USC students choose service over self

by Whitney Smith

Service Over Self 

Students at the University of South Carolina pride themselves on the commitment they put forth toward serving the Carolina community. With more than 23,194 Gamecock volunteers, 502,334 hours of service and $978,736 in donations raised, USC students have continually shown the pride they take in choosing service over self.

The famed USC bucket list, which includes 100 things all Gamecocks should do before  they graduate, features nine philanthropic activities. Some of the items include “keeping  on your feet during dance marathon or relay for life” and “saying ‘thank you’ to a university employee.”

The amount of philanthropic opportunities given to students is always flourishing. As spring approaches, Greene Street begins to flood with student organizations trying to recruit students to partake in their race, contest or bake sale that benefit charities and organizations ranging from the Salvation Army to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Paying it Forward 

Even the Carolina Creed features a tenet that asserts “I will respect the dignity of all persons.” The “Creed on Campus” event recognizes that that every day small random acts of kindness are happening on USC’s campus. One USC student, freshman Hayley Geis, has taken this enterprise even further by creating a Random Acts of Kindness initiative.

“I’ve always loved the concept of practicing random acts of kindness,” Geis said. “I truly believe that unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly and most underrated agent of human change, and that no act of kindness is ever too small. In life you can never be too kind or too fair; everyone you meet is carrying a heavy load. With kindness, you help alleviate the burdens that everyone is struggling with, even for just a short moment. However, no kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another and good example is followed.”

Random Acts of Kindness Week, held Feb. 10-16, was one of Geis’s first attempts to really spread the word about RAK throughout USC. She planned a week of events that students could easily participate in, but realized that targeting the entire student body would be challenging. Instead, she narrowed her focus to students involved in Greek life as her target population because they were easily accessible.

Some of the events Geis planned included writing thank you notes to the kitchen staff in Greek Village, passing out “I am Thankful For” and “Prayer Request” posters in each of the houses and distributing “Pay it Forward” cards around the Greek Village and Russell House.

Geis has created an email address,, where students, faculty or staff can submit stories of RAK they see around campus. She hopes to eventually compile the stories and share them with the Carolina community.

“The RAK initiative is a brand new thing,” Geis said. “I feel like a kid that created a science experiment in his basement! I am just going forward with whatever help and support I pick up along the way. I think that if people pick their heads up out of their cell phones or take a moment each day to let someone know that they are noticed, loved or cared for, the campus could be a much better and happier place for everyone.”

Geis, along with the other 23,193 Gamecock volunteers, demonstrates how important giving back to the community is, so much so that it’s an inherent part of the USC experience.

To learn more about how service is greater than self in the USC community, check out the community service annual report and photo gallery


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