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Current Students

Class of 2021


Elizabeth Bellersen
BA in History with a minor in Theatre, University of Florida

Growing up in Central Florida, I have always loved history and science. As I got older, I began to want to tell the stories of those in history who are often overlooked. This led me to my first undergrad internship at the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, where I interviewed BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and female-identifying Punks in Gainesville, FL. Also during my undergrad, I worked at multiple house museums, where I began to understand the importance of preservation and telling the stories of those previously unacknowledged. With my experiences in this program, I hope to make historic sites more accessible through digital documentation.


Kelly Bulak
BFA Interior Design, James Madison University

As a child, I regularly rearranged the furniture in my bedroom, repurposed shoe boxes into architectural models (not to scale), and I have always had an interest in preserving anything I can. I graduated from James Madison University with a bachelor in fine arts in Interior Design and have worked in the field ever since.  Living in Charleston has helped me develop a keen eye and respect for the historic fabric of the city, however, projects often left me curious about the history and architectural styles of a building.  I am looking forward to learning more about preservation and the unique southern culture within the spaces and walls of Charleston.


Jessica Chunat
BA in Architectural Studies with a minor in Nonprofit Studies and Historic Preservation, Kent State University

I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and have had an admiration for historic architecture as long as I can remember. My grandmother lives in a neighborhood listed on the National Register for Historic Places, and I remember long walks with her around the block looking at the late Victorian and Colonial Revival homes she lived by. My first architectural history class at Kent State University affirmed my passion and pushed me to learn more. Adding minors in historic preservation and nonprofit studies allowed me to understand how communities function and what their changes over time have to say. With the knowledge I gain through this program, I hope to become an advocate for historic homes through documentation and policy work.   


Travis Galli
BA in History, CSU Chico

From a young age I can recall my interest in history.  From visiting historic sites in California to listening to my grandfather speak of the past, I was hooked.  I decided to further my interest in history by pursuing a degree in the subject.  After graduation I began a career with nothing to do with history.  I was always looking for a way to turn my passion for history into a career.  After leaving service with the US Army, I began again to search for a career in History.  That is when I found the field of historic preservation.  I am excited to turn a passion for old things into a meaningful career.


Isabella Gordineer
BA in Historic Preservation and GIS Certificate, University of Mary Washington

I was born and raised in Williamsburg, Virginia. Every summer vacation required a trip to either a President’s house or another type of historic site. One summer, we traveled from Virginia to California and back in our little Honda Fit. After continuously being involved in two restoration projects, my parents were sure they scared me away from preservation, but they only pushed me closer. I began my undergraduate education at Radford University majoring in Dance and Education. After having foot surgery, I decided to go back to what I always loved: preservation. I completed my degree in Historic Preservation with a GIS Certificate at the University of Mary Washington. After graduating, I worked in plaster restoration at the Hotel Petersburg in Petersburg, Virginia. I decided to continue my education and this program was exactly what I wanted in such an amazing city. I am excited to continue to study Historic Preservation and gain more knowledge through new experiences.


Neale Grisham
BA in History, University of Mississippi  

My love of history stems back to the countless historic house museums and battlefield tours my father took me to when I was little. My father, like his father before him, had an avid interest in history that was seemingly genetic, so I knew from an early age that I wanted to pursue a career in history. As my father worked for the state of Tennessee, I had the opportunity to explore the state’s long history through his travels for work and my own experience at several historic house museums in the Middle Tennessee area. My love of museums led me to several internships which allowed me to develop a love for historic architecture and interpreting history to the public. I am looking forward to developing my interests into my future career through this program so that I may preserve the very history that drew me in from a young age.



Nicole Larochelle
BA in History, Christendom College

Born in Southern California, I spent much of my childhood exploring the history of California: visiting missions, ghost towns, forts and gold camps.  In addition to our love for history, my family spent vacations admiring architectural and engineering feats, which fostered in me an appreciation of historic buildings.  I studied history at Christendom College, and I was privileged to study abroad in Rome for a semester.  During those months, my appreciation of architecture combined with the intellectual pursuits of my major; I knew that I wanted to work with buildings, though historic preservation remained an unknown field.  This changed when the construction company where I worked for the past three years helped in restoring a nineteenth century structure, and I became exposed to applied historic preservation.  With my MS in Historic Preservation, I hope to refine my abilities so that I may work with contractors and architects to preserve historic structures for future use.


