Although Thomas Hydrick’s journey at Hammond didn’t start out quite as expected, it certainly ended better than expected. This 2009 graduate arrived on Hammond’s campus as an aspiring second grader hoping to fill an open spot for the coming school year. After an admission assessment, it was quietly suggested to his parents, Kathy and John Hydrick, that while he would be welcome in second grade next year, there was a chance he might need to repeat the grade the following year. It was a gamble worth taking. Not only did Thomas not repeat the grade, he excelled as a Hammond student.
A stellar student, Thomas attended Furman University as a Duke Scholar, a full academic scholarship given to students who exhibit strong academic achievement and a commitment to their community. He graduated summa cum laude from Furman and was awarded the Furman University Scholarship Cup. Following Furman, he obtained a master’s degree in history from the University of Cambridge, and received his law degree from Vanderbilt University, where he was named a John W. Wade Scholar.
In reflecting on his years at Hammond, Thomas is quick to point out the strong foundation he received as a student and credits the school with helping him achieve his academic accomplishments. “Hammond provided me with an excellent foundation for college, graduate school, and law school. Teachers and staff like Paul Ragan, Jody Lumpkin, Katherine Hopkins, and Lynn Barron provided outstanding instruction and guidance in their respective subject areas. They also taught me how to think critically. On a daily basis, they challenged many of my beliefs and helped me develop the ability to thoughtfully and persuasively explain my position on a given issue. The commitment to academic rigor was a defining feature of my years at Hammond and helped make the school a truly exceptional place.”
Even after graduation, he continues to be strongly influenced by the school community. “Chris Daniels, the parent of three Hammond alumni hired me for my first summer legal clerkship and has continued to provide me with wise counsel and advice over the course of my legal career. Other members of the Hammond family, including Matt Bogan, Larry Kristinik, Judge Jay Richardson, and Judge Sherri Lydon, have been exceptional mentors to me. These relationships–many of which were first formed at Hammond–have defined much of my life so far, and I am deeply grateful for them.”
Today, that same second grader who took a chance on Hammond is now working on legal cases across the country. After working in private practice and for a federal judge, Thomas recently started working as the Assistant Deputy Solicitor General for the State of South Carolina. In that role, he represents the interests of the State in complex and constitutional litigation in federal and state courts. We would argue that when it comes to Hammond, Thomas rested his case.