Winner has ‘proven commitment to service’
A passion for helping others has led Hayley Elia not only to serve but to lead others to serve.
The fourth-year public health student has pursued her passion for service on campus as well as in Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. And having held a leadership position on Carolina Service Council and, previously, as a community service intern, Elia’s leadership has also allowed others to pursue their passions to serve.
Elia is USC’s 2013 Outstanding Woman of the Year.
“Helping other people — that’s the thing I’m most the passionate about,” Elia said. “It comes in different ways. Like, the way I see academics is, one, to learn things, but also the way I can apply that to help other people. Service to me is about giving back to the community and other people. And even leadership to me is that way. To me, bettering myself is really just a way to ultimately help other people.”
Campus Life Director Kim McMahon said the selection committee “was in awe of Hayley’s combination of humility, curiosity, intelligence and proven commitment to service.”
“In her (application) essay, she quotes Eleanor Roosevelt: ‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams,’” McMahon said. “Hayley exemplifies this truth through the nature and character of her actions and has inspired future generations of women at USC to pursue their beautiful dreams and passions.”
One of Elia’s biggest influences, she said, has been public health professor Kara Montgomery, who inspired her to get involved in research and service and who nominated Elia for the award. In turn, Elia said the way she influences other people is by being supportive of their passions.
“Every time that you’re in an organization and see other students that have passion for something, that kind of influences you to share that passion,” Elia said.
Elia and four other finalists were recognized at a reception Wednesday, where USC graduate and current South Carolina Democratic Party Executive Director Amanda Loveday spoke.
Loveday shared with the women five lessons she has learned from working in what she called a “male-dominated world” — embrace mentors, set goals, take risks, know your worth and create a work-life balance.
“As you embark on your journey and are finishing college and going on to graduate school or entering the professional world, keep your head up,” Loveday said. “You’ll hit road blocks and speed bumps, and you’ll always work harder than the next person. You need to take a stand for your peers to respect you. Never take ‘no’ for an answer. And you always want to fight for things that you truly believe in.”
Other finalists for Outstanding Woman of the Year were third-year elementary education student Jennifer Hodshon, third-year chemistry student Jessica Kaczmarek, fourth-year public relations student Lauren Nottoli and fourth-year marketing student Chelsea Ostebo.