Logan Pender


Name: Logan Pender

Education: Working on a bachelor's degree for an indivdualized major

Residence: Rock Hill, South Carolina

Logan Pender will finish his Winthrop experience knowing that he took advantage of every opportunity available.

He created an individualized major, designing a course study so that he can fulfill his dream to be a higher education administrator specializing in study abroad. He also received several scholarships which allowed him to travel to South Korea for the fall 2022 semester.

Before Pender left Asia, the Rock Hill resident attended the Council on International Educational Exchange Annual Conference in Seoul, South Korea, in November where he heard about changing global dynamics, shifting areas of political conflict and concerns about health and safety.

Pender’s educational path is a winding one. A 2019 Rock Hill High graduate, he spent part of his high school years learning to play different instruments with the goal of studying music education and becoming a high school band director. Involved in the Teacher Cadet program in high school, he started thinking that he wanted to pursue a social studies education degree to teach secondary education.

He was in the first group of the Grow Your Own Candidate certificate program offered by the Rock Hill School District to encourage local students to major in education. He saw the strong education program at Winthrop and decided to attend.

By October of his freshman year, he was having doubts about his chosen profession. There were teacher protests in Columbia, South Carolina, at the Statehouse about working conditions. 

“It worried me and how it will affect my duty as an educator one day. It made me question myself, can I personally do my job effectively in a classroom and in the capacity that I want to be successful for my kids,” Pender said. “Ultimately the answer was no. I was also wrestling with the fact of being restricted in a major. I am an individual that likes to have my hands in all kinds of stuff and having that freedom and being creative with it.”

Discovery of his purpose

He found the individualized studies program, and “it was like a light just came on.”

“At that time, I realized I wanted to go into international education and higher education administration for my master’s and Ph.D.,” Pender said. “So, I begin crafting my major October of freshman year that would allow me to create a foundation for my future master’s and Ph.D. degrees.”

He worked with staff in the International Center to plan his college experience. As he begins to wrap up his final year, he said he will work with the Interim Provost to craft a specialized internship. Then he also will intern with Fund Education Abroad, a nonprofit scholarship organization in spring 2024. 

Here are a few of the programs in which Pender has participated:

  • McNair Scholar who is mentored by Leigh Poole, interim university college dean and director of the International Center. His research focuses on diversity, equality, accessibility and inclusion of U.S. historically underserved students studying abroad. Last summer during the McNair cohorts 2022 Summer Research Experience, he was selected by his cohort for the top award, known as the Scholar Among Scholars. 
  • Recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and Iva B. Gibson scholarship from Winthrop which allowed him to study during the fall semester in Seoul.  
  • Fund Education Abroad Scholarship recipient in March 2022 which allows him to conduct research and to start an internship within the next year.
  • Participant in the Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminar on “Rural Engagement in Global Affairs” by U.S. Department of State’s Office of Alumni Affairs in late February. He will be eligible to apply for small grants of up to $10,000 for community-based projects that focus on innovative local or national initiatives to support rural Americans’ engagement and collaboration in global affairs.
  • Participant at a diplomacy meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul where he interacted with American and Korean diplomats.

Throughout his four years at Winthrop, and as Pender gets ready to prepare for the fifth and final year, he has no regrets. “No matter how extreme and far-fetched sounding obstacles I encountered due to outside matters, the support, the grace, and love that is given by the faculty and staff here is something that is truly special,” he said.

On campus, Pender has been the student representative for the university’s reaccreditation Quality Enhancement Plan and for the Campus Master Plan, and he worked as the study abroad office programming assistant/peer mentor for two years.

Plans for the future

Pender’s future goals include possibly getting a graduate degree in diplomacy in Taiwan and participating in the Fulbright program. Whatever his path, Pender will continue to advocate for equity, accessibility, diversity, and inclusiveness in education abroad not just at his institution but for the nation as a whole. 

“I have been presented with so many opportunities and every opportunity I have taken I did it fully with the best version that I could,” he said.

As a first-generation minority male who is doing college on his own, Pender understands that the Winthrop experience is about the journey of continuously moving forward and evolving. Doors have been opened for him, and he knows he will need to pay forward what he has learned to future generations.