SPARTANBURG, S.C. (courtesy smcsc.edu) — When Todd Bridges was interviewing candidates to fill the position of Environmental Health and Safety Program Manager with Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS), he looked for a candidate with a strong work ethic, a willingness to learn and adapt, and an ability to work with all kinds of people.
Drake Taber, a 2023 graduate of Spartanburg Methodist College, stood out thanks in part to the robust professional development program at the college.
“Drake’s personality and eagerness to learn were evident in his initial interview,” said Bridges, director of Strategic and Operational Readiness at SRHS. “He has jumped in with both feet, seeking opportunities to learn more about the field, and has performed far and above.”
Taber’s primary responsibilities are managing hazardous materials and getting them from the hospital loading dock to where they are ultimately destroyed. He supports all SRHS properties, from the main campus on Church Street to several other hospital facilities in western Spartanburg County, Cherokee County, and Union County.
“You never know what you’re going to get into each day, and I enjoy that I get to help people,” Taber said, explaining that he often works closely with nurses and environmental services staff. Taber credits his education and workplace training at SMC for his ability to adapt quickly to his new role.
Before going to work for SRHS, he had no particular expertise in health care or environmental safety. However, his experience as a business administration major at SMC prepared him well. As part of his four-year degree, Taber earned valuable workplace skills through SMC’s Camak Core professional development program, which he uses regularly in his new position.
Named in honor of SMC’s founder, Dr. David English Camak, the Camak Core is a group of six courses that provide students with the critical workplace skills employers look for in college graduates.
The program helps students develop problem-solving, self-management, and interpersonal skills. It prepares SMC graduates to work as part of a team, to respond well to criticism, and to take initiative.
Taber pointed to the Camak Core as an especially exciting part of his experience at SMC.
“I enjoyed all my classes, but the professional development courses in my junior and senior years stand out,” he said.
Taber says he benefited from “the basics,” as he put it, such as resume writing, mock interviews, and honing the nuances of workplace etiquette to help get his new job. The more in-depth career training in communication, problem-solving, and collaboration help him succeed on the job.
Taber particularly enjoyed his Capstone project, which challenges seniors to develop a business, charity, or event and present their results. Encouraged to consider a project that would make a positive community impact, he partnered with the City of Landrum, his hometown, to design and implement surveys of business owners and residents. The surveys provided feedback on civic life in Landrum to help city leaders plan future projects and events.
“I wanted my project to be something that might benefit the place where I live,” Taber said.
Community is important to him, and he valued it at SMC.
“The people I was in the business track with, I got to know them well. I made a lot of new friends, and my professors were all phenomenal. They really cared about their students,” Taber said.
Making personal connections has also influenced his success so far at Spartanburg Regional.
“He has created important relationships within the organization that will help him understand processes and facilitate change when necessary,” Bridges said. “Drake has a personality that seems like he has always been a part of our work family, and we are very fortunate to have found him.”
Taber considered leaving SMC after completing an associate degree. However, after talking with friends at other colleges and universities, he believed that SMC would continue to be his best fit. He’d enjoyed the small classes and the personalized support from faculty members, and the potential value of the Camak Core experience came into focus as he weighed his options.
“I knew I would have opportunities to apply what I learned in my coursework,” he said. “I wanted that challenge.”