But Valvano’s point was to experience all that life has to offer, learn from it, serve the community and be a role model to young and old, Tanner said.
One of those graduates getting ready to be a role model is Corey Jenkins, who returned to USC earlier this year at age 33 after careers in baseball and professional football. He walked across the stage at the Colonial Life Arena on Monday, receiving his bachelor’s degree in African-American studies from the College of Arts and Sciences. He is planning a career in coaching.
“It’s definitely been a journey, but I’ve truly enjoyed it,” said Jenkins, who played quarterback for the Gamecocks. “It was tough sometimes – I was out of school for so long. But here we are on the big day. My family is all here, my friends. I talk to kids about staying in school, and some of them are here today, too. It’s a big, big day.”
Another student getting ready to step out was Danielle Wilson of Columbia, who was graduating with a degree in dance performance. Her next step will be auditioning in New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles.
“The goal is to be in New York,” said Wilson, 24, a graduate of the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts. “I’m ready. USC has a great dance program. I’ll miss dancing here.”
Her friend, Wesley Goodwin Jr., was receiving his degree in electrical engineering and already has a job lined up with Eaton Corp. He starts Jan. 24.
“I was able to do everything I wanted here,” said Goodwin, 23, a graduate of Columbia’s Richland Northeast High School. “I joined a fraternity, I had a good time and the electrical-engineering program is great. We’re doing big things here.”