James McEnerney
BA in History, University of Dayton

Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri in a family that regarded history as crucial, my childhood had no lack of visits to historic sites, monuments and Civil War battlefields. After a family trip to Charleston with my family in the summer of 2012, I realized a particular admiration for the stories and unique histories that surrounded the city's archaic structures. As I progressed into college, I began to search high and low for ways to create a career out of this passion and love for historic buildings. As a result, I found myself studying archaeology and conservation at Maynooth University in Kildare, Ireland in 2017, with an internship at the City of Dayton historical society the summer following. After graduation from the University of Dayton in 2018, I decided to journey east, working with a preservation real-estate non-profit, Preserve Mecklenburg, in Charlotte, NC in an effort to build my resume for graduate school. I thought it only right to begin my graduate studies in the city where my love for the field of Historic Preservation began, and enrolled in the 2020 Clemson University/College of Charleston MSHP class. With my degree, I hope to work in building conservation for an architecture firm, eventually making my way back to Kansas City to contribute to the preservation of my hometown's architectural history.


Daniel McKnight
BA in Southern Studies, University of Mississippi

I am a native-born Charlestonian and have spent my entire life in awe of this great city. My parents, also natives, spent much of my childhood restoring our family home in Harleston Village, it was that early exposure that laid the foundations for my lifelong fascination with the buildings of Charleston. After graduating from the University of Mississippi in 2014 with my bachelor’s degree in Southern Studies, I returned home to Charleston in search of my career. Not knowing where to begin in Preservation, I took an internship with local celebrity chef Nathalie Dupree in the early months of 2015. Though undoubtedly one of the best experiences of my life, Nathalie could tell I had greater aspirations than to work in kitchens. Wanting the best for her “chickens”, Nathalie reached out to a restoration contractor – Jim Wigley – who was undertaking a major restoration project at 64 Broad St., The Confederate Home. While working for Jim I met a young graduate of the local American College of the Building Arts, who was poised to start his own masonry restoration company. Upon Jim’s retirement in 2017, I began working for Eddie Stroud and Up South, LLC, and have been active with that company for the last 3 years. Finally committing to advancing my academic endeavors, I decided to apply to this program in the fall of 2019. With my MS in Historic Preservation, I look forward to broadening my horizons within the field but also hope to remain in the city that has given me so much inspiration.


Riley Morris
BA in Anthropology, University of Missouri

After growing up in Allen, Texas, I attended the University of Missouri where I received my BA in Anthropology with minors in History and English. While pursing my bachelor’s degree, it became clear that I loved the deep connection people throughout history have formed with the places they live. I fell in love with the idea of preserving historic spaces while on an archaeological dig in Pompeii, Italy. Once I decided to pursue a career as a preservationist, Clemson and the College of Charleston were a clear choice. The opportunity to tell the histories of those who came before us through the built environment is not one I take lightly and I am looking forward to combining my love of people and history in a tangible way that promotes the success and longevity of cultures and communities.


Patricia Ploehn 
BA in Historic Preservation & Community Planning and Art History, minor in Southern Studies, College of Charleston

I grew up exploring historic landscapes, buildings, and materials. Every trip, whether family or school-based, involved history: excursions included stops in Williamsburg, New Orleans, Winston-Salem, San Antonio, even the Kennedy Space Center after a family Disney World trip! I fell in love with the material culture side of preservation first, and entered into college as an Art History major. I discovered Historic Preservation through an introductory course in the summer of 2016, and it completely transformed my love for history and art; I declared the double major that same summer. I realized that I could blend together my love for art and materials with my love for historic places. My studies in Preservation introduced me to so many facets of the profession: property research, historic architecture and landscape surveys, and the conservation of historic materials to name a few. I worked as a historical interpreter in my hometown of Columbia, SC and at the Joseph Manigault House and Drayton Hall here in Charleston. My passion for preservation has evolved from a general love of old buildings into a desire to preserve and restore cultural landscapes for the benefit of people, both those who visit and those who call these historic landscapes home. I am excited to embark on this MS journey and see how my passion grows from here!


