Katie Warnken is a junior at Lander University and is studying to become a math teacher. Katie feels truly blessed to be a part of the Wardlaw alumna because it definitely prepared her for college life. Katie said, ‘the teachers at Wardlaw really wanted us to master the material we were learning. She remembers they would take extra days to explain the content to us if we were having a lot of trouble, and she really appreciated that.” In college, it is important that you understand the basics of a subject because professors don’t typically review with you. Katie says, “I think that I was as prepared as I could have been when stepping into my first college class. I would like to tell current Wardlaw students to soak it all in. Take every opportunity offered to you at Wardlaw, and to the best of your abilities, learn as much as possible and enjoy all that you can. Continue with this attitude as you move on to college, and you will be a step above the rest. It reminds me of the quote that Mr. Whitlock always told us, ‘Do today what others won’t, so that tomorrow you can do what others can’t.’ Accepting the opportunities and obstacles that come your way will prepare you for the future.”
Kara ‘Beck’ Dye is part of the Wardlaw Academy graduating class of 2011. After her 13 years at Wardlaw, Kara attended and graduated from Appalachian State University where she attained her Bachelor of Science in Communication, Public Relations with a minor in English. Because of her strong academic foundation built and fostered by Wardlaw, the transition from high school to college was nearly seamless especially in English Literature. Kara says, “Because Wardlaw encouraged me to be a part of extracurricular activities, athletics, and clubs, it was natural for me to immediately involve myself with various campus opportunities like Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity, and the Club Volleyball Team.” During her freshman year at Appalachian, Kara also served as a Huddle Leader at both the middle school and high school FCA Garden City Retreats after encouragement from her Wardlaw FCA sponsor, Trudi Belcher. It was here that Kara discerned a real call to outdoor ministry, so she spent her summers in college as a camp counselor at Camp Lutheridge in Arden, NC, where she met her husband Parker. After college, Kara accepted a position with NovusWay Ministries, a nonprofit Christian camp organization, as the Social Media/Publication Specialist, later on becoming the Marketing Coordinator for the organization. Kara and Parker have recently relocated to Aiken, SC, where she is the Director of Marketing and Development at Gravatt Camp and Conference Center, still marketing for the cause she truly believes in: nonprofit outdoor ministry. Kara concludes, “Without the support I received from faculty like Mrs. Trudi during her time at Wardlaw and after graduation, I would never be where I am today. This support and encouragement is the driving force of the Wardlaw Family dynamic, and it is the force that I take with me each and every day.”
Barbara Jolly is a 1984 graduate of Wardlaw Academy. After graduation from Wardlaw, she went to Clemson University and then MUSC where she acquired a physical therapy degree in 1992. Since that time, Barbara has worked for the last 23 years for South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation. Her work is to get people with disabilities back into the workforce as productive tax paying citizens. Barbara says, “This has been a very rewarding career. I credit my years at Wardlaw for this success. Although, most of my credit for my success goes to my parents who gave me the opportunity to go to Wardlaw. The higher quality education and caring teachers provided me the early background needed to pursue the degree of my dreams. My advice to current and future Wardaw students is to take advantage of all the attentiveness your teachers provide and all the activities that are provided at Wardlaw. My best experience at Wardlaw would be my years playing sports. It not only provided me with some of the fondest memories of a team family, but it taught me how to be competitive and work to be my best. Remember you only get out of life what you put into it. Keep your eyes on God and pursue His work and you will succeed. I was truly blessed with 13 of the best years of my life thanks to my Wardlaw family.”
David Dukes graduated from Wardlaw Academy in 1976. He attended Clemson and graduated with a degree in financial management. While at Clemson he served in leadership positions in the Sigma Nu Fraternity, was president of the Interfraternity Council, and was inducted into Blue Key honor society and Tiger Brotherhood. David then attended the University of South Carolina School of Law where he was a member of the Law Review and the national Moot Court team. He graduated with a Juris Doctorate degree cum laude in 1984.
