2007 International Volunteer — Mrs. Young Ae Kim, South Korea
Young Ae Kim came to the U.S. (and the Midlands of SC) ten years ago. In addition to being a mother and running a successful business, for the past eight years she has also volunteered much time as instructor of the Korean Children Folk Dance Group, which she herself founded. Mrs. Kim realized that her children, as second generation Koreans living abroad, did not possess a knowledge of the native culture and traditional customs of her beloved motherland. Nor was the problem isolated to her own family. Thus she established the Folk Dance Group as a means of teaching second generation Korean children here in the Midlands their Korean heritage. Besides their weekly training sessions, the Dance Group performs traditional Korean dances at such events as the Carillon Holiday Parade, the Columbia International Festival, local school events, and various Korean community programs. Through these performances, the children have gained valuable self-confidence, as well as pride for their Korean lineage.
2007 International Professional — Dr. Wayne Duffus, Jamaica
Dr. Wayne A. Duffus moved to the United States with his family, following his graduation from high school in Jamaica twenty-five years ago. He graduated from Brooklyn College in NY with a bachelors in biology, then earned both his M.D. and a PhD in Virology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY. Following a three-year residency at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, Dr. Duffus received additional training and experience at the Emory University School of Medicine and at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. Since 2002, he has served as an attending physician for infectious diseases at the STD clinic of the SC Dept. of Health and Environmental Control here in Columbia. Since 2004, he has also served as Director for HIV and STD Medicine for DHEC’s Bureau of Disease Control, in addition to being Clinical Assistant Professor in the University of SC ’s Dept. of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases. Dr. Duffus has co-authored numerous articles and publications, serves as a consultant to physicians and nurses statewide, mentors undergraduate students at the university, and is active in educating community groups about the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
2007 International Professional — Ms. Carmen Floyd, England
Carmen Floyd was born and raised in the UK and was very fortunate to be able to travel the world and see many wonderful things. Upon graduating from high school, she joined the Armed Forces and served 10 years in the Royal Navy as a Police Officer. While serving in the Royal Navy, Ms. Floyd spent 5 years overseas on Diego Garcia as a Civil Police, Customs and Immigration Officer for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
In 1988, she emigrated to the USA and worked for the city of Newbern, NC as Stores Clerk, a position which a woman had never held before. After a year, Ms. Floyd became the first woman to join the Newbern Fire Department, another first in the City’s 100-year history.
From there she moved to New York and worked for an investigation company, a job that took her around the USA. In 1992, an assignment bought her back to the South, a warm and friendly place. She decided to stay. She learned that the Columbia Fire Department was hiring and after passing the agility test and interviews, was hired in 1993 as a tailboard fire fighter. Recently she reached the rank of Assistant Chief/Fire Marshal, a position that has never been held by a woman before, again another first. Carmen met her husband, Dwayne Floyd, here in South Carolina. He is a Columbia Police Officer, and they have been married for 8 years. In 1995, Carmen Floyd became a Dual National, holding both British and United States’ citizenship. “Since living in the USA,” Carmen says, “ I have been very fortunate to be able to travel the country, meeting interesting people on the way from all walks of life. I have been truly blessed.”
2007 International Business Person — Mrs. Gira Patel, India
Gira Patel was born in Ahmedabad, India in 1959. She grew up in a family where education was given importance, and all of her siblings went to English medium schools. She married at the young age of 19 and had children early, as well. Ms. Patel’s career started in retail business, with her owning and operating several convenience stores for over 13 years. Business matters came natural to her, as she had been raised in a business family where entrepreneurial skills were developed just by being around her father, a very successful businessman. Her career took a surprising turn, when she and her husband, Manhar, decided to open a steel fabrication business. Initially, it was rough, just like any new business, and things were just not working well due to unsteady steel prices. However, Gira knew she had a good support system in place, and she persevered. Now, 10 years later, she says she is used to taking challenges and creating opportunities for herself, her family and her business.
Presently, Ms. Patel serves as Secretary of the West Metro Rotary Club, is a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners, as well as the National Association of Women in Construction. She is also a member of the West Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.