Student Spotlight: Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith is a Junior at the College of Charleston studying Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. Smith is from Ellicott City, Maryland and when she took a tour of The College, she truly fell in love with how the campus and city made her feel like she was home. As she walks into her third year in Charleston, it has held up to her standards and then some. In particular, her summer internship greatly contributed to her growth both professionally and personally.

Over the summer, Smith completed a Social Media Internship with Camp Rise Above, a non-profit organization that caters to children of health, mental, and physical disability to allow them just to be kids. Camp Rise Above has overnight camps during the summer at the Camp Cole facility in Eastover, South Carolina where they can act as they wish with children just like them, catered to making them feel that nothing is out of the ordinary and they are safe. Not only was Lauren an active camp counselor throughout the summer, but she was also in charge of scheduling and creating social media content for the camp. Smith was able to collect live content to allow the parents to see how much fun their children were having and the donors and volunteers to see the beauty of what they are contributing to.

She initially became interested from being a former member of the Charleston Miracle Executive Board as the Financial Manager. One of the Miracle Kids she worked with is the daughter of an employee who works for Camp Rise Above. Throughout her time with Charleston Miracle, Lauren developed a love and passion for working with kids, and when the Camp Rise Above internship was posted, Lauren knew she had to apply. Due to this experience, she learned the importance of selflessness in both professional and personal settings. Along with the lessons that each child taught her, she summarized:

“I have a really big passion for helping children with disabilities. Each child, no matter their abilities, see the world so beautifully. It has taught me how to be grateful in every situation and to see kindness in every situation.”

In the future, Smith wants to be with a company that has a social impact and mission statement for the betterment of the community. With her background of social media and marketing, it allows her to be a strong competitor within the job market. Eventually, she would also like to re-open her family’s shoe store.

If Lauren could share any advice with other students, she would say,

“Always ask questions, never be afraid to raise your hand. That is how we learn about the opportunities ahead of us.”

 

-Kasandra Kloc, Peer Career Advisor

Letters of Recommendation

When applying to higher education institutions or applying to jobs, it is common for the admissions committee or employer to request a letter of recommendation from a former employer or professor. This can be overwhelming, as you are directly entrusting a part of your application into the hands of someone else. This task requires a lot of coordination between you and other people which can present challenges. Read on to learn how you can receive the best letter of recommendation possible.

You Are Not a Burden

It can sometimes be intimidating to ask your professor or boss to take time out of their busy schedule to write a detailed letter on your behalf, especially before a deadline. While it may feel like you are asking a lot of your superiors, if you have proven to be a good worker or student and you have a good relationship with your recommender, the person writing your letter will more than likely be honored to do so. In fact, it is often expected that when one is in a position of power educationally or professionally, there will come a time when they are asked to write a letter of recommendation for someone. As long as you go about asking for this letter of recommendation the right way, you will never be a burden for asking someone to help you with this important task.

Plan in Advance

While you should not feel like a burden for asking someone to write you a letter of recommendation, it is still within your best interest (not to mention, polite), to communicate appropriately with your recommender. It is of utmost importance that you ask your recommender if they consent to writing on your behalf before you list their name and contact information on any application or form. Further, you must make sure to ask your recommender as far in advance as you can manage. Asking your recommender for their letter ahead of time is not only polite to do, (remember— they are devoting their time to your professional wellbeing and need not feel rushed) but it is also important to ensure your letter is written well and on time. The more time you give your recommenders, the more time they have to think about how to best represent you in a letter. This also leaves you with some time to answer any clarifying questions your recommender may need to know before finalizing your letter. 

