Gamecock Stand Up Hero Awards, 2020 Winners
Hirelis Rodriguez Torres
“In fall 2019, we were wrapping up our U101 class on the Horseshoe when a student came by and asked if he could get our opinion on something. He wanted to know if we thought the cut on his leg would need stitches... which is not what any of us expected him to ask! Some students had already left and others ran away at the sight of blood but Abby, Hirelis, and Alyssa immediately dropped what they were doing and helped him. Abby had a first aid kit that she made appear suddenly and the 3 of them cleaned up his leg and got him bandaged up in no time. While it was happening, I looked at them and realized it was one of the coolest moments I had experienced at UofSC. This student did not know and took a chance by coming over to us to ask for help. Without hesitation, these 3 amazing women did what they had to do to help. I don't even think we knew his name! It was amazing to see them be so caring and kind when they didn't have to at all. We could have said "good luck" and hoped that he went to the health center, but they stopped what they were doing to work together and make sure he was ok enough to get where he needed to go next. As their instructor, I felt so proud but I also realized that these 3 had come to Carolina as thoughtful and kind women and I was just lucky enough to be around them. The student was very thankful for their help and promised that he would get to the health center that day. I will always remember this act of kindness and I hope that through this nomination they feel proud and are reminded how special they all are to me and the Carolina community!”
In early 2019, after experiencing a horribly traumatic event, Amelia pursued the violators through the criminal justice system with tremendous bravery. She had a voice to be heard and was not going to succumb to threats and harassment. She has determined the people responsible for their crimes will be held accountable and has bravely attempted to go about her life with courage a dignity even as she still continues to receive harassment from those who chose to hide. Amelia Sinatra does not hide from anything or anyone. She has fought and conquered her fears and in the process, made this community safer from those who would seek to harm those in our Carolina family. Amelia is a true Carolina Hero!
--Maj. Jim Miles and Sr. Investigator Candace Karydi, USC Police
I transferred to USC Summer of 2019. I am a first generation college student and working full time. At orientation, I was lost and had no family with me. Honestly, I felt out of place. I got lost in the tour Ms. Davis just came up to me and welcomed me to the Gamecock Family. She actually walked me to all my classes before classes start. She helped me set goals for the first semester and connect to clubs I have made friends for life in. Ms. Davis truly embraces the values of USC. She always go above and beyond to make sure all students at USC have the tools they need to succeed. She has helped me in so many different ways. The thing I love the most about her is if she doesn’t know the answer she can point you in the right direction. She believes the question not asked is the true dumb question. I honestly believe I probably would have left USC after orientation if Ms. Davis would not have pointed me in the right direction
Dr. Kamania Wynter-Hoyte is a junior faculty member whose promotion for tenure primarily relies on her publications. Yet, she has elected to spend time working tirelessly to provide systemic support for students in the College of Education who are struggling to pass the Praxis exam. Dr. Wynter-Hoyte has not only provided one on one help to students but has worked with administration to fund a tutor and create a system to support students. Her work continues semester after semester as she helps students pass this high stakes exam. Thanks to her work teachers who might not otherwise be in the classroom are educating students throughout our state.
As Senior Assistant Director for the Student Services Area within the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships, Brandon assists thousands of students in reaching the goal of a college education. The cost of achieving such a goal is steep, often pushing students and parents to feel as if they cannot afford to attend. Brandon assists these families in assessing their situation, determining costs, and finding ways to meet those costs. He has weathered many tense interactions with parents, giving them time to express their stress, and then giving them support and guidance. Many families request to work with him specifically, from personal experience or an experience relayed to them from a friend. Brandon makes a significant difference in the lives of those UofSC students that need financial support the most. He helps students at a time of enormous stress, and does so with professionalism and decorum. It is my honor to nominate him for the Gamecock Stand Up Hero awards. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Emily inspires me every day through the depth from which she cares about those around her and how she desires to create change. She is the true definition of a living room leader in that she doesn’t need to hold an official title to make a difference, but she always shows up for others. She is caring and supportive of the members of her sorority as well as others in the Fraternity and Sorority community. The Greek community has unfortunately faced a lot of tragedy this year. With the ever-increasing stressors students face, resiliency and persistence sometimes fall by the wayside. So, Emily’s passion project has been mental health and wellness. Through personal experience and education on the topic, Emily realized that there was something missing in the programming and services offered within her own organization and others’. She has taken it upon herself to help sisters and friends who might be struggling. Emily utilizes her adept emotional intelligence to build relationships and empathize with those around her. She picks people up when they are down. Emily truly models the way forward for other students who are struggling with academics, mental wellness, life, or relationships. She exemplifies grit and resiliency in her daily life which enables her to be a stellar role model to others. At its simplest, her friendly face and, sometimes silly, inspirational quotes really have brightened the lives of others during dark and stressful times. She is always the first one to speak up in the defense of others or when she feels that someone is asking her to compromise her values. Emily is eager to learn about what’s going on in the world and how to best help others. Through this, she has had a hand in creating the first ever mental health and wellness committee for her sorority which will focus on educating members about the negative effects of stigma while also helping women to practice mindfulness through coping skills and self-care. Emily hopes to take these skills and further apply them community wide because she understands that a lot of students are struggling. Additionally, Emily sought out becoming a sorority recruitment counselor for Fall 2020 because she wants to instill resiliency in first-year students while also helping them to navigate a sometimes stressful process. She genuinely wants others to feel appreciated and like they belong at Carolina. Living room leaders, like Emily, are an important piece of our community because they have the ability to sit and listen. She holds the trust of her peers and advocates for them not because she has to, but because she can and she cares. She has a long road ahead, but Emily truly is an unsung hero who has worked to improve the mental wellness of the Gamecock community.
