Math professor competed with wife for WU position

Dr. Zachary Abernathy
Dr. Zachary Abernathy and NBA point guard Chris Paul hang out together. Photo courtesy of Dr. Zachary Abernathy

After competing with his wife, Kristen, for a position in the department, Zachary Abernathy, assistant math professor, got his start at Winthrop three years ago.

The university hired them both soon after they completed graduate school.

Originally from Winston-Salem, N.C., Abernathy completed his undergraduate education at Wake Forest University and graduate education at North Carolina State University.

Like many students, he said he was originally unsure what career path he wanted to take in life.

“I was procrastinating like crazy with what I wanted to do with my life,” Abernathy said. “I had no idea.”

He said throughout school he had a “knack for math” and was naturally good at it.

In college, he graduated with degrees in math and physics but was still unsure what he wanted to do in either area.

“After I graduated from college I said, ‘I still don’t know what I want to do. I guess I’ll just go to school in math some more,’” he said. “So I went to go get my Ph.D. in math.”

Abernathy realized his love for teaching while in graduate school.

Students who agreed to teach a class while studying had their tuition waived and were paid by the university to teach. He agreed to teach and said he did not mind playing along since he was getting paid to go to grad school. Once he started teaching, Abernathy said he fell in love with it.

“I learned that I enjoyed thinking about new math problems and doing research,” Abernathy said. “And I also just discovered that I loved to teach. If I became a professor, I could continue to do both of those things.”

Currently, he teaches a wide variety of math classes, in addition to ACAD 101. Math courses he has taught include Math 150, Math 105, Differential Equations, Real Analysis and Math Modeling Competition.

When he is not teaching, Abernathy enjoys playing the piano, playing basketball and running. He said he grew up loving basketball, especially Wake Forest basketball.

“I was actually at Wake Forest while Chris Paul was there,” he said. “Basketball was huge. He actually went to my high school.”

Chris Paul, NBA point guard, grew up in the same neighborhood as Abernathy in Lewisville, N.C. He said he recalls playing pickup games with Paul in high school, where he would play defense against him and have him locked down since he was still refining his skills.

“That would definitely not be the case now, but that’s my claim to fame,” Abernathy said.

World Wide Winthrop Day brings admitted students to campus

Big Red Chair
Current and future WU students participate in World Wide Winthrop Day activities. Photos by Jacob Hallex •

From popcorn to bouncy houses, World Wide Winthrop Day provided something that almost anyone could enjoy. With over 600 newly admitted students and their families on campus, this year’s WU Day had a record breaking turnout.

Prospective students were given tours of key places on campus as well as an opportunity to engage with professors in their prospective degree programs. During the end of their Winthrop Day experience, the newly admitted students were able to participate in a student life showcase where they had the chance to talk with members of several clubs and organizations on campus.

Kameo McFadden, a prospective psychology major said she enjoyed her first Winthrop Day experience and was impressed with how informative it was.

“I definitely felt like it was a success overall,” McFadden said. “Instead of having to venture out and ask questions, they came to us.”

McFadden’s mother, Christine, said she appreciated how the staff translated all information to a “parent’s perspective.”

“Some of us have been out of college for a number of years,” Christine said.

She said she was impressed by the majors, the McNair Scholars program and the ID card access into residence halls.

“That may be a deciding factor on why she comes here,” she said.

CaricaturesFor Lauren Metcalf, a junior music major who did not have the chance to participate last year, she made it her business to participate in as many activities as she could.

“It took a while to get started but once it did, it was good,” Metcalf said.

In addition to having an Italian flag painted on her right hand and an American flag painted on her left hand, Metcalf had the opportunity to take a trolly ride during the festivities.

“The trolly took us to Richardson and Scholar’s Walk and then back to the West Center,” she said. “It made three stops.”

While this year’s World Wide Winthrop Day proved to increase in numbers and success it only creates a sense of hope and anticipation for next year.

TJ welcomes new member to the family

Baby ultrasound
The Johnsonian staff is awaiting the newest addition to the family, Alisha Kennerly’s baby Adam.

“Ten little fingers,

Ten tiny toes,

The sweetest of smiles

And a cute little nose.

