Honors College senior Charlotte Ann Pollack did not let the pandemic stop her from excelling even when the worldwide shutdown significantly altered her plans.
The Fort Mill, South Carolina, native is one of two winners of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award — the university’s highest student honor.
A biochemistry and molecular biology major with a minor in Spanish, Pollack plans to be a cancer researcher. Her time at the University of South Carolina put her well on the way to a research career and helped her discover other passions as well.
“While I came into college with a plan, my time here was enriched by the unexpected,” Pollack says. “I planned to do cancer research but was fascinated by a neuroscience lab, with which I worked for four years and wrote my first publication.”
Her desire to bring “culturally competent health care to the underserved” was sparked by teaching English as a second language to refugees through the Carolina Survivor Clinic.
“When COVID-19 made health science internships and shadowing nearly impossible, I dug deeper into research, arts and service rather than lamenting lost opportunity,” she says. “That choice made me USC's first sophomore Goldwater winner.”
During her time at Carolina, Pollack served on the executive board of GlobeMed, organizing medical missions trips to rural areas and raising money for a health-care organization in India. She worked as an intern at Mercy Medical Center and shadowed Spanish language interpreters at Lexington Medical Center.
She also was a peer mentor at USC, giving presentations on national fellowships to University 101 classes.
While COVID did force many changes in her plans, she was able to replace those lost opportunities with equally fulfilling ones.
“My timeline got messed up, and that was OK,” Pollack says. “These necessary changes, while frustrating, led to unexpected benefits, not because I was lucky, but because I didn't give up.
“I proved to myself that I was adaptable, that I could forge new roads to success when ones I'd planned on taking were no longer available.”