Through kith and kin

UofSC has become Sam Wilson’s home away from home

For electrical engineering senior and first-generation college student Sam Wilson, family is everything. Both his family back home in North Charleston, South Carolina, and his newfound family here at the university have been an integral support system as he navigates his way to his bachelor’s degree. And, as a way of saying thank you, Wilson has become a mentor to younger students facing the same challenges.

“My family has played a huge role in my success here at USC. Without my parents supporting me financially, physically and emotionally, I would not be in my current position in college,” Wilson says. “At the same time, the University of South Carolina truly has been a second home for me. The support systems here to help you achieve your goal are as numerous as the inspirational individuals you will connect with.”

Through the Opportunity Scholars Program at South Carolina, Wilson had access to academic coursework, advisement and support that contributed to a strong foundation for success beginning in his freshman year. He was able to explore opportunities for academic development, mentoring and cultural enrichment. The program provided a “home base” that helped ease his transition to college and provided peers and mentors he could count on.

“I remember my freshman year, my mother would call me every morning before class to ask how I was holding up and if I was eating,” Wilson says. “My oldest sister is like a second mother to me. She frequently checks up on me. She ensures that I am calm, cool and collected while getting though the hardships that come with this journey.”

Wilson says when he first arrived on campus, he was unsure of himself as he was the type of person who kept to himself in high school and focused on his grades. “The thought of making new friends was definitely scary. However, by my second semester in college, I gained multiple mentors and friends and became involved in student organizations.”

The University of South Carolina truly has been a second home for me.

Sam Wilson, electrical engineering senior

Wilson’s campus involvement includes Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Brothers of Nubian Descent and the Brother to Brother Black Male Initiative. He also serves as a student-mentor for the Multicultural Assistance Peer Program. That program is part of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and helps first-year multicultural students transition to the university by providing them with a trained mentor for their critical first year. Wilson was drawn to the program, in part, because of its dedication to celebrating the cultural diversity of all students and the way the program works to establish positive academic, social and cultural networks. Participation from student-mentors like Wilson makes the program stronger and more vibrant.

The peer program is Wilson’s way of “paying it forward” to incoming students who find themselves in the shoes he once wore. Wilson credits Shay Malone, director of Multicultural Student Affairs, as an important person during his time at South Carolina.

“She has been a supportive and nurturing figure since my sophomore year,” Wilson says. “She has always created a safe haven for me and other students when we are stressing or going through problems or issues. Thanks to her being there for me through my worst and best times, I have become a knowledgeable student and a better-prepared adult.”

Whatever the future holds for Wilson, he is glad his time in college has been a success thanks, in part, to the encouragement and support he received here and from his family.

“University of South Carolina was the best choice for me financially, academically and personally. I am thankful for that choice every single day.”

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