At the University of South Carolina, we apply what we learn in class to the research we conduct in the lab and in the field. We gain new perspectives from the world around us as we share our experiences in community service projects. We solve problems in new and creative ways. See how we connect.
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An economics and political science major in the Class of 2011, PETER SCHAEFFING has made the most of his time at Carolina, both within and beyond the classroom.
The South Carolina Honors College student interned with the Children's Defense Fund and in Washington, D.C., through the Washington Semester Program. On campus, Peter founded and is president of Carolinians Combating Poverty and is student body treasurer for the 2010–2011 school year. Once he found his passion in community development banking, he even sought out and found a faculty mentor who specializes in the field.
The South Carolina Honors College member also was named a 2010 Truman Scholar Finalist in recognition of his achievements. Peter credits the Truman application process as being hugely beneficial, saying, "As I prepare to move on from Carolina, the exploration of passions, careers, and further studies that I went through serve now as an invaluable guide to my future."
Knowing she wanted to get into management, BRITTANY MOSS, a member of the Class of 2012, was attracted to the organizational leadership degree at USC Union by the breadth of the program.
The major allows her to study topics such as human resources, accounting, economics, and political science. And she is inspired by her professors' passion for teaching and the knowledge brought to the classroom by faculty with years of experience and wide-ranging interests.
She has also learned the importance of time management by juggling six classes with her roles with the Student Government Association and USC Union's March of Dimes team, all while working in the Business Office. Brittany says her job in the office "has been a good experience for me because I've been able to see how things really work. As a college student, it's a really good experience for me to learn those types of things."
After playing around with special effects software for the last several years, ERIC SNEIDER, Class of 2013, is taking steps to make a career of it. He says his time at USC Sumter has been a great starting point.
Eric is working toward a media arts degree that he will finish at USC Columbia, and his art classes have provided a solid foundation for him to build upon. He credits Lynwood Watts, associate dean for student affairs, for being an inspiration to him. As a mentor, Watts is always available to help and always open to new ideas.
Student government has taught Eric how to work within a system. It's also taught him the importance of teamwork. These experiences will carry over to a career, he says, as he's gained "a real appreciation for those who want to be involved, and I have to work through them because I can't do everything on my own."
A member of the Class of 2012, HANNAH LANGDALE wants to change the world, whether that's for one person or 100,000. Her organizational leadership degree through USC Salkehatchie will prepare her to do just that.
The degree, offered through Palmetto Programs, allows her to study many subjects, such as management, political science, and economics. This range of topics will serve her well whether she goes on to law school or starts changing the world right out of college with a nonprofit organization.
Involvement beyond the classroom complements her studies. Being on the cheer team is teaching her self-discipline and how to work with others. Working in the East Campus' main office improves her organizational and people skills. And she's on the Health Affairs Committee, raising health awareness on campus. Hannah says her time at Salk has been second to none: "I really have enjoyed Palmetto Programs. It's allowed me to have the best educational experience possible at my campus."
ASHLEY LLOYD, a liberal studies major in the Class of 2013, enjoys helping people and plans to pursue a law degree. The opportunities at USC Lancaster are helping her to reach her goals.
Criminal justice classes have been especially appealing to her. Ashley says her criminal law professor, a former magistrate judge, and her juvenile justice professor, who works in Mecklenburg County public schools, bring a wealth of knowledge to the classroom while still keeping the courses entertaining.
Ashley also serves as a teacher's assistant for a professor who is unable to walk, and she works in the Office of Academic Affairs and Students, helping to make things run smoothly in a busy office environment. "I have always wanted to be significant in whatever I do," she says, and the experiences and knowledge she is getting will translate well to a career of service.
A finance major in the Class of 2012, JAMES WILSON says his choice of major and his desire to one day get involved in politics both came from exploring the opportunities offered at the University of South Carolina.
James benefited early from the services of the Minority Assistance Peer Program (MAPP). As a freshman, his MAPP mentor helped him adjust to college life, offered advice, even helped him find his classes. Now he is a MAPP mentor. James is also an advisor to the African American Male Institute, dedicated to giving minority students the tools to succeed in college.
Working in the Student Government Association and as a page at the S.C. State House has been a lot of work, but well worth it. James says he wasn't sure what he wanted to do before coming to the University, but "getting as many experiences as I could outside of the classroom has really helped me decide."
When Class of 2011 member KATIE PARHAM chose Carolina, she didn't have a major in mind, but she wanted to dabble a bit and knew the University had a wide range of options.
Katie got a job at the S.C. State House early on, and she loved the experience so much that she chose to study political science (and added French for a double major). While participating in the Washington Semester Program, Katie fell in love with D.C. and hopes to move there. She feels that public policy is definitely her calling, which she couldn't have said four years ago.
