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Darla Moore School of Business

  • graduate hooding ceremony on the Horseshoe

May 2024 Darla Moore School of Business graduates

Congratulations to the Darla Moore School of Business 2024 graduates! We are so proud of your journey and wish you the absolute best! Learn more about some of our graduates and their stories.

Undergraduate Student Stories

Daniel Conway headshot
Learning from ‘friends in six different continents’
Moore School prepared international business and finance student for experiences in Hong Kong

Daniel Conway (’24 finance and international business, concentration in business analytics, Chinese Studies minor) tested not only his communication capabilities and applied learnings but also his resilience and patience while studying abroad in Hong Kong through COVID-19.

Although he initially did not think study abroad could happen due to the pandemic, the Moore School and his host university, The Chinese University of Hong Kong Business School, were able to make it happen. The two schools co-sponsor the International Business and Chinese Enterprise, an intensive four-year study designed to develop students to operate and succeed in the Chinese business environment and, eventually, as global leaders.

Before arriving in Hong Kong, Conway was able to take an introductory course with IB clinical associate professor David Hudgens about the city, China and Asia and the complex relationships, cultures and geopolitics in the region.

“There are immense complexities and lines that are often towed when discussing Hong Kong and Taiwan independence with relation to China,” Conway says. “Throughout the semester, we were able to talk about those complexities and gain a better understanding of the topic.”

After landing in Hong Kong and befriending local students, Conway says he was able to use his classroom knowledge to hear both sides of the argument and form a more informed and compassionate understanding.

“If I did not have the ability to study abroad, I would never have been able to gain such a holistic perspective to an extremely sensitive topic,” Conway says. “Sure, you can find news stories and see interviews online, but being able to listen to the people it is actually affecting was an invaluable experience.”

Conway says another important skill the IBCE program taught him was resilience.

“I am not talking about the type of resilience you learn when you receive an email on a Wednesday night saying that the city is having a COVID-19 shutdown again, and we must move out of the dorms by Sunday morning. But rather, I’m speaking of a resilience you learn by interacting with new people,” Conway says.

“For example, group projects may seem like a simple task for a class, but when you bring people together from around the world, you bring different communication methods, approaches to conflict resolution and levels of directness,” he added.

Through his experiences with group projects in Hong Kong, Conway says he learned new styles of communication and approaches to conflict resolution,

“Experiencing this breakthrough allowed me to form deeper connections with the international students I met, and I can proudly say I have friends in six different continents now,” Conway says.

Upon returning home from Hong Kong, Conway says that he has made a conscious effort to reach out to international students in his classes and to foster those new relationships.

“I have been able to do semester-long projects and go to potlucks with classmates from around the world,” Conway says. “I also worked to brainstorm and plan different events to grow the international community at the university.”

Although studying abroad through the pandemic presented some inevitable challenges, Conway says the experience was priceless.

“Even though we all had to quarantine for two weeks in a government hotel upon arrival, I would do it again in a heartbeat if given the chance,” he emphasized.

After graduation, Conway plans to move to Dallas, Texas, to work in the Global Banking and Markets division of Goldman Sachs.

“Although I am not entirely sure what aspect of finance I want to pursue, it is definitely a goal of mine to go back to Hong Kong and continue the ‘unfinished business’from my study abroad experience,” Conway says. “However, what I do know is that the Moore School and the international business program have prepared me to work in a diverse and ever-evolving workforce, whether it is here in Columbia, Dallas or Hong Kong.”

Allison Galante headshot
The perfect fit
Accounting student and FBI hopeful finds a home at the Moore School after changing her major 

An aspiring FBI financial crimes investigator, Allison Galante said she knew she had found a home at the Moore School after changing her major in her second semester.

“I remember being so impressed with the Moore School,” says Galante (accounting ’24). “I was surrounded by like-minded students, classes that I loved and some of the best professors that became or led me to great mentors.”

Galante, who is from Algonquin, Illinois, quickly built a Moore School support system away from home. 

“Building this support system has allowed me to grow through uncertainty and difficult situations, as well as celebrate successes, in and outside the classroom,” she said.

Finding the right fit for her major also helped Galante, who has a minor in criminal justice, gain confidence.

“As a Moore student, I have learned that I am a take-charge type of person,” she says. “I put myself out there by getting involved in various activities, building relationships with other students and working with professors directly.”

Galante was Delta Zeta‘s vice president of philanthropy for two years and partnered with the Gift of Life to lead one of the nation’s largest bone marrow registry drives. Their “Sweet Caroline” drive has led to 14 life-saving transplants in the past 4 years. Galante was also a part of Beta Alpha Psi which allowed her to get to know her peers and learn more about the accounting industry.

On the academic side, Galante said she often met with professors to ensure a better understanding of the material in their courses. 

“Because of these meetings, I felt like I was able to get to know them better, which ultimately led to asking (accounting associate professor) Bryan Stikeleather to write a recommendation for me and (MACC accelerated program director) Jared Jones to help me get started on the accelerated MACC track.” 

Stikeleather, who Galante admired for his industry insights and connections, further solidified her choice of the Moore School and helped her focus her future career aspirations.

“Stikeleather’s letter of recommendation led to a dream internship with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, D.C.,” Galante says. "It was just as fun to debrief with him after the summer on everything I had learned.” 

When reflecting on her journey at the University of South Carolina, Galante shares a suggestion for other students.

“My advice is to believe in yourself. College in general can be very overwhelming and comes with misconceptions that to be successful you must do things a certain way or join the right club,” she said. “I have found that’s not always true.”

Galante wants incoming students to remember to “find a balance of what works best for them by working hard but not compromising on who they are in the process.”

Following graduation, Galante looks forward to a Nashville, Tennessee, audit internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers. She’s also decided to continue her education and journey at the Moore School with a Master of Accountancy in the fall.

Ultimately by completing her MACC, Galante hopes to gain a more technical understanding of accounting to complete her CPA certification. Further into her career, Galante said she “sees herself working within the FBI, using my Master of Accountancy to investigate financial crimes and contribute to the mission of protecting and serving the United States.” 

Gabriella Kiel headshot
Student activities deliver big ROI
Risk management and insurance graduate urges students to get involved on campus for once-in-a-time opportunities

Gabriella Kiel used her time at the Moore School to immerse herself in college life, taking opportunities for travel and gaining real-world experience.

Originally from Fort Mill, South Carolina, the risk management and insurance major (applied computing database minor), sought out activities to enhance her classroom education, including Gamma Iota Sigma, a risk management insurance fraternity.

“Gamma Iota Sigma has afforded me invaluable experiences through participation in numerous out-of-state conferences throughout the academic year,” she says. “These trips have proven to be not only rewarding but instrumental in fostering a genuine passion for networking and emphasizing the significance of relationship building in the professional landscape.”

The Moore School is widely regarded for its educational and extracurricular activities, and one aspect that sets the college apart is the variety of clubs, groups and centers. Kiel, who also served as president of Gamma Iota Sigma, Lambda chapter, feels her time in college was well spent with a plethora of hands-on opportunities.

 “The insurance industry is inherently experience-driven, and my time as a USC student has proven to be a gateway to boundless opportunities for hands-on learning and skill development,” she says.

Kiel, who won the USC outstanding senior award for academic excellence in risk management and insurance, took full advantage of the many opportunities at the Moore School and applied the experience and development garnered through her major. She studied abroad in Milan, Italy, was named the 2023 JH Blades Scholar and completed a Markel summer internship.

