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College of Social Work

Meet Alex Ruz, Class of 2023

Alex Ruz 

Major: Social work 

Hometown: Goose Creek, S.C. 

How the university changed my life 

Before coming to the University of South Carolina, I was a scared 18-year-old. I was scared of the world, I was scared of the future and I was scared of becoming an adult. I had no idea what to expect from the four years that were ahead of me. All I knew was that there was no going back, and that USC was going to be my home. I was not welcome to the idea, honestly. I did not even want to be in South Carolina anymore. But as months went by, I fell in love with everything that was the University of South Carolina. Years have gone by, and I am no longer a scared 18-year-old. USC has given me so many opportunities to grow and shine, and that is exactly what I have done. 

Advice for incoming students 

Everything, somehow, in some way, will work out in the end. Every little mistake, every little slip-up, every minor inconvenience, turns into an opportunity. It will turn into something completely unexpected. The thing about college is that there is so much room for growth and change that it is terrifying. Suddenly, you get thrown into an environment that you have never seen before and you will make decisions that scare you, that will change the trajectory of your entire life and you will want to run away. Don’t worry. 

Something I’ve learned about myself 

The most important thing that I have learned about myself in college is my gender identity and how I express it. During my freshman and sophomore years, I always knew there was something I was missing but I could never put a finger on it. It was not until the summer before my junior year was when I figured out that I was non-binary. I struggled with this realization for a while because I could not understand what it meant since I always identified as a woman, but it never felt right to say so. And it never felt right to say I was a man. But I learned that gender is just a social construct and that I did not need to be confined to a binary. With that in mind, I learned to love myself a little more and began dressing based on if I was feeling more feminine or more masculine. I am confident in my identity, and I hope the same for others who feel as though they have been in my shoes. College is about discovering who you are, and USC allowed me to do just that.  

What’s next?  

I plan to pursue my Master of Social Work at USC. 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.