“Keep your seats, ladies and gentlemen! The University of South Carolina is proud to present the Mighty Sound of the Southeast, your Carolina Band!”
And just like that, Williams Brice Stadium comes to life with the roar of 85,000-plus fans as the band takes the field for Saturday in South Carolina.
Marching alongside their bandmates, student pharmacists Julia Geith, Jacob Ernst and Julia Covington step off to the first sounds of “Gridiron,” and for each of them, it is a feeling like no other.
Meeting the demands of their pharmacy classes with the time required as a member of the Carolina Band is not always an easy balance. Their schedule kicks off in early August with a preseason camp of 12-hour days, learning the pregame show along with a new halftime show for each home football game.
“It is already a busy time, especially for professional program students,” says Jay Jacobs, associate director of bands and director of athletic bands. “We find that, out of necessity, if they are not already well versed in scheduling and managing their time, being part of the Carolina Band tends to push them in that direction.”
He also appreciates the level of discipline that the students bring to other members of the band.
“These students are at such a high level of expectation, they are able to bring that to share with us as members of and leaders of the band,” Jacobs says.
Geith, ’25, began playing baritone as a seventh-grader at her high school in Virginia and knew being part of an elite college band would be a time-consuming venture.
“It does limit the amount of free time. I knew I was going to be occupied for two to three hours every day,” she says. “I had to study before or after or around that time.”
While she will not be part of the marching band this season because of the demands of her schedule as a student pharmacist, Geith will continue as a member of the Basketball Band. In fact, she traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the NCAA Women’s National Basketball Championship game.
“I had the time of my life,” she recalls. “We stayed at the same hotel as the players and got to interact with these amazing athletes, but they’re really just college students, just like us.”
Ernst, ’25, who also made the trip to the women’s national basketball championship, has played trumpet since fourth grade. He became interested in pharmacy because of his dad, who was a pharmacist and pharmacy owner.
“The two biggest draws for me to come to South Carolina were the pharmacy school and the marching band,” he says. “The band is renowned for offering so much, and I was able to earn a band scholarship. Both of my ‘big wants’ for college were here.”
Covington, ’26, who has played flute since the sixth grade and now plays piccolo, came to South Carolina from her home in Woodstock, Georgia. She is still working to find that balance between studying and being part of the band.
“My biggest advice to other pharmacy students is to set up your time wisely. If you try to overextend yourself, you will burn out faster,” she says. “I have faced that, and I’m working on it."
Being part of the Carolina Band is the best feeling in the world for Covington: “From the time Cocky breaks out on the field to when the team runs out, that excitement never goes away.”
“Academics is first and foremost,” Jacobs adds, “but being able to represent the university, the alumni and the students on such a grand scale is to be part of a legacy that has been here for more than 100 years and will be here much longer.”
Topics: Student Experience, Pharm.D. Program