Honorary Faculty Member John Grady Wins Prestigious Advocate Award From University of South Carolina

John Grady joked Monday that one of his greatest professional achievements was totally eclipsed by this year’s Great Solar Eclipse.

Grady, an associate professor and program director at the University of South Carolina, won the college’s 2017 Outstanding Advocate for First-Year Students Award.

The award is usually given during the First-Year Reading Experience, which has historically taken place the week before classes start. But this year, thanks to Columbia, S.C.’s totality during the eclipse Aug. 21, the ceremony got pushed back.

Nonetheless, Grady won.

A student nominated him and he had to go through an interview process. Still, he didn’t think he stood a chance.

“I really did not expect it. It’s a broad award, and most of my interactions with first-year students are outside of the classroom,” said Grady, an honorary faculty member of Lambda Chi Alpha. “I was fortunate and lucky that it was given to me.”

And it’s not hard to see why.

Grady doesn’t typically teach first-year students. But he serves three different student groups as an adviser — those in his Sport and Entertainment Management classes, a Living Learning Community and members of the Epsilon-Psi Zeta chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha.

“Interacting with first-year students is great because you are meeting them at an exciting time in their lives. They are moving away from home for the first time, learning how to handle college courses and demands, and making life choices that will have an impact on their next four years and beyond,” he said.

“As their faculty adviser, it’s also a perfect opportunity to step in on occasion throughout the semester and remind them about developing good study habits and making good life choices that will pay off down the road.”

Being a student’s adviser — but not their teacher — has its perks, he pointed out.

“When you see people outside of a classroom, they’re obviously a lot more candid,” Grady said. “Different environments allow for more meaningful relationships.”

He says he learned from the best.

“You learn how to be a good mentor by having good mentors,” Grady said. “You find ways to motivate students intrinsically … something may work for one student but not for another. Trying to find those subtle differences is the most rewarding part.”

He enjoys working with Lambda Chi because, in that capacity, he gets to watch members grow from first-year students to graduating seniors and help them find their paths.

“There is a quote outside our house from when the chapter house was first built. It reads: ‘Thank you for guiding us as we became men.’ I like to think this is the role we all serve as mentors and advisers,” Grady said. “We are helping our brothers find success in their first year and throughout their time in college. And we are also there to celebrate the success our young alumni find in their professional and personal lives.”