Lander University on Friday continued its tradition of honoring some of the school’s most accomplished graduates during an awards ceremony that saw a retired Army colonel, a nuclear engineer and a key member of Gov. Henry McMaster’s staff receive honors.
Lamar Scott, a 1982 and 1984 Lander graduate, began serving on the alumni association board of directors in 1998, continuing his tenure every four years through 2019, except for a mandated one-year break.
At the board’s most recent meeting, members unanimously voted to bestow Scott with the title of “Board Member Emeritus.” In 2003, Scott set up an endowed scholarship providing tuition assistance to Elbert County, Georgia students.
Outstanding young alumni
Given to graduates within 15 years of obtaining a Lander degree, the award “recognizes emerging professional and community stand-outs who are also role models and agents of renewal, change and growth.”
Rebecca Pruitt, from the Class of 2011 and Sym Singh, a 2007 graduate, were honored.
Pruitt earned a degree in communications and theater, interning and working with WYFF Channel 4 in Greenville before turning her career toward education.
Pruitt has completed a master’s degree in teaching from Converse College and is pursuing an educational administrative degree and doctorate program through Converse and Furman University.
Pruitt has been honored as Spartanburg Induction Teacher of the Year in her district, and is active in many volunteer capacities, including the United Way and her local Chamber of Commerce. Pruitt also help set up a districtwide Broadway musical for children, leaning on her ballet and theater background.
“Lander helped to prepare me for everything going forward in my career and my pursuit of education,” Pruitt said.
Singh earned a degree in business and political science, going to work in the insurance industry before moving into the public sector.
Singh, who holds a master’s degree in public administration, began his career as an investigator in the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Office of Investigation and Enforcement, eventually being promoted to communications and governmental affairs coordinator and administrator.
Currently, Singh serves as director of legislative affairs for Gov. McMaster.
“I love it here. It’s a great university, it’s growing with great leadership and I’m excited to see where it goes,” Singh said. “I see universities all across the state, I’ve met presidents, I’ve met faculty. Hands down, I’d put this president and Lander’s faculty up against anybody in the state.
Distinguished Alumni awards
Col. Warren Bacote of the Class of 1989 completed a degree in political science. After leaving Lander, Bacote commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army’s military police corps. During the course of a 30-year career, Bacote has held titles including executive and operations officer, director and chief of staff, inspector general and commander. His awards include a Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal and parachutist bade and the Army Staff Identification badge.
A member of Lander’s alumni association board, Bacote mentors and tutors underserved youths within Alabama, Maryland, Massachusetts and Missouri.
“Lander is a great institution that has been constantly getting bigger and better since my graduation,” Bacote said. “I found Lander up on a stack of letters as I was getting ready to make my decision for college, and I’ll tell you what, it’s been a gem for me to be a graduate of Lander and come back and give. Lander means everything to me.”
Terry Evans of the Class of 1976 holds a degree in mathematics. He came to Lander on a basketball scholarship playing for coach Finis Horne. Beginning his career as a research chemist in Greenwood, Evans joined the Navy’s nuclear propulsion program in 1978, spending five years in submarine service.
He worked in the nuclear power field in Iowa, Louisiana, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin before joining the Arkansas Nuclear One industry team. Evans is currently vice president of the Lander Alumni Association Board, and recently joined the Lander Foundation Board.
“The best part about this ceremony for me was being on stage with such illustrious people,” Evans said. “To be recognized with them was a real honor. I
Joyce Johnson Nickles of the Class of 1960 studied music. After obtaining a degree in the field from Lander, Nickles continued to study piano at Presbyterian College. She’s a nationally certified music teacher and current chairwoman of the South Carolina Independent Music Teacher Association.
Nickles operates a private music studio and is a frequent on-stage presence at the Abbeville Opera House, Greenwood Community Theatre and Lander Players. Nickles provides internships for music majors interested in composition.
“It was special to be among people that share this common interest,” Nickles said. “All the different areas, so many different ones, and everybody has excelled in their own area, and it’s really great to be a part of that. I’m very proud to be a part of Lander.”
Charles “Chuck” Watson Jr., Class of 1983, holds a degree in history and currently lives in Greenwood. An attorney in private practice, Watson served as the Greenwood County attorney and was a member of the County Council from 1989 through 1992, also having served on the county’s voter registration board.
A former secretary of the Greenwood County Bar Association and state Association of County Attorneys, Watson was an adjunct faculty member in Lander’s political science department. His institutional philanthropy has provided scholarship funds, and he also sponsored professional dinners to provide Lander seniors with networking opportunities.
“I’m very flattered to be chosen, I was really surprised,” Watson said.
Steve Wohlwend, of the Class of 1981, graduated in business accounting and came to Lander on a golf scholarship. A former Student Government Association president, Wohlwend went on to attend Clemson University and Mercer University. His professional career includes working with insurance companies, including serving as president of Aetna’s southeast region and vice president of its Kentucky and Tennessee markets. Wohlwend established a physical education scholarship and recently made a gift to the school to endow multiple scholarships.
“I had no idea these people were so accomplished, and in so many different ways,” Wohlwend said of Friday’s ceremony. “I was really honored to be with so many people who are also so smart.”