All posts by Cecile Holmes

Focusing on Calmness

By Michael Bauldrick

The influence of family and friends shaped Zoe Gertz from childhood to the present.

Born as the oldest in a small town in Maryland, Gertz comes from a family of four.  Her family also owns four dogs; a French bulldog, two german shepherds and one dog that resembles a shih tzu.  Gertz’s interests include exercise and cooking Italian based dishes.  Coldplay and Chance the Rapper top her list of favorite musicians, with her favorite movie being “Father of the Bride”.

Early in life, Gertz encountered issues common among young people. She found herself overthinking situations she would be involved in.  This habit reared its head during a 7th grade spelling bee.  By letting her excitement get the better of her, she missed a chance to win in the final round, misspelling the word “Piano.”

Years later during high school, Gertz met her school advisor Mr. Charles Reef, who was able to help her get over her overthinking.  Her advisor’s calm demeanor inspired students.  Gertz took that calm to heart, participating in lacrosse and soccer.  She got involved in student government and eventually rose to the position of student body president.  It was at this time, that Gertz had to decide between attending the College of Charleston or the University of South Carolina. After visiting USC and consulting with a close friend, she decided the city of Columbia offered an atmosphere better suited for a college student.

Her immediate family inspired her.  Her father, a senior real estate agent, is“the hardest worker that she knows,” Gertz says.  He inspired her to focus on the real estate sector of public relations.  Her previous focus was in fashion design, where she interned with the magazine Marie Claire.  Her mother’s love of knowledge and her constant need to be learning and improving also inspire her.

Gertz wants to be someone who can pass along what she has learned to future generations.  She feels a deep desire to help empower young women and girls to become the best that they can be.  “The biggest piece of advice I can offer at this point is to treat others how you yourself would want to be treated,” she said.

Bauldrick is a public relations senior

Allowing Perception to Change Others

By Lesley Hitson

Balance – it is more than just a concept. For Riley Baldwin, a 21-year-old student at the University of South Carolina, creating a balance between money and time is a lifestyle. Years of work experience, academic drive and encouragement from her primary mentor enable her to overcome obstacles and live out her life motto.

Baldwin hails from a small town called Chapin, South Carolina. She begins her senior semester at the USC this fall. She graduates in December with a degree in public relations.

Though public relations is her major, Baldwin considered majoring in something within the art field before transferring to USC. Influencing her final choice of a major, is gaining a healthy balance between work and social life.

“It’s a money versus time thing. I want to appreciate living yet also focus on work – striking a balance,” she said.

Baldwin says understanding the need to experience and appreciate life began before USC. Her grandmother has been a primary mentor, encourager and supporter.

“She [Baldwin’s grandmother] gave me the opportunity to travel and experience life, which many people don’t get. She showed me the world and all it could be.”

Because of her grandmother’s impact on her life, Baldwin’s dream job is travel writing.

“I want to cover the best places to stay, eat, travel, etc. And for specific locations, anywhere culture based.”

Baldwin has overcome her biggest life obstacles: indecisiveness, impulsiveness, and comparison and the general college culture.

“I was thinking everyone has everything figured out, but that wasn’t necessarily true.”

Atop her long list of academic work, Baldwin had to work a full time job. She says that for about seven years, she had a full-time job while in school. Currently, she works as a paralegal at a private criminal defense firm.

“I’ve done everything [regarding job industries]. Anything you can think of, I have probably worked: restaurant industry, law, etc,” Baldwin said.

“Perception is everything. The way you view things has the power to change others.”

Hitson is a public relations senior

Changing Paths

By Tanner Young

Let me introduce you to Beatriz “Betty” Lavandero. A woman whose Spanish heritage and interest in sports I share.

Lavandero is a member of a certain group of people that makes our country great. She is an immigrant; her father hails from the long coastal country of Chile. Other members of her family are from Spain. My mother’s grandparents are from Spain. Lavandero grew up in the city of Miami. That also connected us because we liked the same sports team. Lavandero roots for the Miami Heat, and so did I when my favorite basketball player, Lebron James, played for them. She and I share the same major, public relations and share the fact that we both transferred colleges.

