Chloe Holowczenko took University 101, USC’s first-year student success seminar, last fall, and it changed her life. Like many students at the University of South Carolina and other institutions across the country, Chloe struggled to find her place and purpose during her first semester of college. But, with the help of her University 101 instructor, Chloe overcame her obstacles and is now a thriving and engaged member of the Carolina community.
Coming to college, Chloe expected to meet new people, make lots of friends, “party like they do in the movies,” and have fun all the time. She was paying for college herself, so she wanted to enjoy it and get her money’s worth. She heard college was the best four years of a person’s life, and she wanted to make sure it would be.
Chloe, however, began to struggle midway through her first semester. She felt out of place because she didn’t join a sorority and began going to bars every weekend in order to feel like she was fitting in. Soon, she stopped eating and going to class, struggled with mental and physical health issues, and experienced strained relationships with family back home. Her family was disappointed in her actions – they knew Chloe’s behavior was completely out of character – so she alienated herself from them. She distanced herself from friends, too. “I was very alone mentally. I would go out to Five Points every single weekend, starting on Thursday. I got to the point where I would go out alone,” she said.
I felt comfortable going to [her] for advice because she showed interest in me...I knew she cared and wanted to help me, so that made me feel more comfortable reaching out.
- Chloe Holowczenko, Former U101 Student
Chloe was skipping University 101 along with her other classes, but her early connection with her instructor, Hayley Ross, eventually led her to reach out to Hayley to seek help. Chloe and Hayley met during summer orientation when Chloe stopped by Hayley’s table at the resource fair and expressed interest in the work being done by Hayley’s home department, the Office of Sustainability. After a brief conversation, Hayley was impressed with Chloe’s spirit, positive outlook, and initial interest in the topic and selected Chloe to be a part of her sustainability-focused section of University 101.
During the fall, Hayley talked with Chloe about getting involved with Sustainable Carolina, a student organization that promotes collaborative relationships for exploring and implementing sustainability practices on campus. It was the personal interest Hayley showed in Chloe that made Chloe comfortable reaching out when things went wrong.
“I felt comfortable going to [her] for advice because she showed interest in me before I even got to the university. She wanted me to be in her class, she wanted me to be a part of Sustainable Carolina, because she saw something in me during a quick five-minute conversation at a resource fair. I knew she cared and wanted to help me, so that made me feel more comfortable reaching out,” said Chloe.
Chloe explained her struggles to Hayley, and Hayley suggested that Chloe go step by step and take one thing at a time. Chloe had been focusing on the big picture and was overwhelmed by all the little things she had to do to get there. Hayley helped her realize that partying was not what was going to make her happy in college and suggested that she use the resources available at USC to better prepare herself for the future.
Chloe credits Hayley, her overall University 101 experience, and her early involvement in Sustainable Carolina with helping her stay in school, make meaningful friendships, gain the confidence she needed to apply for jobs and other leadership opportunities on campus, and find her passion for educating others about sustainability. “Hayley really put me under her wing and mentored me to become who I wanted to be,” said Chloe.
Hayley really put me under her wing and mentored me to become who I wanted to be.
- Chloe Holowczenko, Former U101 Student
Chloe’s experience mirrors that of countless other University 101 students who find a friend, mentor, and advisor in their University 101 instructor each fall. On end-of-course evaluations, the vast majority of students (95% or more for the past six years) report they found their instructor to be approachable and felt as if their instructor treated them with respect. Students’ positive perceptions of their instructors continue to be one of the most highly-rated aspects of the course.
Hayley’s mentorship and support of Chloe spilled over into her second semester and continues even today. Hayley offered Chloe an internship with Sustainable Carolina during the spring semester of her freshman year and helped her realize she wanted to be a student leader on campus. Chloe later applied, and was accepted, to be an orientation leader, an experience Chloe reported as “life-changing” and as greatly enhancing her leadership and interpersonal skills. “During my second semester…I realized all of the things college could give me if I put myself out there...I had the revelation that those things were what I was paying so much money for.” As a sophomore, Chloe continues to work with Hayley as the Project Coordinator for Events and Outreach for Sustainable Carolina.
Chloe’s favorite aspect of University 101 was the opportunity to have a one-on-one relationship with her instructor. Without the mentoring she received from Hayley, Chloe believes she would not be at Carolina today. Even a year after being in her University 101 class, Chloe still goes to Hayley when she has big decisions to make. “I really owe it to my professor Hayley at U101 for completely changing my life here at Carolina.”