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South Carolina Honors College

Porter Family Redefines the Meaning of Community within the Honors College

By Emma Dooling

This story is part of a collection written by Dr. Andrea Tanner's SCHC Journalism 101 course. 

The Porter family has a longstanding history at both the University of South Carolina and the Honors College, with four members currently attending or working at the university, including siblings Sarah, Grace, John Mark and Elise, and their father, Mark.

Over the years, the Honors College has become a source of connection for the Columbia natives. Elise says that this “common thread” has allowed them to compare their experiences and memories, even though they have been on “separate timelines.”

Porter, the oldest of the five siblings, graduated from the Honors College in 2013. She currently works as an academic advisor and recruitment coordinator for the Honors College and teaches an Honors section of U101. Throughout her years at the university, Elise’s appreciation for the Honors College has only continued to grow.  

“For me, the Honors College has meant family and community. It meant family to me before I was even able to share it with my actual family because I loved the community I was able to build within the Honors College as a student,” Elise said. 

Grace Porter graduated from the Honors College in 2018 with a degree in civil engineering and now works for AECOM.

John Mark Porter, a senior, is set to graduate from the Honors College in the spring of 2020 with a degree in accounting and a minor in counselor education. He plans to return to UofSC next year for graduate school. 

“I’ve always felt very much at home at USC. I’ve grown up as a very loyal person and that cultivated in me a desire to give back what the university has given me,” John Mark says. 

Sarah, a freshman business management major and psychology minor, just began her career in the Honors College as one of the university’s Top Scholars and is enjoying the strong community she has been able to build through living in the Honors Residence Hall.

“The Honors College has become a second home. I didn’t know whether or not I’d want to go to the same college as my siblings, but I have no regrets. It makes me happy knowing they are nearby, even if I don’t see them all the time,” Sarah says. 

The Porter siblings grew up visiting campus with their father, Mark Porter, who works for the university as the Associate Director of English Programs for Internationals. 

“He would bring us to campus, and we would play in the garden behind the South Caroliniana Library. It was so fun to get to go to work with dad,” Elise says.

Now, Elise’s office is located closeby to where she once played as a child, a reminder of the Porter family legacy at the University of South Carolina. 


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