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University Foundations


McNair Scholar Spotlight: Riley Brady

Riley Brady only had one goal in mind when he applied to colleges and universities four years ago – he wanted to be a McNair Scholar here.   “Being a McNair Scholar is a truly unique experience, unlike any scholarship program out there. It is not a program that awards students based solely on test scores and grades, but rather it seeks to bring together a community of well-rounded, ambitious individuals. On one end, being a Scholar means that I am able to attend USC from out-of-state and afford the cost of education without putting a financial burden on my family. On the other end, it has provided a venue for me to meet extraordinary people, each excelling in a completely unique way. Many of my peers in the program will be some of my closest friends for life.”

McNair Scholars, like most of the Top Scholar community, enjoy their time abroad, and it is often one of the most meaningful experiences they will have over four years. “The most defining moment in my development as a student at Carolina was my semester and summer abroad in Bamberg, Germany,” said Brady, who spent half of his sophomore year abroad.  “Although I have been studying German for many years and have visited the country more than once, I truly put myself outside of my comfort zone. There were many tough moments of homesickness and frustration, but in the end I made many friends from around the world, developed my German ability to near-fluency, and felt that I really grew as a person.”

When Brady is stateside, he does not simply attend class, but participates in a number of activities including his fraternity (Beta Theta Pi), undergraduate research with Dr. Ryan Rykaczewski, the Magellan Ambassadors program, and Sustainable Carolina. According to Brady, “each of these experiences has been unique in their own way and has made my time with USC incredible.”  Because of his outstanding research experience, Brady was named a 2015 Goldwater Scholar, as well as a 2014 NOAA Hollings Scholar.

My past three years of research have benefited me more than I could have ever imagined. I went into the position unsure of my interests and future in marine science, and am now quite confident as I apply to graduate programs. I have interned on the beach in North Carolina and in the mountains in Colorado, have presented my work at an international oceanography conference, and have networked with and worked alongside researchers from many institutions—it has been quite the ride. Because of the overwhelming amount of opportunities available to me, the memories I make at USC and the career path I am beginning to develop have no limits!

Riley Brady