Join the Club!
By Jeff ’88 and Kelly King
Even in these physically distanced times, we are excited to serve as Furman Advantage Network (FAN) Club co-presidents because of what Furman has meant to each of our family members across generations.
Jeff is a 1988 graduate of Furman, while Kelly is a graduate of Clemson University. We have two daughters, Sarah ’16 and Caroline ’20, and Kelly has numerous family members who are also graduates of Furman, including her mom, Frances Bagwell Kowalski ’49. We are also grateful for all the friendships and connections that we have established through a variety of experiences, such as study away, fraternity and sorority life and internships.
Our oldest daughter, Sarah ’16, studied abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland, her junior year, serving as an intern in the public health arena. She worked on public health policy and presented recommendations to the Scottish Parliament. Witnessing The Furman Advantage firsthand, we saw how connections she made from this internship resulted in a fabulous graduate school opportunity where she received her master’s in public health. Caroline ’20 attended a MayX study abroad experience in the United Kingdom and served as president of Delta Delta Delta Sorority. She is spending a fifth year at Furman to obtain her master’s in elementary education having completed her student teaching and undergraduate degree this spring. Seeing both our girls so engaged and excited throughout their Furman experiences on and off campus has been a source of real joy to us as parents.
Everyone in our family has made lifelong friendships through Furman, friendships that are strong enough to weather even a global pandemic. Over the last eight years, we have enjoyed sitting at Furman football home games with several of Jeff’s Phi Mu Alpha fraternity brothers. We are excited to be able to experience this again soon.
The prospect of meeting others, establishing meaningful connections across generational lines and engaging with the university is the purpose of the FAN Club. Opportunities include cultural events, community service and family friendly activities not only for alumni and parents, but also for present and future Paladins. The pandemic is forcing us, at least temporarily, to alter the ways we come together. But we are confident that when we may gather together again, the Paladin family will unite in FAN Clubs from Los Angeles to New York City once more.
The kickoff for the Charlotte FAN Club was held in early 2019 with a reception at the Anne Neilson Gallery. Having Anne join us to talk about her mission of serving the homeless in Charlotte by donating proceeds from her gallery was especially meaningful. Seeing such a strong turnout of the Charlotte-based Furman community – getting together to show their interest in the FAN Club launch party – was wonderful and has resulted in meaningful participation in events since then.
Since then – and before the coronavirus changed everyone’s lives – we have held Dins Day at a local brewery, Furman Family Night while taking in a game with the Charlotte Knights, a Business Breakfast Series in Charlotte and a Carolina Panthers game and tailgate. While several 2020 events were postponed, there are still opportunities to gather virtually. Each time we come together is an opportunity to promote and advocate for Furman.
We are so grateful to the Charlotte leaders who stepped up to help us spread the word, including Hunter Burton ’14, Mariel Calhoun Ellerbe’12, Meredith Camby Hartman’07, Monique and Dallas Allen (parents of Austin ’22), Jordan Keesee ’15 and Meredith Camby Hartman ’07.
Get excited, get involved in your own communities, and GO Paladins!
To find your FAN club, visit furman.edu/alumni. Furman has launched 21 FAN Clubs to date, with more to come in 2021.
Jeff ’88 and Kelly King are the co-presidents of the Charlotte, North Carolina, Furman Advantage Network Club. For more information about FAN, contact Jane McBride ’91, assistant director of Alumni and Parent Engagement, at email@example.com.