All these add up

To a very special thing…


The greatest of gifts

That life can bring”

Author: Unknown

The Johnsonian is having a baby! Well not the actual newspaper per se, but one of our editors. This will be the first staff baby in the history of the newspaper and we are delighted to welcome little Adam Neal Hinson to the world.

Alisha Kennerly, arts and culture editor, is expecting her eight pound bundle of joy to arrive on April 20 and is anticipating him to have “big lips” just like his dad Bryan.

Happiness is the most important thing she wishes for him while believing the  joyous environment he will be born into will turn the wish into a reality.

“I hope that he is a happy baby,” Kennerly said. “My boyfriend and I are bringing him into a happy environment so I hope that helps. I just hope he enjoys life like Bryan and I do.”

WU alumnus follows media relations dream

Chad Steele
Chad Steele, director of media relations for the Baltimore Ravens, shows his Winthrop pride while posing with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Photo courtesy of Chad Steele

Memories of checking into Richardson Hall as a freshman and rooming with Todd Lassiter still linger in Chad Steele’s mind although it was 20 years ago. While the food at Thomson Hall proved to have the same “uh” factor it currently does to students and the campus’ beauty was ever apparent, Steele’s Winthrop career was overall a “liberating experience.”

Receiving a full-ride from a basketball scholarship from Winthrop led Steele to become a leading rebounder for the team and occupied the majority of his free time. With school and basketball being two of his top focuses, Steele learned the valuable lesson of hard work and discipline.

“I’m a military brat. Just balancing school and basketball was my most valuable lesson,” he said. “The teachers were good at realizing I had responsibilities outside of school.”

A former integrated marketing communications major and the current director of media relations for the Baltimore Ravens, Steele did not always want to have a career in media.

It was when the Carolina Panthers trained at Winthrop Coliseum during their inaugural season that Steele recognized his interest in media. Having a chance to interact with the players and to see what went on behind the scenes added to this interest, he said.

His combined interest in sports and media landed him an internship with the Carolina Panthers. While doing “administrative stuff” such as getting food, picking up players from the airport and writing press releases, his training for this internship prepared him for his current career.

Steele said he would wake up early in the mornings in search of finding every local newspaper rendering stories about the Panthers. After finding all related stories, he was then given the task of physically cutting and pasting these stories in a way that they could be used as a visual aid for the staff.

After two internships with the Panthers and one with the Ravens, Steele went on to work for ESPN and the San Francisco 49ers before beginning his position as a media relations manager with the Ravens. He completed four years as a manager before being promoted to director. It has now been six years that Steele has been the director of media relations for the Ravens.

“My favorite aspect is just getting to know the players and coaches on a different level,” Steele said. “To become friends with people like Ray Lewis and Dion Sanders, to see them as men.”

Steele said being able to “see behind the face mask” with guys such as Lewis and Sanders makes his job that much better.

As director of media relations, Steele writes press releases, biographies and is the intermediary between the players and media.

“Any interviews go through me,” he said.

Over a course of four days during Super Bowl XLVII, Steele said he received about 150 to 160 requests for interviews with Ray Lewis.

“There’s just not enough time,” he said.

It is obvious that a job such as Steele’s requires a substantial amount of time. During the NFL season, he said he works seven days a week. His least favorite aspect of the job is the amount of time he is away from his wife and young daughter.

“It takes time away from your family,” Steele said. “A lot of time.”

There are only a select number of people who have a job such as Steele’s. To receive a job of this stature, an internship is vital, he said.

“It’s such a hard industry to get into,” he said. “There’s only 32 other people in the world who do what I do. There’s a certain amount of knowledge we expect people to know when they come in.”

Steele said if the individuals looking for media jobs with the Ravens lack the necessary experience, they can not even look at their resumé.

“That’s the unfortunate part of this job,” he said. “Learning is imperative.”

As advice to all aspiring media professionals, Steele encourages one to “study your craft.” The business is ever changing and always seeking out knowledge is important.

“Take advantage of your time in school,” he said. “It’s time to have fun, time to grow. When you get out in the real world you won’t be able to roll over and press the snooze button on your alarm.”

