Alumna Spotight: Paula Novacki, `14
Ever wondered what life after graduation will look like? Meet Paula Novacki!
Leader. Veteran. Gamecock. These three things describe alumnus James Anderson but there is much more to his story.
A Columbia native, Anderson earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2015 from the College of Arts and Sciences and was enrolled in the university’s Air Force ROTC. The decision to pursue political science came from his four years in the Air Force which also ignited an interest in U.S. foreign policy. These experiences all led Anderson to his current position as a Visiting Fulbright Scholar with the Centre for International and Defense Policy at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. In this position, he conducts research on Canadian strategic culture and Canadian-American defense relations.
“I became captivated with the history of U.S. foreign affairs right there in Gambrell Hall,” says Anderson as he recollects the beginning of his academic endeavor at the University of South Carolina. “I learned about the university’s steep military tradition as an AFROTC member (Detachment 775).”
As a veteran and a Gamecock graduate, Anderson sought to bring these two defining traits under one umbrella. In 2016, Anderson along with a devoted group of veteran alumni, established My Carolina Alumni Association’s third affinity council – the Veterans Alumni Council.
“My family was welcomed into Gamecock nation with a warm heart and helping hands,” Anderson says. “When I drafted the proposal for the Veterans Alumni Council, I consulted a number of veterans, military-connected individuals, veteran service organizations and university staff. By the time we had our launch party, I realized that all of the people I consulted, were Gamecocks. The Gamecock network is vast, wide and always willing to help.”
In the council’s three years, members have created healthy conversations about PTSD through multiple panel discussions, promoted veterans job fairs held in the University of South Carolina Alumni Center and supported initiatives dealing with veterans’ affairs at the university. Under My Carolina’s strategic plan, the council has expanded into other regions outside of Columbia to engage more veteran alumni.
Anderson knows first-hand the strength of the Gamecock network and is paying it back to the people that supported him and his family. When he was stationed in Virginia, it was a fellow Gamecock that helped his wife, Natasha, find a job. Natasha is also a graduate of the university with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2013 and a master’s degree in public administration in 2017. Now these two Gamecocks are raising a family together and James credits Natasha as his role model by making him the best version of himself.
As a Gamecock, Anderson is also a proud member of My Carolina because the association, “represents community and purpose.” “As Gamecock nation steadily grows with the inclusion of millennials, like myself, My Carolina always finds a way to stay current as an organization and upholds its foundational building block of community and continues to evolve its purpose to encompass a larger role in advocacy, expanding the scope of affinity councils and creating more opportunities to engage our expansive alumni base throughout the country.”
Wherever he is, Anderson serves as a true Gamecock ambassador and upholds what “Forever to Thee” means.
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