It is hard to believe that three years have already passed since that blazing hot day in Columbia, SC. They say there are certain moments that change the complete trajectory of your life. There is no doubt in my mind that my future was completely impacted the day I decided to attend the University of South Carolina.
I’ll be honest, although Columbia is only 90 minutes from home, USC was never on my radar until my senior year of high school. I dated someone a year older than me who went to USC, so I had the advantage of being able to visit Columbia often. I knew the lay of the land, knew the cool places to live and hangout, how football games worked, where you could easily use a fake ID and what fraternities threw the best parties. While dating long distance was tough, I made the decision to go to Carolina in the fall. Things would be easier when we were finally in the same town. It seemed devastating at the time, but my boyfriend and I broke up the summer before I was supposed to head down to school. Looking back, it was the best thing that could have ever happened. I was free to make my own friends, form my opinions, and learn things on my own. I never regretted “following” him (although the decision was ultimately one that I made independently of him being there) to a school, because it led me down the greatest four-year journey of my life.
Although it seemed like I blinked and four years passed, I grew up and grew in to the person I am today. College is a challenging environment. It’s a balance of freedom and discipline. Free will and discovery. There are parts of college I regret (like the drinking ticket, endless parking tickets, overkill on the Dr. Rocco’s slushies, having to retake calculus). There were tough moments too. Like experiencing the death of a friend for the first time. And the Ocean Isle 7 whose lives were cut way too short. I can look back and smile though knowing that the times of challenge and poor choices helped to mold me into who I am today.
The regrets are few and far between. They are easy to bury when I think of all the wonderful things that happened. The friendships I made that are priceless. The girls that I met through my sorority who are lifelong friends that I know will be by my side until my dying day. I think about them often, and wish it was as easy as driving up to Delta house for lunch to see them again. I think of the pride I feel when I get to exclaim to people I attended to THE University of South Carolina. I think of the “Year of the Gamecock” (2010) when we beat #1 Kentucky in basketball, #1 Alabama in football, and won the College World Series in baseball. I think of my class ring and Carolina license plate that allows me to represent the school from afar. I think of the connections I’ve made being able to serve on the Board of Directors for the Charlotte Alumni Association. I think of the conversations I am able to stir up with the man sitting next to me on the airplane whose wearing a USC shirt.
Today marks 3 years since I walked across the stage and shook hands with Dr. Harris Pastides. I remember feeling such a sense of accomplishment but also being scared to death for what was next. The first few months were in fact scary. It was a difficult transition period where life was expected to change drastically and I was expected to become a grown-up. There were moments of confusion on where do I fit in. I was wearing a suit and going to work, but felt like I belonged more in a sorority t-shirt on a porch somewhere. I finally feel like I am where I’m supposed to be. I am proud of where I am today. I am thankful that I am employed by a stable and growing company. I am lucky to have the group of friends and family that I do. I feel stable and like I belong. Above all, I am blessed that I made the decision to join the lifelong family of The University of South Carolina.
Forever To Thee!