“Throughout my summer internship, I had the privilege of being chosen as one out of 25 interns to conduct a comprehensive study on the distinctions between the UK and U.S. markets in London,” she says. “Upon my return to the United States, I will relocate to New York City and join Markel's Underwriting Training Program.”

Kiel credits much of her success at the Moore School to her involvement in campus organizations, and she encourages incoming students to seek those opportunities.

“My advice is to engage in various student organizations from early on,” she says. “This strategy significantly accelerates your transition to college life and fosters professional development at a faster pace than your peers. While your preferences may evolve, diversifying your resume and cultivating a broad range of interests is crucial for standing out during interviews.”

While Kiel will join Markel’s New York City office later this year, she is off to London in June to pursue a prestigious internship where she is considered a top 10 Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association intern; only two students are placed in the London location.

"I have been fortunate enough to be considered a Top 10 WSIA intern and had the opportunity to attend the Annual Marketplace in San Diego, California,” she says. “There, I interviewed and competed for one of two spots for the JH Blades Scholarship. I am proud and honored to have been selected by the WSIA internship committee. I will be traveling to London in June 2023 to study the London Market, and I couldn’t be more excited."

Diana Muscarella headshot
Making the most of getting involved and getting to know faculty
Faculty and staff ‘who care’ help real estate student reach her full potential — in and out of the classroom

Most people travel to New York City to achieve greatness, but for Diana Muscarella (’24 real estate), Columbia, South Carolina, served as the perfect home to find community and make a lasting impact. 

As a New York native herself, Muscarella says she traveled to the Moore School because she knew the importance and vastness of opportunities it would bring her. She felt the Moore School would be the perfect place to develop her skills and prepare her for a future career in the business world.  

Now as a senior pursuing her real estate license, Muscarella has been involved in Global Learning, Greek life and the Alpha Sigma Gamma International Real Estate Honorary Society during her college journey. 

These involvements have greatly contributed to Muscarella’s experience as a Moore School Student. The opportunity for Global Learning, provided by the Moore School, pushed her to step out of her comfort zone and expand her horizons. 

Connecting with faculty in global classrooms and leading activities with her peers greatly affected her learning experience and allowed her to assist others in creating their own unforgettable experiences. 

Her involvement in multiple committees in Greek life, such as mental health and social media committees, allowed her to positively impact the well-being of others while simultaneously assisting in social outreach and fundraising. 

Muscarella’s recent involvement in the Alpha Sigma Gamma International Real Estate Honorary Society proves that hard work and persistence pays off — and that it is never too late to get involved. 

When reflecting on her time at the Moore School, Muscarella says that her freshman self would be proud of her for shedding her social shell and becoming more confident as a professional. 

“My favorite memories from my time at the Moore School come from the faculty members who truly care and want to make a lasting impact on students,” Muscarella said. “My professors went out of their way to help me develop and improve my professional skills, and I will forever be grateful.”

Specifically, her Real Estate Development class helped to prepare her for a future in the world of real estate. Assistant clinical professor Ellison “Butch” Smith taught Muscarella and her classmates about the importance of having a skillset and cooperating with multiple peers to achieve goals and create outcomes to be proud of. Muscarella said Smith guided students through his real-world knowledge and examples, pushing his students to think outside of the box and be confident in their work.

Graduation prompted Muscarella to think about advice she wished she’d known sooner, such as the importance of asking for advice from the faculty members in and out of the classroom. 

“To incoming Moore School students, don’t be afraid to seek guidance from faculty members,” she said. “My professors constantly encouraged students to come to them for advice, and when I did, they were more than happy to help me develop my skills and equip me with connections to assist in my job search.”

While the Moore School has been home to Muscarella for the past four years, life after graduation means moving back to New York. This time, she’s making Long Island, New York, her home as she jumpstarts her career.

“After graduation, I plan to work as an administrative assistant with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty in the Long Island, New York, office while working to obtain my real estate license to begin my career as an agent,” Muscarella said.

Once licensed, she hopes to excel as a young real estate agent, bringing a fresh outlook to the role. 

She said she will continue building upon her network using her professional skills learned throughout her time at the Moore School, which will greatly help expand her outreach. 

Muscarella said she plans to make a positive impact through real estate, motivated to change the stigma behind the real estate industry by putting others first and keeping a positive attitude in all business endeavors. 

Dylan Peddemors headshot
Getting an education in – and out of – the classroom
Double Moore School graduate broadens his learning through diverse campus involvement and rigorous academic lessons

Dylan Peddemors made the most of his college experience by not only pursuing a double major but also by getting involved in multiple student organizations. His hard work is paying off with his “dream job” with Ernst & Young.

Majoring in both economics and international business, Peddemors said he experienced his fair share of struggles balancing his rigorous academic classes and his considerable involvement on campus.  

“For me, the best memories of my undergraduate experience are the ones in which I truly struggled but persevered — these are the moments that build character and shape a young professional,” Peddemors said.

Peddemors said clinical professor Dan Ostergaard’s Globalization and Business course was one of his toughest challenges. Peddemors said the course is notorious as one of the most difficult and demanding courses the Moore School offers.

“I still remember walking into Ostergaard’s class on my first day,” Peddemors said. “The offset of the course seemed daunting, and the work often felt overwhelming, but after successfully finishing the class, I felt a sense of accomplishment like never before.”

Peddemors says that although Ostergaard sets high expectations for his students, he is committed to students’ success through regular office hours, phone calls and engaging.

Along with Ostergaard’s assistance, Peddemors says he would not have succeeded without being able to lean on his peers. 

“In a group of accomplished and driven individuals, it's often easy for students to fall into individualistic competition,” Peddemors said. “However, within our cohort, there was a distinct culture of collaboration, and instead of viewing each other as rivals, we recognized the strength in unity.”

From studying together for exams, brainstorming ideas for projects or offering support during challenging times, he says that his fellow international business students became an “indispensable resource in their willingness to share knowledge, skills and encouragement.”

Contemplating advice he would give incoming Moore School students, Peddemors says students should not limit their education to just academics.

“What you learn inside the classroom will equip you with the necessary skills that you need to excel at a job, but what you learn outside the classroom will train you to build a successful career that aligns with your interests,” Peddemors said.

He says some of his most valuable experiences stem from serving as captain on the mock trial competition team, chairing the senate powers and responsibilities committee for student government and interning for South Carolina government officials — seemingly non-business related fields that have “broadened his scope of what an education in business can offer.”

In his four years, Peddemors says that he took every opportunity that the Moore School and USC offers, while learning it is possible to do anything, but it is not possible to do everything.

“In order to become marketable as a young professional, it is more important to excel in a specialized area than have a breadth of experience in unrelated fields,” Peddemors said. “During my time as an economics major, I found a passion for international trade economics.”

This discovery encouraged him to explore international trade policy while interning in the U.S. Senate and the in the governor’s office. He modeled his senior thesis on analyzing the international trade landscape of colonial South Carolina through an economic trade model.

Because of his specialized work, Peddemors was recognized by the South Carolina Ports Authority, receiving the Margaret A. Patrick and W. Don Welch Scholarship award, which recognizes South Carolina undergraduate students who have contributed to international trade within the state.  

“The experience I received from building out economic trade models will be incredibly useful as I start my career at Ernst & Young, where I will need to build out business valuation models,” Peddemors said.

He will work as a mergers and acquisitions consultant for Ernst & Young’s valuations, modeling, and economics division in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Peddemors says that he hopes to use this experience to pursue further education and a future career in corporate law.

