Denmark, S.C. – Voorhees University’s Office of Student Affairs recently welcomed four new staff members for the 2022-23 academic year to help students adjust to college life and learn valuable skills. The new employees are Mary Hill, Kenntrail Grooms, Eddie Ellis and NaDiazia Whatley.
“We have identified individuals we believe will complement existing student affairs leaders who will help students excel in and beyond the classroom,” said Charlene Johnson, vice president for student affairs and director of athletics. “We want to ensure students are ready to become contributing members of society when they leave Voorhees. This team is poised to accomplish that goal.”
Hill brings 25 years of experience to her role. As dean of students, she is heavily involved in student life, by administering the university’s policies on disciplinary procedures, creating activities for students and ensuring student safety. Hill also is the senior woman administrator in the athletics department, working closely with coaches and student-athletes. Previously, she worked at Delaware State, South Carolina State and Florida Agricultural & Mechanical universities. She has a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
“I want to be an individual who assists in the lives of our young adults. When they come into the university, they’re fresh out of high school and in a new environment. I want to help them develop into the young men and women they are growing into. I want them to see this as their home away from home,” said Hill, who also said the family-oriented campus culture drew her to Voorhees.
Grooms is the new associate director for the Institute for First-Year Experience & Students in Transition. He has previous student affairs experience in clinical counseling, case management, student recruitment, student conduct/judiciary board, campus organization advisement, Greek life and student academic support. He worked at Newberry and Benedict colleges. He has a master’s degree in counseling and a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
“It was an honor to join Voorhees University,” he said. “I am incredibly proud of all of the work and accomplishments that President (Ronnie) Hopkins and his administration have made thus far.”
Grooms looks forward to working with the faculty, staff and students and using his creative and innovative talents to enhance the student experience. He hopes to help the university accomplish its goal of increasing student enrollment.
Ellis has been tasked with directing the new Tiger Pep Band. In this role, he brings previous experience from Allen University, South Carolina State University, Morris Brown College, Ronald E. McNair Senior High School and Randolph County Comprehensive High School. At Allen University, Ellis resurrected a university band program that had not existed since 1968.
Through talking to the director of athletics, Ellis was convinced Voorhees University wanted a band program and he should start this venture. He has been impressed by all the support he has received, as well as the faculty and the students’ excitement around the upcoming program.
Ellis’ long-term goal is for Voorhees to provide a quality and comprehensive band program, which would include a marching band, concert band and jazz band. “I would like to appeal to any high school students who want to come and start a new band program and make history,” he said. “I appeal to students, parents and alumni to support it by being a part of it. We want our alumni and our community to be proud of this new band program.”
Whatley is an administrative coordinator. She also coaches the cheerleading/pep squad and dance team. She previously worked at South Cobb High School and Cobb County Board of Education. She has a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences and expects to earn a master’s degree in public health in May 2024.
As the cheerleading/pep squad and dance team coach, she is responsible for developing a team to showcase school spirit and bind the community with the school. This year, 21 women are on the team. Whatley hopes to promote positive attitudes and a positive student experience by creating a bond between the members.
In the future, she hopes to create scholarships within this role to get more students to enroll. Her five-year goal is to create a competition team and provide an exceptional experience, so students will want to be involved at the alumni level.
The Office of Student Affairs offers programs to make the student experience at Voorhees University more enjoyable with intramural sports, clubs, campus activities and trips. The office also promotes leadership and civility through these programs and activities.