Picture of students using computers in the library

A Presidential Sand Shark

November 02, 2013

Meet my peer: Devin Mock. Learn of her life as a fellow Sand Shark and hear about her immersion into that of the role of: leader. I guarantee you, if she seems presidential, it’s because she is: history major and senior, Devin Mock is the USCB Student Government Association (SGA) President. Devin is in every sense of the word a voice of our student body, and I would call no other name to serve in that role than hers.

SGA President Devin Mock

I walked into the student recreation center on the South Campus of USCB. I navigated my way past the ping pong tables, down a hall, and with a bit of luck turned right. I proceeded to peer into each office and room in hopes I’d spot the Madam President.

Spotting Devin in the course of your day at USCB is not too difficult. She is always on the go to a meeting, among IT in the library attending to her student work hours, walking the halls to class, speaking with some faculty or student, and occasionally you can find her sitting to actually take time and eat in her busy schedule (yes presidents eat too).

Just as I braced to ask “Is this Devin’s office?” I saw Devin smiling and waving to me as I stood in the doorway. Her office was more like a conference room with over five people arrayed throughout its 12 by 9 space. I cannot recall if I remarked how “hopping of a place” the office was or if I was visibly thinking it because Devin remarked “yea, it’s always like this.” Which made her presidency that much more cool to myself.

I had been pursuing Devin to record her most recent adventures to Washington D.C. but by the end of her interview I walked away with so much more... I walked away with new knowledge and insight into the government, education systems, and the role of students as growing leaders. I walked away with a real sense of the powerful roles at our fingertips and the realities of how easily we can lose that power. I walked away with motivation and inspiration to live my role in awareness, communication, and dedication… because what I saw in Devin is that living your role in such a way is the way which will be remembered and the way which will make a difference.

Devin’s journey to Washington occurred the 17th, 18th, and 19th of October (2013). I asked Devin how it was such an opportunity arose. She shared that Chase Mizzell the SGA President of the USC Columbia Campus had discussed it previously with her at a conference. His desire was to bring the university’s campuses together to lobby in D.C.

Capitol Building

I asked Devin: “What are you lobbying for?” Devin subsequently unraveled to me the efforts she and the other SGA members throughout USC’s campuses were attending to. Going as a group on behalf of USC promoted the university as a whole, as the one unit it is, reflecting that USC’s impact is uniquely across the state, serving more people in more places. In the state of South Carolina we are the only college system that is spread to every corner. The beauty of this is availability and presence. The state of South Carolina is home to USC, and as its home it makes the effort to leave no part unforgotten, placing itself throughout the state. As our Student Government Association members of USC argued: such presence and availability has equipped people who are unable to leave their town (due to a variety of life factors pertaining to family or personal adversities, be it illness, financial responsibilities, etc.) with the opportunity to an education and the pursuit of their dreams.

Devin and her comrades also spoke on behalf of each campus’ involvement in the delegate staffer’s constituent areas, noting the heightened boosts in each city’s local economy and the strengthened community involvement through volunteer work, artistic endeavors, environmental advancements etc. brought by the student life and studies. USC’s wisdom in its university’s location across the state unites the constituent areas: this region’s education system is no longer less important than that region’s education system. The STATE OF SC’s education system is important and present. This is why when you pay attention to USC it is not just Columbia or Upstate or Beaufort or Sumter or Salkehatchie or Aiken or Union or Lancaster: it is the entire state, this creates a support system and importance, a greater voice and call, and a greater demand to survive and be heard.

Devin and her team spoke with SC’s education staffers: the legislative directors and aids about these ideas in a tone of “this is why you should pay attention to us”. They also attended the National Collegiate Leaders Conference (NCLC) to speak on another element which grabbed my own attention. Devin and the SGA teams of USC fought for the renewal of the Higher Education Act and I could not agree more with the fight. Essentially the current Higher Education Act is what protects higher education: one major role being it regulates educational loans-- making attending college financially possible. Without this act one may acquire other loan means for their education, but only to find they will have to make very cumbersome payments in specific allotted amounts of time repetitively: a nearly impossible task for the student or recent graduate. Often times it will prove impossible and the result of such default leads to bankruptcy and suddenly the education you took to further your life becomes the educational cost that has took your means of life. The Higher Education Act protects us from that and it needs renewal which our very own USC governments were fighting for in Washington DC. (Pictured below USC's SGA members with Representative of SC 1st District: Mark Sanford.)

USC's Government Student Association Members with Mark Sanford

Yet probably one of the most exciting parts of Devin’s journey was her meeting with Fran Person. Fran Person is a former Gamecock football lineman and today is the personal aid to the U.S. Vice President: Joe Biden. Mr. Person took the USC Student Government Association members into the VP Ceremonial Office of the Eisenhower Executive Building.

Eisenhower Executive Office Building

Here they looked upon Nixon’s desk and saw the hidden carve-out which held Nixon's infamous secret tape recorder. The tapes resulting, which held over 3,000 hours’ worth of undisclosed recordings, are what would morph into the Watergate Scandal. It was due to the nature of the recordings and the consequences that followed their secrecy and continuing scandalous manner that the truth emerged in greater capacities. The truth that this dugout alone spoke upon assisted in the ultimate resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.  In the desk Devin and the other SGA members continued to witness history, within one drawer they gazed upon the signatures of every past VP of the United States since the Nixon era, a tradition that still remains alive today.

USC's Government Student Association Members in the VP Office current location of Nixon's DeskAs if the thrill factor was not high enough to Devin and her peers’ one more surprise awaited them. If you recall, our US government underwent a shutdown on October 1st of 2013, fortunately for our Washington bound USC Student Government Association members the U.S. government reopened October 16th, the day before their trip to Washington. Due to the recent governmental shutdown (despite the reopening) the White House was not permitting guests during the time Devin and the rest of the USC group were in Washington. --However Fran Person was! Mr. Person took the USC gang through parts of the White House and moments later they were introduced to Vice President: Joe BidenJoe Biden 1Joe Biden 2Joe Biden 3

Our USC Student Government Association members had a great discussion between the party of themselves, Fran Person, and Joe Biden, discussing the aforementioned issues and much more, and perhaps it was too great a discussion as Joe Biden ran late to a large conference meeting with the President of the United States!

USC's Government Student Association Members at WWII MemorialDevin absorbed all this and many other amazing sights and moments throughout Washington including the WWII Memorial (pictured above), the Library of Congress (pictured below), the Smithsonian (which held such fascinations like that of The Berlin Wall), and let us not forget to mention the metro system experience which she and her group discovered and became all too familiar with!

Library of Congress Reading Room

Devin’s mind has been obviously delighting in the inspirations of such visions and adventures, driven to make a resounding impression in her own school, community, state, and nation with the education and wisdom that have been gifted to her. Such gifts she has received and honed with a gratitude expressed in her unquestionable intellect and ambitions. I will not be surprised if Washington D.C. meets Devin Mock again in the future, she most certainly is a presidential Sand Shark and a presidential leader.

USC's Government Student Association Members MetroUSC's SGA Members becoming acquainted                                                                                                with the Metro System in D.C.


Yours Truly: Presidentially Inspired Sand Shark,

                                                                        Erin Dailey