Mariya Pieris headshot
Aiming to be ‘a positive force for change in the corporate world’
A graduating international business and operations and supply chain student aims to impact her home country of Sri Lanka

Mariya Pieris (’24 international business and operations and supply chain, French minor, business analytics concentration) is thankful for the opportunities she gained at the university to showcase her leadership skills and lend new perspectives to her world view.  

Not only is Pieris majoring in international business, but she also embarked on a new adventure by attending a university in another country. Originally from Sri Lanka, an island nation to the south of the Indian subcontinent, Pieris plans to use her Moore School degree to positively impact her South Asian home country and the realm of international sustainability.

“My passion for learning brought me halfway across the world to the No. 1-ranked international business school in the United States,” Pieris said. “From the international business and supply chain programs, I have learned the significance of risk management in supply chains and sustainability practices. These lessons are particularly relevant to Sri Lanka, where supply chains play a crucial role in industries such as agriculture and retail.”

Pieris says that she aspires to implement these sustainability principles into her future endeavors by advocating for environmentally conscious supply chain practices, reducing waste and promoting responsible sourcing.

“By applying these lessons, I hope to contribute to Sri Lanka’s economic development while minimizing its environmental impact,” said Pieris.

Her aspirations to help others internationally coincides with her extensive involvement on campus in supporting USC students. During her time at the Moore School, Pieris has served as a Student Success Center supplemental instructor for microeconomics and mathematics, an orientation leader for the Office of New Student Orientation and a Darla Moore School of Business Ambassador. She also is part of the Gamecock Consulting Club and served a term as a case competition logistics executive.

 Pieris says her time interacting with students has been instrumental in providing her with community within the business school. When speaking specifically about her role as a peer leader and Moore School ambassador, Pieris said “there have been many people within these programs whom I am so grateful for; they have mentored me and helped me navigate the challenges in my academic journey.”

As part of her journey, Pieris studied abroad in the Rotterdam, Netherlands, for almost six months through the international business program’s immerse global requirement.

“My study abroad experience further enriched the appreciation I gained for the diversity of cultures and perspectives in the global business landscape during my time in the international business program at the Moore School,” Pieris said. “The opportunity to interact with people from different cultural backgrounds and have profound conversations reinforced the importance of adaptability, cross-cultural communication and empathy in today’s interconnected world.”

Pieris says the insights she gained from studying in the Netherlands will be “invaluable” in shaping her future career.

“I am able to leverage my international experience to adapt to dynamic business environments and create innovative solutions that resonate with a global audience,” Pieris said.

Following graduation, Pieris hopes to further her education in the U.S. for a few years to learn more about supporting operations and supply chains.

When asked where she sees herself in five years, Pieris says she envisions herself in a leadership position within a multinational corporation, specializing in supply chain management and the fostering of cross-border collaborations.

“My goal is to be a positive force for change in the corporate world, driving innovation in all my endeavors,” she said.

Alex Rishmawi headshot
The perfect ‘balance with school and social life’
Student stays true to South Carolina roots while flourishing at Moore School

Alex Rishmawi credits his time in the accounting and operations and supply chain majors for teaching him how to balance his work and home personal life and find success in college. 

Originally from Florence, South Carolina, Rishmawi made the Moore School his first pick due to his dedication to South Carolina and the school’s renowned state reputation.

“I have learned a lot about time management and balancing school with social activities since becoming a student at Darla Moore,” Rishmawi said. “I have also learned to be more outgoing and curious in the classroom as well as at events such as the Business Expo.”

Events like the annual Business Expo career fair provide opportunities for Moore students to network and connect with future employers, giving students like Rishmawi a test of growth by putting in practice the newly acquired skills of connectivity.

Due to the Moore School’s broad demographic with its international students and faculty, unique friendships were another takeaway from Rishmawi’s experiences. When reflecting on his favorite memories, he reminisced about the time he spent with friends in his classes.

“I enjoyed being able to interact with others in class and became friends with a lot of great people studying the same material as me,” he said. “I also loved the friendships that I have built with some of my professors.”

Being bold in his friendships wasn’t the only skill he garnered. Rishmawi spoke about his newfound boldness while asking the questions that matter.

“My advice for incoming students is not to be afraid to ask questions or talk to others in your classes,” Rishmawi said. “You are going to take a lot of classes with some of the same people and everyone is looking for a friend. Take advantage of the Moore School community and meet as many people as possible.”

“My plans after graduation are to take the CPA exam and become a licensed public accountant while working in public accounting,” he said. 

Rishmawi has accepted a job offer with Elliott Davis in Charleston, South Carolina, and will begin preparing for the CPA exam this fall. He said he would eventually like to own his own business. 

Mallory Strmel headshot
Helping others pursue their passions
Student hopes to foster an entrepreneurial spirit in others while working toward her dream

Mallory Strmel’s father inspired her to pursue an entrepreneurship management and marketing degree to help others pursue their passions and to work toward her own dream of starting a creative consultancy company one day.

After Strmel’s father returned from the U.S. Navy, he started his own transportation business. Although he had no formal business education, Strmel says he got to know every one of his clients on a personal level, loving to hear about their lives and always ensuring that they had the best level of care — whether it was a ride to the airport or a night out.

“I wanted to become an entrepreneurship major to help people like my dad pursue their passions,” Strmel said. “I read on the Moore School website ‘entrepreneurship majors gain the skills needed to start their own businesses — knowledge that can be applied in all fields’ and knew this would be a unique opportunity for me.”

Strmel has served as the vice president of human resources for the Gamecock Consulting Club and has been involved with the Marketing Scholars program for two semesters, currently serving as project manager. She will graduate with leadership distinction in professional and civic engagement.

“Before coming to the university, I never actively sought out leadership roles because I never saw myself as worthy of them,” Strmel said. “Through my journey at the Moore School, I have learned to be open to feedback, actively seek opportunities for self-improvement and acknowledge myself as a leader.”

Since entering college, Strmel has held two internships and five engagement experiences to help her solidify her goals.

Her favorite memory from her time at the Moore School is when she was elected to a leadership position for the Gamecock Consulting Club, the primary resource for undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career in consulting.

“My role oversaw the club’s marketing and recruitment efforts of over 200 participants, which allowed me to create personal connections with both current and prospective members of the club,” Strmel said. “I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given to lead and connect with others in the Moore School community. From study groups to group projects, I have been able to surround myself with some of the most driven and intentional people I’ve ever met.”

This semester, Strmel has built on her summer experience as a brand and client strategy intern with Ricciardi Group in New York City to consult alongside her team of four Moore School students for M.I.N.E. M.I.N.E. is a New York City-based female-founded nonprofit that provides survivors of gender-based violence with a comprehensive strength-training program.

“We have been able to help spread their cause of female empowerment through exercise and help them grow,” Strmel said. “I have been building a toolkit through my coursework at the Moore School as well as my interactions with other budding entrepreneurs, so that one day I can start my own creative consultancy.”

As she finishes her final year as an entrepreneurship student, Strmel says that she is grateful for the connections she has made through both the Faber Fellows and Gamecock Consulting Club.

“I would not have gotten to this point in my professional life without taking every opportunity given to me both in my classes and outside of them,” Strmel said. “Looking even three years back, I never would have thought that I could earn a job through my own merit. I wholly credit my Moore School professors — Jeff Rehling, Patrick Hanly, Mark Newsome — who taught me the ins and outs of setting goals and charting a path to achieve them.”

After graduating this May, Strmel will be joining Oliver Wyman as a financial services consultant. She hopes that joining a global and innovative firm will continue to challenge her to create diverse impacts on both industry and people.