Ask the Tough Questions

When asking for a letter of recommendation, it is worth noting that not just any recommender will be appropriate. You should always strive to ask for a recommendation from someone who knows you well and can attest to your character as it might apply to this job or graduate program. Getting an executive-level individual to write you a letter of recommendation might be tempting, as the name of the recommender may hold a lot of weight. But if the recommender does not know you well, a big name will not make up for the empty words spoken about you to employers or admissions committees who can detect such indifference. If you ask for a recommendation from someone you do not have a good relationship with (perhaps a professor you have bumped heads with) you risk being written a negative letter of recommendation that will hurt you more than help you (it happens more often than you might think). To avoid these issues, it is important that you ask some frank questions before signing onto a recommender. Don’t just ask someone to write you a letter of recommendation. Specifically ask, “Would you be comfortable writing me a positive letter of recommendation to go with my application to XYZ?” If the answer to the question is no, that’s okay! You can move on by asking someone more compatible who can write more confidently about you. If the answer is yes, then you have an explicit answer as to whether your potential recommender can confidently and appropriately vouch for you to schools and employers to boost your application.

Give Recommenders All the Tools They Need

Even if a recommender knows you well, it is unlikely that they have seen you perform in areas outside of the subject in which you worked or studied together. To make things easier on your recommender and to give your recommender every possible bit of information they can use to exemplify your competencies, it is helpful to send at least a resume to your recommender to aid them in their letter. It is even more effective to create a packet to send to your recommender that includes every possible document and piece of information they may find useful to writing on your behalf. As an example, your packet could include:

  1. Your contact information 
    1. Email
    2. Phone number
    3. Mailing address
    4. LinkedIn link
  2. Information about the class you took with the professor or job you held with your boss
    1. Grade received in classes
    2. Semester class was taken 
    3. Sample work from class
    4. Accomplishments from job
    5. Sample work from job
    6. Position held in job and dates of job
  3. Resume/CV
  4. Other activities or involvement not mentioned on your resume
  5. Unofficial transcript from the place where you received your highest education
  6. Professional goals
  7. Specific information regarding the school/job you are applying to
    1. Deadlines
    2. Specific language from the website outlining what they look for in a candidate
    3. Website of school/employer
    4. Why you want this job or why you are interested in this program

Express Your Gratitude

No one is ever paid extra to write you a letter of recommendation; it is almost always done in the free time of your recommender. Whether you got the position or acceptance letter that you wanted or not, you have to recognize that your recommender spent their own free time working hard to do everything in their power to further your professional interests. It is always a great idea to express your gratitude for this by writing a hand-written thank-you letter or card to your recommender. It can be short and sweet, the important thing is that it is sincere and that the recipient knows that you are grateful for their help. Phone calls and emails expressing your gratitude never hurt but a hand-written note means a lot.

Keep Everyone in the Loop

Because your recommenders have put so much time and effort into furthering your application, they too will usually be invested in the journey. Make it a point to let them know any status updates on your application, especially if you get news of success. It will delight recommenders to know that they played a part in helping you reach your goal and that you care enough to include them in your journey.

 

Letters of Recommendation hold a lot more weight on an application than you might think. A good recommendation could be the tipping point to your success on an application while a poor letter could take you out of the running. Knowing who and how to ask for letters of recommendation will help you secure those positive recommendations that could very well land you your dream job or grad program!

 

– Jordan Mercer, Peer Career Advisor

Alumni Highlight: Suzanne Perkins ’18

Alumna Suzanne Perkins sporting her well-deserved graduation cap and hood around town.

Alumna Suzanne Perkins’ (’18) studies in epidemiology came to life just 6 weeks after starting her full-time job in February 2020. Suzanne works as a Statistical Research Analyst at MUSC, and although her position is designed to focus on research, she quickly adapted and jumped right in to assist other areas of MUSC with their COVID response, including family medicine response and setting up proper communications. In addition to earning her Master’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology from Emory University, CofC’s Public Health program helped prepare her to succeed in this role during the pandemic.

