The Outstanding Alumnus Award is presented annually by the GSSM Alumni Association to a person who, through their post-GSSM education, work, and personal endeavors, has exemplified the success one can achieve through the foundation of a GSSM education.


2018: Kevin Short '93

Kevin Short received his Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from Clemson University and a Master of Science in Environmental Studies from the Medical University of South Carolina. He is pursuing a Master of Education in Interdisciplinary STEM Education from The Citadel.

In 2008, Kevin became the first GSSM alumnus to serve as a summer research mentor for a current student. He was employed as a Research Associate at ArborGen, a biotechnology company in Summerville. A year later, he made a change and began his teaching career. Currently in his eighth year in education, Kevin is serving as a science teacher, department chair and science liaison at Charleston County School of the Arts. Kevin was recently recognized as his school’s Teacher of the Year and a Top 5 finalist for Charleston County School District Teacher of the Year.

Kevin has been an integral part of GSSM’s satellite summer camps in the Lowcountry for many years. Kevin has been an iTEAMS teacher since the second year of its existence and has also taught at CREATEng since the camp was launched. He engages the students and brings the curriculum to life. As a science teacher and summer camp instructor, Kevin has impacted the lives of hundreds of South Carolina students and instilled in them an appreciation of science and technology.

2017: Dr. Jason Hong '93
"Never forget that you have power to change things in the world. Never forget that you can make a positive difference in people's lives with the work you do. If there is just one thing you remember, I hope it's this: Tomorrow can be better than today, and we all have a moral obligation to make it so."  - Excerpt from Jason's address to the Class of 2017
2016: Mary Ellen Player '00

Mary Ellen, a Lake City native, always excelled but credits GSSM for her trajectory to Harvard for undergraduate studies. She graduated magna cum laude and went on to earn her MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

According to the alumni who nominated her, Mary Ellen's professional success has been an inspiration to GSSM and to young women considering careers in STEM fields and business development. She is always willing to give her time and talents to the school, whether it’s speaking at Career Days, making financial contributions to ensure the school's success ongoing, or taking time to broadcast the school's greatness and impact. 

2015: Dr. Errol Fields '94

Errol began dedicated training in social behavioral research and public health while completing a Master’s in Public Health in sociomedical sciences at Columbia University, New York. He now serves as assistant professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Johns Hopkins, with a joint appointment to both the medical school and the school of public health.

From his nominator:
"Errol is a great example of the diversity of students GSSM produces. He speaks out for minorities in multiple areas and has defied the odds to become an outstanding alumnus. Through his many accomplishments, he has remained in touch with our class and has kept his head out of the clouds, although his Facebook pictures suggest he visits them often."

2014: Shontavia Jackson Johnson '99

Originally from Aiken, Shontavia teaches intellectual property law at Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa, and runs two businesses: Jackson Johnson LLC, a law firm serving entrepreneurs and startups in the areas of intellectual property, business and contracts, and Johnson International Group, a consulting firm designed to help new and aspiring entrepreneurs create businesses that help them lead wealthy and fulfilling lives.

In the words of her nominator:
"If the mark of an outstanding alumna is her commitment to give back to the state of South Carolina, Shontavia is the perfect choice. Despite her education taking her all over the country and the world, she has always ended up back in South Carolina, endeavoring to leave it a better place than she found it."

2013: Eddie Nance '00

Eddie received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of South Carolina and served in the United States Navy from 2006 to 2012. During his time in the Navy, Eddie was the only African American officer on his submarine. He once drafted a letter to the U.S. Secretary of State regarding a top secret mission that resulted in an award for his unit and contributed to our national security.

Eddie left the submarine, but not the Navy, to earn a master’s degree in inorganic and analytical chemistry from the University of Idaho. While there, he also served as an assistant professor of naval science. He is now pursuing his lifelong dream of becoming a doctor.

2012: Aziz Ansari '00

While Aziz has not pursued a traditional math/science career, he has brought significant awareness to GSSM and South Carolina. His comedy is rooted in his life experiences, including his time at GSSM. 

Aziz was involved in a variety of endeavors at GSSM, including the tennis team. Prior to being accepted to GSSM, he attended Marlboro Academy in Bennettsville. Following graduation, he attended New York University, where he earned his marketing degree in 2004. He then shifted his career to become a comedian and actor, landing the role of Tom Haverford on NBC's “Parks and Recreation.” He was named “The Funniest Man Under 30” by Rolling Stone in 2011. 

2011: The Honorable Shiva Hodges '91

Shiva is a United States Magistrate Judge in South Carolina and one of the youngest federal judges in the country. She is a frequent lecturer to attorneys, legal professionals, and law students and is a member of several professional bar associations including the Federal Bar Association and South Carolina Women in Law Society.  She is a former member of the GSSM Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Shiva graduated from the University of South Carolina Honors College in 1996.  Thereafter, she obtained a Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law and a Master of International Business Studies from USC's Darla Moore School of Business. After law school, Shiva worked as a commercial litigator for Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein, LLP.  In 2004, Shiva left private practice to enter public service, serving as the career law clerk to the Honorable Joseph F. Anderson, Jr., Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. She was appointed to the federal bench in April 2010.


Selection Criteria