Sanders, Penuel join USCL faculty

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By Jesef Williams

Alexis Sanders is adjusting to life in the South, while Dr. Suzanne Penuel looks to become even more active in the local community.


Sanders and Penuel are the two newest full-time faculty members at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster. The Lancaster News caught up with both of them recently to see how things have been going so far this semester.

Alexis Sanders  

A native of Cincinnati, Sanders came to USCL after working in Columbia for a year with the William S. Hall Psychiatric Institute. That’s where she completed her clinical internship as part of her graduate program at the University of Cincinnati.

Shortly afterward, she found an opening at USCL to become its full-time therapist.

In that position, Sanders provides mental health counseling to students, helping them with issues, ranging from being away from home to problems with a class.

She also performs psychological testing and offers career counseling.

Sanders wants students to know that her office at 127 Starr Hall is open if they ever need to talk.

“I’ve been here since July,” she said. “It’s been a little slow because people don’t realize I’m here.”

In addition to counseling, Sanders teachers an introductory psychology course for high school students looking to earn dual credit through USC.

She records the lectures at her desk using a camera attached to her computer and places the footage on a DVD.

Those videos are then sent to students at 10 different schools in the state, including Northwestern and Rock Hill high schools in York County.

Sanders said it’s hard to explain what drew her to the field. She sees psychology as a welcoming challenge because she has to deal with many different types of people who may be going through a host of issues.

“I love psychology,” said Sanders, who expects to finish her dissertation before January. “I enjoy it. This gives me an opportunity to offer services to people.”

On a personal note, the Ohio native is trying to get used to life “in the country,” though she said she’s still able to do the things she loves, which includes cooking, hanging out with friends, shopping and going out to eat.

Suzanne Penuel

Penuel came to USCL in 2008, though she’s in her first year as a full-time faculty member.

This semester, she teaches four sections of English 101, a basic composition course.

Last year, she just taught two section per semester.

The biggest change now is getting to know twice as many students.

“It’s exciting and it’s interesting to see that each class has it’s own personality,” she said.

Penuel, who’s main interest is British literature, recently finished her dissertation at the University of Texas. It focused on Renaissance playwrights’ focus on father-child relationships.

Even in her basic composition courses, she aims to infuse British literature, as her students will study some Shakespeare throughout the semester.

Penuel describes literature as an opportunity to travel to a new place without having to experience the harms that could come along with it.

She said she most enjoys teaching the short poem.

“There’s a universe of possibilities inside it,” Penuel said.

“I want to make sure the students read and write in a more sophisticated way than when they got here and have more of an understanding of the verbal world around them,” she said.

Penuel, a native of Shreveport, La., said the Lancaster community has been really welcoming since she and her husband arrived last year.

Her aim is to start a reading group for local teenagers and also sponsor some poetry-reading groups.

If you’re interested, you can call her at (803) 313-7034.

Aside from literature, Penuel said she likes to exercise, listen to music and explore the outdoors. So far she’s enjoyed her visits to nearby attractions such as 40 Acre Rock and Landsford Canal.

She sees Lancaster as ideal because it’s not far from the mountains and also just a few hours from the beach.  


 Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.co  or at (803) 283-1152