Alumna Spotight: Paula Novacki, `14
Ever wondered what life after graduation will look like? Meet Paula Novacki!
Being an engaged Gamecock and community leader is one of several things alumnus Sam Johnson is known for in Columbia, SC. Johnson holds dual degrees in English and Political Science from the College of Arts and Sciences and a Juris Doctor from the School of Law.
Currently Johnson is a Project Consultant at Nexsen Pruet and NP Strategy in Columbia where he represents clients before governmental agencies and matters stemming from government action. Before joining the firm, Johnson worked alongside two notable Gamecock leaders – Mayor Steve Benjamin and Anton Gunn.
“The time I spent with leaders like Anton Gunn and Steve Benjamin shaped both the personal and professional I am today,” he says.
Johnson worked in leading the Mayor’s strategic initiatives like the Bull Street redevelopment project, revitalizing Columbia’s emerging neighborhoods and bolstering the Famously Hot New Year Celebration, South Carolina’s largest New Year’s Eve party. With Anton Gunn, Johnson worked as a legislative aid for the former Representative in the South Carolina House of Representatives.
Throughout his time at South Carolina and in his professional career, Johnson has built relationships with leaders all around the country and has knowledge of local and state government that strengthens his work with Nexsen Pruet and NP Strategy and makes him a prominent community leader.
Johnson’s devotion to the community comes from being a lifelong resident of Columbia. He currently serves his alma mater on the UofSC Alumni Association Board of Governors. In addition to this role, he serves the community on the boards for American Bar Association’s Law Student Division, Harvest Hope Food Bank, Midlands Technical College's Human Resources, Capital City Club, The Nickelodeon Theatre, South Carolina PASOs, South Carolina Afterschool Alliance and Senior Resources.
When asked what motivated him to join the UofSC Alumni Association board, Johnson replied, “I discussed this potential decision with my wife, Ashley, who is a devoted Gamecock that motivated me to pursue this opportunity. I felt in this role I could add a unique voice and perspective in bettering the university that I love.”
That love is twofold as he and his wife crossed paths as students at South Carolina. In 2017, they were the recipients of a free wedding planned entirely by students in a wedding planning class in the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. Their Gamecock love story reached its peak as they said “I do” at the Farm at Ridgeway.
Now when Johnson thinks about “Forever to Thee,” he states, “This means pledging to always be a part of the Gamecock family. In that pledge, you pledge to give your support, your love and your passion.”