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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

  • Hikaym Rivers walks across the graduation stage signaling "spurs up" after fist bumping hands with Interim Dean David Cardenas.

Making the most of it: Hospitality management graduate takes full advantage of college opportunities

Hikaym Rivers is here to make the most of life’s opportunities, and if that means being exceptionally busy or taking some extra time, he doesn’t mind.

Rivers will claim his bachelor’s degree in hospitality management this month after an undergraduate career at the University of South Carolina which included not only outstanding performance in the classroom but also playing flute in the Carolina Band, working at several jobs and internships, and being involved with numerous student organizations.

“I’m a fifth-year senior, doing an extra semester because I took band and dance and all these extra other classes, and I don’t regret it,” Rivers says. “There's no timeline saying when I have to graduate. I’m enjoying my time here.”

That time will extend beyond December’s commencement ceremony, as Rivers will remain connected to the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. Taking advantage of opportunities offered by the college, he will work at the PGA Tour Players Championship in March and the Masters at Augusta National in April.

Rivers, a Charleston, South Carolina native who will be the first in his family to earn a college degree, has found jobs throughout his time at UofSC which not only helped pay the bills but also provided hands-on experience in the hospitality industry. In the summer of 2021, he was one of just 13 students statewide selected for Explore Charleston's new Intern Cultural Enrichment Program, an initiative that connects underrepresented minority students with world-class internship opportunities in the local travel and hospitality industry. 

Earning a place in that program led to an internship at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, and Rivers has found that he enjoys the luxury side of hospitality. After graduation, he plans to pursue a career in the yacht industry.

Rivers has found strong support from faculty, friends, and organizations like the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, but the journey has not all been a smooth sail. As a young Black man and a member of the LGBTQ community, he says he has sometimes felt alienated.

“Some people will treat you differently. The world is dangerous and sometimes I’ve felt like I had a triple target on my back,” he says, but adds that he has never let any of that stand in his way. “I’ve enjoyed myself here. I met wonderful people and I’ve dated wonderful people. Don’t be scared.”

Rivers says one of the most valuable lessons he has learned is that getting out of your comfort zone will pay dividends. He did so in many ways, including working to build the UofSC chapter of the National Society for Minorities in Hospitality.

“Talk to your teachers and professors. They worked in this industry, they have good networks, they have good connections. They will help you and they're amazing people,” he says. “There are so many clubs and organizations too. There’s no reason you should be stuck in your dorm. UofSC offers a lot of stuff.”

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