University of South Carolina

Award winners
From left, USC seniors Christina Galardi, Elizabeth Ruth Wilson and Nick Riley, winners of the university's highest awards for undergraduate students.

USC honors top students at Awards Day

By Megan Sexton,, 803-777-5400

The University of South Carolina presented its top honors, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan and Steven N. Swanger awards, to three graduating seniors during the university’s annual Awards Day ceremony on the historic Horseshoe Thursday (April 19, 2012).

Christina Galardi of Lexington, S.C., and Nicholas “Nick” Riley of Louisville, Ky., received the Sullivan awards, the university’s highest honor for undergraduates. Sullivan awards are given each year to one graduating woman and one graduating man for outstanding achievements, campus leadership, exemplary character and service to the community. The award, given at 15 colleges and universities across the country, is named for the 19th-century New York lawyer and philanthropist.

Elizabeth Ruth Wilson of Georgetown, S.C., received the Steven N. Swanger Leadership Award, the university’s second-highest undergraduate honor. The award is named for a former president of Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), which sponsors the university’s Awards Day. It is given to a graduating senior for exemplary leadership and for making significant contributions to the Carolina community.

The university presented more than 300 awards recognizing undergraduate academic, service, athletic and leadership achievements at the ceremony. A full list of winners is available here.

Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

Christina Galardi

Christina Galardi is a graduate of Lexington (S.C.) High School and a student in the South Carolina Honors College. She is a Carolina Scholar, president of the Carolina Service Council, the 2011 Homecoming Queen and was recently named USC’s 2012 Woman of the Year.

Galardi said her proudest accomplishments at USC were community service activities, including organizing the Martin Luther King Day of Service and starting Beautiful Lengths, a hair-cutting ceremony in which 43 USC students, faculty and staff members cut their hair and donated it to an organization that provides free wigs for cancer patients.

“It’s such an honor to be recognized with this award because it’s from across all areas of the university,” Galardi said of the Sullivan award. “It’s something I will definitely treasure and will inspire me to continue to be a great representative of USC even when I’m not here anymore.”

Galardi will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. She has received a Fulbright scholarship to work as an English teaching assistant in Korea. When she returns, she will enroll in the master of public health program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, preparing for a career in health communications.

Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

Nicholas “Nick” Riley

Nick Riley, of Louisville, Ky., is a McNair Scholar, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a resident mentor and a University 101 peer leader.

A South Carolina Honors College student, he also was one of the organizers of the new Pillars for Carolina extended orientation program, which allows incoming first-year student leaders to learn about Carolina’s history and traditions during the summer before starting classes.

Riley pointed to his work as a University Ambassador – the corps of students responsible for   welcoming visitors to campus and providing tours to prospective students – as one of his proudest accomplishments at USC.

“This school gave me a lot coming here as a freshman and I was really excited to give back to it,” Riley said. “(As ambassadors) our job is to sell the school, but it’s so much more than that. Everyone just loves it here and it shines through in our tours. We’re serving more visitors than ever. The increase in attendance and applications is not only a testament to our sports teams doing a great job but also to how well the ambassadors have been trained and how well they get along.”

Riley will graduate in May with a double major in chemistry and psychology from the College of Arts and Sciences and will begin an analytical chemistry Ph.D. program at the University of Wisconsin. He is leaning toward a career as a professor.

Steven N. Swanger Leadership Award

Elizabeth Ruth Wilson

Elizabeth Ruth Wilson, a graduate of Georgetown (S.C.) High School, is a Carolina Scholar and a student in the South Carolina Honors College. She was USC’s 2011 Woman of the Year and is an aide in the S.C. House of Representatives.

She will graduate next month with five majors from the Darla Moore School of Business (international business, finance, marketing, management science and real estate), and she has studied three languages. Plus, she will graduate after spending just three years at Carolina.

Along with her academic career, she said her best memory at Carolina was starting Regalia for Hope, an initiative that has provided more than 2,000 pairs of handmade earrings to cancer patients in hospitals and oncology centers throughout the Carolinas.

“If I had gone to any other university but USC I wouldn’t have been as successful as I have. The signature feature of the faculty and advisers here is they allow you to be yourself. The ability to be me and to explore any area and discipline has been an invaluable experience.”

After graduation, she will start the Ph.D. program in management organization at Northwestern University. She plans a career as a professor and researcher, focusing on corporate social responsibility as both an academic and a policy advisor.

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Posted: 04/19/12 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 04/20/12 @ 8:32 AM | Permalink



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