Alyssia Ross came to the University of South Carolina determined to get involved and make the most of her time as a student, both in class and out. Her success proved to be a blessing to countless others, as she found her niche in making others feel welcome.
Ross arrived in Columbia as a sophomore transfer student from the University of South Carolina Upstate, drawn by the chance to major in retailing with emphasis in fashion merchandising and digital innovation.
“My freshman year I wasn’t as involved, and I really wanted to change that,” Ross says. She wasted no time, getting involved with the Association of Transfer Students and becoming the organization’s vice president as a junior and then president.
She also applied and was chosen as a student leader for the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. The leaders conduct tours and information sessions for prospective students, assist with college events and serve as ambassadors in many areas.
“I’ve enjoyed it so much. Students actually come to value my help,” Ross says. “It's been good to get prospective students' emails saying how much they enjoyed our info sessions and their tours of HRSM and how that helped them decide they wanted to come here. I like to keep those.”
In addition to helping others, Ross excelled in class and in an internship with Belk, leading to a job offer. After graduating in December, she will begin her career as an assistant buyer at the company’s headquarters in Charlotte. Her original interest was in the design side, but she found that changing and credits her time at the College of HRSM for helping shape her future plans.
“There are so many opportunities at HRSM to find out what you want to do, and the faculty is so committed to helping us find opportunities to achieve our dreams,” Ross says. “Talking to them and learning from their experiences was so helpful to me. What I thought I wanted to do and what I am going to do are very different, and I really wouldn’t have been able to do it without HRSM. The college helps you find opportunities that you wouldn't have thought were possible for yourself.”
In addition to her service as an ambassador and president of the Association of Transfer Students, Ross helped found a new student organization as a senior. HRSM underRepresented is dedicated to helping minority students in the college advance their skills and professional development.
“It's been great because we've been able to create a space for all of the minority HRSM students and have great discussions,” Ross says. “I think that's helpful, because you kind of feel like there is someone that you share similar experiences with.”
Ross says while she will miss her student days, she feels prepared and ready to succeed in the next step. With several fellow Gamecocks already on the Belk team, she knows she will have support. Always ready to help, she reminds students often of the importance of taking advantage of the network that comes with being a UofSC graduate.
“We have such a great connection with our alumni in HRSM and so I will always feel connected. It’s played a big part in my time here.” she says. “I always tell people to take advantage of that opportunity to connect, because the alumni are already out there, experiencing what you hope to do.”