My name is Omar K. Elmore and I am a first-year student at Wofford. I am interested in writing, film, and finance– so obviously I haven’t decided on a major! I am stuck between English, business finance, and possibly even French (as France is the birthplace of the film industry). I didn’t grow up in a rich family or anything close to one; neither of my parents graduated from college.
How did I, a first generation college student who had only learned of the school junior year, end up at Wofford?
I grew up in Greenwood, South Carolina, a tiny city in the Upstate; it was once a mill town until the recession hit. Greenwood is hardly known around the country but we were featured in the New York Times… for having the steepest economical decline in the nation.
Regardless of the economics, I grew up in a pretty resilient town. The arts are really stressed in Greenwood as we have an art museum, a popular community theater that puts on famous shows such as The Wizard of Oz and Footloose, and, more important to me, an arts magnet program called ACTS (Arts, Communication, and Theatre School). After flying through elementary school with unblemished grades, I applied for ACTS and got in. At one of the three local middle schools, Brewer, we learned advanced material and also advanced art topics. There are several “focus” classes which students would attend daily for all three years: dance, voice, drama, orchestra, production technology, and my focus, visual arts. Students also could take “rotation” classes which met each day for a semester in a different focus topic. Further, one of the agreements to be enrolled in ACTS is the performance of two plays a year, done by the students.
This all added up to a pretty cool middle school experience. As a visual art focus student, my class and I were all responsible for the backdrop of each show we put on and for being stagehands. I learned pretty quickly that I don’t really like visual arts but I loved helping with the plays, even behind the scenes. I found a new love for theater that later expanded to a love of film in general.
After ACTS, I attended Greenwood High School, a huge public school known for its stellar football program. My grades were still stellar and I finished top 10% of my class with the highest SAT score in my school by senior year. During high school, I also worked for Chick-Fil-A, working my way up to a management position.
I had started writing around the eighth grade and by senior year I had decided to pursue writing as a career, if possible. My mother had grown up in New York and I grew up idolizing the city, loving her stories of the variety of foods, cultural activities, and general weather the city offered. After a visit in middle school, I decided New York University (NYU) was the school I was going to attend, studying dramatic writing a la Donald Glover. However, after getting serious about my college search, I realized I had a very romanticized view of the city and the school. Further, a large school without an actual campus was not exactly what I was looking for.
I first heard about Wofford through a close friend of mine, Kathleen, and her parents who are alumni. I visited the school with Kathleen and her parents and I loved the sense of community and the overall atmosphere of the campus. Weeks later, I attended a dinner party with several alumni along with the President of the college, Dr. Samhat. I loved the way the alumni remained close and all lauded the curriculum of Wofford. Over the months that followed, I visited the school several more times as a Wofford Scholar; through the Wofford Scholars program, students interview for large academic scholarships. I got several invitations back as the scholarships I interviewed for grew more and more prestigious.
I ended up getting into my dream school, NYU, along with all the other schools I applied to– Syracuse, Clemson, Auburn and Wofford. I had already decided NYU wasn’t the school for me as it would be a huge financial burden and did not fit the kind of school I wanted to attend; still, I am proud that I got into such a competitive school that I had dreamed about for years.
The other schools were pretty much “safe schools” and I got full ride offers from each one. However, Wofford made me an offer that is impossible to refuse. Jerry Richardson, owner of the Carolina Panthers, attended Wofford before making it big in football and business. He has a scholarship in his name, the Richardson Scholarship, which is the highest academic scholarship offered at Wofford which comes with several benefits along with a full ride to the school. After several interviews, I was offered the scholarship and I gladly accepted.
While I am not sure exactly what I want to study, I love that I selected a liberal arts college where I can explore several different interests. This has been such a great experience already and I am so excited to share my life at Wofford here on this blog!