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South Carolina Honors College

  • Naomi Kemp

Fresh perspectives

As a biology major and art studio minor, Naomi Kemp does it all. Now as she approaches graduation, it’s easy to look back on her past four years and marvel at her diverse areas of involvement. After raising AIDS awareness and promoting sustainability by starting her own thrift shop, she looks forward to a future of devoting herself to others through volunteering and eventually attending medical school.

As a pre-med student, Kemp wanted to ensure that she would still have a creative outlet. She’s always loved art, and for her, declaring an art studio minor was a way to hone her creative skills and stay in touch with her passions. Even though biology and art seem to be on opposite sides of the spectrum, Kemp likes it that way. 

“They’re pretty different, and I like to keep it that way just because it’s using both sides of my brain, really engaging all elements of my thinking and creative processes,” she said.

Even though she also loves drawing, Kemp mainly focuses on printmaking. Her love for that medium was an unintentional discovery, having been exposed to it while taking a required course for her minor. The dedication and love printmakers have for their medium is one of the things that motivated her to keep sharpening skills.

“It’s really great to be able to just take a doodle or something that I hadn’t even put that much thought into and turn it into a completely different form of art,” she said. “It’s something that I can be replicating over and over again, and adding to, and doing so much work with color.  It’s just a really great medium to use.”

Even though it’s difficult to find an intersection between art and medicine, Kemp was able to combine her disciplines for her Honors thesis. After volunteering with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation on World AIDS Day, she was inspired to create something supporting HIV prevention education.  Through the organization, she learned that Black people between 18 and 25 are the population most affected by AIDS and created an adult coloring book targeting young minorities. In collaboration with DHEC's STD/HIV division, Ending the Epidemic SC and a local community health clinic in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Kemp based her book on the mnemonic device U=U to explain that people living with HIV who are “U-ndetectable” are “U-ntransmittable” and cannot pass the virus on to others. 

“I just wanted to make my thesis something that actually is going to be doing something for the community, especially because a lot of the things I was able to do in the past were cut short because of COVID,” Kemp said. “I wanted to do something remotely that could give back.”

Even though the pandemic has prevented her from some community involvement, it also gave her and her older sister the opportunity to start their own sustainable business, Aunt Viv’s Thrift Shop. Both had always loved finding vintage clothing and antiques at thrift stores, but they wanted to be able to share their unique finds, which led to them using platforms like Instagram and Depop to market their products. Now that their business has expanded, they’ve begun to make their own custom products.  Kemp has even been able to polish her photography and graphic design skills through the marketing process.

Even though she’s seen a lot of success with their business, the mission behind Aunt Viv’s Thrift Shop is still devoted to practicing sustainable fashion.  Kemp wants to give people an alternative to larger companies that may not sell quality products or use ethical practices.

“We make our own clothes, and we save all of our textile waste down to the thread that we have to chop off when rethreading our sewing machines,” she said.

Kemp also serves as the secretary and alumni relations chair of the Black Honors Caucus. As  alumni relations chair, she’s in charge of connecting Honors College alumni with current and future students. She’s also worked on coordinating alumni speakers for different events they have hosted for minority students in various fields.

“We’re really just trying to build on the great work that especially Marcus Fogle, the director of development, is doing for the Honors College,” she said. “We are really trying to engage Black students as well as just high-achieving minorities at USC, to be pushing them towards applying to Honors.”

The Black Honors Caucus aims to cultivate a community of high-achieving students who offer friendship, networking opportunities and academic collaborations. Even more, the Black Honors Caucus provides a way to socially connect students who already share an academic and intellectual bond.

“We have really great discussions, we have really great debates about casual things, and then about politics, but then about music, and it's been really fun to be able to meet so many great people, and also just really expand my networking platform,” Kemp said.

Looking ahead, Kemp hopes to spend time volunteering in the Peace Corps before applying to medical school. The public health education sector interests her most because it would allow her to educate young people about health risks and susceptibility to HIV and AIDS. She also is working on obtaining her yoga teacher certification.

Kemp is interested in pursuing gynecology and possibly becoming an OB/GYN physician. Her interest was first piqued in this specialty because of the complications Black women face during pregnancy and after delivery, during post-natal care. She wants to help make a difference in this field.

Kemp’s wide array of interests have given her the ability to look at things from fresh perspectives. By diversifying her learning experiences, she says she’s been able to keep her life interesting. There’s no doubt her future will take her on a path that’s just as interesting.


Haley Capps

Haley Capps

Haley Capps is a sophomore English and political science major and journalism minor in the Honors College and is from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In her free time, she loves baking, yoga and reading old books.


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