Angela D. Lewis, '85
in May 2007
Angela Lewis: Serving Others
Angela “CheeChee” Lewis, ’85, has such a positive attitude about life, it’s no wonder she’s successful at everything she does. An Atlanta resident who holds her affinity to the University of South Carolina dear, Angela regularly goes out of her way to help people, whether it’s the nearby high-school students who might benefit from her business savvy, her church that enjoys the countless ways in which she serves it, or the population targeted in her first book: single women looking for love.
Before Angela could add motivational speaker, proprietor, published author, publisher and salesperson to her resume, she was a college student at Carolina, bright-eyed and engaged in undergraduate life.
“I love USC, and I loved my experience there,” Angela reminisces. “When I was working at Pitney-Bowes in the ‘90s, I attended sales training, and it turns out that the trainer was one of my greatest friends from college named Beau Browning, ’84, whom I hadn’t seen in years. He stopped his presentation, apologized to the crowd, and came right over to me and hugged me. Right in the middle of his speech!
“I have so many meaningful relationships thanks to Carolina; it is amazing to me how you can click with certain people sometimes –- not necessarily within the same race –- who feel like your brothers and sisters when you don’t expect it. That’s how it was with Beau and Christine Browning, ’84, who met after pledging Delta Sigma Pi at Carolina and later married. I just really adored them.”
Along those same lines, Angela shared an interesting memory from Carolina in the ‘80s: crowding into the Russell House from 1-2 p.m. each weekday to watch Jesse and Angie of “All My Children” fame, the first African-American “supercouple” featured on a daytime soap opera.
“We were always part of a huge crowd in the student center –- not only girls, but plenty of guys, too! –- watching “All My Children” to see Jesse and Angie. The student union was flooded. Many of us would even arrange our class schedules around the soap!”
Today, Angela makes it a priority to attend annual reunion and Homecoming celebrations in order to recapture the camaraderie that played such a large part in her undergraduate experience.
“It’s a part of nurturing and maintaining old relationships as well as a way to make new lifelong friendships and bonds. Even if I haven’t talked with some of my friends in years, it feels just like yesterday when we meet up at a Carolina event, like we’re back in the student union together.”
A Model Gamecock
It might surprise some who know Angela and are familiar with her educational background in financial management that she opened her first checking account only after she became a student at Carolina.
“One of my girlfriends had to teach me how to use the ATM,” she abashedly admits.
It is for this reason that she set out to teach young people how to be successful young adults and pave the way for a bright future.
For all that Angela Lewis has accomplished in life, she has carried forth a commitment to serve others. One way she does so is through an annual youth leadership camp for high school students to teach them public speaking, character building, financial management, and skills to motivate them for entrepreneurship.
Sponsored by such regional business favorites as Wachovia Bank and Chick-fil-A, both known for their philanthropic efforts, and also local businesses, this spring break camp featured impressive speakers and a seemingly endless supply of chicken biscuits.
“I warn kids about credit cards, teach them about employment and advocate paying their bills on time,” Angela explains. During the camp, representatives from Wachovia taught the kids about personal finance, and Chick-fil-A’s hiring manager walked the kids through how to apply for a job.
Local entrepreneurs shared their success stories with the kids and worked hands-on by assigning them a mock company and teaching them how to manage it and employ the help of others. Angela even brought in her personal fitness trainer to touch on the importance of good health and fitness.
“When it comes down to it, I want you to feel good –- I want you to live a healthy, long life,” Angela explains. “That’s what I tell the kids.”
If Angela had her way, these children –- many from less advantaged parts of the city –- would live long, healthy and wealthy lives.
“We gave the kids exposure to some of the wealthier neighborhoods in Atlanta –- we showed them a whole new world, hopefully one that will inspire them to reach above and beyond what they once thought they would attain.”
Angela hopes that colleges and universities will propagate a more forward-thinking, entrepreneurial spirit in their students, much like the incubator program at Carolina, which encourages new ideas for the creation of small businesses.
