Tony Plotner is a Professor in Special Education in the Department of Educational
and Developmental Science in the College of Education. He received his Ph.D. in Special
Education from the University of Illinois. He also holds a M.S. in Rehabilitation
from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. His primary research interests center
around (1) Enhancing employment and personal outcomes of transition-age youth with
disabilities; (2) Improving collaborative service delivery across systems; and (3)
Developing and implementing rigorous college opportunities for individuals with an
intellectual disability. Tony has procured over 8 million dollars in external funding
as Principal Investigator and has published over 80 peer-reviewed publications and
book chapters. In his spare time, Tony enjoys playing high-stakes poker, traveling
with his wife, and watching re-runs of Saved by the Bell.
Charles Walters, Ph.D.
The work of Charles (Charlie) Walters builds on his diverse experiences in the administration
and facilitation of publicly-funded programs and services for young adults with disabilities.
These experiences have included Pre-ETS curriculum design and implementation across
numerous settings since 2016, the development and facilitation of an Employment First-related
pilot project to improve service coordination and school-based transition services
for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and statewide capacity
building to strengthen interagency collaboration and data-based planning. After completing
his Ph.D. in special education in May 2023, Charlie returned to Able South Carolina,
the organization with which he worked to oversee youth transition programs from 2016
to 2019. In the role of Senior Education Researcher, he is working to build on the
innovative work Able SC does to support young adults with disabilities in the state
and to assist other Centers for Independent Living (CILs) around the country through
technical assistance, research, and knowledge translation. Charlie's position is co-funded
by the Center for Transition Research and Leadership where he proudly serves as a
Rebecca Smith Hill, Ph.D.
Rebecca (Becca) Smith Hill is a social worker, former middle and high school special
education teacher, and adjunct professor at University of South Carolina. She is Assistant
Director of Campus and Community Engagement at CarolinaLIFE, an inclusive postsecondary
education (IPSE) program at USC. She earned her Ph.D. in special education with a
focus on transition from USC. Her research interests include self-determination, sense
of belonging, dignity of risk, identity development, and overall wellness for transition-age
young adults. She is also interested in enhancing cultural competency for pre-service
teachers and others working with the disability community. Becca leverages her experience
in the education and social work fields to use tenets of participatory action research
as a framework for conducting research with emerging adults with disabilities.
Shayla serves as the South Carolina Inclusive Postsecondary Education Consortium (SCIPSEC)
Program Coordinator. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in special
education from Coastal Carolina University, where she worked as a graduate assistant
at the Coastal Carolina LIFE inclusive postsecondary education program. After teaching
in the K-12 setting, she realized her true passion was in the field of transition.
Shayla loves that she now gets to collaborate with professionals in the IPSE field
across the state and country! In her spare time, she loves chasing the sun(rise) and
dedicating her time and efforts to serving some of her favorite humans through her
equine-assisted program, HERD Programs, LLC.
Erica is Director of CarolinaLIFE, an inclusive postsecondary education program at
USC. Erica graduated from Millersville University in Pennsylvania in 2003 with a dual
B.S. in Elementary Education and Special Education and graduated from the University
of Kansas in 2013 with a Masters in Special Education with an emphasis in transition.
Erica taught special education for 18 years in the public school system in Pennsylvania
and served as a transition coordinator for 14 of those years. She spent the last year
as a regional Transition Consultant in central PA.
Megan Reynolds, OTD
Megan is excited to join USC as a Postdoctorate Fellow. Her passion for accessibility
and community inclusion have led her to pursue roles in supported employment and therapeutic
recreation in Charleston, SC, before going back to school for her Doctorate in occupational
therapy. Megan graduated with her OTD from the Medical University of South Carolina
in Spring of 2023. Her research interests include community integration and transition
for adults with disabilities, specifically, approaches that facilitate positive outcomes
in accessibility, employment, and quality of life.
Madeline is a doctoral candidate in the Counselor Education and Supervision program
at the University of South Carolina. She earned her BS in Educational Psychology from
Mississippi State University and MEd in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Auburn
University and is entering her 3rd year as a Graduate Research Assistant for CarolinaLIFE.
Madeline currently serves as a Team Lead for the College Access and Preparation (CAP)
program, developing and supervising peer-mentoring-based curricula for high school
students with Individualized Education Plans in the state of South Carolina, conducting
program evaluation, and delivering program process and impact reports for CAP’s funding
agency, the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department.
Lucas M. Perez, NCC
Lucas is a doctoral candidate in the Counselor Education and Supervision program at
the University of South Carolina. He earned a BS in Psychology, a BS in Park, Recreation,
and Tourism Studies with a concentration in Therapeutic Recreation, and a MSED in
Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Old Dominion University. His clinical experience
includes LGBT community centers, private practice, and integrated behavioral health
clinics working with clients with a wide array of mental health disorders and disabilities.
His research interests include impacting factors to an individual's wellness in rural
and non-rural communities and improving the well-being of individuals with disabilities.
Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.