Swanger award winner uses her drive for hard work to help others

Payton Ramsey of Hammond, Louisiana, has overcome a visual disability from childhood to become the first member of her family to attend college. The biological sciences major is also a member of the South Carolina Honors College who has spent her time at UofSC perfecting her leadership skills and expanding her mind through research.

For her efforts over her four years at South Carolina, Ramsey received the 2021 Steven N. Swanger Award, the university’s second-highest undergraduate honor. The award is named for a former president of Omicron Delta Kappa, which sponsors the university’s Awards Day. It is given to a graduating senior for exemplary leadership and for making significant contributions to the Carolina community.

“My experiences always drove me to work diligently in my own life in order to have the ability to help others defy their own despairing odds,” Ramsey says in her personal statement for the award. “Throughout my time at Carolina, I have learned that being ‘outstanding’ is the ability to advocate for others — especially by enabling them to hold a platform to have a voice for themselves.”

Ramsey is an inductee of Omicron Delta Kappa honorary leadership society and member of the National Leadership Society. She has been involved in student government for two years, serving on the Health and Wellness committee and as secretary of health and wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout my time at Carolina, I have learned that being ‘outstanding’ is the ability to advocate for others.

Swanger award winner Payton Ramsey

“As secretary, I was able to advocate for ways to maximize student health and Gamecock student experience while also expanding accessibility to mental health resources,” Ramsey says. “I was honored to be chosen for this position during such a crucial time.”

Also during the pandemic, Ramsey served as a student representative on Future Planning Groups as part of the university’s preparations for reopening and restarting campus activity.

In the community, she has been an active mentor and member of university President Bob Caslen’s mentoring initiative that matches UofSC students with local middle and high school students to encourage them in leadership, academics and research. Ramsey also volunteered more than 600 hours at the Free Medical Clinic in Columbia and plans to attend medical school after a year of studying abroad on a Fulbright scholarship.

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