When I asked Lavandero what she could accomplish and who was her mentor, her answer all rolled into one. The biggest thing she wants to accomplish is to make a difference in someone’s life. C.J. Lake, her mentor, inspired her. Lake is the social media coordinator for the journalism school and Lavandero applied for an internship with her. Although Lavandero didn’t get the internship, Lake made an impact on her, helping her make connections.

In five years, Lavandero said she would like a successful and happy career because she is a very independent person. Lavandero’s life motto is “you can fix anything in life but death”. Though she planned to go to College of Charleston and have a completely different major, it didn’t go as planned. She changed her major, college, and friends. This sounds like a big failure, but life is all about how you bounce back. Betty now goes to Carolina, has great friends, and is about to graduate making her happier than ever before. Her favorite book is “Wuthering Heights” because she relates to the strong independent female protagonist. “Gone with the Wind” marks her favorite film. Fleetwood Mac is my favorite band so I could relate to her loving the Beatles. Lavandero says she would love to meet with our first president George Washington so she could ask him how the world morphed into such a mess.

Young is a public relations senior


Experiencing the Unknown

By Calvin Mitchener

            Anna Frazier is a polite and religious Southern girl on the surface. But once you get to know her you realize she has broken out of her comfort zone. The experiences she has had have shaped her into who she is today and helped her stay true to her roots.

Frazier was born and raised in Richmond, Va. She chose to attend the University of South Carolina while most of her friends stayed close to home.

“Most people I knew from high school went to the same two nearby universities, I chose to go to USC to do something different,” she said.

This is the kind of characteristic that defines Frazier, a fervent desire to explore the unknown and challenge herself. She has lived with this mentality her entire life. Last year, Frazier studied abroad in Valencia, Spain. A Spanish minor, she says she can understand most of the language but has trouble writing it. While many of Frazier’s friends and sorority sisters studied in nearby Barcelona, Frazier decided on Valencia in another example of her proclivity to seek out challenges.

“I wanted to study somewhere different than my sorority sisters to make the experience more authentic and get outside my comfort zone,” she said.

While many students would like to spend a semester abroad with their friends, Frazier elected to do the opposite. Leaving herself virtually alone in a foreign country. Frazier recalls living in a dorm in Valencia and not knowing anyone. This forced her to gain a better grasp on the new language and culture.

“I noticed how people in Spain tend to live in the moment, as opposed to Americans who seem to constantly be concerned about the future,” Frazier said.

After adjusting to being in a foreign country, Frazier said she adapted to life in Spain and the laid-back culture. She used her time overseas to travel to more new places. From visiting Germany to camping in the Moroccan desert, Frazier made the most of her time abroad. Each of these expeditions ties into the theme that she lives her life by. Frazier is constantly striving to experience new things and new places.

Her time in Spain may have broadened her horizons, but Frazier still fancies herself a Southern woman. She would love to live in Charleston, SC, or her hometown of Richmond after graduation. She interned in Charleston this past summer as a wedding planner.

“Being a wedding planner was awesome. It forced me to interact with people and think of things in a way that I might never have before,” she said.

Each experience has molded Frazier. She is now a person who has gone out of her way to push her own boundaries and comforts.

Mitchener is a print journalism senior

Following Your Father’s Footsteps

By Betty Lavandero

With a thick South Carolina accent, Tanner Young is not whom you would expect him to be. “Fleetwood Mac is probably my favorite band,” he says about the 1960’s British-American rock band. “My dad and I love that kind of music and he was the one that got me into it. ‘Go Your Own Way’ is probably my favorite song.”

Music isn’t the only area where his father has influence.  As a senior public relations student, Young is less than a year from graduating, and his next big step in his life? Entering the work force by joining his father’s janitorial business.

Young’s father started his journey in the business by knocking on doors and asking to clean people’s homes for whatever money they could offer. “It shows you that hard work can get you anywhere. It started as a small company and now he cleans huge businesses like the State Museum. He has had to go through the same process as any other business,” he says.

