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South Carolina Honors College


Riley Lankes

Ask me about...political science, volunteer work, and balancing classes and work!

I’m a freshman from Syracuse, New York. I’m currently an International Studies major, but I started out here as a Mechanical Engineering major! My focus is in international politics, after graduation my goal is to attend graduate school to study foreign relations. Afterwards, I plan on working for the State Department, and one day becoming an (official U.S.) Ambassador.

I love: cooking, movies, naps, and Kung Fu!

My Hobbies: I’ve been training in martial arts since I was nine years old. I have two black belts in karate, and a green sash in Wing Chun Kung Fu. A somewhat concerning but interesting fact, I’ve spent a lot of time training with swords, and I own several!  

My nickname and why: I moved to South Carolina from New York when I was 16. I fit a lot of the New Yorker stereotypes, so my friends started calling me Yankee.

Something I’m proud of: Last year I donated bone marrow to my dad for a stem cell transplant. There’s nothing I’m prouder of than being able to help him fight cancer.

Skill I’d like to master: Learning when to shut up.

Favorite study music: Movie soundtracks and scores. They can be motivating, emotional, exciting, whatever you need, with no words to distract you from what you’re doing.

Theme song of my life: Shoot to Thrill by AC/DC

Favorite movie: Monty Python and the Holy Grail without a doubt. I love the ridiculous, silly humor of Monty Python, it’s something we quote daily in my family. It says a lot that I’ve seen it dozens of times, and I still laugh at every joke.

Favorite childhood memory: I grew up in Syracuse, New York, where winter lasts from November to March. Every weekend when I was growing up all of the kids in the neighborhood would trek up to the top of the big hill across the street from my house with our sleds, and spend hours sledding, snowball fighting, and pushing each other down the hill.

Most likely to be famous for: Looking like Lin-Manuel Miranda.

My pet peeve: Microwaving coffee that’s gotten cold. As a barista, this hurts my soul. It ruins the flavor, and it’s disrespectful of the ritual and tradition of brewing coffee. Make a new cup!

My life goal: My life goal is to become the U.S. Ambassador to a country (which country is up for question) or to the United Nations. It’s in the field I love, it would put me in a position to do good in the world, and it comes with a fun title! Yay!

My escape: A quiet, snowy forest in upstate New York. When I lived there, I used to take walks in the morning during the winter while the snow was falling, and the light was just starting to seep through the trees. It would always clear my head.

Something I will always do: Offer to cook or make coffee for guests. Every time I have people over, without fail, I will make something to eat or drink. Maybe it’s because I’m a barista, maybe it’s how I was raised. I think it’s just because there’s no better feeling than seeing others enjoy your cooking!

Something I will never do: Say no to fast food. I’m borderline addicted to Cookout, Bojangles, and Taco Bell. Sushi and steak are great and all, but fried chicken? Queso? Cookout rounds?!? I’m physically unable to turn any of it down.

My advice for prospective students: If you’re worried about meeting people and finding friends, don’t be. People are wonderful. You’ll find your crowd.

My advice for current students: Sleep more. Pulling all-nighters isn’t productive.

My favorite thing about the Honors College: Living in the Honors Residence Hall with people who push me to be my best. Nothing motivates you like friends who want to see you succeed.

My reason for choosing the SCHC: Out of all the schools I looked at, USC Honors was the only college that could offer both challenging academics, as well as a sense of community and home. The South Carolina Honors College will challenge you, but it will also support you through both academic and career building resources, and a tight-knit community to lift you up.