So I was standing on the USC campus a few Thursday nights ago- August 25th, to be exact, as it as the day before my last day at USC. (Well, what was technically my last day. I went back in on the 27th to sort through some final projects, and just yesterday, I was still sending work emails to people. Hey, old habits die hard.) It was about 9pm, after the first International Student Association meeting of the fall semester. The campus was quiet but there was still lots of movement. Looking at the Horseshoe, standing by the Byrnes Building, it struck me how strange it is to be leaving USC. We’ve lived in Columbia for 8.5 years, and 7.5 of those have been in some association with USC. That’s not the longest amount of time, but it’s a pretty good chuck of my life so far.
USC brought us to Columbia. Katie was looking for a place to get a Masters in Social Work (and a school that wouldn’t require the GRE!) so we ended up choosing USC's College of Social Work and coming here in 2003. After Katie graduated in 2004 with her degree, I went back to school to finish getting my Bachelors degree. Since then, I have been an undergrad student, a grad student, a full-time staff member with the office of International Student Services office (ISS), and adjunct faculty in the Social Work department teaching a class on international Social Work and social justice. Connections and friendships we’ve made through our affiliation with USC have really had a huge impact on the course of our life. Honestly, the impact has been so great, I’m not even going to try to list examples here.
I DO want to give a special shout-out to the job I just left. Back in 2007, I took a Graduate Assistantship with the office of International Programs. It was a lucky break, as the Social Work Department at USC only gives assistantships to folks paying out of state tuition, so I was happy to get this. The GA was actually the second time I would be working for a Willer: My new boss, Pat Willer, was the wife of Dave Willer, for whom I worked as an undergrad research assistant. There was a convoluted little trail of how my name reached Pat, but it did, and for that I am grateful. I worked 10 hours a week on special projects dealing with recruitment and student admissions. Eventually, my work shifted me into the International Student Services office (ISS) and I started interacting with the staff in that office more frequently. Skip ahead to 2009, and I was hired as a full-time International Student Advisor. My coworkers were great, and I had the chance to work with some inspiring and wonderful students from all over the world. The office I just left has changed A LOT since the start of the year. The picture at the top of this post was taken at the start of 2011; at the time of this writing, six of the ten people pictured have all gone on to new opportunities, but man, what a fun office to be a part of (and the International Programs and Study Abroad staff were also great colleagues). Good folks all around.
But here’s the thing: I’m not REALLY severing ties with USC. I’ve already had three professor friends talk to me about the possibility of working together in the future to develop faculty-led study abroad programs to bring students over to Tanzania. So we’re not leaving USC, we’re just entering into the next stage of our university affiliation. I am very proud of the work I have done at USC, so please excuse this brief moment of ego-stroking as I repost the notice that was sent out announcing my departure. So thanks, USC; I had a blast!
Please join International Student Services in wishing a fond farewell to one of our student advisors, Christopher Reid. Chris has served in the ISS office for the past 4 years, starting off as a Graduate Assistant then later accepting a full time position as an International Student Advisor. Over the last 4 years Chris has made numerous contributions to ISS and the University as a whole. He has been an inspiring mentor to the International Student Association and Pan-African Student Association, as well as provided constant support to the Carolina Global Community on campus. Chris has been a wonderful colleague and will truly be missed. Thanks Chris, we wish you only the best!