Ambition is something with which Angela is all too familiar. Last Lenten season, Angela made a challenge to herself: rather than give something up for Lent, she would become more focused and spend those 40 days writing her first book, which came about by the urging of her single friends who coveted her active dating life.
The result of that steadfastness is “SSSS (Single, Sensational, Significant Sisters) We Sizzle!! A Single Woman’s Guide to Attracting and Meeting Men,” which has been well-publicized in the Atlanta area and has received praise from –- surprisingly enough -– men.
“At first, I kept second-guessing myself, and I thought it was silly,” the entrepreneur and account executive for UPS says of writing her book. “I thought it was a little weird, and so I prayed on it. Through the positive feedback I’ve received from both women and men, I’m so pleased with my decision to have written it.”
In 2005, Angela was encouraged by the women in her book club to put on paper the reasons why she thinks her dating life has been so active. Don’t let the title fool you: The result is a self-reflective, honest workbook intended to employ a spirit of independence and confidence in the reader.
“Number one is love yourself. I wrote the book in a spirit of fun and love, to be read as if I’m having a conversation with the person reading it,” Angela says. “What the book really is about is having a positive attitude and creating a more rewarding life for yourself, which of course is not limited to being in a relationship.”
So in her research with both women and men, married and single, what did she find?
“I tell women that what they’re looking for in men, they have to have it themselves and be sure that they’re exhibiting the qualities that they seek in others.”
Qualities such as high ethical standards and personal responsibility are some of the tenets by which Angela lives her life and operates her business, Speaking Concepts & Publications, LLC. A born leader, Angela has so much to share, and Carolina continues to reap the benefits of her dedication to her alma mater.
An Entrepreneur Is Born
So how did Angela become such an independent thinker herself?
Born in Washington, DC, and raised in Greenwood, SC, Angela grew up the granddaughter of a small-business owner, John Wesley Jones. During her high school years, Angela was allowed to work at his shop on the weekends –- the only liquor store on the south-side of Saluda, SC -- counting money, making bank deposits, all the while being taught responsibility and customer service.
“My granddad held me to a higher standard than his employees and wanted us to learn the importance of providing excellent customer service in order to gain repeat business and customer loyalty,” Angela recalls.
With her mother’s articulacy, her father’s love of people and her own strong will to succeed, Angela is a good-natured businesswoman and loving mother to Brandon, a 19-year-old student at Alabama A&M University, a historically black college.
“I have been known to debate with my friends who graduated from historically black colleges and universities about the benefits of attending a university such as Carolina,” Angela explains. “Carolina has 4,000 black students. You can have the best of both worlds at Carolina –- a larger college campus with plenty of diversity.”
She originally wished for Brandon to be a Gamecock, but she’s pleased with his decision to be a Bulldog. As long as he’s not the kind of Bulldog that resides in her home state.
“Oh, it gets bad, the rivalry with Georgia,” Angela laughs. “We have so many graduates of SEC schools in Atlanta, and everyone knows not to even get me started about 'my' USC!”
Angela says that she and two of her coworkers at UPS, Jerry Cox, ’73, and Ric Robinson, ’95, are a team of Gamecocks with a strong connection among them.
“It’s really powerful, what I feel for USC. When you get us all together, forget about it!”
Angela has gone so far as to try to sway her friends’ children to Carolina. She makes publicizing Carolina’s virtues a priority in her life, and she’s extremely proud of her association with the University.
“When you have been a part of something that has given you an opportunity to change your life and have a different lifestyle, why wouldn’t you want to share that with others?” she ponders. Angela’s love for Carolina influenced her younger brother, George Muhammad, and sister Zena Jones to also attend USC.
Truly, Angela keeps Carolina close to her always, and she has made a continued commitment to staying close with her Alumni Association by supporting the “My Carolina” membership campaign, as witnessed by her last words as she left the interview: “Have a safe trip back to Columbia, and take care of 'my' Carolina!”