As the December Class of 2023 prepares to walk across the commencement stage, graduates leave the University of South Carolina with memories of enduring friendships, newfound passions, supportive mentors and life-changing experiences.
We reached out to undergraduate and graduate students across the university and asked them to share some of what made their Carolina experience special. Here are just a few of their stories.
Meet Our Graduates
Major: Public health
Hometown: Orlando, Fla.
Katie Torbert (left), her brother, Jackson, and sister, Emma, a member of the cross country team, all attended USC together in Fall 2023.
How USC changed my life: USC has continually presented opportunities where I have been able to find moments of growth that have culminated over three years. These moments have also defined my passions in life. Whether it be through the pivotal moments of being involved with USC Dance Marathon or through my academic course work, I have been driven to inspire change in the next generation and make a difference in others’ lives.
Advice for incoming students: Let your passions guide you to get involved and find your “home away from home” on Carolina’s campus. Even if you are still learning what you are passionate about, there are so many ways to uncover hidden passions that will springboard you to success.
What played a key role in my success: USC Dance Marathon has been the most influential organization throughout my undergraduate years. I would not be where I am today without my USC Dance Marathon advisor, Courtney Buzan. She has not only inspired me to become a better leader, but a better human.
A favorite memory: If I had to select one, I would choose the first day of classes in August 2023. My sister started at South Carolina as a freshman this fall, and my older brother, Jackson, and I began the final semester of our time at South Carolina. It has been so special to spend this last semester with both of my siblings by my side, since the three of us have never been in the same school at the same time. It has been such a special experience being in Columbia with both of them, and the memories from this fall will last a lifetime.
What’s next: I am applying to graduate school to pursue my master’s degree in speech language pathology.
Major: Public health, South Carolina Honors College
Hometown: Walhalla, S.C.
Anne Kowalski studied physical activity infrastructure in Copenhagen and Amsterdam on a study abroad trip with the Honors College.
How USC changed my life: The most important part of how my time at USC has changed my entire life is the people I met along the way. Specifically, my exposure to professionals within research, professors who made time to help me, peers I could look up to, and friends who support me in all I do has significantly affected my 3.5 years here. I will carry these experiences and relationships into my life beyond college.
Advice for incoming students: Say yes to as much as possible and actively seek opportunities for things that excite you. I would not be the person I am today without the relationships I have made and the things I have experienced through all I found within each organization and activity I participated in at USC.
What I’ve learned about myself: I have learned the importance of putting myself into the world to gain rich experiences. My involvement in Alpha Delta Pi, the Technology and Behavioral Intervention Lab, going to Denmark and the Netherlands for a Maymester, and leadership in other local ministries has afforded me countless opportunities and personal growth.
What played a role in my success: Alpha Delta Pi-Beta Epsilon. Being part of a chapter of 450 uplifting, encouraging and compassionate girls has given me the support system I did not know I needed. In addition to my outside activities, my sisters in Alpha Delta Pi have supported my development as an officer and then as a member of the executive board as the director of academic affairs.
What’s next: I am planning to attend a doctoral program for occupational therapy. I hope one day to be a part of research and academia to have a fraction of the impact on future students that my professors and mentors have had on me.
Major: Mechanical engineering
Hometown: Ridgeland, S.C.
Kaleb Frazier credits his success at USC to TRIO, the Gamecocks football program and his fraternity.
How USC changed my life: It has given me a wider worldview and opened the doors to more opportunities, and I will always be grateful to the University of South Carolina.
Advice for incoming students: Don't procrastinate. Take advantage of the resources available. Put forth the effort to make college work for you. Anything worth having is worth working for. Persistence is critical.
What has played a role in my success: The TRIO Opportunity Scholar Program taught me to embrace challenges and persevere in adversity. This program has taught me that my hometown and background should not limit my potential but serve as sources of strength and motivation. Moreover, being a part of the football program and the Zeta Epsilon Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Inc. has provided me with invaluable opportunities to showcase my abilities, build character and foster meaningful connections within my community.
A favorite memory: I was making a tackle in the Spring 2022 game and heard my name amplified throughout Williams-Brice Stadium.
What’s next? With my technical skills and knowledge, I am confident in my ability to contribute to any organization in the mechanical engineering industry.
Henry Adam Caver
Major: MBA and master of sport and entertainment management
Hometown: Nashville, Tenn.
Henry Adam Caver at his work-study position in the Austrian Alps.
How USC changed my life: I arrived at South Carolina with an acute interest in sport business, so the university physically placed me in front of industry leaders. I was given the opportunity to apply my studies with Green Jackets at the Masters, NFL executives at SoFi Stadium, FIFA officials at the Gold Cup and team owners in the Austrian Alps. I leave South Carolina with two postgraduate degrees and a range of hard skills like regression analysis to soft skills like leadership.
Advice for incoming students: Enjoy freshman year because there is a reason for the University's No. 1 ranking for first-year experience. Before sophomore year, map out the rest of your academic requirements. Take summer classes. Your credits will add up quickly if you are intentional. When your time is winding down, ask the professor in your favorite class to recommend a postgraduate program.
What played a role in my success: Professor Todd Koesters led our team of Master’s in Sport and Entertainment Management (MSEM) students to our field's most competitive case competition, the National Sports Forum in Los Angeles.
A favorite memory: I was a graduate assistant for Dr. Catherine Gustafson and Professor Jessica Chavis of the Golf Tourism program, which sent over 700 students to work at the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in 2023. I spent the school year managing data for the club and developing course material for the students, so it was an amazing experience to join them in Augusta that April to produce one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world.
What’s next: The MSEM program entails a three-month work-study, so I have been the country manager at a sport finance startup called Fan Owned Club. We provide the experience of owning a European soccer club to the common fan. I am based in the Austrian Alps at FC Pinzgau Saalfelden.
