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Sunday, March 27, 2011

USC Capstone Scholars Dream Big at Skydive Carolina

Published from the USC website, Office of Media Relations

Capstone scholars enjoy world of opportunity

High school seniors, check your inbox!

You just might have an invitation to become a Capstone Scholar and join a two-year program that mixes leadership, academics, social skills and community service.

At the University of South Carolina, about 1,600 letters have gone out inviting high-school seniors to join the Capstone Scholar Program, one of the university’s most prestigious and enriching programs.

“The program provides opportunities both in and out of the classroom,” said Dr. Patrick Hickey, faculty principal and clinical associate professor of nursing. “Capstone scholars live by the program motto, 'Dream Big! Impact the Community and Leave a Legacy.' The pillars of the program are academics, leadership, social, and service."




The first-year class comprises 475-500 freshmen, most of whom live in Capstone House and become part of a community that boasts all the advantages of a small college within a big university: stipends for research and study abroad and the ever-popular “Hickey Bites,” weekly confabs hosted by Hickey in which students have a chance to talk about whatever’s on their minds and just get positive reinforcement.

“Instilling confidence and leadership are key elements of the program,” Hickey said. “We want to prepare our students to dream big and FEEL that they can achieve those dreams and do so in a variety of ways to include the Capstone Personal Challenge.”

Last fall, a group of Capstone scholars embraced that message and took it to new heights. Students in a Capstone University 101 class taught by Jeanne Weingarth decided to parachute from a plane after hearing USC President Harris Pastides describe the exhilaration and sense of accomplishment after making his own jump for the first time.

Said Weingarth: "This was truly a life-changing experience. Some students had never been up in a plane.”

Weingarth said first-year student Dustin Roberts embodies the goals of the class.

“Dustin revealed to everyone the first week of class his terror of heights," she said. "When we discussed going, as a group, to skydive for our personal challenge, Dustin was the first person to raise his hand as being interested in the field trip. He said he really wanted to confront his own limitations.”

On the day of the flight, Roberts exuded determination, shunning at least one offer of support if he backed out.

“When Dustin approached the open door of the plane, I felt so proud of him. He did it!” she said.

Robert was still flying after he landed.

“Completing this challenge has shaped their idea of what they can do and all they can accomplish,” Weingarth said.

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