There is something magical about water. Whether ocean, river or lake, water speaks to us, calls to us. We flock to its shores for vacation. We use it as the backdrop of some of our most cherished personal moments: engagements, weddings, family gatherings. We even choose it as screen savers – a colorful escape from our drab offices. And when we gaze upon it, entranced and lost in thought, we find solace, inspiration, affirmation of nature’s vastness and ineffable grandeur.

Water plays a prominent role in the life of the College of Charleston as well. It’s an X factor in attracting many people to the institution, from students to faculty. And most graduates leave here with a passion for water, having spent countless hours walking and jogging along the Battery or across the Ravenel Bridge, playing and sunbathing on Charleston’s world-class beaches and feeling the warm salt-air breezes embrace them as they go from class to class

For the seven alumni featured here, they found their careers intertwined with water– what was once an avocation, now a vocation. And they couldn’t be happier.


“There’s so much life in the ocean, and we really only see a tiny sliver of it … from the starfish crawling along the bottom, jellyfish floating in the water column, to the incredible journeys of species like the loggerhead turtle and the mystical creatures of the deep – I’m fascinated by life in the ocean.”

Lindsay Goodwin ’05 (M.E.S.)
Coastal Management Specialist, NOAA
North Charleston, S.C.

[Portrait by Mike Morgan ]


“Days on the ocean surrounded by nature and its forces ground me and tend to put life into perspective.”

Leah Riley ’00
Cook for professional sailing teams and private charter boats
Charleston, S.C.

[Portrait by Peter Frank Edwards ’93 ]


“I enjoy the freedom and independence that boating provides. The water and weather are always changing, and rarely are two days ever the same.”

Tyler Moore ’95
Docking Pilot
Hampton Roads, Va.

[Portrait by Keith Lanpher ]


“I love the feeling of being free – free from gravity – and the ability to float through the water. I’m happiest when I get barreled– traveling through the open part of the wave when it’s breaking. Time slows down when you’re completely surrounded by water.”

Phillip Hall ’09
Owner/operator of Surf The Earth Costa Rica
Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica

[ Portrait by Sean Davis ]


“I love the dynamic environment of the water. There are so many things that affect conditions, making each day a unique experience.”

Chris Larson ’88
Owner, Chris Larson Sailing Inc.
Annapolis, Md. 

[ Portrait by Peter Frank Edwards ’93 ]


“The ocean is such a complex and fascinating system. We may never know all the intricacies of this ecosystem, and while we are expanding our knowledge about the ocean, it’s critical to do our best to maintain the balance between use and protection.”

Jennifer Culbertson ’99
Chemical oceanographer, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
Herndon, Va.

[ Portrait by Mike Morgan ]


“When I’m on the water, all of my thoughts disappear. I’m no longer stressed or worried. The only thing I think about is the wind and the waves … and sometimes what might be swimming underneath me.”

Gillian Ellis ’09
Wedding photographer, kiteboarding team rider for Air & Earth
Charleston, S.C.

[Portrait by Peter Frank Edwards ’93 ]