Danny Dorsel, the newly appointed president of the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM), joined us for the “Innovation. Investment. Vision.” i4Series event to inform business leaders about the history and expansion of GSSM, student accomplishments at the prestigious STEM school, and new ways businesses can innovate and collaborate with some of the brightest young minds in the state.

GSSM is a public boarding school for gifted 11th and 12th-graders located in Hartsville, SC, where students study everything from robotics to biochemistry. Danny says it changes students’ lives in ways most could never imagine, like fellow alum Dr. Vikhyat “Vik” Bebarta. He arrived at GSSM as a student from rural Denmark, SC, and went on to serve as a Chief Emergency Medical Officer for the U.S. Air Force during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. In 2005, he was in Iraq managing what ended up being the worst single-day casualty in the Iraq war. Danny says that unimaginable day, coupled with Vik’s unique educational experience at GSSM pushed him to develop innovative treatments for patients that have changed what the field of medicine looks like in wartime and have improved emergency response here at home.

When Vik and Danny graduated with GSSM’s inaugural class of 1990, there were just 128 students at the school, with 59 graduating. In 2014, GSSM began expanding on campus. Today it houses 288 juniors and seniors but impacts a total of 4011 students state-wide by also providing summer camps and virtual learning programs. Danny says, “There’s no reason in 10 years why we can’t impact 8,000 students.”

Danny’s vision for reaching that goal includes more public/private partnerships. Students are required to complete a 6-week research and inquiry project in order to graduate. Danny says it’s the opportunity of a lifetime because of the impact it has on a student’s college application. Students are usually placed with graduate-level research labs at Clemson, USC, MUSC, and Furman, but GSSM has recently started branching out to more businesses to expand the program, including working with AVX, Integrated Systems, Inc., Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Zverse, CPM Federal Credit Union and more.

Want to know more? We reached out to Dr. Josh Witten, GSSM Director of Research & Inquiry, to learn more about how businesses can innovate with students.

📧  Email Dr. Witten at witten@governors.school.