Young says that, so far, his greatest failure was not being accepted into the University of South Carolina. “Being from the Columbia area and having parents that are hardcore Gamecock fans, not getting in was pretty tough,” he says.

“If it was up to me I would have gone straight into the work force, but I knew that my father wanted me to go to college and I just wanted to make him proud.” After completing two years at Midlands Technical College, Young is on track to graduate from USC with a bachelor of arts in mass communications and journalism with a minor in marketing. As a result, his greatest failure has become his greatest accomplishment.

He finds that the business side of his dad’s corporation is why he is attracted to the company. “I love the idea of business and marketing. I know I could take the company to new heights,” he says. “In five years, I see myself pretty high up and making the important decisions. In this political climate, it’s hard being a business person, but my dad has set a great example in everything he does from his hiring process to his leadership styles.”

Young’s favorite book is “To Kill a Mockingbird.” “It was one of those books you read in English class that ends up affecting you more than you think,” he says. He references the story’s themes of racial inequality and the endearing lessons the novel teaches you by the end. “It’s just a great example in standing up for what’s right,” he says.

“Atticus Finch knew the right thing to do and I think we can all learn from that, especially today. We can all revert back to this story. Today, we are judging people, instead of looking at who they are and what is right.”

Lavandero is a public relations senior

Learning to Grow Through a Transfer

By Caroline Grigg

Starting college is tough. But being the new kid on campus twice is even more difficult. Peyton Florence knows those struggles first-hand. Yet you would never know it. As the interview began, Florence’s eyes light up and she smiles, slightly waving, at a girl walking outside the class.

But Florence hasn’t always been a familiar face at University of South Carolina. She started at University of Kentucky as a freshman.

“I was more than ready to head to somewhere different, far away from Columbia,” Florence said. “It was exciting, but extremely eye opening.”

At one point her goal was to be a nurse, and there was no better place than University of Kentucky’s nursing program. St. Jude Children’s Hospital has been Florence’s inspiration since she was young.

“I met a young boy on a cruise back in elementary school who had cancer and was on his Make-A-Wish trip. He was treated at St. Jude and really touched me. Ever since then I’ve been amazed with St. Jude”

As her freshman year progressed, she realized that University of Kentucky was not where she needed to be, especially in the nursing program. She has never been a fan of needles and blood but thought she could push through it.

“I’ve always loved the idea of helping someone else in need. I’m a very passionate person, but I can only take so much goriness that fills the nursing world.”

She also was struggling in school. After seeing her grades drop by the end of her freshman year she knew it was time for a change. That change meant coming right back to the place she wanted to leave. She enrolled at USC for the next semester.

“Coming back to Columbia was like I was given a do-over but in the same old familiar place I called home,” Florence said as she fumbled through the papers sprawled on her desk.

Peyton started the track in public relations and has a GPA of 4.0, the highest a student can attain. To say she has found her niche is an understatement. She will graduate in December, and continues to search for what life after college may look like. The relationship building skills she gained from transferring and turning around a poor start to her academic college career likely will serve her well.

“I still think about St. Jude and the boy I met on the cruise a lot,” she said with a wide smile. “My dream will always be to work with the children and doctors there, I can’t get away from it. This time it just may be in the office instead of on the floor.”

Grigg is a public relations senior

Faith, Family, and Moving On

By Ann Riley Baldwin

Campus parking meters are lined with cars, dorms are packed to the brim, and the familiar chatter of university students resonates through the Horseshoe— the fall semester is officially here.  For many, Aug. 24 marks the beginning of a four-year journey full of ups, downs, firsts and unknowns.  As freshmen proudly accept their first badge of adulthood, seniors prepare to sing their final “forever to thee” before closing their eyes and leaping off the ledge of undergraduate life, into the real world. 

While many feel the pressure and anxiety of leaving it all behind, one Univ of South Carolina senior proves faith, family, and a positive attitude can help you transition to the working world. 