Katie is also very involved in the Carolina Service Council, which oversees activities such as Service Saturdays, and learned about working with a nonprofit through the Children's Trust of South Carolina. Katie says that directing the Alternative Spring Break program for the last two years has been "the most challenging and beneficial leadership experience on campus that I've had."
While majoring in theatre and international studies, GABRIELLE PETERSON has used her time at Carolina to fully prepare herself for life after college, even getting some professional work experience along the way.
A member of the Class of 2011, Gabrielle won a Magellan Scholarship to travel to Scotland and research Scottish folklore, archaeology, and oral traditions. She calls that experience one of the best things she's ever done: to go through the application process, live and study abroad, and eventually write a play based on what she learned greatly improved her college experience.
After returning to Columbia, her finished play, Mirrored Time, was picked up by a professional company, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company. She directed the play as well and credits Prof. Robert Richmond with mentoring her through the entire process. Gabrielle thinks every student should research a topic they love. "It's going to help you in life, but it's also going to make you a fuller person."
After earning a bachelor's degree in history in 2009, PAIGE FENNELL completes a Master of Teaching in May 2011. She credits the McNair Program, a TRIO program, for teaching her that earning a Ph.D. and achieving her dreams are possible.
Paige first got involved with TRIO Programs through Educational Talent Search in middle school, and in college she worked for TRIO's Upward Bound program, tutoring 9th–12th graders. Her experiences on both sides of TRIO Programs cemented her desire to teach.
She also worked with Dr. Bobby Donaldson on an oral history research project in a Columbia-area community and says it opened up a whole new historical world for her. A high achiever with diverse interests, Paige was encouraged to apply for a James Madison Graduate Fellowship (which she won), and the process taught her "that I can work well under pressure, and if I have confidence in myself, I can do it."
LESLEY JOSEPH, a civil and environmental engineering major in the Class of 2011, added a minor in environmental studies to his major because he feels it's important to be a good steward of the planet even as mankind progresses.
The minor, and his extensive research work, have given him a broader perspective. As he explains it, his major teaches him to create and manage new structures while his other studies show him how those creations affect the environment and, ultimately, humankind.
Lesley, who won a Udall Scholarship in the environmental careers category, has researched topics like climate change vulnerability, worked on a service project at Green Quad's educational organic garden, and founded USC's chapter of Engineers Without Borders. He feels fortunate to have chosen a university "that has the kind of community and the kind of people that have allowed me to connect that love for others with an actual, useable education to produce something that we can all benefit from."
Drawn to the University by the Marine Science Program, STEPHEN TIMKO is excited to pursue research after graduation, and he is considering a second career in academia later in life.
Stephen had already conducted research for Dr. John Ferry before taking his environmental chemistry course. But the class made him realize that was precisely what he wanted to get into. He has since shared his love of science with elementary school students through Students Engaged in Aquatic Sciences (SEAS).
He's been involved in several kinds of research as well. "I started off looking at transition metals and coastal mixing zones where groundwater and seawater meet," Stephen explains. "Recently I looked at compounds to make LEDs and what happens when they get into the environment." Add to that a study abroad trip that began with a month in Bermuda and then took him to Germany for research in the North Sea, and Stephen's well on his way to realizing his dream.
You could say MICHAEL BURKE's time at Carolina has gone swimmingly. What began as an undergraduate major in biology because he liked the sciences has blossomed into medical school and a planned career in radiology. He also was a leader in and out of the pool as a member of the men's swim team.
As a swimmer, Michael was on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which, he explains, "dealt with integrity and fair play issues. I've always been interested in not only doing the activity but also the behind-the-scenes stuff. It's the same with medicine: I want to practice medicine but also be an advocate for the specialty I'm going into and the patients using the specialty."
Several undergraduate courses — in physiology, genetics, health psychology and cell biology — helped Michael realize he was interested in going to medical school. Now that he's at MUSC, he's decided to pursue radiology after graduating in 2012.
"I knew when I came to USC that I was going to major in political science, and thought I was going to be a high-powered attorney," explains Class of 2011 member HAKEEM JEFFERSON. But as is often the case, plans change once you become fully immersed in college life.
Two professors — Drs. Bobby Donaldson and Todd Shaw — kept Hakeem on the edge of his seat in class, and before long he decided to become a college professor as well. Shaw also helped Hakeem conduct undergraduate research on the 2008 presidential election, which prepared him to ask tough questions and find answers as he pursues a graduate degree and begins his career.
In addition to extensive involvement in Student Government, Hakeem was also a University ambassador, leading tours of 25–30 people. The experience improved his communication skills and helped him connect with people, which he considers hallmarks of the best professors.
