Alford’s Got the Need for Speed
Tigerville, SC (June 21, 2019) Much like her hometown of Darlington, SC — known for the annual NASCAR Southern 500 — Janice Alford (’98) seems to love moving fast, from one favorite activity to another.
Growing up on a farm, Alford went to the races often; her father’s employer, Georgia-Pacific, gave out free tickets to all its Dixie Cup plant workers as a perk. Her mother, a seamstress, would make matching shirts for each of her siblings to wear to those summer weekend events.
Alford’s other hobbies? You could always find her acting or singing. She joined the choir at church, and they often asked her to recite poems and speeches for special services, too. Seeing her talent, her parents signed her up for vocal lessons early on.
“Now, if I go home and my dad is sitting in his recliner, and I walk through the door, he might say to me, ‘Sing the national anthem!’ she explains proudly. “So I’m always being coached, even as an adult. It never stops!”
When she came to NGU, Alford had her eyes set on being an actress. She earned her Associate in Fine Arts, with a concentration in performing arts, and her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication at NGU in 1998.
During her time at NGU, Alford kept her plate full by serving with Black Student Fellowship and Student Christian League. She also performed in several of the school’s theatre productions, with her final production as the protagonist in “The Odd Couple” (Female Version) by Neil Simon. She also traveled with Act II, the school’s drama ministry.
“We were family. We loved one another. No-body looked at my skin tone. My size didn’t matter, or that I was a country girl that grew up on a farm. None of that mattered,” she remembers. “But we had one thing that did matter to us: Christ made the difference in our lives.”
After graduation, Alford started her career in communications, sticking around Greenville, SC. She stayed involved in theatre through her church, which gave her “her moment” in the spotlight. But she eventually transitioned to public education, serving for 14 years as an educator in Darlington County, Florence County Four, and Newark Public Schools in Newark, NJ.
Alford went on to earn two degrees in the time it takes most folks to earn one — a Master of Arts in Church Music and a Master of Arts in Christian Education — from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA. She also completed her certification in grief counseling from the American Institute of Healthcare Professionals.
Currently, Alford serves as bereavement coordinator for Agape Hospice of the Upstate.
“Now, I’m able to incorporate everything that I’ve done into one career. Being with those in end-of-life care, there’s never a moment when I’m not able to go into a room and sing. There’s never a moment when I’m not able to perform a monologue for the different programs,” she exudes. “It’s not just counseling people.”
The job can be “heavy,” she admits. But she works to bring hope to every facility visit, bedside chat, and funeral service. Her secret to staying positive is self-care, she adds.
“Don’t try to do everything. You can’t be everything to everybody,” she says. “If I can’t take time to fill myself up, I can’t help anyone else.”
But after setting aside a morning of “moving a little slower,” she’s usually ready to get back at it.
“I’m always doing something. I always have something going on,” she grins.
When she’s not visiting patients and their families with her full-time job at Hospice, Alford might be on the road singing with the national gospel recording group Larry McCullough & Chosen Generation; taking the stage in an off-Broadway production, since she’s a member of the Spectrum Theatre Company; or visiting campus for her role with the NGU Alumni Board.
“She stands up and really advocates for students who can often be overlooked,” says Stuart Floyd (’16), current board secretary.
Since 2017, Alford’s worked with Floyd not only on the board, but also in his role with the Office of Career Planning, recruiting students for Hospice at on-campus events.
And, of course, she still likes to come back for “Chicken day” on Wednesdays when she can.
For her committed service to NGU, Alford received the Alumni Board President’s Award at the 2018 NGU Connect event last fall, which came as a pleasant surprise to her.
“I was shocked out of my mind!” she exclaims. “Someone recognized the hard work and dedication that you put in in such a short time as a board member. It made me feel good just to be appreciated.”
An annual award, the Alumni Board President’s Award is given by the current board president to one alum who has gone the extra mile to serve others at NGU and beyond — just like Alford.
“Her big smile, contagious laughter, and quick wit are infectious. She is a magnet to everyone within arm’s reach,” says Julie Styles (’90, ’09), director of alumni engagement and development. “But best of all, Janice’s work ethic is unmatched. She tirelessly serves her community, as well as North Greenville University.”