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Darla Moore School of Business

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Creating her own path

First-generation college student sets sights on graduate school

First-generation Moore School student Kiara Fleming is writing her own story by working towards her undergraduate and graduate degrees at USC to become a human-resources professional.  

Fleming, a senior human resources management and finance major from Greer, South Carolina, says being a first-generation college student means a lot to her family.

“All the hard work both my family and I have done is paying off,” she said. “To my family and me, getting a degree from the Moore School means that I will be able to create my own path and open doors for myself as well as all the others that will come after me.”

The Moore School’s reputation and renowned professors are some of the biggest reasons Fleming chose to come to the school.

“I truly believe that having a degree from the Moore School gives me an advantage over the competition because of the reputation of the Moore School,” she said. “I knew the curriculum would be challenging and that I would have world-renowned professors, both of which I knew would help me become a well-rounded business professional.”

She chose her majors for different reasons but later discovered how beneficial the two are when put together.

“I decided to major in human resources because I enjoy working with people, solving problems and helping make a place better than I found it,” Fleming said. “I decided to major in finance as that industry is interesting to me. Simply put, I didn't know a lot about the finance world, and I wanted to know more about it. Later, I discovered just how helpful having a finance background in human resources would be.”

Fleming is also part of the Rising Scholars Program at USC. She says she joined the program to gain a “small college feeling at a large school.”

“I saw that the Rising Scholars Program would bring a diverse group of people together and create a space where we could help each other navigate through college, and being a first-generation student, I knew I had to be a part of that,” she said.

As part of the Rising Scholars program, which is entering its fourth year in 2021-2022, students attend a tailored session of the University 101 first-year experience course, participate in social, academic, and professional development activities, network with successful alumni, are paired with faculty and peer mentors, benefit from personal finance education and can obtain a Truist leadership certification.  

Additionally, all Rising Scholars have the opportunity to reside in a living-learning community during their freshman year and have access to peer tutors and ad hoc academic resources. Students with financial needs receive a renewable scholarship each academic year.

The Rising Scholars has rewarded Fleming for her hard work by providing helpful incentives and relationships during her time at USC.

“This program has helped me by rewarding my hard work through scholarships, providing networking resources, and this program connected me with some people I'm closest with today,” she said.

For new underrepresented students, Fleming recommends the Rising Scholars Program because of its experiences and supportive peer group.

“I would recommend this program to incoming students because this program gives you an instant group of people that want to see each other succeed,” she said. “This group provides you with opportunities to grow both personally and professionally through experiences that are only available to Rising Scholars.”

Along with being a member of the Rising Scholars, Fleming has also participated in several internships while in school. She said her most impactful internship has been with Willis HR, a human resources consulting company in Columbia, South Carolina. She currently works with the business as a human resources assistant.

“I've gained so much knowledge and experience by working with different clients,” she said. “I've learned more about recruiting, onboarding, employee retention and policy creation as well as implementation. This internship solidified my desire to be in human resources.”

After graduation, Fleming plans to get her Master’s in Human Resources from USC. Once she has completed her graduate degree, she says she would like to start as a human resources generalist and work towards being a specialist or manager.

In the future, Fleming plans to move to Charlotte, North Carolina, and work in the human resources field. She also sees herself moving to work in different cities before settling in one place to start a family.

-James Culbertson

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.