Lesley Hitson is a senior public relations major and retail minor from Griffin, Georgia.  Despite her wide involvement in university life and extracurricular activities like Cocky Connections, Greek Ambassadors, and First College Ministry, Hitson is a rarity in that she welcomes the next chapter of her life. 

“I loved my time at USC but I will not miss school.  I don’t want to hold on to the past four years or bask in the glory of my college days forever.  I appreciate my college experience and am grateful for the memories but I believe there is more to life,” Hilton said on her last first day of Monday classes.  

Hitson is set to graduate in December. Like many seniors she is preparing for the uncertainty of life after college.  Her summer marketing internship at 650 Lincoln, a student apartment complex in Columbia, and her public relations schooling have equipped her to succeed. But Hitson says her biggest motivator is her belief in something bigger than herself. She is a strong Christian and her belief in serving the greater good has fueled her interest in working in public relations for nonprofits.  Despite the whirlwind of deadlines, job applications, and uncertainty, she maintains her composure and positive attitude, a strength she attributes to her faith and support from her family.  She says she wouldn’t change anything about her university years.  

“Every year I’ve experienced major growth and each year I come back a new person, a better person,” she says. “I figured out who I am through the lessons that I had to learn these past four years and most of those lessons came from negative events.  I wouldn’t change anything.” 

Many end their college years with regrets, but Hitson sticks to her motto, “gratefulness, thankfulness, appreciation, and praise.” Her positive outlook on change and letting go, suggest that true success lies in cherishing the good memories and learning from mistakes.

Baldwin is a public relations senior 

A Naval Officer in the Making

By Zoe Gertz

Having moved from North Carolina to Virginia to South Carolina, Michael Bauldrick is no stranger to change. Growing up with a father in the military shaped Bauldrick’s adaptability and career choice. As a senior public relations major at the University of South Carolina, Bauldrick is striving to become a public affairs officer in the United States Navy. With a passion for competition and a fierce dedication to academics, Bauldrick envisions himself traveling the world alongside his fellow officers within the next five years.

The most important mentor for Bauldrick at USC has been Professor Jeff Ranta. As a student determined to succeed in a challenging course, Bauldrick met with Ranta during office hours multiple times. By the second visit, Bauldrick noticed Ranta’s Navy certificate hanging above his desk. Intrigued, he asked many questions about Ranta’s time and service with the Navy.

Bauldrick cultivated a relationship with Ranta, and the instructor reciprocated. When the time came to apply to join the Navy, Bauldrick asked for Ranta’s assistance. Not only did he assist with the application process, he also wrote Bauldrick multiple letters of recommendation. What started with a few homework questions evolved into a friendship.

Aside from his professional ambitions, Bauldrick is enthralled by design and his own creative skill set. A favorite pastime of his is customizing shoes. Bauldrick paints intricate patterns and lyrics on the exterior of sneakers – expressing his individuality. He even customizes shoes for family and friends.

Bauldrick maintains a close relationship with family. His mother serves as his rock and biggest support system; his father has an incredible sense of humor. His brother is the most selfless person he knows.

If Bauldrick could meet anyone today, it would be his grandfather, Rocky. He passed away when Bauldrick was one year old. A man of esteemed character, wit, and a lively personality, Rocky is fondly remembered. Bauldrick wishes he had known him. Together, the Bauldrick family grows a garden in their backyard of produce including tomatoes, okra, and peaches. Bauldrick not only enjoys each moment spent with his family, but the process of gardening. It has become a favorite hobby. Bauldrick aspires to have a family like his own in the future.

In contrast to his calm and quiet demeanor, Bauldrick is not afraid of embarrassment or letting his guard down. At age 12, he both broke wrists in a biking accident. Both arms were placed in casts. Rather than dread the difficult recovery, Bauldrick embraced this time by making jokes and having his father help him bathe for the first two weeks. Bauldrick lives his life by the motto, “work hard.” He wants to excel in all aspects of his career and be someone others respect and look up to, while never taking himself too seriously.

