Alumna Spotight: Paula Novacki, `14
Ever wondered what life after graduation will look like? Meet Paula Novacki!
Being a Gamecock is still part of the identity of Anne Rusinak ’10. Rusinak is the chair of the UofSC Alumni Association’s New York City club and has taken her passion for her alma mater to cultivate a strong Gamecock presence in the city.
The motivation to become involved with the New York City Gamecocks came from Rusinak’s desire to establish connections in the city. When she first moved to New York, Rusinak had been out of the country for four years and was personally looking to get involved someway and joined a group of Gamecocks at the Mason Jar for a South Carolina game viewing. That small engagement was the catalyst that inspired Rusinak to get involved.
“I am, by nature a ‘yes” person when it comes to contributing to a cause or getting involved in activities, so it sounded right up my alley and a natural fit because I wanted to serve a group that meant something to me,” Rusinak says.
As chair of the club, Rusinak is frequently creating meaningful experiences for Gamecocks in the area and fostering a home away from home.
“I love that we have the opportunity to bring together alumni ranging from recent grads to some individuals who have been retired for nearly 20 years,” Rusinak says. “We have a lot of committed, supportive and loyal Gamecocks but still maintain a club that's unique to NYC - unique in the types of events we put on, the networking opportunities available and the diversity of both our members and community.”
Rusinak’s undergraduate experience at South Carolina helped prepare her for engaging with diverse groups of people.
“I don't think I realized its impact at the time, but coming from a suburban, middle-class New England ‘bubble’ where most of my peers went on to small liberal arts schools, South Carolina provided me with so many new and different perspectives and experiences,” she says. “Not only did I learn a lot academically, but I also grew a lot and the environment definitely shaped me - my personality, my views, everything.”
With a city bustling with more than 5,000 Gamecocks, Rusinak still values the personal connections she has the opportunity to establish with alumni all across the board.
“If I can help one person, I feel like that's one more way I can make an impact,” Rusinak says. “Each time someone takes the time to reach out and thank me for putting on an event, making a connection, helping them find a job or an apartment, or giving them something to do their first month in the city, it really does make all of the challenges, hard work, time and effort worth it.”
Representing her alma mater as club chair is something Rusinak is proud of based off the people she has the opportunity to bring together to weld a strong Gamecock community in the city.
As a member in the UofSC Alumni Association, Rusinak knows the strength that comes with connecting alumni back to their alma mater, supporting students and living out what “Forever to thee” means. Now she embraces the opportunity to create a space to engage alumni who want to reconnect after years or even for the first time, years after graduating.