PULSE Program Influences Scholarly Aspirations for 3 Hartsville Students

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – March 18, 2014 – On a Sunday afternoon late last month, in the Hannah Lide Coker Recital Hall, three Hartsville vocalists performed a complex repertoire of art songs ranging from classical to modern, and they sang the challenging works in English, French, German and Italian.

Classically trained musicians perform successful senior recitals every semester at Coker. In fact, it is a rite of passage for graduating music majors. But these Coker students are not preparing to graduate from college. Despite the fact that they are completing their third year of college coursework in vocal music, Sarah Floyd, Nicole Hyman and Alex Morrison are preparing to graduate from Hartsville High School.

The three students have been enrolled in courses at Coker since 2011 through Accelerated Learning Opportunities (ALO) offered as part of an initiative known more broadly as PULSE, Partners for Unparalleled Local Scholastic Excellence.

“One of the most rewarding experiences as a professor is helping to shape a student’s path over time,” explained Assistant Professor of Music Serena Hill-LaRoche, who coordinates Coker’s participation in PULSE.

“Being able to see these students progress has me especially proud of what we do at Coker.  It has reinforced my belief in the critical role that strong mentorship plays in giving students the confidence they need to realize their personal aspirations.  Nicole, Sarah and Alex have flourished in this program, and I am certain that they are well prepared to achieve success in the next steps of their college careers,” Hill-LaRoche added.

For Floyd, the ALO program seems clearly to have influenced both her academic direction and her college choice.

“The ALO program not only showed me that music is what I want to do for the rest of my life, but that Coker is where I want to attend for the next four years,” said Floyd, who plans to major in music. “The music faculty is so outstanding that I cannot imagine a better college to attend that has their kind of abilities and talent.”

While the other participants haven’t yet finalized their college selections, Morrison plans to major in music education and Hyman plans to major in biology.

An ALO student performance will be featured in Coker’s annual Performing Arts Showcase, the culminating activity of the Celebration of Academics, at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 26 in Watson Theater of the Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Performing Arts Center.

A one-of-a-kind public-private partnership formed to implement a comprehensive scholastic excellence program in Hartsville public schools, PULSE expands curriculum opportunities and further improves student achievement through collaborative academic and social development initiatives.

Through the program, Coker College provides college-credit courses to eligible high school students in art, music, theater and dance.  The ALO program also provides qualified Hartsville public school students with enhanced science, math and language classes, such as organic chemistry and advanced physics in partnership with the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM).  The partners include Darlington County School District, GSSM, Coker College and Sonoco.  Sonoco is funding the initiative through a $5 million grant that will be paid over five years.

For more information about Coker’s ALO offerings, please contact Hill-LaRoche at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or TEACH Foundation Executive Director Sharman Poplava at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 843-917-0026.


Coker College readies undergraduates for personal and professional success through a distinctive four-year program that emphasizes a practical application of the liberal arts as well as hands-on and discussion-based learning within and beyond the classroom. Coker is ranked among the “Best Colleges” in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review. Located in Hartsville, S.C., Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.

For more information, contact Kyle Saverance - 843.383.8017

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