ORANGEBURG, S.C. – Long before N’Kosi Ellis transferred from Midlands Technical College in Columbia, the South Carolina State University campus was his stomping grounds.
In primary grades, Ellis attended Felton Laboratory School, which sits on the SC State campus just across the street from his new home away from home in Hugine Suites.
“So, I kind of grew up here, and I just wanted to come back,” Ellis said. “It just feels like it’s family. It feels like home.
“I just want to experience the whole college lifestyle,” he said of his hopes for the Fall Semester. “I’m looking forward to it … football games, homecoming of course, tailgating. I’m not sure what all they have planned, but I’m ready for it.”
N’Kosi Ellis sanitizes his room in Hugine Suites.
Ellis and other residential students moved into SC State residence halls last week ahead of the Fall 2021 semester. Like most schools across the country, SC State is returning to full residency for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic prompted officials to shift to remote instruction in the spring of 2020. Classes are set to start Monday, Aug. 23, with enhanced safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Students have been strongly encouraged to wear face coverings in campus buildings and to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
As a transfer student majoring in mathematics, Ellis got accustomed to college-level coursework, so he seemed ready for SC State classes.
“I’ve been told that if I do whatever I am supposed to do, then it should be OK — not easy but OK,” he said. “I’m sure I can always relate to the professors, and they all seem pretty cool.”
Aside from adjusting to the warmer, more humid climate in Orangeburg, freshman Majesti Polite had little concern about moving to campus from Anderson, South Carolina. Her sights always had been set on a Historically Black College or University.
“I wanted to be in an environment where there were people like me and I could learn more about my history,” she said. “I don’t know a lot about where I come from, and so by coming to an HBCU I can share my views. I don’t think there will be major disagreements or anything.”
SC freshman Majesti Polite outside her residence, Battiste Hall.
Polite will start business classes next week with hopes of being an entrepreneur. She had a head start with My Melanin Apparel, her own enterprise for customized clothing.
“I’m all about working, and I’m not really as much into the social life,” she said. “I want to complete my four years and hopefully go onto graduate school. I don’t want to get caught up in anything, because I’m on a scholarship, so I have to make sure my grades stay up.”
Senior Jeremy Pace of Holly Hill, South Carolina, also was zeroed in on his future from day one. The mechanical engineering major was attracted to SC State by the Bulldog Battalion ROTC program. He plans to complete his degree and earn his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army for a career in military service.
“I love ROTC. It becomes a major part of your life here,” Pace said. “You have PT (physical training) three days a week and ROTC classes twice a week, so you’re always with ROTC and nine times out of 10 you are in uniform.”
Being a member of the Bulldog Battalion meant he was able to stay involved on the SC State campus while most students were away over the last 18 months. Still, he was glad for the opportunity to collaborate with fellow students in person.
SC State senior Jeremy Pace plans a career in military service.
“The thing with being off campus was that engineering classes were weird,” Pace said. “Trying to do everything online was weird. You have less interaction. You can’t go about what you’re doing and work with your buddies in your class because you’re not together.
“I just want things to go back to normal as much as possible. That’s what I’m hoping,” he said.
SC State criminal justice major Shaina Fears intends to apply to law schools as she completes her senior year on campus.
“It’s great to be back at full capacity. Everybody looks well and happy,” she said. “I missed the campus life, the spirt, the packed-out football games.”
She also missed interacting with her sorority sisters in Alpha Kappa Alpha.
“All of us are excited to be back, and we’re going to have a good year,” Fears said. “We will have community service projects and stuff like that as we can – with social distancing and still following all the guidelines. We want to get to know everybody on campus.”
Senior Shaina Fears is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha.