Dear U of SC,
Going to a university in the South was never really something I planned on doing. While searching for colleges to attend, I ended up having to decide between New York and South Carolina, and I have to admit I never would have thought I would have ended up becoming a Gamecock.
I mainly looked at your campus as a way to please my family — as, being from Georgia, it was a lot closer than New York — but as I continued my research into your college I fell more and more in love with it. When I decided I wanted to come here, it was under the guise that I felt like I could help; that, as someone who both and activist for and is a part of the LGBTQ+ community, I could help create and continue the growth of inclusivity programs on campus. Who would have thought I ended up finding not only an already amazingly supportive campus, but also a wonderfully welcoming community with you?
In my first year with you I found myself going through life in a caffeine crazed haze, walking onto your historic bricks of the horseshoe in a state of paradise. The cracks and crevices cradled every step, and the muggy South Carolinian air warmed my cheeks as a fresh-faced freshman. I saw the sweeping swaths of grass that tickled the edges of fountains and monuments, and I fell under the Carolinian spell.
After spending long nights in T Coop, writing for hours on end with tears of joy — and tears of pain, I will admit — fuzzing my eyes, I realized how perfect my decision was. I was working hard, embracing the college lifestyle, and finding my place among the chaos of your campus. Since then, I have been able to work with student media and the Student Success Center, gaining not only valuable resume material, but also some of the best friends I have found here.
My boss always jokes that he hires the best people, but he couldn’t be more correct. I love my job, and I love the students I see while working at it. Being a peer writing tutor on your campus is probably the biggest blessing I could have ever received, and I can already tell it’s going to be part of the annoying “back in my college days” stories I tell my kids.
I think that’s the best part about you, South Carolina: the fact that you create memories. Back when I was still trying to decide between north and south, I remember meeting so many Gamecocks; so many people were so in love with your campus, even after years of not being on it. There’s something special about the inviting and kind campus I get to be a part of everyday, and I wouldn’t exchange it for anything.
To my dearest University of South Carolina,
I remember the first time I laid eyes on you… truly noticed your beauty. Sure, I had seen pictures or glances as my parents and I made our way to the right building. But there was something in the air that day. The sun was shining through trees on the horseshoe as students laid on blankets in the soft grass and read, or talked, or did whatever else college kids do. I admired the vintage architecture of your buildings and the way they stood tall and strong, built for the stampede of students and professors. Russell House was warm and inviting, where students seemed so at ease, as if your many rooms were as familiar to them as their own homes. As I ate mac and cheese, two girls nearby came up and started talking to me. They asked about my major and hometown and other things, and told me what you were like. They told me about your free movies on the weekends and outstanding nursing program, and they even gave me their names if I ever needed anything. Their outgoing kindness surprised me, and I wanted to get to know you more.
Summer rolled around, and I was nervous about starting a life that was truly my own. Of course, that’s when you swooped in with a program that would change my UofSC experience forever – Pillars for Carolina. I was standing in a room full of people when these students busted in with rally towels, going wild to Sandstorm. I thought, “what have I gotten myself into?”. I was put into a “family group” with two mentors throughout the week, and we developed such deep relationships over the short time we were together. This was the point when my heart began to beat garnet and black, and I hoped you would accept me as your own. With my family group by my side, we went to the first week festivities and already knew where things were on campus, making my transition to college easier than anticipated.
There’s never a dull moment with you. From your ever-changing tables on Greene Street to the roar of “Welcome to Williams-Brice” to the countless nights in the library, you are unparalleled. You are such a large university, yet you feel intimately small. You are the place I have been searching for; the place I belong. I have met so many amazing people and learned countless intriguing things because of you, and I’m only halfway through. I’m inspired to better myself and am always looking for ways to help people. Someone once told me that as you get older, pressures cease because nobody cares about judging the little details in your life. What I’ve come to find is that at UofSC, pressures to please others dissolve – not because nobody cares, but because everybody cares. Even after I graduate, I will never forget you; you will forever be with me.