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Self Regional Healthcare Physician, CEO Calls on Lander Graduates to Be a Light for Others

students turning tassels
Lander University graduates turn their tassels from right to left to signify their status as graduates. Photo by Deb Nygro

The life lessons of the late Ruth Seymour Tolbert, one of the first students to attend Lander College in 1904 when the Williamston Female College relocated to Greenwood, were the inspiration for the commencement address delivered by her great-grandson, Dr. Matthew T. Logan, at Lander’s 169th commencement Wednesday, May 1.

Logan, the president and CEO of Self Regional Healthcare in Greenwood, drew on his great-grandmother’s wisdom when he addressed Lander University’s 643 graduates, among whom about 30 percent were from the College of Graduate Studies and Online Programs. Lander’s Class of 2024 represents the largest class of bachelor’s and master’s degree students to date.

Born in 1888, Tolbert lived beyond her 100th birthday, Logan said, and witnessed her share of happiness, heartache and historical events after earning her degree in education from Lander in 1908. Tolbert was a teacher before devoting her life to her young family and then beginning a career with the U.S. Postal Service.

Tolbert experienced significant challenges throughout her life. She survived the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, lived through the Great Depression and had two sons who served in World War II.

“We all have struggles,” said Logan. “Don’t only focus on your problems. Seek out opportunities to be a light to others.”


Self Scholars
Graduating in the 2 p.m. ceremony was Lander’s first cohort of Self Regional Scholars, a program created in 2022 to provide scholarship opportunities for Lander’s highest-performing, upper-level nursing students. Pictured are Dr. Holisa Wharton, dean of Lander’s William Preston Turner School of Nursing, far left, and Self Regional Healthcare President and CEO Dr. Matthew Logan, far right, with Self Scholars (from left): Sierra Harrison, of Greenwood; Sydney Brewster, of Iva; Abigail Wallace, of Chapin; Carlee Stockman, of Greenwood; Kacey Weathers, of Gray Court; Blain Tomas, of Greenwood; Kirsten Dale, of Pageland; and Anna Joy Hulsey, of Gaffney. Not pictured is Aislynn Lopez, of Greenwood. Photo by Laura Wood

Self Regional Scholars Program

In his leadership post at Self, Logan has shared his own “light” and passion for education by helping to develop the Self Regional Scholars Program in 2022 for nursing students at Lander. The first group of nine scholarship recipients are among this year’s graduates.

Logan praised the relationship forged between the hospital and the University for the education of nurses. “These young people come to our hospital day in, day out and not only are they learning, but they are providing first-level, hands-on compassion.”


Carlee Elizabeth Stockman

Carlee Elizabeth Stockman, of Greenwood, is one of the first Self Scholars. “The scholarship means so much to me. People put their trust in us to make them proud and to do good for others. The scholarship paid for my education. I am ready to give back to Self for everything they have given to me.”

Stockman will join Self’s staff as an emergency room nurse. “I love helping people. I’ve always wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives. Other people have helped me, and I have never forgotten it.”


Faith Nichols

For Faith Nichols, of Blythewood, the future will include serving her country as a newly commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Army National Guard. Nichols, who earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology and a minor in military Science, said her decision to enter ROTC was inspired by her parents, Larry and Marla Nichols, who served in the military.

“I saw what military service had meant to them, to our nation and their community,” Nichols said. “I want to help my community, meet new people and travel. Military service will give me those opportunities.”

Being a member of ROTC at Lander “meant leadership and community,” she said. “Today is a big accomplishment.”


Phillip Braeden Burton

For Phillip Braeden Burton, of Greenwood, commencement represented “the transition from being a student to being a nurse and helping people.”

Burton, who will begin working as an intensive care nurse at Self Regional Healthcare this summer, said his clinical training over the past two years in Lander’s nursing program “has been about learning … now I will take my education into a field where I can help others.”


Katie Bell

Katie Bell, of Albemarle, North Carolina, is among the graduates who will be sharing her “light” with others. Bell, who earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, with an emphasis in equine-assisted activities and therapies is pursuing certification to become a therapeutic riding instructor. She plans to work at Healing and Learning Through Equine Relationships (HALTER), a Spartanburg organization dedicated to improving children’s lives through equine-assisted services, education and research.

A member of Lander’s equestrian team, Bell has been riding horses since age four. “Throughout my experience, I began to fall more in love with the numerous benefits horses can provide. I started volunteering at therapeutic riding facilities during high school and was amazed at how much riders with special needs and disabilities could accomplish on the back of a horse. I loved seeing those riders feel empowered and being able to make their own choices.”


Richard Cosentino and Matt Logan

Lander University President Dr. Richard Cosentino, left, welcomed guest speaker Dr. Matthew T. Logan, president and CEO of Self Regional Healthcare, to campus. Photo by Laura Wood

Embracing Change

Tolbert had numerous strengths, which undoubtedly will serve Lander’s graduates, as they venture into new lives, Logan said. “She embraced change. She always wanted to learn, and she always wanted to be part of the future.”

Logan said he had no doubt that Tolbert would want the graduates to have three take-home messages:

  • Never stop learning. Tolbert told her family, “At Lander, I learned how to learn.” Keep learning, keep reading. Keep your minds sharp, Logan said.
  • Show kindness. “Everyone is going through something. We all need more kindness in our lives,” he said.
  • Change is hard, but change is coming. “Embrace that change and be a part of it,” Logan said.

He challenged the graduates “to keep with you the lessons of the past, the dreams of the future and the enduring legacy of one of Lander’s first graduates.”


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