Suzanne entered the public health program as a non-traditional student. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to study directly after high school, so she started working full-time at a dental office while figuring it all out. It was through this experience that she recognized her interest in the medical profession. However, she realized that working directly with patients in a hands-on environment was not for her. As she took these self-discoveries into consideration, she learned that CofC was launching a new public health program that brought all of her interests together. She was excited about all the possibilities her degree could lead to upon enrolling in the program:

“There are so many different fields that public health touches and different areas you can go into: Clinical, government, non-profit, and for-profit. Through my classes, I ended up loving epidemiology and decided to get my master’s in that.”

As Suzanne worked toward her public health degree throughout her time at CofC, she balanced full-time classes with part-time employment at the dental office that inspired her studies, as well as countless hours of volunteer work. Her determination and hard work paid off, leading to her successful completion of a master’s degree and securing a job position that she loves.

Aside from stepping in to assist with MUSC’s COVID response, Suzanne’s role as a Statistical Research Analyst allows her to work with 5 doctors that conduct research, each on a specific area: Breast cancer, prostate cancer, homelessness, LGBTQ health, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP). Suzanne assists these doctors by setting up studies and identifying what questions they are seeking to answer, who to target, and how to best run the studies. After conducting the studies and all the data has been collected, she analyzes the data, which is her favorite part of the job. In this role, she incorporates concepts learned at CofC regularly.

“You cover so much information in this [public health] program that it sets you up so well for any direction you could go in. [For instance,] I use behavioral science information and program planning that I learned at CofC in my job now.”

Additionally, Suzanne has found success in her career by demonstrating professionalism, arriving to her commitments on time, and not being afraid to ask questions.

“The doctors you are working with have so much going on and their time is so valuable…. If you show up on time and are willing to learn, they are more than willing to help you. In a clinical setting, it is even more crucial to be on time. Even in a setting where you are not the most knowledgeable, this sets you up for people to want to work with you and help you learn.”

 

-Camille Hamrick, Career Counselor

Student Spotlight: Gabbie Kopchinsky

It may seem as if history is set in stone, but rising senior Gabbie Kopchinsky is learning that history is far from static. Recent technological innovations allow historians to gain a clearer view of history and correct historical misconceptions, which has become more apparent to Gabbie through working with the Charleston Museum.

During the Spring semester of her sophomore year, Gabbie applied to the Charleston Museum for the position of Historic House Interpreter to enhance her studies in History and International Studies. Through this position, Gabbie is trained to conduct tours at two historic houses, including the Heyward-Washington House (the oldest historic house in the state of South Carolina) and the Joseph Manigault House. During the tours, she brings attention to the unique Charleston architecture as well as the legacy of the families who originally owned the houses. She has also held several positions with Powder Magazine as a volunteer, Research Assistant, and Public History Intern.

For Gabbie, being immersed in these experiences “offer a connection to history that goes beyond what you can get in the classroom.”

Through her current role, Gabbie has enjoyed learning more about how “our understandings and interpretations of artifacts are always changing.” For example, a paint analysis was conducted on one of the bedroom walls in the Joseph Manigault House. Researchers discovered that the current wall color is inaccurate to the time period, so plans are now in place to change the color to a more historically accurate shade.

Gabbie’s experiences working with the Charleston Museum are preparing her to pursue a career in public history. After earning her master’s degree, she aspires to work in educational programming at a large-scale historic site to educate visitors about the arts, culture, and history. Just as Gabbie’s fascination with history began at a young age by visiting historic sites, she hopes to inspire others to gain an appreciation for history and how it impacts the present.

 

-Christina Ferrell, Peer Career Advisor

Alumni Panel Recap

“Your network is your net worth.” These parting words during the “Chart Your Path” alumni panel in March 2021 provide an excellent perspective on the importance of networking, even during these precarious, socially-distanced times. During this event, a panel of diverse alumni who work in law, business, education, and entrepreneurship shared how they got to where they are today and gave advice on how to ensure success as a CofC graduate despite the pandemic. On networking, Kenyatta Grimmage, Associate Director of Admissions at College of Charleston, explained the necessity of surrounding yourself with a supportive and enthusiastic community who can help you get to where you’re trying to go. And if you’re not sure where that is yet, his suggestion is to figure out what you would do without being paid- that is what your true passion is, and when you find that passion, the money will flow. 