Michaela Valenta headshot
‘Becoming the best version of myself’
IB student graduates with her dream job

Charlotte, North Carolina, native Michaela Valenta graduates from USC and will immediately begin her career in the Czech Republic working for a U.S. consulting firm. She credits her international business and finance majors and minor in French and physics to help her land the job. 

Upon graduation, Valenta starts an impressive job at the Boston Consulting Group as an associate in their Prague office.

“I am so excited to start my dream job in my dream city and am beyond grateful to the Moore School for allowing me to achieve my goals,” Valenta said.

Along with obtaining her degree and dream job, Valenta pays homage to the tightknit community she built through her classmates, friends and professors.

“I've learned that I become the best version of myself when I surround myself with people that motivate me, uplift me and challenge me to be better every day,” she said. “Find friends that inspire you and try to develop ways to mutually learn from each other without straying from your unique path and comparing yourself to them.” 

A few of the programs that helped Valenta find new friends and develop new relationships were Delta Sigma Pi, the Carolina Finance Scholars program and the Gamecock Consulting Club.

Through these organizations, she was able to gain a community of like-minded people, who she says influenced her to value mentorship while investing more energy into her aspired success.

“I was able to reinvest the same efforts poured into me by others by serving as Gamecock Consulting Club director of engagements and director of member development in 2023,” Valenta said. “My biggest advice to anyone coming to the Darla Moore School of Business is to get involved.”

She said that students get what they put into their college experience — the more they contribute, the more fulfilling.

“What you get out of this school is what you put into it, and I would not have discovered my passions without the help of my business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, the Carolina Finance Scholars program, and the Gamecock Consulting Club,” she said. “Never let yourself be complacent and put yourself outside of your comfort zone.”

Acknowledging the major impact her campus involvement had on her, Valenta said her favorite college memory was her time in the Carolina Finance Scholars boot camp.

She also ranks among her top memories coming in second place in her internship with Truist as a financial service enterprise intern.

“I interned with Truist my sophomore summer as a financial services enterprise intern and with Deloitte my junior summer as a risk and financial advisory intern,” Valenta. “Both experiences were extremely rewarding to my professional and personal development and helped me figure out what I want and do not want in my future career.

“I had so much fun learning from my professors through workshops and panels and establishing lifelong friendships with some of the Moore School's brightest students.”

As she concludes her time at the Moore School, Valenta said the school helped her to understand that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process.

“I've learned so many lessons from the faculty at Darla Moore and am grateful to the Carolina Finance Scholars program for providing me with the brightest professors to learn from,” she said. “Among them, I've come to understand that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process, and I've been able to continuously improve myself.” 

Graduate Student Stories

Hunter Blackwell headshot
Trading artillery for a global banking position
Army vet credits skills he gained during International MBA program with preparing him for a Bank of America global banking role

The transition from camouflage to garnet and black was a no-brainer for U.S. Army veteran Hunter Blackwell after learning about the International MBA program at the Darla Moore School of Business.

Blackwell is completing the IMBA program in spring 2024 – the same time frame that the U.S. News & World Report named the Moore School IMBA program the No. 1 international MBA for the 11th consecutive year.

The IMBA ranking and MBA programs’ reputation is largely what drew Blackwell to the program.

“I decided to pursue my IMBA while transitioning from the U.S. Army. I was intrigued with how the Moore School is a front-runner among peer schools in the discipline of international business,” Blackwell said. “The program was also very accommodating to veterans relative to other schools — it was the perfect fit for me.”

Previously an active-duty field artillery officer in the U.S. Army, Blackwell served in the reserves while enrolled at the Moore School.

He said his military expertise paired with the instruction of the IMBA program helped him develop better team-building skills while maneuvering various challenges.

“I discovered how to work as a member of a team during critical moments,” Blackwell said. “This skill is crucial in the business world.”

Cultivating strong leadership skills was also key for Blackwell as an IMBA student wanting to work in global business.

“The Darla Moore School of Business provides a top-tier education for aspiring business leaders,” Blackwell said. “I learned that maintaining clear and concise communication is key for any organization and leader.”

Read Blackwell’s full story.

bailey callander headshot
Following in footsteps
Encouragement from a MACC alumnus led graduating MACC student to the Moore School

Master of Accountancy spring 2024 graduate Bailey Callander said his enrollment in the MACC program felt more like the program was coming to him versus him seeking it out. The Brisbane, Australia, native shares that it was his mentor and Moore School alumnus, Tony Callander,’72 MACC, who inspired him to check out the program.

“Seeing what the program was able to do for him in his career, I knew it would create many opportunities for my future,” Callander said. Tony Callander is the MSBA graduate’s second cousin.

Certain the MACC program was the right path for him, Callander said the MACC program prepared him for his business career and even spearheaded his interest in becoming a certified public accountant (CPA).

“I chose the MACC program because not only is it allowing me to pursue my CPA, but the classes we have taken in the program have challenged me to improve my skill set and prepared me for the business world,” he said.

Callander credits the MACC program for challenging him to step out of his comfort zone, specifically his Accounting Research and Communication professor, Chad Stefanaik, an accounting associate professor.

“Chad Stefaniak's Accounting Research and Communications classes put me in an environment that I couldn't always prepare for,” he said. “Learning about my weaknesses that I didn't realize I had enabled me to develop new skills and allowed me to grow as a person.”

Callander said he’s now grateful for those challenging moments but admits that he didn’t always have that sentiment.

“While at times it would be incredibly frustrating to face these unpredictable obstacles, the knowledge and experience I gained in this course helped me be better prepared for the future,” he said.

Along with more confidence in his understanding of accounting codification from class, Callander said that the class also helped him develop interpersonal skills.

“I was able to improve my soft skills in that class,” he said. “Now, I will be able to interact with people across many different situations, which is important when entering a client-facing industry.”

One of the skills he walked away with was one he gained from his internship at Ernst & Young LLP in Charlotte, North Carolina. Callander completed two internships during his collegiate career, the Ernst & Young LLP internship and at Eide Bailly LLP in Minneapolis, Minnesota where he says he gained “hands-on experience in conducting audits in various industries.”

In addition to Callanders internships, he participated in EY's Digital Ambassador Program in Atlanta, where we engaged in a case competition using Alteryx and Power BI.

“These experiences helped me learn how to effectively use Alteryx for data analytics and cleansing, consolidate datasets efficiently, collaborate with teams on audit strategies, and commit to ongoing professional development through training sessions and workshops,” Callander said.

He also said hard work and many late-night study sessions with his classmates positively impacted his time in the program. 

“One of the most impactful memories I will take away from the program is how close I got with all my classmates,” he said. “Whether it was spending hours working with them on group projects or social events, I was able to develop great relationships with everyone that I know will last a lifetime.”

After graduation, Callander is moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, to work for the EY Assurance Practice.

keri festa headshot
Moving up the corporate ladder before crossing the graduation stage
PMBA student stays true to her commitment to professional development as she takes her skillset to new heights

Early in her career, Keri Festa, ’24 Professional MBA, committed to her professional development. The PMBA program proved to be the perfect place to help her foster this goal to enhance her skills and invest in herself.

“Enrolling in the program was a commitment to my ongoing professional development. After setting the goal during my college years, I wanted to gain real-world experience before diving back into academic studies,” Festa said.

The PMBA curriculum and hands-on learning opportunities provided Festa with a newfound sense of confidence.

“One of the most significant skills I cultivated during the program was confidence,” she said. “Initially apprehensive about returning to school, each class bolstered my self-assurance.”

Despite being apprehensive about continuing her education, Festa said her experiences in the PMBA program negate any doubt she had.

