University of South Carolina
BackgroundInterview Date:April 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: African American
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2020, but I’m doing a graduate program where I graduate in 2023
High School Experience: Public school in Chapin, SC with a graduating class of about 120 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First-Generation College Student: No
Major: Pharmacy – A 3+4 Pharmacy School Program.
Extracurricular Activities: I’m not really part of any extracurricular activities at USC. I feel that is something that’s important, so I’m hoping to change that next year.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
For the majority of science courses you’ll take, there are labs every week. The lab can range anywhere from 30-minutes to 2-hours depending on the experiment. Some days I come home and not do any work, but other days I’ll have two or three exams the next day, and I’ll stay up the majority of the night getting that done. Sometimes we’ll have two or three exams on the same day. This doesn’t happen that often, but it can, which will require more effort the week before, and it can be very stressful.
Is there anything that you feel the Pharmacy department does especially well or poorly?
The Pharmacy department is extremely organized. They’re always quick to respond to emails, and they have their own designated Blackboard page for pharmacy students. [Blackboard is a virtual learning environment]. They have so many resources to prepare for the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admissions Test), ways you can get involved on campus, and things you can do to get pharmacy jobs while you’re in school. They look out for their students.
How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
I would say it’s definitely collaborative. There are always groups of people studying together.
What is your favorite class you’ve taken for your major?
General Chemistry 1 and 2, just because I love Chemistry.
How accessible have the professors in your department been?
They have definitely been accessible. They’ll mention their office hours posted on the syllabus, but almost all of them will also say if these times don’t work for you, we can meet at a time that works for both of us.
Why did you pick Pharmacy? Are you happy with your choice?
I’m happy with my choice so far. One of the biggest reasons I chose to pursue pharmacy was because in the future I’m interested in living somewhere outside of the U.S. My plans were to go to P.A school, but that is not a profession that’s really recognized outside of the U.S. and Canada. I knew with what I want in the future, pharmacy was a lot more practical for me.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on and around campus?
I’ve lived at home with my family for the past three years, just like in high school.
How has being a commuter student impacted your experience?
I would recommend staying on campus for someone going into college. I feel that my experience would’ve been a lot better if I lived on campus, especially related to being involved in everything.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I think it’s safe. We have blue lights dispersed around campus. If anything happens you can call campus security, and they’ll be there in less than five minutes. I’ve never seen anyone use them, and haven’t used them myself.
Pros and cons of being located in Columbia, SC?
1) Despite what a lot of people think, I think there is a lot of stuff to do here. The Downtown area and the Vista [are nice places] to hang out around over the weekend.
2) I like where Columbia is. It’s not too far of a drive from Atlanta, and a lot of concerts are in Charlotte which isn’t too far either. We’re also not too far from Florida if you want to go to Miami over the summer.
3) It’s not that small, but it’s not such a big city that you never see the same people twice. [Columbia, SC has a population just over 825,000.]
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
Often times on the weekend my friends and I like to go out to eat and try different places Downtown and in the Vista. We’ll have movie nights at each other’s houses, but a lot of people love spending their weekends down in Five Points. There’s definitely stuff to do on the weekends.
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
A few times a year there are festivals downtown, like the Greek festival, the Colombian Festival, and different things like that. My friends and I always go to those. [See events happening in downtown Columbia.]
How happy are you with the weekend options at South Carolina? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m pretty happy with it, and there’s nothing I’d change.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I’ve known a lot of my closest friends since childhood because we grew up in Columbia.
How would you describe the social scene?
It’s a place where people can make a lot of friendships. There are a lot of different clubs and activities you can join, and people have found great matches for them.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I do notice that people generally stay with their own race. That’s not to say the mixing of different races never happens, but all the students from overseas like to stay together, all the Caucasian girls stay together, and things like that. [About 77% of students are White and 10% of students are African-American.]
How strong is the Black community on campus?
I think it’s a very strong community on campus. They all like to hang out together.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of South Carolina by senior year?
I think so. Honestly, a lot of people that go to USC have school pride.
How do you like the size of South Carolina? [South Carolina has about 26,360 undergraduates.]
Lately, it may be a little too big. Every year they say the incoming class is the biggest we’ve ever had, which is great, but I feel the campus is overpopulated and you have to wait 30-minutes in line for food, and there’s no parking. I hope in the future they won’t admit as many people.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I think so. After I switched to Pharmacy and was added to the page on Blackboard specifically designed for students, they had step by step guides on how to become a certified technician, along with different resources you can use to get jobs. In addition, I know the business school offers mock interviews for all students. If you have something coming up, they’ll help you prepare for the interview.
Have you used the career office at all? If so, how helpful have they been?
So far, I haven’t used the career office. After I start graduate school I might.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
I had to take a few labs from when I was a Biology major, so not only [did that involve] collecting data, it involved putting it in a clear and logical format. I learned to make graphs and tables in Excel. We worked with R some, and I didn’t know any of that stuff before.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how accommodating has the office been to your needs?
The office is as helpful as they can be. I think because there are so many students, not everyone can get a full ride. I won a Biology scholarship for $500 my sophomore year, and that helped some. [91% of freshman receive some form of financial aid.]
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about South Carolina before entering as a freshman?
I wish I would’ve known someone else who was a commuter student like me, and just talked to them about ways to still be involved while not living on or close to campus.
What is something a prospective Black student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
It’s a nice school with lots of opportunities, but they are certainly the minority. It’s not 50/50 at all. It’s a tight-knit community, but it’s very small.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Maybe drive around the downtown area. On the tours, they just go through the campus, but social life is a big part of college so I’d recommend driving around to see what you may be in to.
Reasons to attend South Carolina:
1) There’s a lot of resources to help you succeed.
2) Because it’s such a big school, you will find your people.
3) If you have a certain major in mind, USC probably offers it.
Reasons to not attend South Carolina:
1) If you’re more interested in a tight-knit community altogether, like seeing the same people twice and having your professor know your name, I would not recommend USC.
2) Class sizes are so huge, and I know some people can’t learn in that environment. [Class sizes can exceed 100 students.]
3) If you’re a commuter, traffic sucks. If you’re going to attend USC, I’d recommend staying on or close to campus.