Each of the panelists shared similarly incredible advice as they offered their own stories of career successes and setbacks. Kesha Rainey, Global Operations & Supply Chain LDP at Raytheon Technologies, gave a particularly important reminder:

“As a freshman, you’re not going to be the same person when you graduate. Be willing to enjoy the process along the way.”

It may seem like a familiar statement; you’re probably anticipating much change between the day you take your first step on campus and the day you cross the Cistern. However, when you’re just starting college and going from day to day, it can seem like nothing is changing at all. You’re going from class to class, finishing assignment after assignment, and juggling work, school, and your social life, while still trying to figure out how to get more than five hours of sleep each night. The process can seem overwhelming, repetitive, and certainly stressful, but that’s where the second part of Kesha’s advice comes in: you have to be willing to enjoy this crazy, once-in-a-lifetime process. Lean into the chaotic monotony of each semester because even though it may seem like everything is staying exactly the same, you’ll quickly begin to realize that the person you are this semester is entirely different from the one you were at the same time last year. Whether you’re finding new passions and interests, learning new skills and putting them to use in your classes, or meeting new people and making new memories, you are growing and changing every day. And then one day, you’ll arrive at the end of your final semester, look back, and realize that this familiar statement ended up being true, because you’ve become an entirely different person than you were four years ago. 

Kimberly Ohanuka embodies this idea of growing and changing throughout these short four years perfectly; she began her studies at the College as an athletic training major destined for medical school. But as she got into her major, something didn’t feel right, though it wasn’t until she met with one of her professors that it really clicked: She was living her life for the desires of others instead of herself. Kimberly had taken up this medical path because her family had dreamed of her being a doctor, when in fact, she wanted to be a lawyer. Her professor could see her lack of enthusiasm during class, and didn’t hesitate to point it out, encouraging Kimberly to start living life for herself, and not for anybody else, and she found that by the end of her four years, she was an entirely different person; one who would follow her own passions and dreams instead of allowing others to decide for her. She is now living out her true interests as a Civil Defense Litigation Attorney at Carr Maloney PC.

For Laqunya Baker, following those dreams meant becoming a lawyer as well, and one that advocates with the ACLU. In fact, she joined the panel from outside the courtroom right before she was due to testify. Laqunya encouraged students, especially students from marginalized backgrounds, to pursue their career goals even though others might not be as supportive. She emphasized the lack of black lawyers, especially black female lawyers, sharing that only 2 percent of those in her field look like her. 

Overall, the prevailing message was that students should study what sparks their own passion rather than what makes others around them happy, even if that means studying something out of the ordinary or entirely different from what they thought they wanted. With only four short years of college, it’s important to spend your valuable time studying what gets you excited to go to class every day, not what you think will get you the biggest paycheck. As Kenyatta Grimmage said during the panel, “once you find your passion, the money will flow.” 

 

-Katie Hill, Peer Career Advisor

Alumni Highlight: Sam Lemon

You never know where an ordinary conversation could lead – for graduate Sam Lemon (‘20), a simple chat with a previous neighbor resulted in a full-time job. 

Sam was a computer science major at the College of Charleston, and he always knew he wanted to incorporate coding into his career. Shortly after graduatinghe was offered a position as a Software Engineer and now uses coding daily to address client needs. 

“I landed this position in a roundabout way. I ran into this old neighbor of mine from growing up and I started talking with him about how I just graduated college with a major in computer science. He has a cyber security company along with other businesses, and he said he needed an intern to help around the office. So, I joined to help with IT in the office. Shortly after, he wanted to create a startup for a software company called primal. He brought me on to the team along with two other software engineers.” 