“Initially apprehensive about returning to school, each class bolstered my self-assurance,” she said. “This newfound confidence will undoubtedly play a crucial role in tackling challenges and seizing opportunities in my future career.”

Another gratifying aspect of the PMBA program Festa appreciated is the connectivity she received from alumni and other business professionals. Through her connections, she was able to garner broader perspectives on a plethora of business practices.

“The most enjoyable aspect of the program was connecting with fellow professionals facing similar situations,” she said. “Exchanging views from different companies provided valuable insights and broadened my perspective.”

More specifically, Festa said her negation class was especially helpful by providing an interactive environment through reenactment exercises.

“Among the classes, negotiations stood out as my favorite. Its interactive nature allowed me to hone my negotiation skills through role-playing exercises,” she said.

While in the PMBA program, Festa worked full-time at Milliken and Company as an advanced finance leader and received a promotion in January to manufacturing finance leader.

“I was recently promoted before completing my final class,” she said. “My goal is to leverage the knowledge gained from the program to enhance my division and contribute significantly to my team as a manufacturing finance leader controller for success.”

With the promotion, Festa’s current role expands to overseeing three manufacturing locations in the U.S. and Mexico by using skills she learned in the PMBA to provide value and expertise in her role.

“I intend to remain with my current employer, integrating the insights and skills acquired from the PMBA program into my daily responsibilities,” she said. “By applying these learnings proactively, I aim to play a pivotal role in driving the overall success of my company.”

bailey callander headshot
Graduate has ‘life-changing’ Moore School experience
Supportive MAEcon program helps student gain confidence, pushes her to enroll in Ph.D. program

While Marli Fichtner began a master’s program in her Colorado hometown, she acknowledges the impactful and encouraging environment at the Moore School helped her develop as a person and as a scholar when she enrolled in their Master of Arts in Economics program. 

When Fichtner moved from her hometown of Denver, Colorado, to Columbia, South Carolina, her husband had just been accepted into a family medicine residency at Lexington Medical Center, so she enrolled in the Moore School out of convenience more than anything.

“I moved to South Carolina with my husband, and this created the perfect opportunity to complete my master's degree at USC,” she said.

Before enrolling in the Moore School, she worked as a data analyst for four years with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing. Fichtner said she enjoyed learning processes to research in the MAEcon program.

“A meaningful lesson I learned from my program was to enjoy the process of research, especially the data analysis part of it,” she said.

While data analytics was a comfortable spot for Fichtner, she said she’s gained more than just analytical skills from her time at the Moore School; the program also helped her with a new mindset on balancing work and life. 

“I learned how to stay organized in a busy program, how to persist when faced with challenges and stressors, and how to maintain work/life balance as a wife and dog mom of three,” she said.

She learned to prioritize sleep, exercise and a healthy diet; she called maintaining these priorities “integral to her academic success.”

While continuing to focus on her own wellbeing, Fichtner said her dream career would be working in public policy and economics. During her time at the Moore School, she interned at the Colorado State Capitol, working in the education policy analyst department. This experience sparked her interest in public policy.

“I would like to work in the intersection of public policy and economics and eventually earn a Ph.D. in economics to position myself to make the maximum amount of impact in my field and my community,” she said.

Considering herself before coming to South Carolina, Fichtner said she wished she’d been more confident when she began the MAEcon program.

“If I could go back in time to give myself advice, I would say to have the courage to pursue your goals, even when they seem intimidating,” Fichtner said. “It is better to try and fail to achieve your goals than to settle for something that doesn't make you happy.”

Her favorite aspect of the program was getting to know her fellow classmates. Her favorite class was Health Economics.

“I enjoyed learning from my peers and listening to their ideas,” Fichtner said. “I found the in-class discussions very interesting and learned a lot about research design.”

While learning from her classmates, she saw her professors as resources to help her succeed. 

“I was able to pair myself with capable mentors that taught and guided me through the difficult content that I find intellectually challenging,” she said. “Many students, myself included, don’t always take advantage of the myriad of Moore School resources as they should.”

She said didn’t fully utilize even simple conveniences like printing services for students and the Global Café for breaks in between classes. 

Plentiful resources, like-minded peers and a well-rounded faculty had a rich impact on her time pursuing her degree. 

“The opportunity to connect with potentially life-changing mentors who are leaders in their field and to make friends with like-minded students whose minds work similarly to mine were so important,” she said.

After graduation, Fichtner will start her Ph.D. in economics at the Moore School in the fall.

bailey callander headshot
Well-traveled and staying open to new experiences
Master of International Business student cultivates soft skills with study abroad trips

Well-rounded is one way to describe Javy Martinez, ‘24 MIB. A self-proclaimed Army brat, Martinez is no stranger to immersing himself in new places and other cultures, making him the perfect match for the Master of International Business program.

“I was born in Landstuhl, Germany, to Cuban and Puerto Rican parents,” he said. “I lived across the United States from Oklahoma to South Carolina and Texas.”

Used to hard work and challenging environments thanks to the structure of his military upbringing, the competitiveness of the MIB program sparked Martinez’s interest. He shared that the opportunity to travel abroad made the program an even more enticing choice.

“I’ve had the opportunity to study abroad in both Cuba and Singapore, which were both incredible experiences,” he said. “I had to leave my program two weeks early in Singapore and on my last day, there was an air of sadness.”

In addition to collecting vast international experiences, Martinez was able to build a strong community with his “exceptional” classmates and professors. 

“Of course, I expected that the students and the faculty would be exceptional… but man, I don’t take for granted one bit how caring and helpful everyone has been,” he said.

Adding to his expectations upon entering the MIB program, Martinez says he learned the importance of experiencing something new.

“Number one is to go in with an open mind,” he said. “If you have tunnel vision, you’ll miss out on incredible opportunities. Step out of your comfort zone and be willing to start a conversation with a stranger.”

The MIB program offers unique opportunities to cultivate interpersonal communication skills with the curriculum and study abroad experiences. This is what attracts students like Martinez to the program.

“Interpersonal communication skills are also incredibly important when it comes to working with others from diverse backgrounds,” he said. “Having intellectual humility and approaching team and management situations with empathy and compassion goes a long way towards fostering great relationships and long-term success.”

While excelling in classes and in his time abroad, Martinez said he also learned how to master goodbyes. 

“The toughest days come during the goodbyes,” he said. “You spend a full semester building up these relationships and getting to know others so well and then head back across the world to continue your respective journeys. Community is everything.”

After graduating from the MIB program in May 2024, Martinez will head to London for his internship with JP Morgan’s corporate investment bank as a payment analyst. 

“My career aspirations aren’t particularly tied to a certain job or industry,” he said. I just hope to have a career that affords me plenty of growth opportunities, the chance to make a positive impact on my community and to work with good people.”

McKenzie Nichols playing volleyball
‘Soaking in every bit of knowledge and utilizing every resource’
MBA student and athlete thrives on and off the volleyball court 

McKenzie Nichols had never lived outside of Southlake, Texas, until she moved to Columbia, South Carolina, to start the One-Year MBA program. With a niche for business and a love of volleyball, Nichols says she knew instantly that USC, more specifically the Darla Moore School of Business, was the right place to continue her education.

“Being a student-athlete, I was looking at beach volleyball programs as well as MBA programs, and the Moore School and Gamecock beach volleyball were both extremely appealing,” Nichols said. “When I found out it could be possible to continue playing while attending one of the best MBA programs in the country, I had to do everything I could to make it work.”

