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Bulldog News

Bulldog Class Notes for June 17, 2024

Author: Sam Watson, Director of University Relations|Published: June 17, 2024|All News

Class notes

Sharing Good News about Alumni of South Carolina State University!


 The Rev. James A. Reese

The Rev. James A. Reese recently was inducted into the prestigious Spartanburg Music Trail.

A South Carolina State University alumnus, Reese came to Spartanburg in 1966 as a music educator/band director for District 2. Although the school names have changed, many band programs he started over 50 years ago still flourish.

In addition to his teaching career, he played trombone in several local and national professional bands and orchestras. As a member of the Bohannon Motown Sound, he toured with the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and more. Other bands and orchestras he played in afforded him the opportunity to perform with The Jackson Five, The Four Tops, Teddy Pendergrass, Al Green and James Brown.

In 1985, he and his wife Jonni became members of Evangel Cathedral Church, and he began serving as a volunteer leader in the music and arts department. After serving for 12 years, he was ordained in 1997 and hired as a full-time associate pastor. His tenure on the pastoral staff at Evangel Cathedral continued until July of 2015 when Evangel Cathedral merged with Free Chapel.

For over 30 years, Reese has served as the music director, writer and arranger for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Celebration in Spartanburg. This event features the unique 200-plus member Sounds of Diversity Choir and Orchestra.

In 2008, the City of Spartanburg honored him as Volunteer of The Year.

As an author, he recently released a unique Instrumental methods book, "Hot Grooves For Cool Players – Things I’ve Learned Along the Way That Will Help You Play Better Today."

The Reeses are blessed with a daughter, two sons and two grandsons.

Melinda Johnson

Class of 2005

The Kershaw County School District Board of Trustees has approved Melinda Johnson as the new principal of Jackson School and Meredith Kirkland as assistant director of Woolard Technology Center.

Johnson served three years an assistant principal at Doby’s Mill Elementary. She previously served as a primary talent development coach and a fifth grade co-team leader in Silver Spring, Maryland. She also spent 10 years as a Title One facilitator, reading coach, and fourth and fifth grade teacher in North Charleston and Manassas, Virginia, from 2006-2016.

Johnson earned a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from South Carolina State University and a Master of Education in administration and supervision from Southern Wesleyan University.

She is a member of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators. She completed the CEEL Assistant Principal Foundations workshop and the CEEL Aspiring Principals program. She is a SC Lead Evaluator, is CPI certified, and has a Read to Succeed Endorsement.

Johnson and her husband AJ reside in Camden with their children, Kaelyn and Gavin.

Dr. James L. Nesmith Jr.

Class of 1986

Dr. James L. Nesmith Jr. recently celebrated 25 years of service as the founding minister of the West Broad Church of Christ in Richmond, Virginia. Nesmith planted the church in downtown Richmond in January 1999.

Before establishing West Broad, Dr. Nesmith worked with churches in South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee; he has nearly 40 years of experience lifting hearts, encouraging hope and effecting change in individuals and families.

Dr. Nesmith earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from South Carolina State University in 1986. He went on to earn a Master of Divinity in 1997 and a Doctor of Ministry in 2006 from the Harding School of Theology in Memphis, Tennessee.

Dr. Tymon M. Graham

Class of 2010

An essay by Dr. Tymon M. Graham, "Accelerating Retention: The Tri-focal A.C.E. Approach for HBCU Student Affairs Leaders," recently was published in Higher Education Digest.

Graham is the director for administration and research strategy of The Payne Center at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. The Payne Center is a national research center commissioning research and public policy studies through data-driven social science research methods to inform theory, policy, and practice for and about HBCUs.

He previously served as associate vice president for student success and engagement at Edward Waters University.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from South Carolina State University, a master’s degree from the University of West Georgia, and a Doctor of Education degree from Benedictine University.

Send Us Your Class Notes!

Are you an SC State graduate with good news to share? Tell us about career changes, promotions, awards, births of children and other important milestones.

Email details to Sam Watson, SC State director of university relations. at