Gertz is a public relations senior




Finding a New Path

By Alexandra Mullane

Michael Stewart, a senior at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, took the last election as a turning point for his career track. As a baseball fanatic, specifically for the Red Sox, Stewart always dreamed of sports journalism as his career. When he was not writing, he was always using his time to play fantasy baseball online.

In childhood, he even played baseball. He recalls his biggest failure as when he did not make the team his freshman year of high school. Stewart continued playing though, and loved the sport. Unfortunately, those dreams of playing were crushed when Stewart was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma as a junior in high school. His battle with cancer lasted two and half years. By the time he was in remission he was already in college. All of this coincided with the 2016 election.

Having experienced the healthcare system, Stewart says he understands more than most Americans how the system works. With this knowledge, he began getting involved in political organizations such as the Democratic Socialists of America and Antifa. Twitter introduced him to both. His passion for healthcare grew, and Stewart looked at bringing changes through political means. Now, Stewart is one of many college students hoping to make a difference in the world through politics.

He says that although his interest grew when Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump competed for the presidency, his interest was not influenced by them. During the election campaigns, Stewart was a Bernie Sanders’ fan.

With Stewart’s sports journalism dreams over, he is now looking towards a future focused on politics. Stewart would, in a perfect world, want to be the head of the Democratic Socialists of America. Realistically though, he hopes to go to graduate school for public health and really take on the healthcare system.

In his free time, he still dabbles in fantasy baseball, but this has become more of a hobby. Stewart also reads books by Noam Chomsky. He even idolizes him.

This change in Stewart’s career goals reflects patterns among millennials. Many go to Twitter to find news and to be introduced to news organizations. Stewart’s story is a reminder of how influential social media can be.

Mullane is a public relations senior

USC Student Elevating Homegrown Talent

By John Wagoner

Students in the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications are often working to put their own name on the map, but Kaleb Partilla has grander aspirations. The broadcast journalism student born in Missouri, spent his formative years in Michigan but calls Charleston home. Partilla is on a mission to illuminate the homegrown music scene in South Carolina with his latest venture – “843 Metro Fest.”

The core of what Partilla does, in his words, is about “owning where you come from.” Those words are what inspired him to start this event. This summer interning for Fox in Los Angeles, Kaleb saw the music scene there and desired something similar in Columbia. He fondly recounted attending a free show at the Santa Monica Pier with emerging R&B artist Khalid. The show was expected to draw around 15,000 people that drew closer to 60,000.

Partilla bolted up in his chair speaking about concerts being put on every night in the City of Angels and the atmosphere surrounding music festivals like Coachella, hoping people will take to new artists even if they lack the big-name status of established musicians.

While he made it clear he did not expect that same level of response back in the Palmetto State, he repeated that South Carolinians should know about the artists in their state. Partilla said a big problem with local artists getting publicity is “everyone goes to Atlanta,” a city known as a mecca for trap music and Southern rap.

Partilla needed an action plan to put together his vision for promoting local music. He found it on Twitter and other social media sites. Ment Nelson, in particular, became famous promoting all things South Carolina, including his own art depicting life in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Partilla saw how Nelson could simultaneously promote the successes of others from South Carolina and share his own work in a balance for his followers.

“843 Metro Fest” has been a project for Kaleb all the way back to his summer in California, where he spent his time outside his internship reaching out to venues, musicians, artists and sponsors. The event was originally scheduled to be in Columbia at The Music Farm, however after a falling out with management the event was moved to Charleston to its current venue, The Purple Buffalo on September 8.

Partilla took this setback in stride, repeating an understanding that closed doors are a part of life, expressing he knew he was always going to get ignored but “you have to keep reminding them you’re there.”

In five years, Partilla hopes to be back in Los Angeles pursuing his dreams in the media industry either back with Fox or with another company, but “[he] will never forget trying to push people here.”

843 Metro Fest takes place September 8 at The Purple Buffalo, 2702 Azalea Drive, Charleston, SC. The show is slated to begin at 7 PM.

Wagoner is a broadcast journalism senior