There are plenty of accomplished women at USC, but some go the extra mile. The nominees for this year's Outstanding Woman of the Year ranged from the creator of the USC Bucket List to the former Student Body President, but in the end, the sheer breadth of Jacquline Plyler's experience won out.
The Gressette Room in Harper College was packed full of friends, family and students eagerly waiting to see who would be named this year’s Outstanding Woman of the Year.
The finalists for the award were Jacquline Plyler, Lindsay Richardson, Kimberly Roosa, Erin Steiner and Carolina Westberg.
But it was Plyler, a fourth-year biomedical engineering student, who became the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Woman of the Year 2015 Award.
Plyler is involved with Alpha Gamma Delta, Relay for Life, Pawmetto Lifeline, founding and becoming president of the Gamecock Pre-Veterinarian Association, president of Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society, secretary of Tau Beta Pi the honors engineering society and the fundraising chair for the Society of Women Engineers.
She has also been active in research across campus, logging over 1,700 research hours.
Aisha Haynes, the keynote speaker and program manager for Distributed Learning at USC, delivered a speech that implored the finalists to continue to strive to make a difference in the lives of others.
“You are giving back. You are letting your voice be heard. You are inspiring others to be better than they were yesterday,” she said. “You aren’t just talking the talk, you’re walking the walk. And I’m proud of each of your achievements.”
As Plyler came up to accept her award in the form of a crystal vase, she almost forgot to breathe.
“I’m a bit in shock, I really didn’t know what the outcome would be,” Plyler said, “but this just kind of feels like the icing on cake.”
With two planners full of events and post-it notes serving as her reminders, Plyler keeps pushing herself to do the best she can in her various organizations.
“I’m so happy that not only my accomplishments, but everyone else’s here have been so great in the community,” Plyler said.
Plyler’s family from Weddington, North Carolina made the two-hour drive to watch their daughter receive her award. She wasn't sure if she was going to win, but her mother was confident.
“I always have a lot more faith in her than she does herself. She’s very modest,” her mother, Charlene Plyler, said. “In fact, she told me not to come.”
She came to USC as a last minute decision and has tried her hardest to leave a lasting impression on the university. Plyler, who doesn’t normally get “gushy,” felt very emotional about being recognized for what she has done during her time at USC.
She encouraged other students on campus to strive for their dreams and try to leave their own mark on the community. She encouraged other leaders to “go for it.”
“If it’s crazy, it just might work,” Plyler said.