Rance Bryan graduated from Wardlaw in 1999. Rance attended Clemson University with the Life Scholarship and majored in Management and Finance and received his B.S. in 2003. He then attended The Citadel and graduated with a MBA in 2005. Mr. Bryan says, “I think the biggest preparation that Wardlaw provided me was to constantly be in a leadership position, even at an early age. Whether it was sports, student government, or other activities around school, Wardlaw showed me how to be involved and make a difference. Even little things like cutting the grass on the football field or repainting the gym taught me to take pride in my school and to assume responsibility for its upkeep.”
Rance’s best experience from Wardlaw was playing sports. He participated in football, basketball, and baseball. He had some great games and teammates that he’ll never forget. We won two state championships in baseball and played for one in basketball. Rance says, “I’ll never forget competing on those Friday nights, hearing the parents cheer, and listening for Gerald Doolittle to announce your name and number when you made a great play. It was almost twenty years ago, but feels like yesterday.”
His advice for future Wardlaw students is to, “Enjoy your experience as much as possible. It goes by very quickly. I would recommend getting involved in as many activities as possible and to try and meet as many people as you can. College is a great time to learn from other people, but also about yourself. Don’t be nervous about signing up for a new activity or introducing yourself to a new group. They may turn out to be some of the best friends you’ll ever make.”
Nicole Jackson is a 2015 honor graduate of Wardlaw Academy. She is now a biology major at the University of Georgia. Nicole said, “The move from Wardlaw to the University of Georgia was definitely an adjustment, but I do feel like I was prepared to handle it. I believe Wardlaw gave me all the knowledge and materials I needed in order to be prepared for college. It was my job to actually learn the new material and not just memorize what I was given.” She gives current students some great advice, “Learn the information you are given. You may think your next test is really easy and you don’t need to study, however I can guarantee when you get to college you will be faced with material that builds on what you have learned at Wardlaw. Professors do not re-teach the building blocks. Take time to learn in high school what your most effective study method is.” Nicole has many fond memories from Wardlaw Academy. One of her favorites was her senior trip to Florida. Nicole said, “I really developed a bond with the faculty on my senior trip. I am still grateful to Mrs. Whitlock helping me with my senior English portfolio and Mrs. Kelly for helping me with sorority recruitment. They really helped make my transition to college much smoother.” Nicole is on the pre-med track at the University of Georgia and hopes to become a dermatologist in her future. #whywardlaw
Carrie Ann Quarles is a 2014 graduate of Wardlaw Academy. After graduation she went on to attend Lander University. She was a recipient of the Hope and Life scholarships. After her freshman year she transferred to Augusta University to live at home to save money. Graduating debt free was very important to her. Carrie Ann says, “Having such a strong, supportive environment at Wardlaw made me more independent and willing to join the conversation during my college classes, not just sit back and listen. Because of that, I feel like I have gained so much more knowledge. It is so important to be involved.” Carrie Ann encourages current students to take advantage of the duel enrollment classes that are available to them. She said, “Not only did this help me ease into my college classes, it helped me receive my Bachelor’s Degree in three years.” Some of her fondest memories at Wardlaw were are being part of a state championship team and serving as the Student Body Historian. Carrie Ann said, “The best experience was having the chance to go to school with my sister. With us being six years apart, that was something we would not be able to do anywhere else. Being a second generation graduate of Wardlaw Academy and with both of my parents being graduates, ‘Wardlaw Family’ mean something different to us.” #whywardlaw
Daniel Wooten was the 2013 Wardlaw Academy Valedictorian. Daniel recently graduated from Clemson University with a degree in accounting. Daniel believes that the structured environment of classes at Wardlaw helped prepare him for the big change from a small private school to a large university. Daniel said, “I was so grateful that the teachers required me to take notes in class because when I got to college I was one of the few who actually knew how to take them.” Daniel offers high school students this advice, “Academically, take the time to learn how to study. As vague as that is, you should really find out what your learning style is in high school. Wardlaw’s faculty will help you with that, and I cannot thank them enough for preparing me in this way. Also, don’t be afraid to ask teachers questions. They want you to talk to them.” Some of his favorite memories were being the football statistician and being a part of the basketball and golf teams. Daniel says, “Being on a team or working with one will open up doors and start conversations you never thought you would have. It’s a great social tool and helps teach you discipline, which you will definetely need during your undergraduate years.” #whywardlaw