Sam’s office has a small engineering team and a sales team. The sales team brings in clients with software needs and the software engineering team works to address those needs, such as editing web pages to give them more functionality, creating apps, and finding solutions to current software. Sam and his team have also worked on projects creating databases, aggregating data, and displaying the data on customizable dashboards. 

My favorite thing to do is digging into the code and trying to figure out creative and efficient ways to solve whatever kind of problem is thrown at me. The Computer Science Department at the College did a great job of making me feel confident that I could pick up and learn any kind of coding language or style that I would need for the job.” 

Additionally, Sam took advantage of many opportunities as a student that prepared him to succeed in his industry such as attending career fairs and the Biz Bash, a computer science department networking event. Although he didn’t find his current position through these events, taking advantage of these opportunities gave him interviewing experience and allowed him to meet other professionals in the field. Attending these events every year also boosted his confidence in talking with advanced professionals in the industry, a skill of which came in handy when running into his past neighbor! His biggest piece of career advice is to grow and engage with your network. It just might lead to your dream job!

 

-Camille Hamrick, Career Counselor

Student Spotlight: Kayla Kozak

Senior Kayla Kozak knew exactly what she was going to do with her career since the age of 3. All of her experiences and even her education prepared her to pursue a professional career in golf. After attending a private golf academy in high school, she signed to join University of Central Florida‘s golf team. Everything was going according to plan…until the demands of her commitments and pressure to excel made her question everything. 

Kayla decided to “restart” by transferring to CofC after her freshman year and switching her major from psychology and communication to business administration with a minor in economics. Though she turned from her lifelong dream, she discovered herself in the process. The switch to a smaller campus size allowed Kayla to engage in diverse experiences that has shaped where she is nowFor instance, her involvement in Kappa Alpha ThetaImpact X, Young Life, PRISM, club tennis, being an Econ Scholar, interning with Wild Dunes Resort, interning at Charleston Country Parks and Recreation, and her study abroad experience in Australia have all allowed her to learn more about her interests while engaging in professional development. 

Perhaps the most influential factor in her process of self-discovery is the mentorship she received through Impact X, an entrepreneurship program provided by the School of Business that brings students from different majors together to create startup companies based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Through this experience, Kayla worked with students majoring in studio art and computer science to develop a produccalled Hydro Hub, an automatic plant watering system. 

You place the device in the soil and based on soil moisture levels it will release water from the glass reservoir. It also connects to your IOT device where users can keep track of their devices and plants on our app. It is designed for travelers, those with a second home, or innovators looking to try out the latest technology.”  

Kayla and her team placed 2nd in competition out of 6 teams and won a monetary award to invest in the product. This experience contributed to her confidence in her career search, and she considers it to be the most substantial experience in her undergraduate career. What she learned through this experience has impacted the direction of her career. 

I learned in starting a business that in order to be a good leader you have to practice active listening and keep your eye on the big picture. My leadership style has changed to one where I observe gaps in the process, manage deadlines, and serve as the spokesperson for the group. You get out what you put in. If you are the silent person, you will get by, but if you take initiative, you will thrive and learn more about yourself.” 

In the process of self-discovery through Impact X and other campus involvement, Kayla has decided to pursue a career in businesses that have client facing roles with team building responsibilities. In fact, she has secured a position with PepsiCo/Frito Lay as a Supply Chain Associate where she will assist with individual and team development while supervising others. She will have the opportunity to participate in various components of project management while solving operational issues. She will also have exposure to various departments within the company to gain deeper company understanding and increase in responsibility.

Although she did not pursue a professional career in golf like she had always imagined, Kayla has discovered her true interests and has set herself up to succeed in her future career.

