Meet Shorelight Alumni: Yehor at USC Earns Presidential Award for Outstanding Seniors

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By Deshan Mendis
Published on November 2, 2023

Yehor from Ukraine studied international business and economics at the University of South Carolina. Today, he’s working full time at a telecommunications consulting company in Boston.

YehorUkraineUniversity of South Carolina

Yehor, an international student at the University of South Carolina, sits on a stairwell on the USC campus in his graduation robes holding his graduation cap.

While at the University of South Carolina, Yehor from Ukraine majored in international business and economics, using his time as a study abroad student “to challenge the norm and compete with the brightest minds in the world.” His hard work paid off — he won business role-play and case competitions as a freshman, networked with Fortune 500 companies, and received the prestigious Presidential Award for Outstanding Seniors. He’s now in Boston, where he’s working full time for a global telecommunications consulting company.

Read on to learn more about Yehor’s story and his experience moving from Ukraine to USC to pursue his dreams!

Yehor’s Journey to the University of South Carolina

USC is known for its supportive and amazing undergraduate experience — in fact, U.S. News & World Report just ranked it the number-one first year experience for 2024. When Yehor first came to the US for his undergraduate studies, it was USC’s welcoming environment and student-friendly resources that helped him navigate through the challenges of living in a new country.

“My experience at USC was more just related to things happening all over the world. We had the COVID pandemic and given that I am originally from Ukraine, there is also a war that started back home,” he said. “So, things were just moving and the world was changing.” 

Campus was an oasis, however. “The whole four years of experience at USC was just incredible,” he said. 

Ranked #1 in International Business Programs (U.S. News & World Report), USC’s international business curriculum includes internships, career trek opportunities, and expert faculty support. Yehor credits the program for preparing him as he gained application skills, strong theoretical knowledge, and real-world exposure to earn the Presidential Award.

“Most professors are Ivy League graduates,” he said. “They bring that experience of teaching at some of the best universities in the world, so you get that exposure. [It is the] same material, same knowledge, as you would get in any Ivy League school, but here it is compounded and compressed into a very specific niche which is international business.”  

Yehor also discussed how the structure of the program included a second major to bundle with the international business degree. Students can choose to specialize in economics, operations, finance, marketing, and more, so they’ll graduate with well-rounded business knowledge. 

“It prepares you well to go market yourself under the #1 international business program!” he said.

The program is truly exceptional, and you feel it, and you know it is the #1 program when you get into it. Not only because of how competitive it is, but the professors and people you meet at the program are extraordinary.” — Yehor from Ukraine, Presidential Award Winner, USC alum

Yehor’s Success in Business Competitions

Yehor began participating in business role-play and case competitions during his freshman year, taking advantage of USC’s hands-on learning events that complemented his classroom experience. He credits USC’s engaging campus life — clubs and organizations, sports events, and cultural activities — as the catalyst for his getting involved. 

“USC stands out from other schools by giving us free time to do other things, which can include football games, having some fun around here, but [also the] opportunity to do extra stuff, such as [participating in] organizations and competitions,” he said.

As a member of the Carolina Sales Institute (CSI), Yehor began developing strong communication skills such as negotiation and public speaking, and also learned to stay calm and composed in stressful situations. His first win was at the Darla Moore School of Business Annual Sales Competition at USC, where he was the first-ever international student and freshman to win! 

After his groundbreaking win, Yehor moved on to represent USC and compete at the Great Northwood Sales Warm-Up, a national collegiate sales competition in Wisconsin, where he had the opportunity to network with leaders and professionals at Fortune 500 companies. He then went on to win the Selling with the Bulls competition at the University of South Florida in Tampa, which made him recognize his passion to connect with people from around the world and pursue a career in sales.

In the next three years of college, Yehor diversified his competition profile by participating in more complex and challenging competitions in subjects ranging from marketing and global strategy to business analytics and tech/industrial consulting. Over the course of his four years at USC, he represented the university in various worldwide competitions in London, Montreal, Odessa, San Francisco, Seoul, and more.

Winning the Presidential Award

Participating in business competitions, connecting with leaders, and gaining exclusive knowledge of the corporate world — while also succeeding academically — were all factors that lead to Yehor earning the Presidential Award.

“I started to do competitions my freshman year and that Presidential Award signifies how much work is put into it,” he said, noting only 2.2% of graduates usually receive that award. Additionally, he was the only international student recipient from his graduating class. 

Yehor credits the supportive and enthusiastic learning environment at USC’s Darla Moore School of Business, which always motivated him to achieve his ambitions. 

“I arrived as no one from nowhere, and today I am departing as one of the top students from a prestigious American university,” he said during his acceptance speech. 

While talking about how his campus experience at USC helped him work toward the Presidential Award, he said, “Nothing else in the world feels like the campus at South Carolina. It is just out of this world! Even though it was more hectic and tougher than I initially expected, I think USC equipped me with the skills that prepared me for this tough journey.” 

What’s Next for Yehor

Yehor is excited about his future in the business world. Today he is employed full time at a telecommunications consulting company in Boston and hopes to move forward in his career with the same enthusiasm and drive.

“I did an internship with Opensignal, probably the best company I have worked with in my entire life,” he said. “It’s a very interesting company with offices all around the world and its headquarters in Boston.” 

After Yehor completed both the internship and his degree program, Opensignal hired him back for a full-time role. 

Yehor’s Advice for International Students

Yehor believes learning outside of the classroom and applying your knowledge to real-world scenarios is important. 

“College in the US is not just about studying, it’s about enjoying the experience,” he said. “Have fun, [and] meet a lot of people, as many as you can. That is why USC is a great university; [there are] tons of people [from] all across the world, all across the US.” 

He encourages international students to participate in competitions and interactive conferences to learn from students from different backgrounds and leaders at industry-leading organizations, while also building their interpersonal skills and professional connections along the way. 

He also stresses that students should never give up, but to stay active, and always prepare in advance for assignments, competitions, and especially interviews. He recognizes that it will take a lot of hard work and perseverance, but the results are worth it. 

“Preparation is separation!” he said. “If you can [prepare] yourself, you can separate yourself from the other candidates.”

Yehor’s time at USC helped him discover his talents and make lifelong connections. With the support services and opportunities available at USC, Yehor was able to work toward his academic and professional goals while also making friends, enjoying campus life, and building memories that will last a lifetime. 

“Have fun [and] meet people — that is a very important part of college,” he said. “You will sit with them and you will meet them 40 years from now and you will have a lot to share with each other!”

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