USC Aiken Business Alumni Share Insights with Pacers

Staff Report From Aiken CEO

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

The University of South Carolina Aiken School of Business Administration hosted its inaugural Aiken Business Leadership Symposium during homecoming week, which included a line-up of alumni as its panelists, keynote speaker and special guests.

"The Aiken Business Leadership Symposium was an opportunity for USC Aiken students, local businesses, and the community members to gain new insights from the world of business and the role of leadership," said Dr. Sanela Porcia, professor of economics and international business.

"This one-day symposium brought together some of the prominent USC Aiken graduates who are current business owners, policy makers, and civic leaders."

The School of Business intended for the event to serve as a platform for students, faculty and community stakeholders to explore the importance of higher education, innovative business ideas, and collaborative opportunities between the university and Aiken community. Through panel and one-on-one discussions, students expanded their knowledge of the latest business ideas by engaging with alumni and business leaders.

"This is a unique opportunity for our students who undoubtedly will gain additional understanding of the world of business and the importance of strong leadership," said Dr. Sandra Jordan, chancellor.

"[Pacers,] use today as an enriching networking opportunity and explore new approaches to how we can continue to partner and collaborate to provide an excellent and dynamic educational and professional experience at USC Aiken."

The business school planned the event during homecoming week to celebrate alumni and their accomplishments. "Educating through Engagement: Our Aiken Alumni" was the most fitting theme, according to Porca.

To that end, she invited local alumni to participate. Panelists included Rick Osbon, Aiken mayor and Class of '93; Angie Osbon, Class of '92; Corey Burns, Class of '96; Dr. John Tiffany, Class of '91, Chrissa Matthews, Class of '96, James Gregory, Class of '95, Andrea Gregory, Class of '03; Chad Matthews, Class of '96 and Matt Osteen, Class of '04.

"What better time to highlight the successes of our alumni than during the USC Aiken Homecoming Week," Porca said.

"We are so very proud of all of our graduates; however, this year we focused on these eight amazing individuals who passionately continue to support the USC Aiken mission by working hard, serving to enrich the lives of others, and continuously engaging in life-long learning."

Porca, who not only organized the event but also serves as the endowed global business chair and director of the School of Business' study abroad program, felt it important to include guests from the local community as well. Several business leaders were invited to attend the symposium.

"To energize all stakeholders about the importance of higher education and the outcome it produces, I often refer to USC Aiken as "The Chocolate Factory" from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," she said.

"Unless the community comes to these types of programs, they will never know what's cooking here at USC Aiken. At our university, we do an amazing job of educating young minds and it is important - and imperative - that that we highlight our contribution to it."

She believes the community leaders can also benefit from programs like this at the university.

"The faculty at USC Aiken are leading experts and educators in their respective areas. Our vision is to help local businesses and policymakers lead tomorrow's economy by establishing a strong collaborative relationship between the Aiken community and USC Aiken faculty, students, and staff."

Did you hear that?

Testimonials from USC Aiken alumni who participated in the inaugural Aiken Business Leadership Symposium

"One of the best things I did was get involved in student government. That helped me blossom."

Charissa Matthews, owner of DayBreak Adult Care Services, Inc.

"Take advantage of what you have here. Get involved in at least one organization. It will help you grow."

Charissa Matthews, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English

"Find a mentor and listen, even when they say things you don't want to hear, someone you can look up to and can learn from."

Andrea Gregory, a City of Aiken councilwoman

"Be a responsible risk-taker and embrace change."

Andrea Gregory, co-founder of Highland Industries

"This is an amazing institution that will set your path for the future. It truly formed my life."

Andrea Gregory, earned a Bachelor of Science with a focus in both marketing and Spanish literature

"USC Aiken set the foundation for everything I've accomplished and done."

Andrea Gregory, a member of the Lady Pacer tennis and soccer teams

"My professors were awesome!"

James Gregory, regional vice president for ENGS Commercial Finance

"Not a day goes by that I don't thank God for USC Aiken."

James Gregory, married a fellow USC Aiken Pacer

"Life is not a 9-5 job. You get out what you put into something. Don't be afraid to work hard."

James Gregory, serves on the Woodside Plantation Country Club Board

"What do you want your life to look like down the road? Get involved in that as soon as possible."

Angie Osbon, has worked for USC Aiken for 25 years

My family is very proud to have a university here [in Aiken]."

Rick Osbon, mayor of Aiken

"You are very fortunate to have faculty here who care about your future. Don't take that for granted."

Rick Osbon, a third-generation family business owner

"The relationships I formed at USC Aiken set me up for success."

Chad Matthews, met his wife at USC Aiken when they both served on student government

"A degree from USC Aiken truly does open doors for you."

Corey Burns, owner of Burns Dance Studio who helped form the award-winning USC Aiken Dance Team

"Keep the end in mind; otherwise, you are walking through spaghetti."

Corey Burns, created a USC Aiken legacy as his daughter graduated from the USC Aiken School of Nursing

"I use the critical thinking skills I learned at USC Aiken every day."

Dr. John Tiffany, graduated summa cum laude with a degree in chemistry

"Be ready to change with what is going on. We all have to evolve and change as times change to be successful."

Dr. John Tiffany, owns Tiffany Pediatrics, serving the community's youngest patients and their families