Balancing school and athleticism weren’t an easy feat. Though to some, Nichols made it appear that way. In between classes, she had volleyball practices several times a week. Sometimes, she had to forfeit practice to focus on class — which wasn’t always an easy decision. 

“In the beginning, it was extremely difficult. I had to sacrifice a lot, but it was all worth it in the end,” she said. “Just like any student-athlete, balancing athletics, school, social life, and planning for your future career is not easy by any means. I could not have done it without my coaches, teammates, classmates and of course my parents.”

Her desire to attend the Moore School’s One-Year MBA program increased after she spoke with Diondra Black, the assistant director of the MBA programs. Their conversations solidified Nichol’s desire to apply for the MBA program while also taking her volleyball career to USC.

“I always wanted to get my MBA to expand my business knowledge, and USC has an amazing MBA program and business school altogether,” Nichols. “I had a great conversation with Diondra Black and knew this was the program for me.”

Upon enrolling in the program and immersing herself in her classes, Nichols made sure to take advantage of every opportunity and skill set offered to her through the MBA like mastering business analytics software like Excel and R, and she even completed the Business Analytics Undergraduate Concentration. 

“The business analytics certification will certainly help me in my career because I will need to know how to run tests and analyze data to make decisions,” she said.

While Nichols credits the One-Year MBA program for offering her an unmatched educational experience, she also shares that it was the intimacy and family-like environment that helped her thrive.

 “I love how close and friendly everyone is within our cohort and the entire program,” she said. “We truly are a big happy family, and I would not want to go through these tough classes with anyone else.”

When thinking of advice she’d share with an incoming student, Nichols emphasized the importance of absorbing the knowledge she gained and nurturing the relationships she built.

“Soak in every bit of knowledge, utilize every resource, network, and make great relationships with your professors and classmates,” she said.

Though Nichols’ future career goals include her one day becoming a professor, in the meantime, she’s happily accepted a new role for Nucor as a developmental district sales manager in Birmingham, Alabama.

“I am in awe at how much knowledge and success I have consumed in the past eight months,” she said.

Esam Sartawi headshot
‘Using data to make a real impact in the business world’
MSBA graduate sharpens business analytics skills

Esam Sartawi paired his undergraduate computer skills with the Master of Science in Business Analytics analytical skills to hopefully one day become a data scientist. 

Sartawi, who chose to enroll in the Moore School’s MSBA program after completing his USC B.S. in computer science in 2023, is a first-generation immigrant of Palestine and worked for his family’s convenience store business while he was an undergraduate and while he was in the MSBA. 

Born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, Sartawi says enrolling in the MSBA program was an easy decision for him based on the reputation the Moore School has built around emphasizing business analytics.

“The MSBA program really caught my eye as a computer science undergrad because it offered a perfect mix of technical know-how and interpersonal skills development,” he said. “I loved the idea of diving deep into analytics while also learning how to effectively communicate and collaborate with others in a business setting. It felt like the ideal combination for me, aligning perfectly with my career goals of using data to make a real impact in the business world.”

He said the MSBA’s real strength is teaching hands-on learning and providing individual attention for students.

“It's all about practical experience and making sure everyone gets the support they need to thrive,” he said.

Through the MSBA program, Sartawi was able to gain an immense understanding of Python, a type of business analytics application that involves programming and coding. He said he was able to sharpen his technical skills — what he calls a “game-changer.”

“During the program, I delved into Python and really honed my technical skills, finding it incredibly rewarding,” Sartawi said. “Learning Power BI was a game-changer; it gave me a whole new perspective on presenting data effectively.”

He also valued his Quantitative Methods class with Professor Hendrix, clinical assistant professor in the Moore School for the Department of Management Science.

“Quantitative Methods with (clinical assistant professor) Leslie Hendrix was a standout course for me. I found it helpful for getting the hang of R and Excel, plus it was surprisingly fun and hands-on,” Sartawi said. “Professor Hendrix made it all straightforward and kept things interesting, which made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable.”

Sartawi said his professors and classmates made his time at the Moore School even more meaningful.

“One thing that really stuck with me from my program was getting to meet new friends,” he said. “It was pretty cool connecting with people from all sorts of backgrounds who were chasing similar goals. Those friendships made everything a lot more enjoyable and gave me a solid crew to lean on when things got tough.”

His advice for incoming students is to embrace challenges and be prepared for a demanding but rewarding course load.

“Get ready for a challenge; not every class will be easy,” Sartawi said. “You might face some tough moments and need to work hard to grasp the material. But that's just how learning goes. Keep pushing, and you'll get there.”

After graduation, he plans to take some time off. His eventual career goals are to establish a profession in data analytics and eventually grow into data science. 

“I'm planning to take a month off to travel with my friends, possibly to South America,” Sartawi said. “It seems like a good way to unwind and recharge before jumping into what's next— I would like to start my career in data analytics and gradually move into a data science role.”

Muhammad Shahzaib headshot
From a small town in Pakistan to USC
MSBA student leaves his Pakistani roots to study business analytics at the Moore School

Muhammad Shahzaib (’24 Master of Science in Business Analytics) says that the drastic contrast in environments between his small town of Sargodha, Pakistan, and the metropolitan state capital of Columbia, South Carolina, has been an “eye-opening experience” in his personal and professional endeavors.

“Transitioning from a small town in Pakistan to the University of South Carolina has been a remarkable journey that has not only shaped my academic and personal growth, but also my sense of resilience and adaptability that I carry with me every day,” Shahzaib said. “The opportunity to learn and grow in such a diverse and dynamic setting has been invaluable, and meeting people from all walks of life, experiencing different cultures and forming meaningful connections has broadened my perspective.”

Shahzaib said he chose the Moore School of Business because of its great reputation and excellent faculty.

“The Moore School offered me a scholarship and a graduate assistantship, which were compelling factors, highlighting the school's commitment to student success,” he said. “Additionally, the courses offered in the program perfectly aligned with what I want to pursue in my career.”

Shahzaib said the Moore School faculty who taught his MSBA courses have challenged him academically while also providing support.

“I've been fortunate to receive support and guidance from several professors throughout my time at the Darla Moore School of Business,” he said. “Each faculty member has contributed uniquely to my academic journey, offering valuable insights and knowledge that have enriched my learning experience. Whether through their engaging lectures, insightful feedback or willingness to assist outside of class, I've had the opportunity to learn and grow under their mentorship.”

Along with his encouraging professors, Shahzaib said he formed special bonds with his classmates.

“As I look back on my university experience, one of the most memorable aspects has been the friendships I formed, both in class and beyond,” Shahzaib said. “These connections have been sources of support and encouragement throughout my academic journey, making my time at the university incredibly enjoyable. The sense of community at the Moore School has left a lasting impression on me.”

Shahzaib said he also enjoyed participating in a two-month-long stock investing activity in one of his classes.

“Not only was it an enjoyable experience, but it also provided invaluable lessons and insights into the world of finance and investing,” he said.

In addition to his notable memories inside the classroom, Shahzaib admits that attending a football game at Williams-Brice Stadium was “unlike anything he’s ever experienced before.”

“The electrifying energy, the roar of the crowd and the entire experience with friends was truly unforgettable,” Shahzaib said. “The thrill of cheering for our team created an atmosphere that was absolutely exhilarating, and when the Gamecocks emerged victorious, the joy and celebration that ensued made it one of the best moments of my university experience.”

Shahzaib says that it was important for him to cherish each moment, as this chapter of life is unique and will never come again.

“I urge younger students to embrace every opportunity to connect with others and expand their networks,” said Shahzaib. “The university and the Moore School community have much to offer, whether it's academic, social or extracurricular activities, so take the initiative to meet new people, join clubs or organizations and participate in campus events.”

