Meet the Staff
Director, Fellowships & Scholar Programs
Education/Major(s): Wofford College, BA in English and Sociology
USC, MEd in Student Personnel Services, Higher Education
About Me: Proud mother to Austin (17, rising senior at AC Flora) and Caroline (13 1/2, rising 8th grader at Crayton) and married 20 years to Jim Beskid, also a Wofford alumni. Spend lots of time at baseball fields watching Austin play for Flora and at dance rehearsals and performances watching Caroline dance for Columbia Ballet School. Together, we all enjoy Wofford football and Carolina football, basketball and baseball.
Favorite Spot On Campus: The Horseshoe
Length of Time at USC: 29 ½ years. Begin in January 1984 as a graduate student and have been here ever since!
Favorite Gamecock Moment/Best Part about being a Gamecock:
Pope John Paul II’s visit to USC in September 1987 as a part of USC’s ecumenical year - being a part of the staff support for the event and attending the program on the Horseshoe and the mass at Williams Brice Stadium was an unforgettable experience.
Jan Phillips Smoak
Education/Major(s): Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200), Carolina Yoga Teacher Training M. Ed. in Student Personnel Services, University of South Carolina BA in Journalism, University of South Carolina
About Me: A born and bred Gamecock, I love to communicate, especially in writing and more recently, using social media such as Facebook and Twitter. I am a very off and on blogger. As an undergraduate at USC, I was very involved in campus life – Greek life, The Gamecock, and what is now called Garnet Circle (Student Alumni Association). I have only traveled abroad twice – to Cozumel, Mexico, and to France & Italy, but the latter trip gave me great insight into why our scholars enjoy international travel. I have several roles: University administrator, yoga teacher, mom, and wife to a UMC pastor to name a few. I enjoy coffee, chocolate, being outdoors, Food Network, and talking with students.
Favorite Spot On Campus: It’s a tie between the Russell House and the Horseshoe. I have fond memories of eating in the cafeteria as an undergraduate student here, but now with an office on the Horseshoe, it’s my favorite place to catch up with students.
Length of Time at USC: 15 years! Because of the students’ intelligence and diversity, I never tire of my University work.
Favorite Gamecock Moment/Best Part about being a Gamecock: ESPN’s Gameday on the Horseshoe is a highlight of being a Gamecock.
Jennifer Bess (Jen)
Education/Major(s): BA in Religion from Dartmouth College; MA in Theological Studies from the University of Dayton
About Me: I’m originally from Chicago, where I grew up with two younger brothers. I’ve been an academic advisor, a campus minister, and a high school teacher. My house is full of yarn, fabric and felt, as I love to craft. When I’m not at home, I like to be off traveling the world. My best trip ever was a 500-mile walk across Spain in 2011, on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Feel free to ask to see pictures!
Favorite Spot On Campus: It’s really hard to beat the Horseshoe
Length of Time at USC: 1.5 years
Favorite Gamecock Moment/Best Part about being a Gamecock: As a life-long Cubs fan, it’s a nice change to cheer on a winning baseball team!
Scholar Programs Coordinator
Education/Major(s): Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, UCF ’12 and Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature, USC ‘10
About Me: I am a Carolina Scholar class of 2010. During my time at Carolina, I worked on the Lettered Olive Literary review and volunteered with Cocky’s Reading Express and OFSP as an upperclassman Scholars mentor. At the University of Central Florida, I worked in elementary schools in Orange County to foster students’ love for reading and writing. I am an avid reader, and read everything from Shakespeare to comic books. In my spare time, I enjoy baking and yoga.
Favorite Spot On Campus: The French House and the area around it are my favorite part of campus. I lived in the French House Living and Learning Community for three years and have fond memories of cooking French food and participating in activity nights with the other residents.
Length of Time at USC: New to OFSP
Favorite Gamecock Moment/Best Part about being a Gamecock: During my final semester at USC, I took a music course on Bob Dylan. Not only was it fun, but it was one of the most engaging classroom experiences. Dylan is my favorite musician, so I enjoyed learning about the evolution of his craft and the historical implications of his music. The variety of courses at USC allow students to pursue different interests and broaden their views of the world, so I came away from my USC experience able to relate to more people than I would have if I hadn’t had such a diverse background.
Education/Major(s): A in Interdisciplinary Studies (emphasis on Sports Administration and Business Information Systems) from the University of South Carolina
About Me: I'm married to Dale (for almost 10 years!) and Mom to two awesome little boys – Nate (5) and Owen (1). I’m a third generation gamecock and have a brick on the horseshoe beside my sister, grandfather, and great grandfather. While at USC I was a Carolina Classic – a group that assisted with recruiting football players and other sports athletes.
Favorite Spot On Campus: It’s a toss-up between the Horseshoe and Williams Brice Stadium
Length of Time at USC: 15 years
Favorite Gamecock Moment/Best Part about being a Gamecock: I’ve watched USC Football go all the way from winning their first postseason game as a student to beating a nationally ranked team (#1 Alabama at the time) to seeing USC host ESPN’s Gameday on the Horseshoe twice in the last few years!
Education/Major(s): BA in Public Relations from USC School of Journalism
About Me: In addition to managing daily office operations and being the first line of contact, I bring my publicity and promotion skills to the office daily to get the word out about national fellowships and the amazing students on campus who achieve their goal of winning them. I also love to write (especially about food!) and free-lance for the Free Times and the Columbia Metropolitan magazine on a regular basis.
Favorite Spot On Campus: I can’t reveal this or people might start invading it. Actual answer: Behind the Caroliniana Library.
Length of Time at USC: 1 year full time (plus 3 years as a student and student worker)