Paul Gillam (left in photo), a member of Capital Rotary’s scholarship selection committee, welcomes College of Charleston graduate Victoria Bailey to the June 13 weekly meeting. Bailey, recipient of a four-year scholarship from the club, graduated from Dreher High in 2015 and majored in biology/molecular biology. She plans to attend medical school and is eyeing a career as a surgeon, anesthesiologist or obstetrics/gynecology practitioner. Capital Rotary has been supporting higher-education opportunities for local high school students for more than 20 years. The club’s scholarships are based on a combination of academic performance, extracurricular activities and economic need.
Capital Rotarian Abby Naas was in costume and armed with a light saber for “Star Wars Night” at the Columbia Fireflies baseball game on Friday, May 4. She was among a host of District 7770 club members enjoying a Rotary Night celebration, too, at Spirit Communications Park. The evening of baseball, hot dogs and good sportsmanship combines fellowship and fund-raising, with additional proceeds going to the Rotary Foundation. The hosting Fireflies are a minor league affiliate of the New York Mets. Naas joined the Fireflies staff in January 2015 as marketing and public relations vice president.
Capital Rotary is awarding scholarships to two college-bound Midlands students following 19 applicant interviews in late March. Club members on the selection committee included (from left in photo) Paul Gillam, Allyson Way Hank and Darren Foy, plus Pete Pillow (not pictured). A $20,000 scholarship – $5,000 annually for four years – is going to C.A. Johnson High School senior Amariyah Ayee, while Ben Lippen School senior Claire Davis is getting a $10,000 scholarship – $5,000 annually for two years. Ayee, second-ranked in her class, plans to attend Claflin University and hopes to become a pediatric surgeon. Davis will seek to major in engineering and plans to use that knowledge to solve clean water problems in third-world countries. Capital Rotary has been supporting higher-education opportunities for local high school students for more than 20 years. The club’s scholarships are based on a combination of academic performance, extracurricular activities and economic need.
Sponsor Allyson Way Hank and president Blake DuBose (right) introduce Alex Serkes as Capital Rotary Club’s newest member. Serkes practices commercial real estate and corporate law in Nexsen Pruet’s Columbia office and graduated cum laude from the University of South Carolina Law School. At USC he was research editor for the ABA Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal, and was an executive board member of the Constitutional Scholar’s Pipeline, a program to mentor middle schoolers interested in attending college and law school. Serkes has a communications degree from East Carolina University, where he was a member of the Student Government Association, the Inter-Fraternity Council and a sportswriter for the campus newspaper. The Salisbury, MD native is a member of the American and Carolina Bar associations and has previous community service with the Metro Charlotte YMCA.
Addressing South Carolina’s information technology “talent gap” is the mission of IT-ology, a Columbia-based nonprofit working to attract, retain and educate citizens about the IT profession. Capital Rotarians were briefed on those efforts during a fifth Wednesday meeting with IT-ology staffers (from left in photo Lauren Wells, Kristy McLean and Bonnie Kelly). The Palmetto State has (1) a limited pool of trained, experienced potential IT employees; (2) an insufficient number of students in IT classes; (3) women and minorities underrepresented in the profession; (4) a high demand for more cybersecurity professionals; (5) a need for a statewide culture that encourages innovators and entrepreneurs; and (6) a need for workers with more “soft skills” like communication, collaboration, teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking and negotiation. IT-ology says the key to answering these needs includes more pre-K-12th grade programs, expanded technical college outreach, teacher professional development and IT career development seminars. Capital Rotary’s Fifth Wednesday program substitutes local field trips to sites like IT-ology in place of a regular club meeting.
Capital Rotary president Blake DuBose receives banners from clubs in Nairobi and Ireland from Catherine Glen, a former Rotary Global Grant Scholar studying in the field of peace and conflict prevention. Glen recently received a master’s degree from Queen’s University in Belfast. She’s currently a visiting research associate at the university’s Center for Evidence and Social Innovation. Global Grant scholarships support graduate level study in one of Rotary International’s six areas of focus: peace, disease prevention, water and sanitation, maternal/child health, education, and economic/community development. Glen is a 2011 University of South Carolina graduate and has worked with young people within high-needs communities in the US, Japan, Northern Ireland and Kenya.
South Carolina’s recovery from the economic recession that began in December 2007 has outpaced U.S. growth in some measures since that time, but future forecasts depend on continued consumer confidence and on the politics of issues such as healthcare, fair trade, tax reform and rebuilding infrastructure. That’s according to the University of South Carolina’s Dr. Bob Hartwig (shown with Capital Rotary Club member Chris Myers). Hartwig is clinical associate professor of finance and co-director of USC’s Center for Risk and Uncertainty Management. He noted that 70 percent of the nation’s economy is tied to consumer spending. Recent polls show public and business confidence in, and optimism about, improving economic conditions. Hartwig earned his doctorate from the University of Illinois in 1993 and speaks frequently on all issues related to insurance markets.
Adding quality members is the key to success for Rotary clubs, and Columbia’s Capital Rotary must continue to apply that formula, according to past president David Boucher. Boucher, now serving as membership director, focused on the importance of growth at the Oct. 11 meeting. Boucher said international membership numbers were fairly flat for the past five years while Capital Rotary added to its ranks, especially among female members. The club’s attrition rate over the last three years – 8.6% – compares favorably with that of Rotary District 7770 at 14.4%. Boucher believes Capital Rotary’s growth assets include (1) outstanding existing membership, (2) quality speakers each week, (3) a convenient meeting time at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesdays, (4) accessible downtown parking, (5) a good meeting venue at the Palmetto Club, (6) improved social media and public relations and (7) a membership “growth culture.” But noting that “complacency is Rotary’s number one enemy,” Boucher warned that “attrition is real” and the need for “growing clubs with quality Rotarians” must be met to ensure future opportunities for service.
Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company backs community improvement outreach efforts in education, arts and culture, and health and wellness. The Columbia-based firm and its employees had a positive local impact topping $2.4 million in 2016, including over $700,000 in employee giving and more than 11,000 hours of volunteer time for charitable organizations. That’s according to president and CEO Tim Arnold – flanked by Capital Rotary members Matthew Pollard (left) and Frank Rutkowski (right) – the club’s Sept. 20 guest speaker. Arnold said Colonial Life is especially proactive in school programs such as Junior Achievement, literacy and mentoring, and educator leadership training. These demonstrate the company is a corporate good neighbor committed to student achievement and preparation of a future workforce. Arnold earned a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’s in business administration degree in finance from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. He joined Colonial Life in July 2011.