The passion Sharon Kingman ’80 has for CofC permeates every aspect of her life. For example, when Noah, the son of one of her son-in-law’s clients, didn’t get into his first-choice school, Kingman wrote a letter of recommendation for him to the College. Fast-forward four years: As Noah gave an admissions’ tour to a prospective student, who also did not get into the first university on his list, he shared his story and how he thrived at CofC. By the end of the tour, the prospect decided to enroll. The story epitomizes why Kingman is so involved with the College: “It’s the spirit of giving and helping others with the hope that they are appreciative and pay it forward.”
After graduating with a B.S. in business administration, Kingman embarked on a career running telecommunications and technology for major sporting events, including the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games. Her work took her out of South Carolina for more than 20 years, but when she returned, fellow alumna Renee Buyck Romberger ’81 contacted her about getting involved with the College and classmate Cathy Mahon ’80, vice president of development at the College, asked her to help coordinate the 25th reunion for the Class of ’80-’81.
As reunion co-chair, Kingman not only helped put on a great event, she set up the endowed Class of 1980 & 1981 Scholarship that has helped six students. She also joined the College of Charleston Foundation Board, on which she served for 14 years. “It was a big commitment, particularly since I live four hours away,” says Kingman. “I really want to give a callout to an unsung hero, my husband. Rus supported me through a lot of late nights. He also supported the endowed scholarship that we created in 2006.”
To date, nine students have received the Rus and Sharon Kingman Scholarship, but the personal connections are what Kingman values most. “People can’t succeed in their professional careers without mentoring,” she explains. “When we give financial support to students, they often reach out, and a relationship forms, which is truly our honor.”
Connections are so important to Kingman that she joined the MBA mentoring program in 2011. Her first mentee was John Moye ’05 (MBA ’12).
“After Sharon and I were matched up, we established a meeting cadence, frequency and scope that worked well for us,” says Moye, who works for Wonderlic, an HR software company. “We met monthly at a minimum and continued to connect as I re-entered the workforce. Now, we check in a few times a year not just as mentor-mentee, but also as friends.
“When I started the MBA program, I didn’t have clearly defined goals,” he adds. “Having a relationship with such an accomplished person, who took the time to invest in me and my future, has been exceedingly impactful; Sharon helped me set and achieve meaningful goals.”
The strong bond between Moye and Kingman so intrigued Moye’s boss and CEO, Charlie Wonderlic, that he is now an MBA mentor.
Kingman also stepped up when her late friend, George Spaulding, asked her to take his place leading the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance Make Your Own Coffee lecture series. Each semester, Kingman provides lunch and shares life lessons about everything, from retirement to debit accounts. “George’s idea was that we spend a lifetime earning money, so we need to spend time on how to save it,” explains Kingman.
With her 40th reunion coming up, Kingman looks forward to everyone getting together again – and getting more involved with the College. “The College needs a lot of alumni engaged in mentoring, providing internships or just spending time with students,” she says. “Networking is the single-most important thing alumni can do for students.”
Featured image of Sharon Kingman by Mike Ledford.