Maria Short
B.S. Architecture with a minor in Sustainability, The Catholic University of America

To be honest, it took awhile for me to understand my love for historic preservation, or even architecture in general.  I decided to study architecture in my undergrad at The Catholic University of America in DC on a suggestion, never giving it a thought in high school, but I ended up loving it and graduated with my B.S. Architecture degree with a minor in sustainability. It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I was really introduced to historic preservation as a career path, even though I had spent years of my life looking in awe at old buildings and places on family vacations and never thinking to act on it.  After spending time interning in a firm that focused on “cookie-cutter” architecture, I realized that my future wasn’t in that, but was really in something I had been interested in since I was a kid.  I want to use my architecture background to dive into adaptive reuse projects and generally be more hands-on than I could as an architect alone.  I’m super stoked to be in this program with so many people from different backgrounds, and I have a lot to learn! 



Thomas Sutton
BA in History, Highpoint University

I grew up just outside of Cleveland Ohio and was raised by two teachers so educational trips to museums and historic sites were a constant part of life which began my interest in history. I Went on to receive a B.A. in History from Highpoint University after which I wanted to take some time to figure out what direction my life was headed in so I decided to do a year of service with Americorps NCCC FEMAcorps where I was lucky to be placed with FEMAs Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation Department where I was introduced to the field of preservation and the opportunities it could hold for me. My hope is to one day return to working in Historic Preservation at the federal level where I can have a direct impact on the future of the field.



Class of 2020

John Bennett


PE, SE, BS and MS in Civil Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

 I am a native Charlestonian with a deep appreciation for historic houses. While working on my family's 1820 house throughout my youth, surrounded by the architecture and history of Charleston, I decided to focus my education and career toward the goal of becoming a structural engineer specializing on the preservation of historic structures. After completing my undergraduate and graduate degrees in civil engineering at Georgia Tech, I worked in Atlanta for 6 years designing concrete structures for one of the largest firms in the southeast. I designed mid-rise and high-rise offices, apartments, parking decks, and hotels. After becoming registered as a PE and an SE, I decided it was time to return home with my wife and son. With my MS in Historic Preservation, I hope to tailor my engineering practice toward existing structures and designing solutions for our aging buildings for future generations.


BA in Advertising, Southern Methodist University

 A trip to Versailles when I was 11 sparked my deep interest in understanding historic buildings and the lives of those who have lived in them. It wasn't until I moved from Texas to Chicago in 2014, however, that I actually began to consider a career change into historic preservation. Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by inspiring, old buildings on a daily basis. I started spending my free time at Chicago History Museum and volunteered for my neighborhood's historic preservation association - Chicago's Old Town Triangle Association. I also had the deep pleasure of helping my family restore their 1870's townhouse in Chicago at this time. Finally, a trip to Charleston and the Clemson/College of Charleston program, confirmed my interest making my passion for historic preservation a career path rather than just a hobby.


BA in History, SUNY New Paltz

 Born in New Jersey, and raised in New York, I moved to Charleston three years ago after graduating from SUNY New Paltz and became a licensed carriage tour guide. I had always loved architecture and old buildings. Once learning about the buildings of Charleston to become a tour guide was when I realized that working on old buildings and sites to preserve them is exactly what I wanted to do. My family's lake house in Upstate New York has been passed down for six generations, and sparked my interest historic buildings since I was young. I've lived in New York, Connecticut, and North Carolina and have been lucky enough to travel all over the US and Europe furthering my love of history, monuments, and architecture. I thought I wanting to do more of renovation/construction side of preservation, but now seeing that there is much more that I can learn in the program. I know that when I am done I will love the work I'll be doing.


