February 22, 2013
Student Body Chief of Staff: Carolina's Promise Is Opening Doors of Opportunity
What does Carolina’s Promise mean to Trenton Smith, a South Carolina Honors College student majoring in political science, economics, and classics?
It’s all about providing more access and opportunity—so promising students can attend a great University without the burden of financial hardship, said the Myrtle Beach area native, who spoke to the Carolina’s Promise
Campaign Committee during a Nov. 9, 2012 luncheon.
Hardship through student loans and debt burden was something Smith was preparing for when the recession of 2008 struck his family. His mother Nikki, a real estate agent, and his father David, a restaurant owner and accountant, had “invested strongly in real estate.”
The deflated housing market forced his father to sell the restaurant, his mother to stay at home and take care of his sisters, and the family to gather what rental income it could from properties. His mother took jobs as a sales clerk and waitress to make ends meet. Yet, as Smith said, “we (still) looked pretty good on paper,” which was to his detriment where financial aid was concerned.
And then, opportunity knocked, in garnet-and-black colors. Smith, a talented student who took Advanced Placement classes at North Myrtle Beach High, was admitted to the University of South Carolina.
Carolina Calling: Family Hardship Eased by Scholarship Offers
Not only that, he started receiving letters, one right after another, stating that scholarships were being offered. First, it was his selection as a Lieber Scholar, followed by becoming a Trustees Endowment Scholar. He also received Palmetto Fellows and National Merit scholarships, meaning his entire Carolina education would be covered.
Smith–who is chief of staff to Student Body President Kenny Tracy
through March 20,
when new USC Student Body President Chase Mizzell
takes the oath of office–
wants the same doors to be opened for current and future Carolina students. “For every student that receives the aid they need to attend the University of South Carolina, there are many more who will never have the opportunity to become a Gamecock because they just can’t afford it,” said the Class of 2015 standout. “Gifts from donors provide the University with the opportunity to expand financial aid and scholarship programs.”
The sky is now the limit for Smith, who is considering a career in law or education policy. He is past president of Students for Education Reform, a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, and a Rising Leaders Fellow through Teach for America. What Carolina’s Promise
is demonstrating to him is the University’s commitment that “if you do work hard, excel academically, and prove yourself to be well-rounded, you can attend the University of South Carolina.”
–Larry Di Giovanni, Development Communications