Haley is a Capstone Scholar in good standing, is planning on a future path in healthcare, and is currently a student in my course, "International Healthcare: Service Learning in Guatemala".
During a recent meeting to discuss her future path in healthcare, I asked Haley for an update on her volunteer role in the Personal Touch Program at Prisma Health. Haley noted that her volunteer role is in the Intensive Care Unit and recently was able to aid a Hispanic patient who was a patient in her unit, and who spoke no English.nAt the request of the nurse caring for the patient, Haley was able to utilize her basic Spanish speaking skills to obtain the name of the patient's wife, and her contact information. According to Haley, the patient was elated to have someone speak to him in Spanish. This seemingly "miniscule" task, made a huge difference in the life of this patient as it gave him great comfort to know that his wife was going to be contacted specific to his healthcare condition.
Haley will be joining me on my study abroad trip to rural Guatemala during spring break 2020 where she will be rendering hands-on healthcare to a very underserved population. I am confident that she will be just as outgoing to the Mayan people of Guatemala as she was to the Hispanic patient in ICU in Columbia, SC, and by doing so she will further develop her Spanish speaking skills, her cultural competency, and her advocacy for those in need.
In the last academic year, two distinct episodes come to mind where Mandy has leaned into situations that many would have backed away from and handled them with poise and compassion.
Mandy sought out police support to intervene when she observed a child being abused at the Greek Festival. Many others would walk idly by while they continued to eat their kebab and baklava, saying to themselves that wasn’t their responsibility or that someone else would say something. As an active bystander, Mandy remained calm and was determined to take the necessary steps to keep a situation from escalating.
Later in the fall semester, when a student was in distress and felt that discouraged by the care they received, Mandy intervened with compassion and empathy. She went out of her way to locate some options for the student, reducing the barriers the student had to seeking out the necessary services. By seeking out additional resources and supporting the student while navigating that process, Mandy was able to get this student connected with the appropriate care they would not have found otherwise.
A student that was experiencing a medically sensitive, and very urgent issue, dropped by the Capstone Scholars office as they felt comfort in seeking guidance from the Capstone Scholars staff. Due to the student's fragile medical condition they were not being very rational, and staff were worried about the student's safety and wellness. David DeWeil, Capstone Scholars Associate Principal, did his best to comfort this student and went out of his way to personally escort the student to the Thompson Health Center in order to get the help that they needed. Due to David's care and intervention that student was able to access and benefit from services that they may not have taken advantage of on their own!
Karlye was my peer letter for U101 and she helped me with anything I needed even if it wasn't related to class. Honestly, without her first semester it would have been more difficult because I knew if I needed anything or had a question I could text her and she would respond to me ASAP. Karlye is so helpful even with her busy schedule. Karlye completely changed my first year of college. I loved seeing her in my U101 class and she always kept the conversation alive. I am so grateful to have met her and the impact she has had on my life.
The transition from high school to college was unexpectedly difficult for me. I had often been told that once I get to college, I would have to work hard and study a lot to be successful. While that is true, there was another aspect of college that no one had warned me of. The social differences. I had many good friends with me in high school, and was rarely alone or lacking of someone to talk to. Although, I was with the same friends for my whole childhood, and the important skill of making new acquaintances had been lost. I found myself quite lonely and bored during my first semester, but that is where Karlye helped. Karlye was my peer leader for my U101 class, and I could not have asked for a better person. She genuinely cared for our class and made herself open to give us advice and chat with us. After a 1-on-1 session with Karlye, I learned a great deal about how to adjust better and have a more enjoyable college experience. Also, Karlye gave plenty of helpful advice about academics and extracurriculars that I know will go a long way for me and my classmates. The kindness, wisdom, and guidance that Karlye offered myself and many others makes her a true hero to us that to this day, even while no longer being in her class, spreads positivity and good through the challenges that come with life at a university.
Mark ShookIt is with great enthusiasm that I submit this nomination for Marc Shook, Aimee Hourigan, Shannon Nix, and Jason Halterman for the Gamecock Hero award issued by the University of South Carolina. Each of these individuals have collaborated to change the ways in which our students view incapacity and consent. This team set up focus groups with over 84 students representing a variety of organizations across the university to view the norms around our culture of drinking and sex. As the executive assistant for the dean of students and deputy title ix coordinator, I had the privilege of organizing these focus groups, reviewing the data firsthand, and seeing the impact these staff members were making on an individual and campus-wide basis.
Frequently, programming around alcohol and consent focus on scenarios that are “black and white.” Examples include a person having sex with an individual who has passed out from alcohol consumption, or one who shows clear signs of intoxication. While this type of programming is helpful in setting up clear boundaries, the cases that have been more commonplace and difficult for resolution at institutions are complex incidents where issues of consent are more vague to students. These focus groups allowed students to reflect on these situations and established a clear definition of consent moving forward. Upon conclusion of these focus groups, the data was used for training and outreach across our campus including (1) a bystander intervention campaign, (2) resident mentor training, (3) continued outreach to campus groups and (4) informing members of the interpersonal violence workgroup which represents staff from multiple departments such as SAVIP, Student Life, EOP, and Student Conduct. These insights were also presented at the NASPA strategies national conference for other senior student affairs administrators.
Thank you for taking the time to consider Marc, Aimee, Shannon and Jason for this award. I believe that their work embodies the essence of a Gamecock Hero and continues to make a positive impact on our campus. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or concerns regarding this nomination.