Kristina Graves is a 2008 graduate of Wardlaw Academy. After graduating from Wardlaw, she went on to receive her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of South Carolina. Kristina said, “Leaving Wardlaw and attending USCA was a very smooth transition for me. I knew that my teachers at Wardlaw truly cared about me. The small class setting promoted the development of good relationships with teachers, which in turn gave me the confidence to build good relationship with my college professors.” Kristina is grateful for the many activities she was able to be a part of during her time at Wardlaw. Kristina stated, “While at Wardlaw I played several sports, volunteered to be an FCA leader, and served as the President of the Student Body. I made it a point to do all these things while maintaining high academic standards. These things helped me develop time management and organizational skills that helped me succeed in college. I recommend students develop these habits while in high school and to get involved in every activity available. Colleges are looking for leaders!” Kristina believes she learned many life lessons while being a part of the Wardlaw family and made friendships that will last her a lifetime. Wardlaw was blessed to have Ms. Graves come back to the Wardlaw family 5 years ago to teach the second grade, coach basketball, and lead the FCA. #whywardlaw
George William Rauton IV is a 2001 graduate of Wardlaw Academy. After Wardlaw he attended Clemson University where he received his BS in Animal and Veterinary Services. Following his undergraduate degree, he attended the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine where he graduated in 2011 with his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. George said, “The transition from Wardlaw to Clemson was a little intimidating. Going from a small private school to 16,000 was very different. I believe with the smaller class sizes at Wardlaw, students are able to develop personal relationships with their teachers. These relationships, helped me improve my “people skills” which proved beneficial both at Clemson and UGA.” George advises current students at Wardlaw to, “learn how to study your subject matter on a daily basis, do not just memorize it the night before. Daily preparation of class material becomes increasingly important the higher one goes with their degree.” When asked what his best experience at Wardlaw was, George said, “Instead of a single best experience, I consider being a part of a small family from kindergarten to my senior year to be my take-away. None of us realized at the time how fortunate we were to have parents other than our own treating us like their own children. In addition, the teachers and administration treated us likewise. We grew up with a sense of security most young people do not have today. That sense of security instilled a level of confidence that has impacted my life thus far.” George is currently a veterinarian at the Johnston Animal Hospital. #whywardlaw
Sarah Stone Gregorich graduated from Wardlaw Academy as the 2006 Valedictorian. She went to Clemson University and received her Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education in 2010. She continued her education at Clemson and earned her Masters Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She spent the following two years working and acquiring her South Carolina state licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor. Sarah has worked at AnMed Health Cancer Center as the Oncology Counselor for 5 years. There she counsels cancer patients and family members in both individual and group counseling settings to help assist them in coping with their diagnosis.
Upon graduation from Wardlaw Academy, Sarah was awarded the South Carolina Life Scholarship as well as the Coca Cola Scholarship. Because of her education and social development at Wardlaw, she felt prepared, confident, and excited about her transition into college life at Clemson. The biggest piece of advice she would give current Wardlaw students about preparing for college would be to realize that college preparation begins early. It is important to start early considering your grades, extracurricular activities, and volunteer opportunities because all of these matter when applying to colleges.
She has so many fond memories of her time at Wardlaw. She loved football Friday nights as a Wardlaw cheerleader, FCA meetings, and participating in Student Body Government. One activity she found incredibly rewarding was her time serving as the yearbook editor. During this opportunity, she was able to see the school and its students from a unique perspective.
Her time at Wardlaw (K4-12th grade) helped shape her into the person she is today and prepared her for life after high school and college.
