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

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

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

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

Student Spotlight: Ethan Bain

Growing up in the Bahamas, Student Employee of the Year Ethan Bain wanted to attend college in a place that felt like home. At College of Charleston, he found just that. Along with the beautiful subtropical campus and moderate class size, Ethan found his niche as he chose his major.

Freshman year was challenging for Ethan as he adjusted to life in college. He found himself only going to class and then going straight home to study, which made it difficult to make friends. He changed his major multiple times before landing on economics with a minor in business administration and data science. Once he found the right fit with his major, things started falling into place. Classes became truly engaging for him, he was able to start making connections with friends, and he landed a job as a Peer Advisor in the Academic Advising and Planning Center. Through this position, Ethan has been able to help students going through the exact same thing he experienced as he changed his major.

In Ethan’s student employee position, he meets with students individually to answer questions related to academics and walks them through how to make decisions.

“Often times, students come in with a lot of stuff going on, and they worry about classes. After they come in and have the meeting, you can visibly see a weight lifted off their shoulders. It makes me happy to know I’m helping them achieve their goals.”

Ethan excelled in this position and became the recipient of the 2020 Student Employee of the Year award! Ethan practiced and honed his skillset to help him succeed in this position, and says:

“Put others before yourself. When you’re working, especially in my position working with a team, it’s not so much about you; it’s about what’s important for the entire team. Don’t be afraid to voice your own opinion because it is important to have your voice heard, but you should make decisions ultimately to benefit to the team.”

Ethan takes his role seriously and has grown to understand the significance that student employees have at the College.

“We take a tremendous load off the professional advisors which gives them the opportunity to see more students. I also work in the Center for Student Learning, and in that role, we meet with students and help them have a better outcome in their class. Their grade in that class may determine if they get to keep their scholarship or not. I know how important that is.”

Not only does Ethan’s role as a student employee allow him to help others, but it is also preparing him for his career aspirations to go into economic and policy research in order to advise governments on monetary policy. He hopes to apply his advising skills on a larger scale by advising governments. Finding the right fit for his major has led him to succeed at CofC and has prepared him to enter a profession he is excited about.

2020 Student Employee of the Year, Ethan Bain, receiving a plaque recognizing his reliability, quality of work, initiative, professionalism, and contribution to his department.


-Camille Hamrick, Career Counselor

Student Spotlight: Vi Truong

Student Spotlight: Vi Truong

Vi Truong is a Biology major and Chemistry minor on the pre-med track from Columbia, South Carolina. She chose the College of Charleston for the affordability, the inclusive and diverse atmosphere, and the small campus community. She also likes the close proximity to MUSC and the research and internship opportunities for CofC students. Her interest in health and medicine has propelled her to become involved in an opportunity to study chemicals found in many products that are not regulated by the FDA.

During the Summer of 2020, Vi was accepted into a research program through the CofC Biology Department with her Microbiology professor, Dr. Matthew Rhodes, and has received a financial grant from the College for research and conducting labs. The program studies Obesegens, a chemical that the FDA does not regulate, but includes in many products. It can affect one’s gut health and may increase one’s chances of becoming obese. She obtained the position by networking at a mixer held by the School of Sciences and Mathematics. As such, Vi can testify to the role networking can play in finding opportunities. She says,

Build a relationship with your professor. Once you establish that connection and show your responsibility, it can take you far in your college career and it’s also good to have someone to write a letter of recommendation for the future.

After graduation, Vi plans to travel and learn more about global health and traditional medicine, then attend medical school. Although she is very driven in her studies, Vi recognizes the importance of being involved in activities outside of class.

Balance your work and make the most of your time at the College and extracurricular activities!

Just like Vi, your time at CofC can be maximized by networking, participating in opportunities that allow you to learn more about your field, and participating in fun extracurricular activities!


-Christina Ferrell, Peer Career Advisor