Editor's note: This is the first in an occasional series spotlighting people who grew up in Aiken, and where they are now.
Tawny Chritton works for an international company CH2M Hill – serving more recently as its manager of international corporate affairs.
Based in Washington, D.C., Chritton travels overseas often to visit with a wide range of clients and others in government. She also has participated in events hosted by embassies of countries, such as Qatar, Singapore, South Africa and many others.
More than a decade later, Chritton remains fond of her childhood in Aiken, where she attended Aiken Elementary School and Schofield Middle School before graduating from Aiken High School in 2002.
“You can get a little restless there, and I was eager to see more of the world,” Chritton said. “But Aiken was a great community to grow up. I was engaged in sports and volunteering, and there were a lot of opportunities to get involved in leadership roles.”
The daughter of Michael Chritton, of Denver, and Kay-Lynn and Jerry Czamecki, of Aiken, she served as the class valedictorian. Chritton most appreciated soccer coach Ron Johnson and two English teachers – Em Ligon at Aiken High and Sally Jenkins at Schofield Middle. Her experiences in their classes helped lead Chritton to Princeton University as an English major.
She had to determine if she belonged, but “found her groove to connect,” she said. Chritton made a lot of good friends, meeting students who had attended rigorous private schools.
“There was less of a diversity component for them,” Chritton said. “It's not like what my education had been in South Carolina, with its dynamism and its value for life experiences.”
Since her college graduation, she has worked in a charter school for underprivileged youth. In 2008, Chritton served as a field organizer during the presidential campaign. Her next position took her to New Orleans to work for a drug-prevention program.
She then was hired at CH2M Hill, which is involved in applied sciences, architecture and planning, construction management, decontamination and environmental management.
The company has other kinds of commitments, as well. Chritton is assessing its migrant labor practices and is seeking to resolve the challenges of finding a global standard in that area. She also is involved on another project about the advancement of women.
“We've been named the most ethical company, environmentally,” Chritton said. “I never thought I would be working for a Fortune 500 company. There's a lot of effort in the countries in which we live and work. It's not about just making a profit. We want to make a difference.”
Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard's education reporter.