Program Offers Incoming Freshmen a Head Start
Originally published on www.sc.edu
Passing the baton.
A runner nearing the end of his leg of a race coordinates his steps and arm movements with the next sprinter to seamlessly continue the competition. It takes confidence, teamwork and a genuine desire to see the other runner succeed.
This is the foundation for USC’s Pillars for Carolina. Upperclassmen take a week out of their summers to help incoming freshmen learn the ropes and what it means to be a Gamecock during an extended orientation program.
Students learn practical things: Where are my classes? How do I get into the Strom?
Fun things: What are the words to the fight song? Where does everyone hang out after class?
Important things: What does the Carolinian Creed mean? How does the honor system work?
Those in last year’s inaugural program say they were able to gain that all-important first week of experience before classes even started.
Pillars “helped kick-start my college career at USC,” said Alec Courtright, a sophomore majoring in environmental engineering who was part of the first class and who is returning to Pillars this summer as a mentor. “I knew where things were before everyone did. I knew about a lot of the clubs I could join. I also knew about the cheers, the USC fight song, so I didn’t look like a freshman at football games, so that was kind of cool.”
Courtright put his Pillars experience to good use and is involved in student government. He also is a member of the Cockappella singing group.
Pillars for Carolina is open to all incoming freshmen looking to be better prepared for the college experience. Organizers are limiting this year’s class to 100 as they continue to develop the program. But space is still available for the 2012 program, which will be held July 17-21.
“Based on the experience and knowledge we gained from our inaugural program last summer, we believe that 100 students is an ideal number of participants for this year,” said Mitchell Hammonds, executive director of the student-run Pillars for Carolina program. “This class size will allow each first-year student plenty of opportunity to connect with faculty, staff and student leaders as well as time to form lasting friendships with their classmates.
“We hope to increase the number of participants each year so that we can provide the Pillars experience to all freshmen who wish to take part in the program.”
For Hammonds, a junior studying visual communications, and so many of the students who run the program, Pillars is a vibrant legacy they hope to pass on to the next generation of student leaders.