Although his sports media career has granted him much success in the industry, Steele has remained humble and remembers the small southern university which gave him his start.

“I think I was well prepared both from Winthrop and from internships,” he said. “I continue to learn and evolve everyday.”

It has been five years since Steele has been back to Winthrop. It was a time when the Ravens played the Panthers that he took a drive around campus. Although he did not have much time to stay and mingle, he nevertheless came back to the place where he first discovered his passion. It is his plan to come back this summer when he has more time to show his wife and daughter the “beautiful” campus.

Student named as Newman Civic Fellow

Each year, Campus Compact names inspiring students as Newman Civic Fellows in memory of Frank Newman, who dedicated his life to education reform. This year’s award recipients included Aaron Eichelberger, junior economics major at Winthrop. As noted on Campus Compact’s website, Eichelberger is an excellent example of the next generation’s public problem solvers and civic leaders.

Campus Compact is a national coalition of almost 1,200 college and university presidents—representing some 6 million students—who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education.

More than 100 student leaders from colleges and universities across the country were nominated by the institution’s president for the award to acknowledge motivation and ability on public leadership. According to Compact, they serve as national examples of the role that higher education can –and does –play in building a better world.

“I am humbled to be named the Newman Civic Fellows Award recipient for Winthrop University,” Eichelberger said. “When I started my civic journey of service, I had no expectation of gaining any recognition. The mere thought of anyone paying attention never crossed my mind. Now that I have been made aware of this ‘limelight,’ it further affirms that my work is not in vain nor is it complete.”

According to a university press release, Eichelberger has volunteered for United Way, worked with TEAMS, a summer enrichment program that prepares at-risk fifth-graders for middle school, and began GENTS Academy, which pairs at-risk middle school boys with university males for mentorship.

After receiving a master’s degree in urban development, Eichelberger hopes to begin a career in community capacity building.

Vandal graffitis walls of Rutledge with Sharpie

A 36-year-old Rock Hill man has been charged with 3rd degree burglary and vandalism after he was observed suspiciously wandering around Rutledge and McLaurin Hall and attempting to draw graffiti.

After reporting to Rutledge Hall in response to the suspicious acts of the subject, Travis Sinclair, campus police made contact with a complainant who provided him with a description of the subject and informed him that he appeared to be high, according to a university police report. Prior to the police’s arrival to Rutledge, the suspect had advised the complainant that he was not a Winthrop student.

The officers searched the building for Sinclair after being given a detailed description of him but was unable to locate anyone matching the given description.

The police report states that later in the evening, the student called campus police for a safety escort from Rutledge to West Thomson. During the escort, she advised the officer that she had previously called the WU Police Department about the suspicious individual and after contacting them, she noticed numerous markings and drawings on walls in the basement of the building that were not previously there. The drawings were created with a black Sharpie.

The student recalled that when she talked to Sinclair earlier that day and asked him why he was there, he responded by saying, “Oh you know, just writing,” the police report said. She also told police that the subject said he was a former student of the College of Charleston, had paintings at an art gallery called “Bob something” and was going through a divorce.

Another officer was then sent to Rutledge building to investigate where he observed graffiti on numerous walls throughout the building. According to the police report, several of the markings made mention of a “Mae Aldrich” and an art gallery in Lancaster, South Carolina named “Bob Doster’s.” The officer took photos and documented the markings and returned to the office.

Hours later, campus police were dispatched to McLaurin Hall in reference to a suspicious male. According to dispatch, several individuals had called the police department to report that an unknown white male, matching the identical description of the suspicious male from the earlier report, was currently seen walking around Rutledge and McLaurin Hall.

An officer was able to locate Sinclair and asked him to step outside of McLaurin Hall to speak with officers. The report states that the subject became “hostile and uncooperative” during the interview but the officer was able to locate the black sharpie in his rear left pocket.

After speaking to several witnesses, it was confirmed that the suspect was indeed Sinclair due to evidence and information obtained.

He was placed under arrest and taken to the City of Rock Hill Law Center where he was served an arrest warrant for burglary of (3rd degree). Sinclair was also issued a Trespass Warning Notification banning him from campus and all property owned by Winthrop University indefinitely.