MEGAN COKER began her college career as a classics major, but thanks to some great professors and a study abroad trip, she's headed down a new path.
Megan, a member of the Class of 2012, soon switched to the College of Library and Information Science (CLIS) to prepare for a career as a librarian. Then she traveled to the United Kingdom and France to study various libraries, museums and archives. She became more and more fascinated by the museums as the trip progressed, and by the time she returned to Columbia, Megan knew she really wanted to be a museum curator.
A Magellan research award helped her explore the field. Mentored by Dr. Allison Marsh, associate professor of history, Megan helped curate Imaging the Invisible at USC's McKissick Museum, which "looks at the relationship between scientific images — things we can't see ourselves, like the floor of the ocean without the water in the way, or the horse in mid-run — and the reality they represent," she explains. This experience affirmed her decision to follow her newfound passion.
When he came to Carolina, Class of 2012 member JOSH PRATT planned on a physical education major. At Orientation, he chose the athletic training track specifically, and he hasn't looked back.
As he explains it, the track is "combining the best of both worlds for me." One of his most influential professors taught him to "try a little bit of everything. That way you find what you'll want to do for the rest of your life," he says, and he's done just that. He even volunteered at the Boston Marathon.
In addition to working with the track and field, swimming and diving, and women's soccer teams and for a high school, Josh will work with the football program and an orthopaedics clinic before graduation. Expanding his horizons has given him a glimpse of his dream job. Josh hopes to work for a physical therapy clinic by day and do outreach as an athletic trainer with a high school after hours.
One of the things that PATRICK SEITZ values most at the University is "great professors who really tap into your abilities."
Patrick began by taking courses through the Fort Jackson program. As he explains, "I was looking at teaching high school history and social studies, but wanted to earn my associate's degree first." Now he is a member of the Class of 2012, working toward a degree in middle level education on the Columbia campus.
He knew he had made the right choice once he began getting out and working with schoolchildren through his practicum and volunteer work, with the encouragement of USC faculty. "Many professors in education and English have helped me develop," says Patrick. He decided to focus on middle level education because he feels it's the time in a young person's life when he can have the biggest positive impact.
A postcard photo of the Horseshoe got NICK RILEY's attention, and after a campus visit, he knew he was headed to Carolina. Now – when he's not studying abroad, conducting research, taking classes, or busy with one of his many extracurricular activities – he's leading campus tours himself.
The university ambassadors program has been great, he explains, because "it's given me a chance to be a leader among leaders and understand what that means." He's also been a resident mentor and U101 peer leader, both of which have helped him with public speaking and communicating with others.
Nick, a member of the Class of 2012, spent a semester abroad in Germany and two weeks in Africa, during which he gained confidence and a broader global perspective. But perhaps his best experience in terms of preparing him for life after college was working in Dr. Steven Morgan chemistry lab on forensics research. Now Nick is ready to have a career first in forensics before turning to teaching and research.
Class of 2013 member CANDRA CHAISSON knew something about her interests early on, but a health promotion, education and behavior course during the spring of her sophomore year really piqued her interest. "I started to learn more about health disparities and issues within public health that really intrigued me," she explains, "and that inspired me to learn more about them."
Myriad on-campus jobs and activities have helped her explore her interests and learn to work with others. Candra has been very involved in TRIO Programs like the Magellan Guarantee, which allowed her to pursue comparative culture research, and the Ronald E. McNair Research Scholars Program, through which she explored epigenetics and health disparities.
She also found a faculty mentor in Dr. Claudia Benitez-Nelson, who provided a strong female role model and encouraged her to pursue her dreams. Candra spent a Maymester in Taiwan as well, learning about a very different culture by immersing herself in it while also conducting some of her research. The broad range of activities in which she has participated has prepared Candra for graduate school and a future in health policy and advocacy.
TAYLOR GARRICK headed to college with plans to go on to medical school. In the meantime, he liked chemical engineering, so he planned on getting his undergraduate degree in that before studying to become a surgeon. But the more he learned about chemical engineering, the more he liked it.
Taylor, Class of 2013, appreciates having gained confidence and direction, not to mention knowledge and research experience, from his collegiate activities and excellent professors. On the suggestion of one professor, he joined the student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and started to look for a research opportunity.
Soon he and a group of students won a grant to design and build a fuel cell powered car. While spending a year working on the car, "I saw what one side of chemical engineering could be," he explains, "and I enjoyed it a lot more than I did my biology classes or anatomy." The chance to connect study with practice showed Taylor the value of chemical engineering research as a career option, not just a steppingstone to medical school.