It is an honor to recognize this year’s Alumni Award recipients. Every year, we see Coker University alumni put our institution’s core values and passion for lifelong learning into action in new, innovative ways. Former Cobras have pursued impressive career paths, engaged in extraordinary adventures personally and professionally, dedicated themselves to the service of their country and their communities, and committed themselves to lives of purpose through a variety of means.
As always, we received a number of outstanding nominations this year, all who would have been worthy alumni award recipients. Thank you to the many alumni and friends who submitted these amazing nominations. We would like to thank each of our nominees for their contributions to Coker and their communities. You are all an inspiration to future generations of Cobras.
The Outstanding Young Alumni Award is presented to an individual who is a graduate of the past 20 years and/or 45 years of age or younger; recognition is given based on one or a combination of the following: vocation, position, or choice of field with consideration given to the competition involved or importance of work; personal development in research, writing, or graduate work; community involvement in church, school and local organizations; recognition of and exceptional service to Coker University. There was a tie for this year’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award. We will be presenting this honor to two deserving alumni.
The first recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumni Award is Jessica Dellinger, from the classes of 2016 and 2018. JD holds both a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, minoring in Criminology and a Master of Science degree in Applied Criminology. While at Coker, JD was a member of the women’s soccer team, and made friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. During graduate school, she interned with Hartsville Police Department’s detective division. After completing her internship, JD was hired by Hartsville Police Department, and attended training through the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, graduating in 2020, with honors.
JD began her career as a basic patrol officer, soon realizing that her passion was working traffic, focusing on impaired driving and driving under the influence cases. After her first year, JD was named SC Rookie of the Year, by the SC Law Enforcement Network and recognized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving as a MADD Hero. In under two years as an officer, JD qualified as a Drug Recognition Expert, a certification that less than 1/10 of 1% of officers obtain. During her second year, she was recognized by the SC Law Enforcement Network as Officer of the Year. JD recently completed training through the SCCJA to become an instructor for other officers in the area of DUI detection and Field Sobriety Testing. Her goal as an officer is to continue to grow in the impaired driving enforcement, as well as aid other officers around her in detecting and enforcing impaired driving laws.
In recognition of Jessica’s outstanding career achievements and for her exceptional spirit of commitment to her community and her alma mater, we are pleased to present Jessica this award.
The second recipient for the Outstanding Young Alumni Award is Sharod “Miami” Williams, from the classes of 2013 and 2015. Sharod holds both a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education with a concentration in Sport Communication and a Master of Science in Collegiate Athletic Administration. As a member of the men’s basketball team during his time at Coker, Sharod was a three-year captain, four-year letterwinner, and was named to the All-Time Coker Men’s Basketball Team in December 2016.
Now serving as the Associate Athletics Director of Operations and Competitive Excellence within Lion Athletics at Texas A&M University - Commerce, Sharod initially joined Lion Athletics as Director of External Relations in 2019. Prior to A&M - Commerce, Sharod served as the Assistant Commissioner for External Operations at the Conference Carolinas Office, as well as the Assistant Commissioner for Strategic Communications, while also serving as the liaison for the Faculty Athletic Representative and Sports Information Director groups.
Over the years, Sharod has held multiple professional and committee positions, helping to implement numerous instrumental initiatives for sport conferences, minority, women’s, diversity, and enhancement services. He has also participated in several professional development opportunities.
We would like to recognize Miami for his outstanding career achievements and for his exceptional spirit of commitment to his community and his alma mater.
Next, the Distinguished Alumni Service Award is presented to a Coker graduate considered to be most outstanding in any or all of the following areas: volunteer and community contributions, exceptional service to Coker University, and exceptional service to state or nation.
This year’s Distinguished Alumni Service Award goes to Tullius Pate, from the class of 1995. Tullius is the owner of Pate Financial Coaching where he helps individuals and families navigate their financial situation. He has combined his two decades of financial experience and his ten plus years as an education administrator to provide knowledge and resources to his clients in an effort to reach their financial goals. Tullius has an amazing ability to communicate with a diverse audience and provide comfort to those he engages. He is inspired by his wife and her unconditional support. In his free time, Tullius likes to play golf, watch sports, and travel.
In recognition of Tully’s inspiring spirit of exceptional commitment to service of his community and his alma mater, we are pleased to present Tully this award.
And, finally, the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award which is presented to a Coker graduate wherein recognition is given to an alum considered most outstanding in career achievement.
This year’s Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award goes to Renay Sellers, class of 1998.
Renay is a Sunday school teacher, Bible study teacher, greeter and Youth Director at Charity Community Church of Christ, and enjoys working with and mentoring youth. Her love to help people led her to seek a career as a social worker, working for the Department of Social Services for over 20 years while also serving her Country for over 19 years in the United States Air Force Reserve. Currently working as a Child Protective Service Investigator, Renay’s goal is to make life better for Chesterfield County residents, keeping children safe and working toward keeping families together. Her work as a Foster Care Case Manager for 18 years was her greatest accomplishment, making it possible for children to find forever homes. As a lifelong desire to serve her country, Renay also joined the USAFR at 34 and has risen to the ranks of Senior Master Sergeant. She finds it extremely rewarding to serve her country while also fulfilling her dream. Renay lives by the Air Force motto: integrity first, service before self and excellence in all she does. She says she’s just a simple country girl who loves to help her fellow man.
In recognition of Renay’s honorable service to her country, her exceptional career achievements, and her inspiring spirit of commitment to her profession and her alma mater, we are pleased to present Renay her award.
Each of our award recipients this evening embody the six pillars of Coker University: integrity, respect, scholar, sustainability, community and knowledge. They are living examples of Coker pride, and we wish them continued success.
- Jessica Dellinger, Class of 2016, 2018
- Sharod “Miami” Williams, Class of 2013, 2015
- Tullius Pate, Class of 1995
- Renay Sellers, Class of 1998