Darren Burton

Class of 2021: Darren Burton

Honors College accounting graduate to pursue master's at UofSC

Darren Burton, who grew up in the tiny town of Estill, South Carolina, and attended high school in Irmo, will graduate with leadership distinction in May with a degree in accounting from the Darla Moore School of Business and the South Carolina Honors College.

While at UofSC, he’s been involved in leadership activities, including serving as a resident mentor in Green Quad, vice president of the Black Honors Caucus and a member of the National Association of Black Accountants. He also is a UPS Global Scholar, an award given to outstanding and diverse Moore School students with international business interests.

He will stay on campus after graduation to earn his master of accountancy degree on his way to a career in tax accounting.

When I was looking at colleges, USC had the best business school in the state of South Carolina. I knew if I came here, I’d be able to go anywhere.

When I was coming to college, it was between USC and College of Charleston. Charleston had accepted me to their honors college; USC didn’t. I remember talking to my mom and saying if I could go to the Honors College at South Carolina, that would be my ultimate goal.

I forgot about being in the Honors College when I got here. But after my first semester I received a recruitment email. I had made a 4.0. It said, ‘We think you’d be a great applicant for transfer into the Honors College.’ I went to the information session and the ambassadors for the Honors College talked about how beneficial their experiences were.

I decided to give it a shot. This is honestly where I wanted to come in the first place. I reached out to my U101 professor and accounting professor to get recommendations. I polished my application in the spring semester, and I got in.

The Honors College has been great. It has let me know that on an academic level I can do pretty much anything I set my mind to if I apply myself.

Leadership is a moving target. It’s best to stay tuned to who you are.

Darren Burton, Darla Moore School of Business and South Carolina Honors College

Most people think the Honors College is super rigorous. It is, but it’s a different type of rigor. It’s less about memorization and more about having real world applicable experiences. We get to talk about things outside a textbook.

There are not a lot of African American students in the Honors College. With the Black Honors Caucus, we create a community for Black students to come together, share experiences and share ideas. At end of the day, we provide a community to empower African American students.

The goal is to promote diversity and recruit students to apply or transfer in. We’ve seen students we’ve talked to as high school students and as freshmen and sophomores who have transferred  in. We let them know they have a community here.

On admitted students day, I took a tour of Green Quad and I fell in love with how everything looked there. I’ve been an RM (resident mentor) at Green Quad since my second year. It gives me a chance to work on peer leadership.

Anything residents need, I’m their first point of contact. I remember when I came in as a freshman, not knowing what is going on. It’s cool to be there and to tell students, ‘It’s OK if you don’t have things figured out or if you’re not successful at first.’ I help people figure out what works for them.

Growing up, you see archetypes of what a leader is. The bravest, loudest, strongest. What my U290 class (Special Topics in Residential Leadership), taught me is that leading is less about what you’re trying to become and more about what you are. You build on the traits you already possess.

Leadership is a moving target. It’s best to stay tuned to who you are.

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