Student body vice president Hannah White navigates fear, finds support system
File Photo: Alyssa Rasp / The Daily Gamecock
When Student Body Vice President Hannah White came to USC, she knew she wanted to make an impact. She didn't know how at the time, but White knew fear was not going to stop her.
“I told myself, if the only thing that’s stopping me from doing something is fear, then I can’t not do it,” White said.
White, a third-year marketing and finance student, said when she was younger, there were times fear stopped her.
At her kindergarten graduation, she would not walk across the stage.
In church, when the children would do a presentation and she was handed the microphone, she would cry.
“Fear was something that I was trying to learn how to navigate,” White said.
During White's first year at USC, she was selected to be a university ambassador, served on the inclusion and equity committee for Student Government and rushed Alpha Kappa Psi, a business fraternity.
University ambassadors are required to pass a certification test before they can give tours. White did not pass her certification the first time.
"This is embarrassing, like I am probably the only person that did not pass," White said.
White worked with her coaches to improve her tours. When she took the certification test again, both then-presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke and March Madness fans were on campus.
"If I didn't fail the first time when things were easy, and they just let me slide by, then when situations like this happen, I would have not been able to navigate this and still do as well as I did, if it wasn't for me failing," White said.
For White, reflecting on her past failures helped her have those "epiphany" moments.
Even when she was elected as student body vice president, White thought of her high school self.
"So even winning, that was an epiphany moment from like, sophomore year of high school of just being shy girl, timid, not going after anything, just, I don't know, really just lost," White said.
During the campaign, White leaned on the support of her campaign team and friends.
When White realized she was going to have to speak for an hour at the Student Government debate, she was scared, but she said the support from her friends and campaign helped her overcome her fear.
"It's all about the support," White said.
Now one of White's closest friends, running mate and current Student Body President Issy Rushton was with White through the ups and downs.
"At the end of the day whenever I have had to decompress with her, she cares so deeply about everything and everyone," Rushton, a fourth-year psychology and criminal justice student, said. "I have never seen someone care so much about students than I do with Hannah White."
White also decided to delete Twitter while she was campaigning.
"I would see like one or two bashing comments or something," White said. "Like oh no, I'm trash."
This made her realize how important it is to see where her support comes from and to only care about those opinions. While the hate directed at the campaign would sometimes get to her, White reminded herself to focus on the positive.
"You know that you did good, so why did your good change to a 'you did terrible' off of others?" White said. "You know what you did. Be confident in yourself."
Parker Simmons, third-year marketing and finance student and campaign manager for the Envision campaign, said that White is always looking to find the best in any situation.
"Even when challenges arise, she will take a step back, reevaluate and just keep pushing forward," Simmons said.
For White, her college experience has been more than getting a degree or checking off boxes.
"It's just about managing life," White said. "Yes, you get a degree, but with that degree, that diploma, attached, you are more capable of understanding life and handling life."
Editor’s note: Hannah White is the host on a Garnet Media Group podcast, 1801 Live. The Daily Gamecock is a partner organization with Garnet Media Group.