From Pakistan to South Carolina, Shahzaib is truly “broadening his perspective in ways he never imagined possible.”

Muhammad Shahzaib headshot
Aspiring to enhance life for others 
MSBA student benefits from learning a combination of soft and hard skills 

Wesley Sweatt, a Rock Hill, South Carolina, native is beginning his career focusing his expertise garnered from the Master of Science in Business Analytics program to make life better for Americans.

“I want to have an influence on the people around me and set an example for others while simultaneously serving the community and making life easier for U.S. citizens,” he said.

Sweatt will begin his career working as an accounting and business intelligence analyst for Corvid Technologies. Corvid Technologies is an engineering and technology firm that specializes in U.S. defense contracting, so he will be focused on analyzing and automating financial statements, allowing for more efficient processing and helping employees save time and energy. 

His work will enable Corvid to solve complex business problems and implement new contracts faster, which bolsters the U.S.’s overall defense capabilities.

Preparing him to take on such an important role, Sweatt initially enrolled in the MSBA program to prepare for the workforce. He says after being in the program, his priorities quickly shifted.

“When I first enrolled, I would say my priority was to prepare myself for the workforce,” Sweatt said. “Later in the program, I shifted to challenge myself mentally and learn skills that would set me apart from most job applicants.”

One of the moments that helped shift his perspective and priorities in the program was during his first semester.

“During my first semester, I learned how to prioritize my work. I used to get away with procrastination, but I quickly realized that was not possible in the MSBA program,” he said.

While Sweatt admits to hastily learning how to switch gears to a more priority-focused work ethic, he remembers feeling pressure during his first few semesters in the program.

“I remember feeling overwhelmed during the first fall term due to my overconfidence and procrastination,” he said.

More skills Sweatt garnered in the MSBA program included logic and reasoning skills. While many students don’t take into consideration the aspects outside of the rigorous curriculum, the reasoning skills MSBA students learn set them apart in the workforce. 

“I learned multiple technical and logical reasoning skills that I will apply in my job and everyday life,” he said.

Sweatt said he was impressed with the MSBA curriculum and found value in each of the courses, especially the practicum project. 

“For a favorite class, picking one is difficult, but my favorites included Risk Management with (finance professor) Greg Niehaus, Investment Management with (finance associate professor) Chao Jiang, and the MSBA Practicum Project with (MSBA managing director and management science lecturer) Ross Bagley,” Sweatt said. “They all challenged me to think critically and logically about solutions to problems.”

Despite learning many new skills, Sweatt acknowledges he does not have all the answers. He encourages incoming students to lean into making mistakes.

“When I first enrolled in the program, I wish I knew it was OK to be wrong,” he said. “Nobody knows everything, and mistakes are great teachers, so do not be afraid to make them.”

Along with a newfound mindset and the knowledge acquired from the MSBA program, Sweatt credits the lifelong friends he made through his classmates in the program for making his experience at the Moore School so meaningful.

“I have built relationships I plan on keeping well after graduation. They all challenged me to think critically and logically about solutions to problems,” he said.

When thinking of advice he’d give to new students entering the program, he encourages them to always ask questions.

“Do not be afraid to ask questions,” he said. “If you are thinking of a question, you should ask it, because if you do not, you will wish you did later.”

Upon graduation, Sweatt shared the one key thing he got from the Moore School was the opportunity to learn from passionate faculty.

“I got an opportunity to learn from professors who thoroughly enjoy teaching their subject of expertise,” he said. “Each professor did a great job of creating engaging classrooms that fostered growth opportunities.”

Questions and answers with military/veteran students

Connor Freeman headshot

Hometown: Columbia, SC 
Major: Finance
Rank (to be) and Service: U.S. Navy ensign
Military Specialty: Student naval aviator

What’s next? I will be reporting to NAS Pensacola this summer to start Naval Introductory Flight Evaluation.
Career goals for time in service? My goal in the Navy is to become a winged aviator and become the best possible leader in the world’s best fighting force.  

How has the Moore School and USC prepared you for your military career and what skills did you learn that you will apply in your next role? The Moore School has helped me learn how to work effectively with a diverse team. I look forward to working closely with other aviators and providing the management skills that DMSB has taught me.

Katie McMenamin photo

Home Town: Middletown, DE
Major: Business administration and marketing 
Rank (to be) and Service: U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant  
Military Specialty: Ordnance 

What’s next? Next, I will go to Cadet Summer Training as a cadre to facilitate training and logistics. I will go to Fort Greg-Adams to attend Basic Officer Leader Course to learn how to be an ordinance officer and develop my career in the U.S. Army. Upon graduation from BOLC, I will be stationed at Fort Cavazos, Texas, where I will be a platoon leader in the 1st Cavalry division. 

Career goals for time in service? During my time in the Army, I aim to develop leadership skills and gain valuable experience in teamwork, ultimately contributing to my future career success. Additionally, I aspire to further my education through military training programs to enhance my professional qualifications. Throughout my service, I seek to embrace the camaraderie and brotherhood that the army embodies. I hope to make a lasting impact on other soldiers and to earn options to achieve more in the Army. 

How has the Moore School and USC prepared you for your military career and what skills did you learn that you will apply in your next role? The Darla Moore School of Business at USC provided me with a solid foundation in critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills, which are crucial in the military. Through coursework and extracurricular activities, I honed my leadership abilities and learned to adapt quickly to new challenges. These skills will serve me well in my next role by helping me navigate complex situations and work effectively with diverse teams.

William Swiber photo

Hometown: Cedar Point, NC
Major: Finance
Rank (to be) and Service: Ensign in the U.S. Navy
Military Specialty: Student naval aviator

What’s next? I will be moving to Pensacola, Florida in the Fall to begin Naval Flight School.  

Career goals for time in service? My career goals are to become a fixed-wing naval aviator, a leader among my peers and a mentor to my junior sailors.

How has the Moore School and USC prepared you for your military career and what skills did you learn that you will apply in your next role? While in the Moore School, I learned how to manage my time effectively, work with others to achieve a common goal and polish my public-speaking and presentation skills.  I look forward to being able to utilize these skills as an active-duty naval officer.  

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Hometown: Blythewood, SC
Major: Management/Human Resources 
Rank (to be) and Service: U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant
Military specialty: Communications 

What's next? Signal School at Fort Eisenhower

Career goals for time in service: Achieve the rank of Major

How has the Moore School and USC prepared you for your military career and what skills did you learn that you will apply in your next role? The Moore School has helped me develop organizational leaderships skills, professional writing and fostering effective teams in the workplace.

Kyla Walker also participated in the Rising Scholars program during her four years at USC.
Why did you choose to be a part of the Rising Scholars program? To meet other in-state business students with exceptional talent. 
How has the program helped you this year?  The program has provided information on many events for job exploration, internships and peer mentoring opportunities.

How do you think it has helped you during your time at USC and the Moore School? During freshman and sophomore year, the tutoring services offered were critical to my academic success. I got an opportunity to learn with other people my age as well as older students.

Why would you recommend this program to an incoming student? I would 100% recommend this program! It’s easy to get lost in such a large university, so this program helps keep you grounded and jumpstart your networking skills.

Have you participated in any internships/jobs during your time at USC? If so, what experiences have you gained from them? I had a summer internship through the Army ROTC program and got great recommendations for local internships. 

