When Stan Papajohn first met with the faculty at the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, he was a man ready to retire after 40 years in the world of retail pharmacy.
The deal they struck was for Papajohn to come on as a part-time clinical instructor for “just a few years.” Now, 23 years after he agreed to come on board, Papajohn is officially hanging up the white coat.
A two-time graduate from South Carolina, Papajohn first earned a biology degree before coming back years later for a degree in pharmacy. As an undergraduate, he was a cartoonist for The Gamecock.
Papajohn left a mark, not just on the student newspaper, not just on the College of Pharmacy where he worked for more than two decades, but on USC. He counts nine family members who have joined the Gamecock ranks.
And it’s a close-knit family. In June, Papajohn, a first-generation Greek American, took them to Greece for the first time to see the country their ancestors called home.
Naturally, Papajohn donned a khaki hat emblazoned with the familiar USC — and then went viral thanks to a TikTok where he could be seen Sandstorming on a boat in the Aegean Sea.
“We got on the catamaran and there were four or five other people besides our group,” he says. “One of the girls says, ‘I'm a Gamecock fan, too.’ I said, ‘How'd you know that?’ She said, ‘I saw your ring when you went to shake hands.’”
That woman turned out to be an international business major at USC. Spotting another Gamecock over 5,000 miles from the city they both call home, she had to introduce herself.
He introduced himself to the woman as Stan Papajohn, of course, but among family he sometimes goes by a different name now. His grandchildren call him Papou.
“Papou's big word has always been ‘tradition,’” says Anna Maria Hinson, Papajohn’s granddaughter. “We've always really cared about the Greek traditions, which made going to Greece very special. But USC has all these cool traditions, too. All the new things at USC are super exciting, but we also think the coolest things are the traditions that have been at USC forever, and we can talk to Papou about that because he was here when many of those began.”
Meet the Greek Gamecock Family
Pete Papajohn, 1985 civil engineering, 1987 MBA
The university to me — among many other things — is a repository of so many special memories with friends and family, both from while I was attending school and for all these years since.
Charles Andrew Gardiner, 1985 political science
Growing up in Columbia, S.C. and being a Gamecock fan in my younger years definitely played a part in my decision to become a student at USC. I found the location of the university to be a perk because I could be a part of in our capital city. USC offers the feel of being away at school but the convenience of being close to other attractions in Columbia. It’s also convenient to the mountains and our coastal areas.
Christina Papajohn Gardiner, 1988 public relations
I grew up with Gamecock alumni parents, and then later my older brother attended USC. It is an understatement to say that my father was, is and will always be a devoted USC Gamecock fan. However, it’s the talents he gifted to various departments at the university that showed his loyalty and devotion. He is devoted to USC in much the same way as he is devoted to the Greek community and our church. Watching my father draw cartoons for sports teams, paint murals on campus walls and volunteer his time in the pharmacy labs made me realize I want to attend a university that leaves an alumnus with that kind of pride and dedicated love of a school. I am forever grateful I chose to follow the same path as my dad by attending USC. It was a joy on this trip to Greece to say, “I am Greek, and I am a Gamecock!” Opa and Go Cocks!
Kevin Jackson, 2014 international business and marketing
Favorite memory? Upsetting No. 1 Alabama in football at home in 2010.
Allie Papajohn, 2014 public relations
The University of South Carolina is the only college I applied to. Needless to say, it's exactly where I wanted to be for four years. My fondest memories come from my time in Kappa Delta Sorority, my time at Carolina football games and my time spent with Columbia-resident family members. Having aunts, uncles, cousins and especially Papou in town made all the difference. Plus, we had an amazing four years of football when I was a student.
Madison Kennette Papajohn, 2016 public health
I am one of the very fortunate people to have married into the Papajohn Family. I have been a huge Carolina fan my entire life and started going to football games with my dad when I was a 6-month-old. I knew I would need to marry into a family that felt the same about Carolina, and I think I hit the jackpot!
Joseph “Gus” Papajohn, 2016 sport and entertainment management
USC means everything to me and to our family. Our Papou is the one who started it all with our love and fandom for the university and its athletic programs. I've been attending Carolina football and baseball games for as long as I can remember with my dad and Papou. Never in a million years could I have attended another school.
Josh Hinson, 2019 finance
Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a Gamecock. Going to football and baseball games with my family and friends cultivated a love for the university before I even enrolled. One of my favorite experiences as a Gamecock was going to the Final Four in Phoenix with a group of friends. There’s nothing quite like traveling with Gamecocks. Looking back, I owe so much to the university where I met my best friends, including my now wife.
Anna Maria Hinson, 2019 English, 2020 M.T.
I grew up seeing how much my grandfather, parents, uncle and cousins absolutely loved Carolina, and although I toured different schools, I knew USC was my home. It has the feeling of a close-knit family bonded by tradition, academic rigor, service and a fierce loyalty to the Gamecocks. Some of my favorite memories are making lifelong friends in Greek life, the amazing education school and game day mornings blasting Sandstorm and Darius Rucker. The joys of being a Gamecock are hard to put into words, and I love that I don’t have to try to explain it to my family — they just get it.