Damain Fulmore is now a college graduate. He earned his degree on December 12 alongside many of his classmates in the University of South Carolina College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, but his road to graduation was bumpier than most.
Fulmore’s mother died when he was 9. His aunt and grandmother both passed away during his senior year at USC. He worked full-time throughout his college days, often working three jobs at once in addition to school. Through it all, he kept in mind the advice his mother gave.
"Damain, never walk with your head down," he said, quoting her. "Whatever you're going through, you've got to keep your head up."
Fulmore has done just that. He enjoyed working with the public starting long before college. His first job was selling boiled peanuts and when he was 14, his stepmother said, as he recalled, “You love travel, you love people. I think you should study hospitality."
He liked the idea, and kept it in mind as he searched for the right college. He started his college career at USC Beaufort, more than 2 hours away from his home in Kingstree, South Carolina. He then transferred to USC Columbia with high hopes after his sophomore year to pursue a B.S. in Hospitality Management, but encountered financial struggles.
I don't like to set a limitation on myself.
—Damain Fulmore, HRSM 2016
"It ended up being me working three jobs as well as going back home to detail cars just to make a living and pay for school,” he said. "I would struggle as a person when it comes to uplifting myself or encouraging myself on a daily basis… I just felt like I was failing at everything."
With his mother’s advice always in his head, Fulmore kept going. He made ends meet financially, though it was never easy, and he found time not only to keep his head above water but also to stand out academically and in extracurricular activities.
He joined Phi Beta Sigma and Alpha Kappa Psi, along with the USC chapter of the National Society for Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH). As a member of NSMH, he helped win a Nordstrom Snapchat Challenge, defeating other major universities to bring a temporary Nordstrom store to campus. "That was one of the biggest things I enjoyed most” Fulmore said about his time at USC.
Fulmore also found help along the way from employers, fellow students, and faculty. He credits HRSM faculty Collin Crick, David Cardenas, Andy Gillentine and Glenna Gillentine as being particularly influential and helpful as he worked his way through school. With their support, he earned internships with the South Carolina Lieutenant Governor’s Office and the Kiawah Island Club, among others, and graduated with an offer in hand to become food and beverage manager at the Kiawah Island Club.
"One of the biggest things I love about hospitality is it's diverse when it comes to race, when it comes to gender," he said. While excited about starting a career in hospitality, Fulmore added that his future could hold other options, such as becoming a motivational speaker or a business spokesperson.
"I don't like to set a limitation on myself," he said. "Every day is different. I'm the type of person, I don't like to become stagnant... I want to become a change to people. That's my biggest thing."