 BA in Art History, St. Andrews Presbyterian College

 I have spent my entire life between Virginia's Historic Triangle and James River Plantations. I was nearly a teenager by the time I realized that Colonial Williamsburg was not your typical historic downtown. Watching the successes and failures of local preservation efforts inspired me to pursue a career in the field. I started off as a field archaeologist for CRM firms and then worked as a tour guide in house museums. I cam to the program ot gain the knowledge and skills needed for positions that will allow me to have more of an impact on preservation rather than conducting excavations on sites already lost or interpreting sites that have already been restored.


BA in Architecture, Savannah College of Art and Design

I grew up in Deland, Florida and from an early age was interested in historic places. Family vacations had many historic sites and museums where I was dragging my family along instead of the other way around. My undergraduate studies in the historic city of Savannah, GA gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation of the historic context and the cause and effect relationships on communities. I was drawn to the program to gain firsthand experience from a city that really helped preservation get its start, and learn where I wanted to go in the field of historic preservation. With my experiences in the program, I hope to work for different heritage conservation organizations and government institutions to use preservation as a way to improve the lives of others and help communities all over the world.


BA in Fashion Merchandising, Drexel University

I came to Charleston from Philadelphia where I completed my undergrad degree. I was introduced to the historic preservation program through an archeological dig I did in Tel Megiddo, Israel in 2017. After coming back home I wanted to find a way to get involved with the maintenance of ruins and structures and that led her to Clemson and CofC's Historic Preservation program. I am interested in pursuing the conservation and restoration of historic structures owned by National Park Service, particularly in the West and Southwest. I hope to work on historic structures and advocate for them through policy work and direct conservation efforts.   


Class of 2021

Leah Applewhite


BA in History with an emphasis in Warfare, Lander University

 I have always had a life long interest in history. As a child growing up in Belton, South Carolina I would read all the history textbooks I could, and visit every historical district within driving distance. After graduating with a bachelors in history, I decided to further my education in a subject that would allow me to preserve history as a applicable skill. I am very grateful and excited to do what I love for a career to preserve the past for future generations.

Gabriel Cristofari


BA in Geography concentration in Urban Planning, minor in Archaeology, Binghamton University

 Born and raised in Binghamton, New York, I have always had a fascination with historic sites. Family trips to Colonial Williamsburg, Mount Vernon, Gettysburg and a plethora of others are some of my fondest memories! Growing up I wondered how these places came to be preserved and restored. Thus, entered the career path known as historic preservation. While attending Binghamton University I acquired valuable skills including GIS mapping and archaeological excavation techniques. I interned for the City of Binghamton’s historic preservationist planner. Here I was involved in writing architectural descriptions and reports concerning a structure’s historical significance. During the summer of 2017 and spring of 2019, I took part in archaeological digs in Milan, Pennsylvania. No program stood out more than Clemson University and the College of Charleston’s joint program. As a preservationist I hope to be involved in every step of the process and be an advocate for these sites, while simultaneously acting as a link between the past and present allowing people to connect with these sites’ history, its people and their stories through a physical medium.

Sarah Clifton


BS in History and Paralegal Studies with a Political Science minor, Mississippi College

 I was born and raised in Ridgeland, Mississippi. At a young age, my father instilled in me the value of history and how our interaction with it in the modern era can have a massive impact on our day to day lives. I came across historic preservation when I was a freshman in college. I had just changed my major to history and was looking for an interesting minor. Unfortunately, because of the size of my college, there were not enough people to justify the college teaching these classes. So historic preservation was put on the back burner, and I decided to take the law path. After not getting into law school, I remembered that pot sitting on the back burner. I started doing research into historic preservation, programs, and what careers could come of it; I was blown away at all that was offered. Although I do not know exactly what I want to do, I am excited to explore all the options historic preservation has for me.

