When Stan Papajohn first met the teachers of the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacyhe was a man ready to retire after 40 years in the retail pharmacy world.
The deal they made was for Papajohn to become a part-time clinical instructor for “just a few years.” Today, 23 years after agreeing to join the band, Papajohn is officially hanging up his white coat.
A dual graduate from South Carolina, Papajohn first earned a degree in biology before returning years later for a degree in pharmacy. When he was a student, he was a draftsman for The game rooster.
Papajohn left a mark, not only on the student newspaper, not only on the College of Pharmacy where he worked for more than two decades, but also on USC. He has nine family members who joined the ranks of Gamecock.
And it’s a close-knit family. In June, Papajohn, a first-generation Greek-American, took them to Greece for the first time to see the country where their ancestors called home.
Naturally, Papajohn donned a khaki hat emblazoned with the famous USC – then went viral thanks to a TikTok where he could be seen taking on a sandstorm on a boat in the Aegean Sea.
“We got on the catamaran and there were four or five other people in addition to our group,” he says. “One of the girls says, ‘I’m a Gamecock fan too.’ I said, “How do you know that?” She said, ‘I saw your ring when you went to shake my hand.’
This woman turned out to be a specialist in international affairs at USC. Spotting another Gamecock over 5,000 miles from the town they both call home, she had to introduce herself.
He introduced himself to the woman as Stan Papajohn, of course, but within his family he sometimes goes by a different name now. His grandchildren call him Papou.
“The big word for Papou has always been ‘tradition'”, explains Anna Maria Hinson, Papajohn’s granddaughter. “We have always been very attached to Greek traditions, which made our stay in Greece very special. But USC also has all these beautiful traditions. Everything new at USC is super exciting, but we also think the coolest things are the traditions that have been around forever at USC, and we can tell Papou about that because he was here when a lot of between them started.
Meet the Greek Gamecock Family
Pete Papajohn, 1985 civil engineering, 1987 MBA
For me, college – among other things – is a repository of so many special memories with my friends and family, both of when I was in school and of all those years that followed.
Charles Andrew Gardiner, 1985 political science
Growing up in Columbia, SC and being a Gamecock fan in my youth certainly played a role in my decision to become a student at USC. I found the location of the university to be an advantage as I could be part of it in our capital. USC offers the feel of school but the convenience of being close to other Colombian attractions. It is also convenient for the mountains and our coastal areas.
Christina Papajohn Gardiner, 1988, public relations
I grew up with parents of Gamecock alumni, and then later my older brother went to USC. It’s an understatement to say that my dad was, is, and always will be an avid USC Gamecock fan. However, it was the talents he offered to the various departments of the university that demonstrated his loyalty and dedication. He is dedicated to USC just as he is to the Greek community and our church. Watching my dad draw cartoons for sports teams, paint murals on campus walls, and volunteer in pharmacy labs made me realize that I wanted to attend a college that leaves an alumnus with that kind of pride and that devoted love of a school. I am forever grateful that I chose to follow my father’s path by attending USC. It was a joy during this trip to Greece to say: “I am Greek and I am a Gamecock! Opa and come on dicks!
Kevin Jackson, 2014 international business and marketing
Favorite memory? Upsetting Alabama’s No. 1 in home football in 2010.
Allie Papajohn, Public Relations 2014
The University of South Carolina is the only university I applied to. Needless to say, this is exactly where I wanted to be for four years. My fondest memories come from my time at the Kappa Delta Sorority, my time at Carolina football games, and my time with family members residing in Colombia. Having aunts, uncles, cousins and especially Papou in town made all the difference. Also, we spent four amazing years playing football when I was a student.
Madison Kennette Papajohn, 2016, public health
I am one of the very lucky people to have married a member of the Papajohn family. I’ve been a huge Carolina fan all my life and started going to football games with my dad when I was 6 months old. I knew I should marry into a family that felt the same way about Carolina, and I think I hit the jackpot!
Joseph “Gus” Papajohn, 2016 Sports and Entertainment Management
USC means everything to me and to our family. Our Papuan is the one who started it all with our love and fandom for the university and its sports programs. I’ve been going to Carolina football and baseball games for as long as I can remember with my dad and Papou. Never in a million years could I have gone to another school.
Josh Hinson, 2019 Finance
Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a Gamecock. Going to football and baseball games with my family and friends cultivated a love for college even before I enrolled. One of my favorite experiences as a Gamecock was going to the Final Four in Phoenix with a group of friends. There’s nothing quite like traveling with Gamecocks. Looking back, I owe a lot to college where I met my best friends, including my current wife.
Anna Maria Hinson, 2019 English, 2020 MT
I grew up seeing how much my grandfather, parents, uncle, and cousins absolutely loved Carolina, and even though I visited different schools, I knew USC was my home. There is a feeling of a united family, bound by tradition, academic rigor, service and a fierce loyalty to the Gamecocks. Some of my favorite memories are making lifelong friends in Greek life, the amazing education school, and game mornings with Sandstorm and Darius Rucker. The joys of being a Gamecock are hard to express, and I love not having to try to explain it to my family – they just get it.