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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

Hospitality management student working through college gets tip of a lifetime

By Allen Wallace,
Posted on September 9, 2020

2020 has been an incredibly tough year for the restaurant industry. But even in hard times, one of South Carolina’s most beloved family restaurants is supporting the next generation of leaders.

University of South Carolina senior Kaylee Campbell has worked for Lizard’s Thicket throughout college. It’s a job that has helped her pay her bills and discover her passion for hospitality management, but she never expected how much the family-owned restaurant would support her career.

The week before her senior year began, on what she expected to be a normal day at work, she got a surprise visit from Lizard’s Thicket CEO Bobby Williams. He let her know she had just received a scholarship to help pay for her college tuition.

“This scholarship has taken a tremendous weight off my shoulders for my senior year,” Campbell says. “I would like to thank the entire Williams family, not only for awarding me this scholarship, but for being an amazing family and employer to work for every day.”

Lizard’s Thicket has been a South Carolina institution since Anna and Bob Williams founded the restaurant in 1977. While the company has grown from that first Columbia eatery to 15 locations and more than 700 employees, it remains a family business that is building a legacy for hospitality. Anna and Bob’s children established The Bob and Anna Tronco Williams Lizard’s Thicket Scholarship Support Fund at UofSC’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management to honor their parents and help hospitality management students succeed.

“For the Williams family it's most gratifying to be able to help one of our own employees further her education,” says Lizard’s Thicket CEO Bobby Williams. “The sky's the limit in the restaurant industry and we are excited to watch Kaylee do big things!”

Campbell was selected for the award by the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management for her combination of academic achievement and aspirations to pursue a career as a leader in the restaurant industry. The Charleston, South Carolina, native plans to become a restaurant manager after she completes her degree in hospitality management and will be able apply her experience gained in the classroom and on the job to help South Carolina’s hospitality industry rebound in the coming years.

The University of South Carolina is ranked as one of the top ten hospitality and tourism management programs in the nation with degrees at the undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. level. The school’s location in a state known for excellence in tourism and hospitality is part of its success, as well as strong partnerships with industry leaders.

“Having strong industry partnerships enriches the student experience and plays an important role in supporting student success,” says Robin DiPietro, director of UofSC’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management. “We are so thankful for Lizard's Thicket’s continued support of our hospitality management degree program and the important scholarship, research, career and applied learning opportunities they make possible every day.”

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