CHAMPS has been true to its name for 24 years


Like all CHAMPS students, Katelyn Norris began the program when she was in the sixth grade. She was at Hickory Tavern Middle School then. 

“This is something for me,” she remembers thinking. “This sounds local and ‘homey.’

“And CHAMPS’ values really attracted me to the program.”

Norris liked the religious component of CHAMPS: Dr. Jerman Disasa spearheaded the program in 1993. PC’s Office of Religious Life and Service coordinate the program each year. 

Norris has also always liked that students in the program gained a “new family,” she said, by meeting other students, mentors, and teachers from schools other than their own. 

And Norris loves how CHAMPS, true to its name, truly motivates students. 

“CHAMPS is focused on motivating students and giving them a continued education, one that lasts into the summer months,” she said. 

“Students get more attention than they might in school because they have mentors dedicated to paying attention to them.”

CHAMPS, which stands for Communities Helping, Assisting & Motivating Promising Students, helped Norris become a first-generation four-year college student when she arrived at PC in 2015. The program has done the same for Laurens County students over the last 24 years. 

Since 2001, when the first group of students enrolled in college, CHAMPS has been channeling more than 90% of its graduates to colleges and universities.

PC President Bob Staton reminds graduates during Commencement year after year that they didn’t get there alone. He makes it a point to ask them their thank their friends, families, professors, and other loved ones who helped them along the way. 

Likewise, Norris gives thanks to the communities that help and assist CHAMPS students.

“I like that CHAMPS is community-based,” Norris said. 

For Norris, these communities include Disasa, who was the director of the program when Norris was in the sixth grade. It includes the teachers in Laurens County School Districts 55 and 56 who work with students throughout the school year and in the summer. It also includes PC students who have served as mentors to the sixth through 12th-grade students. These PC students have served as role models to Laurens County students for 24 straight years. 

These individuals are ones the CHAMPS students interact with, year in and year out. But there are others who are not easily visible. 

“There are a lot of churches and businesses that aren’t recognized, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for them,” Norris said. 

Foundations play a valuable role by providing financial support to this transformational program. This year, 128 Laurens County students continued their education in the summer program on the PC campus. Public and private donors, including the Balle Foundation, TD Charitable Foundation, and Walmart Foundation, made it possible for students to participate in CHAMPS this year. Because of their generous support, Norris and the sixth through 12th graders in Laurens County schools right now, and in the future, can go to college.

Norris graduated from PC in May and wants to be a lawyer. She wants to help people, and she’s thankful for the community that gave her the opportunity. 


About PC: Presbyterian College is between Columbia and Greenville, in the college town of Clinton, S.C. At PC, we’re noted as much for our challenging academics as we are for our one-of-a-kind mascot: the Blue Hose. Our students are one-of-a-kind too: They bring their own interests and abilities to campus and pursue them with gusto. Students customize their education by choosing from 50-plus majors and pre-professional programs. They’re taught and mentored by a faculty whose #1 priority is their students’ success. Students research, intern, and study abroad. And they get involved on campus, a place defined by honor and ethics. PC prepares students to be fulfilled personally and professionally so they can contribute to today’s global society. 

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