Aiken, SC (05/25/2023) — Dr. Sanela Porca, professor of economics and international business at the University of South Carolina Aiken and executive director of the Pacer Center for Excellence in Business Research and Entrepreneurship, will deliver the graduation address at Mead Hall on Friday, May 26.
Porca has held numerous leadership positions at USC Aiken, including serving as interim dean of the School of Business, where she was responsible for the school's operations and activities including accreditation, recruitment and evaluation of faculty, fundraising and advocacy, advisement, budget management, faculty development, curriculum, assessment, and planning.
In addition, Porca has served as an investigator for various applied business and economic projects and entities including South Carolina American Association of Retired Persons, Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, Aiken Corporation, City of Aiken, and Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce.
A native of Croatia, Porca said she plans to tell the school's graduates about her personal journey following her own high school graduation, a time when her life changed dramatically due to war in the country. She then came to the United States from a refugee camp with less than $200, and 30 years later would show how a female refugee and immigrant worker could become a college professor, dean of a business school, and graduation speaker.
"During my speech, I will ask graduates to focus on the following three things in life: 1) hard work, perseverance and determination; 2) family, friends and faith; and 3) paying it forward and helping someone in need," she said.
Prior to joining USC Aiken, Porca worked as a research fellow at the University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research, where she contributed to five annual reports for the state's governor.
She is the recipient of all five of the USC Aiken's faculty awards in recognition of teaching, scholarly activity, service, and advisement - the only faculty member in university history to do so. In addition, she was named the 2018 United Way of Aiken Philanthropist of the Year and the 2006 South Carolina Governor's Distinguished Teacher of the Year.
She received her bachelor's in economics and political science from Denison University; her master's in economics from Miami University; and her doctorate in economics from the University of Tennessee.