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College of Business Student Gives Gift of Hope

A few years ago, Danielle Rondinelli, a marketing major and supply chain minor in the College of Business, saw a social media post about becoming a bone marrow donor and felt led to respond.

Rondinelli, who approaches life with a servant’s heart, found out she was a match for a potential donor. She then went through the steps toward the donation process. Individuals with various types of bone and blood cancers face a difficult future, so bone marrow transplants give them the gift of time.

Rondinelli submitted her DNA sample to the bone marrow registry, run by Be the Match, a nonprofit organization, followed by lab work and several doctor visits. In early March, when it was time to donate, she flew to Chicago to the facility where the procedure was performed.

As she was going through the donation itself, Rondinelli’s thoughts focused not on what she was going through, but rather on who she was helping. She thought about her donation as a way to show Christ’s love to another person.

“When you’re sitting there and you’re looking at this machine... It’s just kind of a moment where that pain just doesn’t become important anymore, because you’re able to see what a blessing it is that you’re able to do something,” she said.

Bautista Awarded Second Place in National Design Competition

Hanna Bautista, a rising senior in the Anderson University School of Interior Design, earned “The Award of Distinction” in the 2022 Robert Bruce Thompson Annual Student Light Fixture Design Competition.

“The Cado Light,” a light fixture Bautista designed, was one of five projects recognized in the national design competition. Bautista’s design placed highly among stiff competition from design programs at major universities across the United States.

The competition’s design challenge for 2022 was for a light fixture to be used over produce displays in a major supermarket chain with 1,300 stores. Criteria for the light fixture design included consideration of sustainability, accurate color rendering of merchandise, materials, durability, maintenance, energy efficiency, manufacturing and even shipping. Students developed a series of technical and presentation drawings documenting their light fixture design and illustrating it in use in a supermarket interior environment of their own architectural design.

Bautista produced her award-winning design as part of her coursework in the ID355 Lighting Design course in the Anderson University School of Interior Design. The course is taught by Assistant Professor David Greer. Bautista’s successful design skillfully drew inspiration from the colors and forms of an avocado, a common sight in most supermarket produce sections.

Learmonth Awarded for Cancer Research

Maya Learmonth, an alumna from Austin, Texas, and a graduate of the Anderson University College of Arts and Sciences, studied how thyme, a Mediterranean herb, can inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells.

Learmonth was awarded for her presentation at the 22nd Ernest E. Just Scientific Symposium, held February 25, 2022, at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

“Essentially we’re treating these rapidly growing cancer cells with these extracts made from thyme and it’s stopping the growth to some extent of these cancer cells. The idea is to be able to keep the healthy cells alive and to kill the cancerous cells at the same concentrations,” Learmonth said.

According to Dr. Diana Ivankovic, director of the Anderson University Center for Cancer Research, this is the fifth time that an AU student won national research awards at MUSC.

“Maya Learmonth managed to shine and represent our University gloriously,” said Dr. Ivankovic.

For more than a decade, students in the Anderson University Center for Cancer Research have advanced-level opportunities for research on the undergraduate level. The Ernest E. Just Symposium celebrates the life of the noted African-American biologist and is held annually in February.

U.S. Marshal Nominee is Anderson University Graduate

Chrissie Latimore, a graduate of the Anderson University School of Public Service and Administration, was named by President Joe Biden as a nominee for United States Marshal for the District of South Carolina.

Latimore has served as chief of police for the Laurens Police Department since 2018. She previously served as assistant chief of police of the Laurens Police Department from 2014 to 2018, and in various other roles with the Department from 1999 to 2013. She was a special agent for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division from 2013 to 2014.

Chief Latimore received a MS from Anderson University in 2014, graduating from the School of Public Service and Administration. She also received a BS from Lander University in 2011, and an AS from Piedmont Technical College in 2007. Latimore is a veteran of the United States Army and Army Reserve.

The nomination is subject to confirmation by the United States Senate.

New Album: “Redefining AUthenticity” is out

“Redefining AUthenticity” is a new album that combines the creative talents of AUthenticity, one of the premier commercial music ensembles in The South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University.

The album was recorded in the new Anderson University Music Media Studios, part of the Johnny Mann Center for Commercial Music in The South Carolina School of the Arts. The album is available on Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes. CDs became available in August.

