Letters to the Editor

The Coastal Carolina University I love

Re “Study: Coastal Carolina reports the highest rate of liquor law violations in the country” article in The Sun News.

A few recent media stories about Coastal Carolina University portray students in less than appealing ways.

That is not the CCU I know.

Responsible members of the media have questioned the report released by ProjectKnow and received no response. But even if you took ProjectKnow numbers at face value, you would see that of 10,254 students, more than 98 percent of the student population were not arrested for alcohol or drug offenses.

Many Coastal students work two jobs, pay for school with student loans, make good grades and volunteer in the community.

The CCU I know continues to make an indelible mark on the region and the world, thanks in great part to its students.

Through the Dalton and Linda Floyd Family Mentoring Program, I am very fortunate to experience first-hand the dedication of students who care deeply for others, mentoring hundreds of at-risk students every year. Each semester, 250 to 300 CCU students are placed as mentors with children from kindergarten through eighth grade, helping fill a significant need for positive role models in the lives of these young people. When a child in need of attention is befriended by a positive role model, the impacts are long-lasting and exponential.

Since 2004 when the mentoring program began, 3,704 children have been mentored by Coastal students. Most of these children are from Horry and Georgetown counties.

Children in this program have said their mentor helped them learn how to make better decisions, how not to get angry with other people, how to participate better in class, and how to deal with frustrating circumstances in life.

Schools coordinators say the mentors are helping the children “become better students and problem solvers and to feel better about themselves.”

A CCU student mentor said, “It was amazing to see how much my mentee has grown and changed since the first time I met her. It was such a great learning experience for me and really taught me how to be a good leader.”

Since 2013, more than 7,700 students have served more than 52,000 volunteer hours to help local charitable organizations. They impact organizations such as the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, Relay for Life, Colleges Against Cancer and through their alternative spring break and Thanksgiving break projects.

Most Coastal students don’t come from wealthy families; 89 percent receive financial aid and/or scholarships and 27 percent are first-generation college students.

These students embody the true spirit of CCU. They are determined. They are challenged. They experience fear and setbacks like everyone else. And they persevere.

This is the CCU I know - the CCU I love.

I encourage you to get to know this CCU. Let us not take for granted the many wonderful benefits CCU brings to our community and South Carolina.

The writer is former chairman of the S.C. Commission on Higher Education.