Posted on: January 8, 2018
Liliann Pineda-Hawkins knew what was important to her before arriving at the University of South Carolina. The opportunities she found as a Gamecock allowed her to develop her two passions and learn to combine them in ways which may shape her future career.
Pineda-Hawkins graduated Dec. 18 with a bachelor of science in retailing. The chance to earn that particular degree was one thing which drew the Virginia native to Columbia for college.
"Being in the fashion industry has always been something I wanted to to, but I never wanted to be a designer,” Pineda-Hawkins says. "I didn't really know you could go to school to learn about the business side of it."
In her time at USC’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management (HRSM), Pineda-Hawkins learned a great deal about that business side, and found lessons in and out of the classroom on her other main interest: sustainability.
Living in the university’s Green Quad as a freshman, Pineda-Hawkins got involved with Sustainable Carolina, the student branch of the USC Office of Sustainability. She became the organization’s director of campus-wide events (such as the Reclaimed Runway fashion show), and as a senior served as director of marketing.
“It's been a cool transition to try out different things I've learned and marry two passions together," Pineda-Hawkins says.
The focus on experiential learning in the HRSM curriculum was one of the best parts of her time at USC for Pineda-Hawkins.
“In my classes I was able to do a lot of project work that has been really beneficial,” she says. "I feel like I was learning applicable material for my life, and it was so interesting to me."
She also enjoyed the atmosphere and culture at USC, forming bonds with fellow students as well as faculty and staff such as Senior Instructor Karen Edwards and Internship Director Erica Elbery.
"I really think there is a sense of family within USC,” Pineda-Hawkins says, adding that those relationships will be the thing she misses most after graduation, though she intends to stay in touch.
Pineda-Hawkins hopes to build a career in merchandising and planning for a sustainable fashion company such as Patagonia or Brilliant Earth, using what she has learned about sustainability and fashion at USC.
Those lessons taught her that her two passions can become one. As she puts it, "I got a chance to see how intertwined everything is."