Lisa Gardiner


BA in Technical Theatre, Palm Beach Atlantic University, M.A Secondary Education, Liberty University

 I moved to the Lowcountry from Atlanta, Georgia 5 years ago when I married my husband who was stationed here at Charleston Air Force Base. History has always been a love of mine and understanding historic structures has always been an interest. Once I moved to Charleston, my husband and I began visiting all of the historic landmarks and less known historical places around the area. We also began volunteering at an archeological dig at Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site. During that time, I became enthusiastic about the history of Charleston and what it takes to preserve or restore it. On my weekends off, my husband and I would try to find historic sites, known and unknown, such as potential civil war earthworks and brick ruins. That sense of adventure and enthusiasm to find something old and lost became a love of mine, especially since there is so much history around. From there, I became passionate about what it takes to restore or preserve historic landmarks and structures that have been forgotten.

Ken Marolda


BA in History, Pace University, and MA Community Planning, Policy, Design, College of Charleston

 Originally from New York, I earned my BA in History from Pace University in New York City and worked in real estate management, first as a handyman making repairs (often in turn-of-the-century buildings) and later as an operations manager and leasing agent. I spent many afternoons wandering the lower East Side of Manhattan admiring the beautiful craftsmanship and ornamentation adorning the many late 19th-century and early 20th-century buildings. In December 2015, I moved to Charleston and started a real estate management company where I continue to work with historic buildings. In 2016 I got my residential specialty contracting license, and in May 2019 I earned my MA in Community Planning, Policy, and Design at the College of Charleston. I have always loved history and historic buildings, and I look forward to learning more about them in Historic Preservation Certificate program.

Darcy Neufeld


BA in History and Spanish, University of Georgia

 Growing up in Georgia, Virginia, and New Jersey, I became very interested in how different towns and regions in the U.S. interact with their histories. I majored in History at UGA wanting a career in public history. My love of language motivated me to major in Spanish as well. During my undergraduate career, I also became heavily invested in sustainability and community organizing. It wasn’t until I was able to take Preservation as an elective that I understood where I wanted to be. I wanted to continue my education in the South, learning from and hopefully contributing to its efforts in preserving and connecting to the past. I am excited to combine my passion for history, sustainability, and community organizing while studying through this program in Charleston!

Bernard O'brien


BS in Historic Preservation, Roger Williams University

 Originally from a small town on the New Jersey Shore, I was raised by parents who were teachers. My mother, a history teacher, and my father, a fine arts teacher, were both passionate about the subjects they taught. On our vacations we would visit historic sites, monuments, parks, and museums, and I grew to appreciate these things as my parents did. I chose to major in Historic Preservation at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island and I immediately knew that this was a field I wanted to work in the rest of my life. I was fortunate enough to have several internships that brought me all over the country including performing restoration work at the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York, creating a Historic Structures Report at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington, helping to preserve wooden yachts at the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol, Rhode Island, and working with the Providence Preservation Society in Providence, Rhode Island. I was able to have these great experiences all while pursuing my passion.With my MS in Historic Preservation I hope to work in building conservation and adaptive reuse projects helping to utilize old buildings and preserve them for future generations.

Vito Scocozzo


BA in Architecture, Lehigh University

 A native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, I received my BA in Architecture from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where by chance I stumbled into a position as a student archivist in the Special Collections archives of their library system. During my time as a student archivist, I was able to learn about the history of Lehigh’s campus and surrounding area by handling historic documents, and was able to aid in the preservation of these documents so that generations to come will have access to them. Fascinated by the work I was doing in the archives, but not wanting to give up on my architecture degree, I decided to try and find a graduate program that allowed me to combine my two passions. As fate would have it, on one of my many family vacations to Charleston, I stumbled across this program and haven’t looked back since. With an MS in Historic Preservation I hope to help keep the heart of the past alive and well as we move so rapidly into the future.

Ben Thomas


BS in Environmental Studies, Wofford College

 I was born and raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina where the importance of preserving historic places was taught to me at a very young age. Family vacations to places like Philadelphia, Boston and Saint Augustine where early American history was integral to the city’s development and design fascinated me. My undergraduate major in environmental studies and minor in sociology from Wofford College taught me the importance of preservation and the influence that societies have on their built surroundings and vice versa. Since graduation, I have worked in various local government settings as a GIS technician. Through my experiences in the program at Clemson and College of Charleston I wish to investigate the applications of technologies involved in the historic preservation field such as CAD and GIS.