The album consists of pop, rock, R&B, blues, Latin, acoustic ballads and jazz fusion. What’s more, all tracks are original compositions showcasing the talents of eight songwriters and their distinctive personalities.

“We come from different walks of life with different musical traditions, based on our cultural backgrounds and things like that. Every track you’re going to jump into a different musical world. That’s what makes it really exciting,” said AUthenticity member and recent AU graduate Max Milian, keyboardist, vocalist and music director for the album.

Beyond performing, AUthenticity members are also learning about the music industry. Creating and performing their own songs helps students grow as musicians, according to Dr. Derick Cordoba, director of the Johnny Mann Center for Commercial Music.

New Journal Showcases Historical Research

Members of Anderson University’s Alpha Rho Epsilon Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, a national history honors society, have published a new journal of undergraduate historical research.

A team of two student editors and a faculty editor put together Res Historica, a showcase of student research. Submissions were accepted from all students, regardless of major or class. The journal has eight undergraduate research articles and includes papers on topics that range from ancient Mediterranean society to the remembrance of 9/11.

“The journal itself is the first such journal at AU and is a huge accomplishment for our students,” said Dr. Lynneth Renberg, assistant professor of history in the Anderson University College of Arts and Sciences and faculty editor. “Our history students at Anderson are producing excellent historical research and writing, and the chance to showcase their work for a broader audience is something that we as a department have been working toward for the past few years. We’re excited to build on this in the coming years.”

For more information about the journal, including requests for a physical or digital copy of the publication, contact Dr. Lynneth Renberg by emailing

Subtropical Ecosystems Class Takes Learning to a New Level

A group of 21 students from the Anderson University College of Arts and Sciences traveled to one of the most diverse ecosystems in the United States to study subtropical environments.

Students from the Subtropical Ecosystems class, along with Dr. Joni Criswell, associate professor of biology were at Pigeon Key Island, Florida last May to see firsthand the biodiversity of the subtropical regions of the United States and learn about conservation efforts and the effects of pollution.

Dr. Criswell says that observing subtropical and tropical ecosystems is beneficial. Pigeon Key is a five-acre island with a marine science center located along the old Seven Mile Bridge. It was originally the location for a work camp connected with construction of the Florida East Coast Railway in the early 20th century.

“We were on this island to learn more about conservation efforts and also to physically see what we had learned about in class, like coral reef ecosystems and how they were affecting marsh ecosystems and mangrove ecosystems—mostly just to give us a better view of how our oceans work, how our ocean life is built upon these ecosystems that are subtropical and how we’re dependent on them for the future of the world,” said rising junior biology major Brianna Rao.

Anderson University students remember the life of Elbert Harris, an 1898 lynching victim

The Anderson University Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Anderson Area Remembrance and Reconciliation Initiative recognized the life of Elbert Harris April 22 at a moving ceremony in downtown Anderson.

On May 20, 1898, as police were transporting Harris to the Anderson County Jail, a mob took him and beat him severely. Harris died because he did not receive adequate care while in police custody.

To remember the tragedy, Anderson University students planted purple and white flowers in jars full of soil collected from the site of the incident. The jars bore Elbert Harris’ name.

Harris was one of five victims of racial violence the Anderson Area Remembrance and Reconciliation Initiative remembered. The lynchings took place between 1894 and 1911.

Students Cailah Tolbert, Jordan Bishop, Catalina Molina, Gloria Todd and Jasmine Cuffy participated in the ceremony alongside Dr. James Noble, vice president for diversity and inclusion, and Kevin Williams, associate dean of diversity and inclusion.

A Trojan Basketball Alum’s Transplant Journey

Thanksgiving is an extra special holiday for Nikki Young, a 2017 graduate from Taylors, South Carolina, who played on the Trojan Women’s Basketball Team. That’s when her father, Dion Young, gained a new lease on life.

“His kidneys crashed pretty rapidly,” Nikki said. “We didn’t know what was wrong until he tested positive for COVID. Because his kidney was only functioning at two percent, we had to move very fast.”

Nikki and her siblings were tested for a potential match. No match was found, but thankfully, through the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), Dion still found lifesaving help. UNOS allows an individual
to donate a kidney to someone in need. In return, a family member or someone on a donor list donates theirs. Nikki was a match for a young man in need, and a nurse with Prisma Health was a match for Dion. Sur- gery took place during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2021 at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

Going through this experience and seeing her father’s return to a more normal life makes Nikki and her family strong believers in the living organ donor program. Details about becoming a living kidney donor can be found at the National Kidney Foundation website.

