The beginning of the 2021-22 academic year at the University of South Carolina includes the arrival of four very special freshmen: the second cohort of Tepper Scholars. The university’s Department of Sport and Entertainment Management welcomed the four freshmen who are recipients of its most prestigious scholarship program.
Created in 2020, The Nicole and David Tepper Scholars Program recruits the best and brightest sport and entertainment management students and enriches their education opportunities, and ultimately their careers.
“We are absolutely thrilled with this group of students joining us this fall,” says Nicole Tepper, co-owner of the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte FC. “They all have demonstrated outstanding leadership potential, a commitment to public service and academic excellence. I truly believe this group of students will be change agents for our great university, positively affecting others in their communities.”
“I hugged my mom so hard I ended up knocking her over onto the couch.” “I freaked out and called my mom. She was literally screaming with me.” “I couldn’t even believe it. I called every member of my family.”
-The new Tepper Scholars, on receiving the news
Jake Brown, Ambar Ferra, Hannah Margeson and Kayla Simmons, the new cohort, will have half their tuition for four years as undergraduate students paid for by the Tepper Scholarship. In addition, they will benefit from direct mentorship with the Tepper family and will participate in additional career development opportunities throughout their four years of college.
“We have another group of talented students entering the program this year,” says Matt Brown, chair of the Department of Sport and Entertainment Management. “They all were stars in high school and soon will be leaders in the sport and entertainment industries. I am extremely excited to get to know them and see their growth over the next four years.”
To say the least, they were excited to hear the news. “I hugged my mom so hard I ended up knocking her over onto the couch.” “I freaked out and called my mom. She was literally screaming with me.” “I couldn’t even believe it. I called every member of my family.”
Tepper Scholars are selected based on academic merit with an emphasis on supporting student diversity and first-generation students. It is an opportunity that can shape future careers and change lives, and the 2021 incoming cohort is ready to make the most of it.
Jake Brown comes to South Carolina from Groton, Massachusetts with a passion for sport management and dreams of a front office career with a team in the U.S. or Europe.
Brown arrives with a solid background in sport management, having excelled in marketing and sports in society classes in high school.
He is also committed to inclusivity in sports. “In all of my sport teams and group activities, I am cognizant of the fact that not all of my peers come from the same background, have the same skill level, or the same opportunities,” he says. “I try to be helpful to everyone, and I maintain a kind and positive attitude.”
Brown says he is honored and grateful to be chosen as a Tepper Scholar and is looking forward to the enrichment and volunteer opportunities provided by the program.
Ambar Ferra’s fall semester at the University of South Carolina will bring some very big changes. The San Juan, Puerto Rico native will be living on the mainland for the first time and coming to South Carolina from a very small all-girls school. She is eager for new experiences.
“When I got to visit in March, I really felt at home,” she says. “I want that sport scene and that home feeling. I've never been in an environment like this. I've never even been to a college football game. I'm going to a totally different thing.”
With strong support from her family, Ferrara set her sights on South Carolina because of the excellence of the sport and entertainment management program. She wants to not only become a leader, but also lead the industry to a better future.
“I have decided to study sport management and reach for this competitive industry, where mostly men have succeeded,” she says. “Inequality is something that has always bothered me. I want to see a change in the world and see the inclusion of everybody, regardless of their culture, race, sexual identity, gender, anything.”
A visit to the Washington Capitals’ marketing offices as part of her high school’s DECA club set Hannah Margeson on the road to the University of South Carolina’s sport and entertainment management program.
The Virginia native met two Gamecock alumni on that visit and hearing how South Carolina’s program helped them succeed in the NHL sparked her interest in the program.
Margeson says earning a place as a Tepper Scholar helped make it possible for her to come to UofSC. Having watched her mother and two older sisters work hard to pursue higher education, she was determined to pay for college herself, and worked hard to excel.
Competing as a DECA member helped her step outside her comfort zone and focus her interest in sport and entertainment management. She hopes to follow the alumni she met that day into the Capitals front office and is eager to get started.
“I’m so excited to get in the classroom and start learning about what I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time,” she says. “I’m really, really grateful for this opportunity and planning to work really, really hard to make the most of it.”
Kayla Simmons knew when she set her sights on South Carolina that her mother would do whatever it took to make her dream come true. She also knew she did not want her mom to take on a mountain of debt to do it. The arrival of the news that Kayla would be a Tepper Scholar was a huge moment for them both.
“This is my dream school. This is my dream,” Simmons says. “My mom is incredible. This was a weight off her shoulders.”
It did not come by accident. Every day since the beginning of her junior year in high school, Simmons started her morning by looking at Google images of the Columbia campus. She would then write a note and repeat aloud her mantra: “I will be a student at UofSC fall 2021.”
Donor Nicole Tepper was on the panel for Simmons’ interview for the scholarship. Simmons says Tepper immediately introduced herself as a fellow New Jersey native.
“She helped calm my nerves and created an instant connection,” Simmons says. “She's a woman in sports and in a male-dominated field, I want to learn how to be that successful.”
The Nicole and David Tepper Scholars Program will invite applications in early 2022 for fall 2022 incoming freshman. Students interested in applying must apply and be admitted to the University of South Carolina’s sport and entertainment management program. More information is available on the Bachelor of Science in Sport and Entertainment Management Degree Page.