By John Kendall
Margo Shiffman always knew she wanted to pursue a career in public relations. As she continued her studies in mass communication from elementary school to high school, the field of public relations constantly piqued her interest.
More particularly, Schiffman has always been interested in the idea of managing and communicating with people of various backgrounds. This distinct interest could even be observed on her elementary school playground while she mediated arguments between students during games like tag.
Schiffman grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, with her parents and two older brothers. Like many North Carolina families, her weekends consisted of visiting ski resorts and going to Panthers games. In her spare time, Schiffman played competitive volleyball with the club team Fusion. It was here she could practice her management and communication skills in a competitive environment.
After graduating from Greensboro Day School in 2013, Schiffman decided to pursue her degree in mass communications at the University of South Carolina. The decision to come to Columbia was easy given her dad’s business is located in the Vista. As a child, Schiffman visited the campus many times and fell in love with the city of Columbia.
While at South Carolina, Schiffman recalls her greatest challenge to be when she studied abroad in Australia. During her junior year, Schiffman took the leap and went all the way across the world with another one of her close friends. They had no idea what was in store for them the following month.
Schiffman and her friend decided to take a weekend trip to Fiji during their time abroad. Little did they know, this trip to Fiji would become the best and worst experience of their lives. A cyclone had just come through Fiji, and the living conditions were horrible. People were living out on the streets and sickness loomed everywhere. After exploring the beautiful countryside of Fiji, Schiffman’s friend came down with pink eye.
Because her friend suddenly came down with pink eye, border patrol threatened to not let them back into Australia. There are laws that allow countries like Australia to keep people with certain illnesses out of the country. One of the locals overheard the predicament and told them how to fix the problem. The man told them how breast milk could cure pink eye in a heartbeat. Little did they know; this urban legend was widely believed in this part of the world. One could buy breast milk on the street corner for this very purpose.
Fortunately, Schiffman’s friend woke up feeling well enough to pass through border customs the next day. Lucky for them, they did not have to personally test the urban breast milk legend of Fiji.
Schiffman says her time abroad was remarkable. She learned an incredible amount about the culture and environment of another country. She scuba dived at one of the Seven Wonders of the World and swung on a 400-foot-high swing. Schiffman will forever regard her abroad trip to Australia as some of the best of times and some of the worst of times.
Kendall is a public relations senior