Mark Metze is a 1987 Salutatorian of Wardlaw Academy. After Wardlaw, Mark attended Clemson University and received a degree in Computer Science. Mark is currently a Development Manager for Softdocs (a software company that develops software solutions for K-12 and Higher Education markets) in Columbia. He lives there with his wife Kathy and their two teenagers, Amanda and Andrew. Mark said, “At Wardlaw, I built close relationships with all of my teachers which enabled me to naturally pursue relationships with my professors at Clemson. This was especially important within the computer science department where the coursework and projects were highly demanding.” Mark believes that every single experience he had at Wardlaw was his best experience. He does say,”The common theme in all of these memorable events involve the people that I have shared them with. I was extremely blessed to attend Wardlaw for 13 years, and I greatly value the support, guidance, and love that I received during this time.” While at Wardlaw, he learned lifelong skills because of the close relationships he had with students, teachers, coaches, staff, and parents. Skills such as active listening and being fully engaged were the products of the small student body and close-knit culture of the school. Mark said, “These skills have not only allowed me to succeed professionally but also as a husband and father.”
Caroline Yarborough is a 2005 graduate of Wardlaw Academy. Upon graduation, she attended Clemson University and graduated from there in 2009. Caroline received the South Carolina LIFE scholarship. Caroline said, “the transition from Wardlaw to Clemson was seamless. With the strength of the teaching staff and the ability to be involved in a number of extracurricular activities, I felt well-rounded entering college. I felt especially strong in English thanks to my teachers (Mrs. Herlong and Mrs. Booraem).” She advises future graduates that “college is just as much who you know as what you know. While Wardlaw provided a strong educational background, the school also offered a number of activities to be involved in such as student government, athletics, and FCA. Getting involved in all of these programs helped me recognize many familiar faces on Clemson’s campus. It also helped me feel comfortable exploring many options in college which facilitated connections that have influenced me for the better, both personally and professionally.” Caroline also credits her basketball coach, Dennis Gibson for his leadership, advice, and positive influence throughout her Wardlaw experience. Caroline is currently the Business Development Manager at McGuire Woods LLP, in Charlotte. #whywardlaw
Ed Williams is a 2016 graduate of Wardlaw Academy. He is a sophomore at The Citadel and is majoring in Business Administration. His freshman year he received the HOPE scholarship and his sophomore year he received the Life scholarship. Ed said, “My transition from Wardlaw to college is a little different than a normal college freshman. Coming from a senior in high school with the feeling of being on top off the world, to becoming a knob is definitely hard. Finding the balance between academics and my knob responsibilities was definitely challenging. I do feel that Wardlaw prepared me both socially and academically. I felt very well rounded coming into college. I was on the Dean’s List both semesters of my freshman year and I am on track to make it again this year. Playing sports at Wardlaw is where my passion for leadership began. It also helped me develop my time management skills.” Ed credits his teachers at Wardlaw for giving him the courage to develop strong relationships with his professors. He said, “I think my academic success so far has been because I am not afraid to ask questions. If you go out of your way to get help for a class when you are struggling, the professors see that you care. My best experience at Wardlaw was being close with all of my teachers and friends.” Ed encourages high school students to go on as many college visits as they can to find the very best fit! The Citadel sophomore stated, “Do not settle, go where YOU want to go!”#whywardlaw
We will be featuring different alumni every week and highlighting their personal experience at Wardlaw Academy. We invite you to read each week about how Wardlaw Academy has helped mold and prepare each graduate for the next step.
Graduate Beth Warnken, was the 2017 Wardlaw Academy Valedictorian. She is now a freshman at Winthrop University in their Honors Program. Beth received several scholarships including Palmetto Fellows, Winthrop Fellows, Winthrop Garnet, Girls State, and Watson Brown. Beth said “Wardlaw gave me all of the academic information and skills I needed to prepare me for college.” She also stated “My best experience at Wardlaw was being involved in the student government. Planning trips to the State House and Myrtle Beach really helped me prepare for my role in the Emerging Leaders Program at Winthrop. I encourage all students to get involved in the student government and push yourself to get organized. No one will do this for you at college, so let the amazing teachers and staff at Wardlaw Academy help prepare you for the next step!” Beth is not only involved in the Emerging Leader Program, in between her honor classes she is also a member of the Baptist Student Ministry and on an intramural volleyball team. Beth Warnken is the perfect example of #whywardlaw. Tune in next week for another spotlight graduate!