Alumni, Campus wide, History, Student Stories

Pinnell breaks barriers in insurance field

By Peggy Pinnell | July 15, 2022
Peggy Pinnell, Photo by Tumbleston Photography
Peggy Pinnell, Photo by Tumbleston Photography

National events changed the trajectory of my life. The shocking assassination of President Kennedy paved the way for Lyndon Johnson to assume the office, and in a very short time the campus of the University of Tennessee was consumed with the Vietnam War. Deferments for male students being drafted into the military ended upon graduation, and only married men had their draft dates pushed further into the future, and so – I married the very nice man I was dating.

Two children later, we moved to South Carolina, and I enrolled in Baptist College. Life off campus was very different from dorm life, but professors were welcoming, and I graduated with honors. Returning a borrowed typewriter from a friend who was a State Farm Agent, I saw that his secretary was out sick, and so I volunteered to help out. I had found the career choice I craved. I could use my education degree to listen to concerns and help find solutions.

There was one outstanding roadblock—the company wasn’t ready to hire women as agents. As I continued my quest to find the perfect career, I earned two more degrees and became certified to teach elementary and secondary education and also to become a school superintendent. While I loved interacting with students, schools are not capable of curing all of society’s issues and that was very unsatisfactory. After 12 years of staying in touch with State Farm, I was finally appointed and opened my office, the first woman in the district to become an agent. I felt compelled to do an outstanding job so that other women would be more readily embraced.  

Almost 40 years later, I still go to work every day! 

Fun fact: Peggy Pinnell ’70, one of the first women to own a State Farm Agency, is serving her 12th year on the South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper) board. She is the third woman to serve  on the board and the longest serving. 


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