 

-Camille Hamrick, Career Counselor

Receiving Constructive Feedback Gracefully

We’ve all been there…your boss schedules an evaluation for you and your heart starts to race as you question what they might say. Part of being in the workforce is receiving feedback on how you are performing. Although it is meant to provide you with insight on what you are doing right and what you can improve upon so you can be the best at your position, it’s not always easy to hear! This feedback is given so that you can evaluate what you are doing well and what you can improve upon so that you can perform your very best. Sometimes, being told what skills you lack in or which areas you are underperforming in can feel awkward, discouraging, and hurtful. However, that’s not the intent of being provided with feedback. Instead, if you learn how to accept constructive criticism gracefully and use it to your advantage now, you will be prepared to excel in the future.

The first step is to recognize that nobody is perfect, and you are guaranteed to have evaluations in your future, whether scheduled or impromptu.

Once you acknowledge this, then you can start to change the way you view the exchange. It can be helpful to look at it this way: Your employer cares enough about you to be honest with you and help you improve for the future. This is not against you, it is for you to help you find success in your career and to build upon skills that will be applicable no matter what future career you may hold. If you put this into perspective, you’ll be much more likely to not only feel grateful for the advice, but you will also be inspired to improve. 

Beyond ensuring your attitude is positive for your own wellbeing, it is important that you exemplify this positive attitude to your employers rather than getting defensive or making excuses. Further, it goes a long way to let your employers know how you appreciate the feedback and how you are committed to making an improvement for the benefit of the company, the team, and yourself. Your attitude alone can show your employer how committed you are to being the best asset to the organization that you can be. This is important not only for the success of the company but also for your future, as your current employer will likely be contacted by potential employers when you apply to other jobs in the future to provide insight on your performance and character. All employers want someone who is teachable, so by responding gracefully, not only can you personally improve, but you can also demonstrate qualities that all employers seek.

After receiving constructive criticism or feedback, it is important to not only listen but to take action based on the information you are given. Make sure to ask questions to your employer on what you can do to improve your performance. Ask your employers about your strengths: What strengths do you have and how can you use these strengths to improve upon aspects of your work performance you need to better develop? You can take it a step further to demonstrate to your boss that you are committed to improvement and ask to schedule a “progress report” meeting to see how your improvement efforts are going a few weeks after you receive your initial feedback.

Learning how to receive constructive criticism is a vital skill in the workforce and will continually help you advance in your career. Showing employers that you not only know how to take feedback but also apply it will set you apart from other employees and can increase your chances of getting promotions, raises, and glowing recommendations.

 

-Jordan Mercer, Peer Career Advisor

Alumni Highlight: Katlyn Chandler ’18

Alumna Katlyn Chandler (’18) is all about service – helping others and meeting them where they are. Luckily for her, she has found a way to blend her desire to help others with her passion for nutrition.

When Katlyn was in high school, she constantly felt sluggish and made the decision to change her daily habits by eating right and exercising. This decision changed her life, and in turn, she knew she wanted to help others make healthy decisions as well. Although she entered CofC as a biology major, she quickly found out that public health incorporated all her interests: Preventative health, community health, and nutrition. After switching her major, Katlyn’s career launched.

Throughout her time at CofC, Katlyn dived into various volunteer and internship experiences in the Charleston community that took her out of her comfort zone, teaching her how to better serve people who are different than her.

“Going out into the community and getting to know people through volunteering is a great way to get you out of your shell and see people at eye level. Sometimes we think we can solve a large issue, but you don’t know what a community needs until you are working directly with them.”

For Katlyn, this looked like interning with the Ryan White Wellness Center that served the Eastside community by caring for their health needs. Through this internship, Katlyn was able to find ways for clients to receive nutritional supplemental drinks with a local vendor, file health insurance information, and shadow physicians. She also served with the Lowcountry Herald where she helped supply food and clothing for the homeless. Through each of her experiences during college, she gained a deeper understanding of how to use her studies to serve others well.

