He’ll never forget Simon Cowell praising him for his voice on The X Factor. He’ll always remember producers from The Voice personally inviting him, all travel expenses paid, to the show’s exclusive auditions. And he’ll forever be humbled by all the opportunities he’s had to share his voice on the stages of shows like American Idol and America’s Got Talent.
But still, for Tevin Proctor ’14, graduating from the College of Charleston will always be his proudest moment.
“I am the first person in my family to attend college, and the fact that I can represent my family in such a positive way is a huge honor,” says the Charleston native, who majored in biology and now is a chemist at the North Charleston–based Ingevity, a specialty chemical developer and manufacturer.
Proctor began singing at an early age, and also draws and paints. His natural talent in the arts, however, took a backseat while he was at the College, where he focused instead on his studies and his undergraduate research with physics professor Sorinel Oprisan.
“The great thing about my undergraduate research was that it exposed me to different disciplines and subjects outside of my major,” says Proctor. “The College of Charleston’s liberal arts and sciences program prepared me to think of things in a different way – to look at things from several perspectives. It made me more of a dynamic thinker and critic.”
And that made him more of a contender in the labor pool.
“The College of Charleston is ideal when it comes to preparing its students for the real world because it develops your critical thinking skills in such an eclectic way,” says Proctor. “Employers looking to hire look for that: being able to have A and not B, but still get to C.”
Case in point: Proctor had a degree in biology (A) and not in chemistry (B), but he still got to where he is now, performing analytical testing and exercising his application-based knowledge to expand Ingevity’s business reach (C).
“A large part of what I’m doing now is research and development, and that gives me a lot of freedom for innovation and opportunities to be creative,” he says. “I’m always learning something. I like it because I’m getting a lot of exposure to a variety of different fields, which is ultimately pushing me to be a better scientist.”
Again, he credits his versatility and adaptability to his time at the College.
“Because the College of Charleston was distinctive in its student pool, I was exposed to all sorts of unique and sometimes unfamiliar social situations,” he says. “And that forced me to be comfortable and confident in all sorts of environments.”
He’s even confident in the high-pressure, extremely uncomfortable environment of TV talent shows, where he has easily moved through audition after audition (usually singing the Jamie Foxx version of The Brady Bunch theme song) – from the preliminary rounds and the “secret” auditions to the “just for TV” tryouts and the personality tests that ensure contestants are suited for TV and can handle the criticism that comes along with it – all the way through as one of the finalists for The X Factor. Still, that’s not what really matters to him.
“Most of what I do is in pursuit of some element of happiness,” says Proctor. “For me, music itself is one of the major things that creates happiness.”
That, together with the elements of peace and balance, Proctor’s formula to happiness is quite simple, chemically speaking.
“When you break down happiness to its basic level, we experience it the same chemically every time. It’s all simple when you look at it from the basic chemical level,” he says. “So I try my best to make life as simple as possible and home in on things that bring me peace of mind. Those are the things that give me the most satisfaction in life.”
Of course, getting a compliment from Simon Cowell was pretty satisfying, too.
Featured image of Tevin Proctor by Kip Bulwinkle ’04.