For The Daily Gamecock's special commencement edition, former student body presidents from the last four years wrote letters to the editor to share the most important or memorable parts of their experiences.
Ross Lordo, 2017-2018
"It feels like just yesterday we were welcoming you to the University of South Carolina, and I was giving you my phone number during freshman orientation," former Student Body President Ross Lordo wrote. "Your collegiate experience has been defined by tremendous achievement despite great adversity, which is something you should all take immense pride in."
Among the many moments of Lordo's tenure, he recalls the Gamecock men's and women's basketball teams' achievements in the Final Four and National Championship, Dance Marathon raising $1 million for charity for Prisma Health Children's Hospital—Midlands and the raising of the Richard Greener statue.
Taylor Wright, 2018-2019
"I didn't know exactly what the year ahead would look like at the time, but it turned out to be an incredible period of transformation for our university – full of unexpected twists and turns, all of which shaped the institution's trajectory," former Student Body President Taylor Wright wrote.
Among the twists and turns across all facets of the university of his tenure, he says, were the departure of former university President Harris Pastides, the renovation of Russell House (and the loss of the Pizza Hut-Taco Bell combination restaurant), Beyonce and Jay-Z's performance and the groundwork for continued development in diversity and inclusion on campus.
Luke Rankin, 2019-2020
"This is the time to reflect on your time here at the University of South Carolina, celebrate your incredible accomplishments and plan for the next chapter of your lives. You are all standing at the precipice of the beginning of the rest of your lives," former Student Body President Luke Rankin wrote. "We stood strong when times were tough. We leaned on each other and fought to support one other because we came to know just how much our Carolina family means to us."
Rankin said he acknowledges that graduation comes with uncertainty, but as he reflects on the adversity and triumph during his tenure, he reminds his former classmates how much uncertainty they've already made it through.
Issy Rushton, 2020-2021
"Through not only a global pandemic that flipped the world upside down but a Black Lives Matter movement that defined the future of the United States, the University of South Carolina stood strong and exemplified what it meant to be made of boundless resilience," former Student Body President Issy Rushton wrote. "While my tenure as student body president was never easy (it rarely is), this year of great tribulations made the triumphs well worth the fight."
Though 2020 was a year of hardship, Rushton also looks to the change it inspired. From student protest against national civil issues to students' efforts at making change here on campus, she recalls most prominently the student activism during her tenure.