Upon graduation, Katlyn decided to go directly into the workforce. As she searched for jobs, she initially looked past an opportunity with the Lowcountry Food Bank because she saw the phrase public speaking in the job title and was nervous about performing this task. Despite being nervous about the public speaking aspect, she reconsidered and decided to apply so she could learn more about what this position truly entailed. After interviewing, she felt more confident about pursuing this role, and she began serving as an AmeriCorps for the Lowcountry Food Bank as the Program Coordinator of “Cooking Matters.” This program helps low-income families shop and eat healthier on a budget. In partnership with other organizations, she hosted 6-week classes to teach how to prepare food and provide nutrition lessons. It turns out that the very aspect that made her initially hesitant to apply – public speaking – is now something she loves to do! She fell in love with her career, and after completing her year term in this role, she landed a position as a Nutrition Education Specialist for the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC).

Katlyn currently serves low-income communities in this role within the Women, Infants, and Children department. She loves that she gets to work with different types of people such as children from 0-5 years of age, prenatal moms, and post-partum women by discussing breastfeeding, promoting physical activity, and providing healthy recipes for picky eaters. Additionally, she provides nutrition health assessments and offers food benefits, but tailored in a way that is most optimal for their health.

“My favorite part is talking to a client who is really open to nutrition education and having them learn something they never knew before. I love seeing the lightbulb go off in their heads. Many people think everything has to change for nutrition, but you can actually make small changes to become healthier.”

Alumna Katlyn Chandler has successfully used her passion for nutrition to serve the Charleston community.

 

-Camille Hamrick, Career Counselor

Student Spotlight: Emilia Olson

Emilia Olson is a certified EMT and leader of sustainability at the College of Charleston. During the Spring semester of her freshman year, Emilia decided to take an EMS course advertised by the College’s pre-med fraternity, AED, to gain clinical experience with her studies. The semester-long program trains students who wish to work for CofC EMS and other EMS companies. As an aspiring international healthcare clinician, Emilia knew this opportunity would give her valuable experience. The course offers eight hours of lecture and lab a week, ride alongs, and a psychomotor and cognitive exam. By the end of the program, students are certified through the National Registry and South Carolina.

Emilia Olson is a junior at the Honors College of Charleston from Summerville, South Carolina. She is double majoring in International Studies and Public Health with a concentration in Latin American Studies on the pre-med track. She chose the College for the location, the scholarship and study abroad opportunities, and the CofC Honors College. After graduation, Emilia plans to pursue a Master’s Degree in Global Health and attend medical school. She hopes to work in the field of international health and practice as a clinician to promote sustainable health systems around the world. Emilia chose her majors because she wanted to have an interdisciplinary background that encompassed current global politics and how policy is determined to influence peoples’ health. Her Latin American Studies concentration allows her to learn about the variety of cultures in the region as well as the intersection between those ancient cultures and globalization. In addition to studying Latin America, Emilia is the founder of Amanecer Textiles, a reusable tote bag non-profit in the region. The business “promotes economic exchange and women’s economic empowerment” with women in Guatemala. Amanecer Textiles advances sustainability and eco-friendly practices in both Guatemala and the U.S. by developing reusable and affordable products.

On a local scale, Emilia is also helping the community by volunteering for the student-run CofC EMS and working for a private company in Charleston. One of the most important parts of volunteering on campus for Emilia is the opportunity to play a clinical role in people’s lives and, at the same time, providing a service that is free of charge. On the other hand, Emilia’s experience working for the private EMT company confirms to her that there are many issues with the US Healthcare system, especially during the times of the pandemic. She saw how the social determinants of health manifested along social and economic lines because of the cost of utilizing the services. This is not a barrier for patients that are aided through CofC EMS.

Emilia recommends any students interested in medical school to consider becoming an EMT and gain valuable medical experience that is community-focused. Not only do students earn clinical hours, but they also gain experience with emergency patient care that is not available in the classroom.

“EMS is the only position you can have as an undergraduate to be as self-sufficient as a medical care provider. With CofC EMS, you’re volunteering and helping the local Charleston community.”

CofC offers a discount for students who wish to learn and volunteer with CofC EMS after certification.

 

-Christina Ferrell, Peer Career Advisor