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Alumni Spotlight: Amelia Cornell

Q and A with Amelia

What made you choose USC Sumter?

I chose USC Sumter because of the convenience and I knew I could find high-quality education locally. I majored in Environmental Biology and Creative Writing.

What was most challenging as a college student?

Finding yourself and staying yourself is the hardest part of being a student.

What advice would you give to future USC Sumter students?

Work hard and please listen to your professors because they were students too, once upon a time.


About Amelia

Cornell served as an intern for USC Sumter Professor Dr. Austin Jenkins to help fill a unique void for the city of Sumter.

Visitors to Swan Lake Iris gardens in Sumter often enjoy the natural beauty of the park, but don’t always know one species of animal and plant from another.  

Through a partnership with photographers, students and staff, Cornell produced a display of dragonflies and birds of Swan Lake for two brochures, “Field Guide to the Birds of Swan Lake Iris Gardens” and “Common Dragonflies of Swan Lake Iris Gardens.”

The guides capture the most common members of both groups and provide photos, identification information and directions on how park visitors can learn more while exploring the gardens.

“I’m incredibly thankful Amelia approached me for this internship,” said Jenkins, USC Sumter faculty member and naturalist who helped coordinate the project.

Through a long-standing partnership with Swan Lake, Jenkins’ students were able to list numerous species found at the park as part of biodiversity inventory exercises. Jenkins said Amelia later put that information into a form that can be enjoyed by the public.

Cornell said her goal was to enhance her own personal experience with her surrounding environment as well as enlighten Swan Lake visitors about the native species found there.

She said the process of compiling the two brochures showed her that “humans are very connected to nature and to the specific species of Swan Lake-Iris Gardens.”

“A connection to nature and with people is important, and I have made connections that will last a lifetime,” Cornell said.

The bird and dragonfly guides are available in print at Swan Lake Iris Gardens Visitor’s Center.