Francis Marion University presented its 2012-2013 alumni awards at an Alumni Appreciation Dinner, Feb. 28.
For the first time this year, in addition to the Outstanding Alumnus Award and the Benjamin Wall Ingram III Young Alumnus, FMU honored those who have attained exceptional achievements or gained prominence in his/her profession.
The Outstanding Alumnus is S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson. He received a B.S. degree in political science from FMU in 1996 and received a juris doctorate from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 2002.
On November 2, 2010, Alan Wilson was elected South Carolina’s 51st Attorney General and took office on January 12, 2011, becoming the nation’s youngest attorney general – the state’s peacekeeper.
This marks his third stint in the office. Previously, he served as a prosecution division intern under Charlie Condon and as an assistant attorney general under Henry McMaster. Prior to his election, Wilson served as an assistant solicitor and as an assistant attorney general before entering private practice with the Columbia firm of Willoughby & Hoefer, P.A. He began his legal career working for the late Judge Marc H. Westbrook.
Wilson joined the U.S. Army National Guard immediately after graduating from college. Wilson graduated from FMU with a bachelor's degree in political science in 1996, and received a juris doctorate from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 2002.
He and his wife, Jennifer, have two young children, Michael and Anna Grace.
The Benjamin Wall Ingram III Young Alumnus is Jessica Rush Mason (’02, ’06) of Florence.
Mason has been employed with Pee Dee Electric Cooperative for 10 years and is the vice president of accounting for Pee Dee Electric Cooperative. In this position, she designs, documents and implements appropriate policies, procedures and internal controls to facilitate the production and enhance the quality of all accounting processes and systems. She is also responsible for attesting to the accuracy of all division/regional reports including the monthly financial statements (balance sheet, income statement and gross margin reports). In addition, she oversees all operational reporting as required.
Mason lives in Florence and she and her husband Michael have three children - Michael Jr., Brianna, Josiah.
The Professional Industry Achievement Award in Education and Arts was bestowed on Dr. Rainey Knight.
Knight was recently named 2013 South Carolina Superintendent of the Year, for her efforts to lead Darlington County Schools to its stance as one of the top academic achieving districts in South Carolina despite challenges of an 82% poverty rate and low per student spending. Knight received her bachelor's in biology in 1977 from Francis Marion University and went on to complete her master's in biology from the University of South Carolina in 1980. She earned her doctor of philosophy from the University of South Carolina in 1991.
The consummate educator, Knight has been in the Darlington County School District as a secondary coordinator, a principal and an associate superintendent, and has served since 1999 as the superintendent of the district. Six years ago, Knight’s passion for education was rewarded by FMU’s Department of Biology. She was one of the first recipients of the John S. Boyce Award in recognition of outstanding graduates of the biology program.
Knight, a daughter of the late Tony and Jean Harris, lives in Hartsville and has a son, Harris.
The Professional Industry Achievement Award in Public Service and Law was awarded to Chad Burgess of Columbia.
He enrolled at FMU and completed a double major in history and political science and was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree on May 6, 1995. Burgess completed his legal course work and received his juris doctorate from USC in 2001. His first job after law school was with the Supreme Court of South Carolina working as a staff attorney. In 2007, Burgess accepted the role of senior counsel in SCANA Corporation’s Legal Regulatory Department.
Two years later, Burgess was promoted to assistant general counsel later rising to his current position of associate general counsel. In this position, he provides legal counsel and representation to S.C. Electric & Gas Company (SCE&G), the principal subsidiary of SCANA.
In addition to his duties at SCANA, Burgess also serves as legal counsel for Palmetto Clean Energy, Inc. In this role, he provides counsel to the Board of Directors for Palmetto Clean Energy, Inc.
Today, he resides in Columbia with his wife, the former Dana M. Devine who holds an undergraduate degree from FMU and a graduate degree from The Citadel.