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Charleston Day School
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Alumni Spotlight

Gervais Hagerty

September 28
1. Red or Blue, which were you?

Red!

2. Which CDS campus did you attend?

Archdale

3. What is your favorite CDS memory?

Geez… I have so many great memories.  I fondly recall the hugs from Ms. Richardson’s puppet penguins on our way out the 2nd grade classroom.  Getting Jolly Ranchers from Ms. Barr for perfect sentence lifting also ranks pretty high on the list.  I recall the excitement and intensity of the games of blind-man’s bluff with my classmates during recess in fourth grade.  I remember biking to school early to squeeze in a few fierce games of tetherball before the first bell.  As I got older, many of my favorite memories were made on the basketball court.  I can still feel the excitement of snatching away a jump ball and pounding down the court for a layup. We were a good team!

4. Where did you attend high school, college and graduate school after graduating from CDS? Were there any interesting turns along the way?

High School- Porter Gaud and St. Paul’s SchoolUndergrad: VanderbiltGrad (MBA) Citadel

5. What was your first job ever?

Server at Swensen’s

6. Tell us about your current career and how CDS prepared you for it?

As the director of The Citadel Public Speaking Lab, I coach students to become effective speakers.  I do this in three ways: one-on-one training in the lab, teaching undergraduate Leadership Communication classes, and by running the campus public speaking club.  I also have a side gig, Charleston Public Speaking, where I consult Lowcountry professionals. CDS prepared me for this role (and many others) by teaching me to have a solid work ethic and sound time management skills.

7. What is your best advice for someone who wants to be better at public speaking or is preparing for a public speaking event?

My advice is simple.  First, be sure to pick a topic that interests you (see next question).  If you are excited about the content, you are naturally more expressive and engaging, solving the problem of “what do I do with my hands?”  Also, when your audience members see that you are engaged, they, too, will be more interested in learning what you have to say.Second, always practice.  Many of my students think that naturally good speakers can just wing it.  This is far from the truth.  The best speakers throughout time have dedicated themselves to the craft.  You owe it to your audience to come prepared.  Otherwise, you are wasting everyone’s time (and that’s exactly what I say to the cadets).

8. What was your 5th grade speech contest topic?

My topic was stars.  I remember getting a perfect score from Ms. Rhett, but was confused about why I wasn’t invited to compete.  Now I know—I was boring!  I managed to turn our spellbinding galaxy into a veritable snooze-fest because I never really connected with the material.  I talked about black holes the way people talk about taxes.  The students who did make it into the contest connected with their material.  To this day, I remember Gregg Swanson Davis’s speech about TV commercials and how annoying they were.  Will Cleveland spoke about his sister’s battle with diabetes and I was horrified to learn she couldn’t eat cake.  Though different, both speeches succeeded because the speakers were truly interested in their subjects.

9. Why is public speaking an important part of a school’s curriculum?

Educational institutions at all levels need to teach critical thinking, and speeches are the perfect tool for this vital part of the curriculum.  Molding an idea into an engaging, cohesive speech with a strong message takes brainpower.  It’s a fun exercise, but it’s also hard work.

10. What do you do outside of work? (hobbies, interests, community service, etc.)

I keep busy with a precocious toddler and another baby on the way.  In my spare time, I work on my pipe dream: finishing and publishing my novel.

Bonus Question: If you had a chance for a one year radical sabbatical what would you do and/or where would you go?

My husband is an excellent sailor.  We talk about pulling our kids out of school for a year to live on a boat and explore the world.  It will be a while before we can embark on a journey like this.  In the meantime, I’ll be practicing my sailing knots and navigational skills!

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