Honors senior Natalie Monzavifar doesn't walk away from a challenge, and she doesn't plan to anytime soon.
Monzavifar came to UofSC from her hometown in Davidson, North Carolina, as a math
major and German minor. Here, she took her first computer science class, knowing nothing
about the program.
"I go to this class, and it was so hard. One of the hardest things I've ever done,
but it was refreshingly difficult because, for the first time, I actually had to work
for something where I didn't really understand the material as well," Monzavifar said.
"But I absolutely loved it."
Monzavifar changed to a dual degree in computer science and math by the end of her
sophomore year. While many people see difficult classes and tasks as a setback, Monzavifar
views them as a way to get closer to reaching her goals.
"I would say my biggest motivation is to continuously challenge myself to the limit
of my capabilities," Monzavifar said. "I think that in those challenging moments is
what makes you grow as a person, and when you're the most challenged is when you discover
what you love the most."
Monzavifar let this philosophy carry her to all corners of the UofSC community. She
is a part of the engineering honors society, engineering fraternity and German club,
and during her sophomore year, she took on another challenge as an Honors ambassador.
"I was not the best public speaker either coming in; I was very shy, very introverted.
And so jumping into the role of an Honors ambassador where I have talked to hundreds
of parents students every year . . . it was a lot of pressure," Monzavifar said. "And
again, I don't do things lightly, so I just threw myself in there trying to improve
myself, and that's honestly like, what drives these decisions."
Monzavifar will be stepping outside of her comfort zone again after graduation to
pursue a career in consulting, a shift away from her background in STEM. She will
be working as an analyst in the consulting development program for the multinational
Like her computer science double degree, Monzavifar describes her discovery of consulting
as a "fun story."
"I see this random posting on a job portal. And it sounds cool. It's this business
analyst position for Carmax. . . I show up to this interview, and they throw this
case interview at me. And I have maybe 30 seconds to kind of reorient myself and figure
out how I'm going to solve this," Monzavifar said.
Despite having no experience with consulting, Monzavifar made it to the final round
of interviews and said she fell in love with the way consulting combined aspects of
math, logic and problem-solving. The experience encouraged her to apply for and join
the Gamecock consulting club.
"I came into the organization as one of three engineers in the history of the organization,"
Monzavifar said. "I noticed that I was in the minority, and that challenged me again,
to face impostor syndrome, things like - why am I here? I'm engineering; how am I
going to be a good asset to this organization?"
Monzavifar eventually earned an executive position for the organization and reworked
the recruitment and onboarding system to allow more students outside the business
school to follow in her footsteps.
Gamecock consulting club now boasts at least 20 members with majors outside the business
school in a group of about 80 members.
By the end of her senior year, Monzavifar had served as a Vice President for Human
Resources for the Gamecock consulting club, head of recruitment in the engineering
honor society and an Honors Ambassador. She also participated in research and completed
an Honors thesis.
Monzavifar credits her ability to take on these challenges to the resources available
through the Honors College.
"I give credit for that growth to the Honors College because I think it wasn't necessarily
that I was shy or introverted. I think I was placing myself in that box because I
hadn't found the right people around me," Monzavifar said. "It does get tough, but
it's the people that you have surrounding you that in the worst of times help you
get through that."
Monzavifar said the welcoming environment that students and faculty at the Honors
College created allowed her to feel supported and motivated through difficulties.
She plans to stay connected to the Honors community and continue to challenge herself
as she begins her career.
"It's just going to be a lifelong goal of just continuously growing and learning and
being the best version of yourself that you can be," Monzavifar said.
Sydney Dunlap is a freshman in the South Carolina Honors College majoring in journalism
and mass communications. Originally from Greenville, South Carolina, she plans to
pursue a career that combines her passion for writing and photography. She writes
and takes the photos for her articles.