Born and raised in Sumter, Tasha Jenkins says she always knew she wanted to help people. However, she did not think her ambition to help others would lead her back to the Midlands to work at the University of South Carolina.
“I always knew I wanted to help people,” Jenkins said. “But I was not sure what avenue would work well with me.”
Before Jenkins found that, she attended North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. Jenkins studied music as an undergraduate. She took another route in graduate school, studying school counseling.
Jenkins took her talents to the primary level, while working as a elementary school counselor. Still, she says she wanted more.
Jenkins says she wanted a place to grow, so she took a try at higher education.
“I was literally looking for jobs for my husband, and I just ran across this position,” she said. “I read the description and was like, ‘Man, that sounds like a really cool job to have,’ and I just applied.”
In August 2018, USC hired Jenkins as the assistant director of diversity and inclusion for undergraduate admissions
Jenkins said that as an undergraduate, she had no sense of direction.
She says she wants to help students find their direction, while incorporating diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Initiatives like the Showcase Luncheon that invites minority students from around South Carolina every spring to eat with current USC students.
Or the Summer Seniors program that gives rising high school seniors a chance explore USC and get a taste of college life for a week.
Her position at USC allows her to do that.
“Doing my job now, I am able to work in different populations, and that is what I really want to do. It is my passion. It is what I really enjoy,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins lists a plethora of responsibilities when describing her job.
“I know that is pretty arbitrary and vague,” Jenkins said, referring to her list of duties. “But any kind of initiative they need, anything to do with diversity, I’m their girl.”
Jenkins says her job focuses on building relationships. Those relationships — with current students, prospective students and the community — allow Jenkins to live out her ambition of helping others.
She said that her job also helps high school students to see college as an option.
Jenkins talked about the student organization she oversees called the Multicultural Student Outreach Team, or MOST, and how it helps her do her job.
“I went to an HBCU (historically black college or university) for eight years,” Jenkins said. “It is definitely different for me to transition, but it is helping me come to it with fresh eyes and ears.”
Jenkins said MOST members volunteer at admissions events to help recruit minority students to attend USC. She mentioned the organization’s plans to pair up with Upward Bound students from around Columbia to further their outreach.
Jenkins’s passion for people allowed her to find her avenue. In her new position at USC, she says she wants to settle in before making any big changes. However, she said to ask her in a year, and she might have an idea or two.