor in HRSM for several years before starting the doctoral program in 2011.

A 20-year corporate career with a focus in the hospitality business was the perfect setup for Sox's classroom stint as an adjunct, and that teaching experience inspired Sox's pursuit of a Ph.D.

"The graduation of outstanding future faculty from its new Ph.D. program will help the college achieve national recognition," said Brian Mihalik, dean of the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. "Carole Sox now will most certainly enhance her teaching, research and service reputation and that will heighten the reputation of USC and the college."

Sox's work experiences at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and as a special events planner for a large bank provided plenty of real-life examples to share in the conference planning and hospitality marketing courses she taught at Carolina.

"Students seem to enjoy the stories from my past jobs. It adds a real-life dimension to the classroom and helps me to provide a working industry perspective to the students," Sox says. "I'm energized by students, and those classroom experiences made me realize how much I need to be current in best practices."

Sox had great support from her husband, Greg, during the three years it took to complete coursework and a doctoral dissertation, but her real motivation for finishing the program in a relatively short time was their two daughters, Millie and Lennae.

"It's been a rigorous experience, the coursework and all of the writing," Sox said, "And I had to devote many evenings and weekends to getting it all done. While Greg was wonderful about shouldering the majority of our parenting responsibilities, I didn't want to be away from Millie and Lennae any more than I had to. My family kept me focused."

If you're going

The hooding ceremony for doctoral candidates will be at 8:30 a.m., Saturday, in the Koger Center for the Arts. At 10:30 a.m., at the Colonial Life Arena, the university will award more than 1,400 degrees for baccalaureate, master’s and professional degree recipients from all eight campuses.

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