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Darla Moore School of Business

First-generation Moore School student successfully transitions to UofSC with help of inaugural Rising Scholars Program

Nov. 4, 2019

Sophomore Ailean Salinas gained the tools needed to navigate her first year at the University of South Carolina thanks to the Moore School’s inaugural Rising Scholars Program.

Salinas, the daughter of two Mexican immigrants, is a first-generation college student from Elloree, South Carolina where her parents work at a horse-training center. Salinas was uncertain about how to maneuver the college environment and jumped at the chance to be part of a business-specific program with personalized classes like University 101, mentoring and career exploration.

Majoring in economics, Salinas called the Rising Scholars Program “one of the greatest decisions I’ve made since I started my journey” at South Carolina.

“I wanted to be part of a diverse and inclusive program that helped my transition to college,” Salinas said. “As a hardworking student, I am committed to effectively taking advantage of the opportunities around me that will allow me to grow more professionally and as a person. The Rising Scholars Program just happened to be one of those opportunities.”

She said Rising Scholars advisor Brian Shelton and program manager Alice Leri were dedicated and supportive in her first year. Shelton is co-director for undergraduate programs at the Moore School. Leri was the Moore School’s associate dean for diversity and inclusion and an international business assistant professor during the program’s initial year.

“Brian Shelton and Alice Leri are some of the sweetest people in the world and are all about helping you, whether it’s giving advice or providing academic support resources,” Salinas said. “They are great at what they do and have connected me with awesome opportunities related to me and my major.”

Salinas was paired with a peer mentor to help her transition at South Carolina, and being with the other students in her Rising Scholars cohort lessened the anxiety of navigating campus and college life.

“The Rising Scholars program is a great program to make friends on campus who are just like you – looking to further the skills needed to become successful leaders,” she said. “[The cohort of 19] is a good size to make personal relationships and opens the door to opportunities in your field of study.”

Rising Scholars’ resources and connections lay the foundation for professional and academic success, said Salinas who will continue taking advantage of the Rising Scholars program throughout her college career.

The program’s coordinators provide support in variety of ways. They orchestrate networking events, encourage students to get involved in business student organizations and assist in securing internships. Students also will learn in their senior year how to negotiate salaries, buy a house and construct a budget.

The intent is for students to bond with one another and learn about and access campus resources while expanding their networks to successfully graduate and secure a job, Leri said.

Benefiting from the program’s support, Salina said she is committed to giving back and supporting others when she graduates.

“I see myself investing in my community to help others who may not have the same opportunities as I do,” she said.

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