Justin Wrona photo

Hometown: Glenview, IL
Major: Operations and supply chain
Rank (to be) and Service: U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant
Military specialty: Engineer, branch detail Armor

What's next: This summer I will assist in advising and training future leaders at Cadet Summer Training. After that, I'll be going to Fort Moore for Armor Basic Officer Leader Course.

Career goals for time in service: While in the service, I would like to try for pathfinder school.

How has the Moore School and USC prepared you for your military career and what skills did you learn that you will apply in your next role? The Darla Moore School of Business, and specifically my major, has taught me a lot on how to manage systems, workflow and people. It has made me more comfortable with public speaking and has helped me find out what type of leader I am.

Questions and answers with undergraduate students

Reid Chafin photo

Major: International business and management
Minor: German
Hometown: Aiken, South Carolina

What you learned about yourself as a Moore School student: I have grown so much more in my cultural communication skills within the Moore School by meeting like-minded individuals from all over the U.S. and the world. Through the Study Abroad Cohort program, I received an amazing opportunity to study and travel around the world, and I realized how important experiential learning is to me in my lifelong learning journey.

Favorite memory: After coming back from my first semester abroad, I showed my friends from other countries around the city of Columbia to experience what it is like to study in the U.S.! Throughout the semester, we had coffee chats with the other cohorts, and I had so much fun learning and comparing our class’s experiences with the other generations of students.

Advice for incoming students: Surround yourself with your passions, interests and friends. From the moment you step on campus and within the Moore School, you will have more opportunities than ever before to meet people, try new things and explore areas you may know nothing about, but getting involved will begin to define you as you approach life after graduation.

What’s next: Analyst within the Corporate Workplace and Solutions division at Goldman Sachs in Dallas, Texas.

Louis Colon photo

Major: Operations and supply chain management
Concentrations: Business analytics, sustainability 
Hometown: Summerville, South Carolina 

What you learned about yourself as a Moore School student: As a student at the Moore School, I have learned how to prioritize what matters to me most and adapt to new situations. Additionally, the diverse environment enhanced my communication skills and taught me how to be more open minded. 

Favorite memory: A favorite memory from my time at the Moore School is not tied to a single event, but rather the fall of 2023 in its entirety as it stands out as my most fulfilling semester. During this time, I was actively involved in the leadership of the Supply Chain Operations Excellence Club (SCOPE), trained for a sprint triathlon and managed to balance my coursework effectively. 

Advice for incoming students: Try to open doors that may look closed. Actively engage in opportunities that seem beyond your reach and embrace challenges to step out of your comfort zone to fully enrich your academic and personal journey at the Moore School.

What’s next: Joining ABB's Discovery Manufacturing Operations Rotational Program through a two-year rotation.

Colby Dennis photo

Major: Finance and international business
Minor: Spanish
Hometown: Lake Norman, North Carolina 

What you learned about yourself as a Moore School student: I have learned how to become a better leader and discovered different ways to grow personally and professionally.

Favorite memory: Having the opportunity to study abroad in Helsinki, Finland, during my spring semester of junior year because I was able to make friends from all over the world, learn about the Nordic lifestyle and see the Northern Lights!

Advice for incoming students: Take every opportunity that comes your way and don’t be afraid to try new things that push you outside of your comfort zone.

What’s next: Starting a finance career at Lowe's in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Jordan Fowler photo

Major: Finance and computer science
Hometown: Charleston, South Carolina

What you learned about yourself as a Moore School student: During my time as a Moore School student, I learned that consistently working hard, performing high-quality work and learning from my mistakes means that nothing is impossible, so dream big!

Favorite memory: In my sophomore year, I was gratefully admitted into the Carolina Finance Scholars program. During our first case study assignment in the Moore School's Trading Lab, I stayed up all night with several other members to complete it. Through this experience, I found other students who shared my academic and intellectual interests. Not surprisingly, the individuals I collaborated with on the case would go on to become some of my closest friends at USC.

Advice for incoming students: Nurture your curiosity by questioning the status quo and through exploring the reasons behind established processes and the motivations driving people's actions.

What’s next: During my time at the Moore School, I founded Shaw Circle, a hedge fund aimed at democratizing alternative finance in South Carolina. After graduation, I intend to build upon the foundation laid during my time at Moore School. Continuing as CEO, I will focus on growing our asset base, building our team and enhancing our suite of machine learning and quantum technologies to ensure we deliver the best possible investment service that we can offer.

Max Johnson photo

Majors: Finance and risk management and insurance
Business analytics
Lexington, Kentucky

What you learned about yourself as a Moore School student: The Moore School helped me find what I was passionate about and helped me find the best path for my own personal growth.

Favorite memory: My favorite memory from the Moore School is going to the Gamma Iota Sigma conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was a great opportunity to meet employers and get closer with my peers.

Advice for incoming students: Take advantage of all the resources that you have at hand, especially your professors. Their insight and connections can be incredibly helpful for the job search process.

What’s next? I am moving to Atlanta, Georgia, to become a wholesale insurance broker in professional lines.

Madison Lee photo

Major: Marketing
Minor: Sport and Entertainment Management
Hometown: Covington, Georgia

What you learned about yourself as a Moore School student: I learned how to balance the things I want to do versus the things I need to do, and I feel like that has benefitted not only present day me but will also be a useful skill moving forward. Sometimes there is a lot of things going on — whether it's school, work, student organizations or even a social life — but there's not always enough time in the day.

Favorite memory: The women's basketball team winning the 2022 NCAA National Championship. My friends and I were attending a watch party in the Russell House Theater, and I vividly remember the cheering and screams coming from all parts of campus followed by all of campus rushing to the fountain outside of the Thomas Cooper Library. The amount of school spirit was overwhelming, and that day made me feel so proud to be a Gamecock.

Advice for incoming students: Be open minded. College is a time to try new things, make mistakes and learn from them. Whether that's taking interesting classes, changing your major (once or maybe a few times), or the student organizations you join, USC has so many opportunities for students to explore and take advantage of. Personally, I never thought I would work at the Masters golf tournament, one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world, but I learned to say yes to opportunities that presented themselves.

What’s next: Pursuing a Master of Science in Marketing at Georgia State University in fall of 2024.

Louis Minning photo

Major: Accounting, international business, operations and supply chain management
Hometown: Saint Davids, Pennsylvania

What you learned about yourself as a Moore School student: I learned the value in trying new things and having the courage to take an unexplored or challenging path. Gathering a fortune of experiences in college, both positive and negative, will provide me benefits for many years.

Favorite memory: The many international business outreach events I attended, including camping trips at Lake Murray, dirt track racing, movie nights, a haunted house, apple picking and a cleanup and tour of the Congaree National Park. These were culturally immersive, fun and a great way to meet new people, including international students who attended the events to experience American culture.

Advice for incoming students: Build meaningful and lasting relationships with your professors. My Moore School professors have written me recommendations for scholarships, improved my resume, referred me to a company for internships or invited me to special events just because I invested time getting to know them.

What’s next: Joining Textron's two-year rotational leadership development program in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

Olivia Senlinger photo

Major: Business economics and finance
Minor: Political science
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

What you learned about yourself as a Moore School student: I have learned that I enjoy learning more about topics through research projects. Through working on several outside organizations through Moore School research projects, I loved learning more about how the economic research process works. 

Favorite memory: Presenting and earning a Discover USC Certificate of Excellence through my research project on graduate retention in Columbia, South Carolina.

Advice for incoming Moore School students: Be curious and ask questions. There are a plethora of different parts to the business world, and there is always something new to learn or a fresh perspective to consider.  

What’s next: Working at Barings as a high yield analyst in Charlotte, North Carolina.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.