College of Education Graduate a S.C. Teacher of the Year Finalist

South Carolina Education Superintendent Dr. Molly Spearman awarded Anderson University alumna Laura Merk with a check and announcement that she’s a finalist for South Carolina Teacher of the Year.

A love for kids and a desire to keep learning upbeat, engaging and fun best describes Laura Merk, a 2015 graduate of the Anderson University College of Education.

Merk’s inspiring approach to learning gained her recognition when she was named District Teacher of the Year for Fort Mill Schools. Then in early March, South Carolina Superintendent of Education Dr. Molly Spearman visited Merk’s classroom, surprising her and her students. The classroom’s atmosphere quickly turned celebratory as Dr. Spearman presented Merk with a $10,000 check and announced her as one of five finalists for South Carolina Teacher of Year.

Being in the Teaching Fellows program at Anderson University provided Merk with professional development opportunities and experiences that gave her the tools she needed for excellence as an educator.

“The Anderson University College of Education celebrates Laura’s well-earned recognition as a South Carolina Teacher of the Year Finalist. We rejoice in her accomplishments, particularly because we know that means she is daily living out her calling to impact students through building knowledge, values and community in her classroom,” said
Dr. Mark Butler, dean of the Anderson University College of Education.

Conceal and Reveal 3D Wearable Project Explores Visual Communication

Throughout history, people have expressed themselves by what they wear.

Last semester, Art Foundations students in The South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University explored in depth wearable designs and what they communicate.

The Conceal and Reveal 3D Wearable Project challenged the students to create a wearable sculpture using one repeated material (either mass produced or natural) that they transformed as much as possible to visually communicate something they either reveal or conceal from others emotionally, culturally or socially.

“We talked in lecture about how adornment across cultures is meant to communicate a message about the wearer and looked at both historical and contemporary examples. We also discussed the cultural values that determine some of the different ways people dress in western culture. We also talked about marketing and stereotypes and critiqued our own culture a bit, identifying stereotypes and discussing ways in which they can be harmful,” said The South Carolina School of the Arts Foundations Coordinator Bethany Pipkin.

The students presented their creations in a runway show across the stage in Daniel Recital Hall of the Rainey Fine Arts Center, ending with a photo shoot by Professor Jer Nelsen.

AU College of Engineering Students Exceed National Employment Levels for Women

Anderson University College of Engineering majors Jaya McGill and Chloe Munn are part of a growing trend of women entering engineering fields. Thirty-five percent of students in the Anderson University College of Engineering are women; that’s higher than the national average of female engineers in the workforce.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported there are nearly 13.2 million female employees in STEM roles as of 2021. Though women make up less
than a quarter of all engineers, more women are being hired than in the past. According to Glassdoor, small businesses and startups hired 13 percent more female engineers in 2021, up from a four percent increase the previous year.

“Women have a huge role to play in engineering and they should be encouraged and supported to do so,” said Dr. Stephen Ojo, professor of engineering.

The Anderson University College of Engineering provides a compre- hensive engineering education that combines Anderson’s liberal arts tradition within a Christian worldview. Details can be found online at

College of Business Studies Impact of Employees with Disabilities

The Anderson University College of Business is conducting employment research for the retail chain Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Business Professor Dr. Jeffrey Moore and a group of students last April met with representatives from Bed, Bath and Beyond. The chain wants to hire more people with disabilities in their Dallas distribution center. It is not the first time the College of Business has helped businesses with accessibility and disability research; the College has been conducting research with Walgreens for about 10 years. The pharmacy chain has a longstanding commitment of hiring persons with disabilities.

A team of faculty members, as well as graduate and Ph.D. students, conducted research measuring the impact of hiring people with disabil- ities, looking at productivity, absenteeism and employee engagement. Also discussed were ways to increase and improve employment oppor- tunities for the disabled population.

The graduate student researchers are Sarah Hankins (MBA), Karine Brunet (Ph.D), McKenzie Allison (Ph.D), and Ashley Oberlander Townsend (Ph.D). The faculty research team consisted of Drs. William Hanson, Evie Maxey, Robert Franklin and Susie Doughty; they have worked with Walgreens and Sephora to study their inclusive organi- zations and their impact on the non-disabled team members and the organization’s culture, according to Dr. Moore.