Major: Finance and Entrepreneurship, South Carolina Honors College
Hometown: Lake Norman, N.C.
Taylor Marshall traveled to Vancouver, Canada for the International Investment Banking Competition.
How USC changed my life: During my first year of college, I had a personal mission to involve myself in a variety of organizations. As the president of Gamecock Consulting Club, I gained hands-on professional experience, particularly while leading teams to take home national titles for USC and crafting new programs that will continue to expand. My involvement in philanthropic organizations, Greek life and academic programs such as Carolina Finance Scholars, has cultivated a solid leadership foundation, strengthened team-oriented skills and diversified my community.
Advice for incoming students: As I first stepped into the Honors dorm, I was excited by the breadth of opportunities presented to me through the Moore School, Honors College and USC. I sought the advice of those around me, filling my schedule with office-hours visits and many coffee chats with accomplished seniors. My advice to incoming students is to recognize the value of mentorship and networking early in your college career — seeking advice in all decision making, which can open doors to opportunities you may have never even dreamed possible.
What played a key role in my success: The Top Scholars program and community certainly played a key role in my success at Carolina. My acceptance to the Stamps Scholars Program not only provided me with a full-tuition scholarship, but it also offered an experiential-learning enrichment fund, a community of equally dedicated peers and an extraordinary staff of immediate mentors in my corner. This reward for a commitment to academic excellence, leadership and service is much more than just a monetary value, it has enriched my academic experience beyond the four walls of the classroom in the Moore School, Honors College and beyond.
What’s next: I will travel and spend time with family in Charleston prior to starting investment banking full time in July 2024 in Charlotte, N.C.
Major: Criminology and criminal justice
Hometown: Graniteville, S.C.
Hip Hop Wednesday is one of the top things Caley Bright will miss about USC.
How USC changed my life: The University of South Carolina has provided me with so many opportunities to mentor and serve people in my community. I have made so many relationships with peers and faculty that I know will last a lifetime. The University of South Carolina will always be my home.
Advice for incoming students: Try something new. I have learned that you do not grow unless you are uncomfortable. If you do not step out of your comfort zone you will not be setting yourself up for success because you are going to be more likely to revert back to old habits. College is about finding out who you are and finding your purpose. I was able to do this by experiencing life through all the opportunities that made me uncomfortable.
What I’ve learned about myself: The most important thing that I have learned is relationship building. Building strong relationships with people opens your world up for you to grow. I have been able to build relationships with people in the Carolina community and it has made my college experience 10 times easier.
What played a key role in my success: The NAACP at USC is where I grew into a strong leader. I was able to collaborate with different groups across campus, university administrators and state leaders. The NAACP was something that I was passionate about being a part of and it taught me that using your voice will ignite change and awareness.
What’s next: Moving to our nation's capital, Washington, D.C., to serve our country in some capacity. I will use my gap year of public service to get ready for law school.
Major: Master in strategic communication management
Hometown: Radford, Va.
Erin Newman worked full time for the university while earning her master’s degree.
How USC changed my life: When I left undergrad at Virginia Tech, I knew I wanted to continue my education while working full-time. I applied to positions at multiple universities, but I had always wanted to attend USC and was hopeful when a job posted I could see myself in. Luckily, USC took a chance on me and I could not be more grateful. USC has not only made me a well-rounded candidate for future endeavors, but it has also provided me with lifelong connections. I’ve found my passions here, my soon-to-be husband, and most importantly, my home.
Advice for incoming students: USC puts so much time and effort into student events and community. Go to every event. Listen to every professional development lecture. Absorb it all like a sponge. One day you’ll be reminiscing about these things and it’s a shame to let these experiences go to waste.
What I’ve learned about myself: I can do hard things. I can work full-time and get my master’s because of how passionate and supportive the USC community is. When you have a village behind you rooting you on, those hard things become a little less scary.
What helped me succeed: The USC social media team has been my rock. They’ve pushed me forward and helped me reach new heights.
A favorite memory: My very first First Night Carolina was incredible. Giddy freshman awkwardly attempting to make their friends, laughing and Sandstorming all the way to Greene Street where excited conversations filled the air until fireworks called everyone home. I had never experienced something so amazing that made me excited to be at USC and be a part of this community.
What’s next: I will continue to work full time for the university and will be applying to the Mass Comm Ph.D. program to hopefully research AI and visual communication.
Hometown: Travelers Rest, S.C.
Brandon Scruggs and friends rushed the field at Williams-Brice Stadium when South Carolina defeated Tennessee.
How USC changed my life: Its lively campus welcomed me with open arms, exposing me to a world of fresh viewpoints and ideas that deepened my awareness of the outside world. I was pushed to think critically and participate in serious conversation by the intellectually engaging atmosphere at USC, which helped me to overcome my preconceptions and broaden my horizons. In addition, the institution gave me amazing chances to take part in internships, which enabled me to put what I had learned in the classroom into practice.
Advice for incoming students: You do not have to wait until your upperclassmen years to start making your mark. College is not just about attending classes and earning a degree; it's about personal growth, networking and building a foundation for your future. Your freshman year is one of, if not the most, important years of your college career. Take chances and take advantage of the resources the university offers. Set yourself apart by grabbing an internship your freshman year, joining that club you have been considering, or applying for an on-campus leadership position.
What I’ve learned about myself: I learned that I am important and valued in the professional world. As I committed myself in a variety of extracurricular and academic activities, I developed my talents, became more self-assured and recognized that mentors and peers valued my unique perspectives and contributions. As a first-generation college student I feared that I would have a disadvantage, but I quickly found that this gave me a uniqueness.
What’s next: I plan on attending law school and receiving my J.D.