South Carolina Honors Student Is an Iraq Veteran and Truman Finalist

Editor’s Note: The following is from the University of South Carolina:

By Megan Sexton,, 803-777-1421

Five years ago, while he was serving his second deployment in Iraq, Alexander Nye Gutierrez would have had a difficult time imagining his life right now: A junior at the University of South Carolina who has been named a finalist for the Truman Scholarship.

Gutierrez, who is pursuing the highest degree possible from the South Carolina Honors College, will interview April 1 in Atlanta for the scholarship, one of the country’s most prestigious academic awards. The road from Washington D.C.’s Gonzaga College High School to the deserts of Iraq to the brick walkways of the USC campus has been a winding path of discovery for the 29-year-old Gutierrez.

His late father was a graduate of The Citadel, where Gutierrez also attended for one semester after he graduated from high school in 2002.

“It clearly wasn’t time for me to be in college,” Gutierrez said. “I decided I’d be better off serving some time in the armed forces first.”

So he joined the U.S. Army Reserves, and quickly found himself selected by his unit commander to go to language school. Soon he was in Iraq, working in psychological operations. Nearly three of his six years in the Reserves were spent in active duty.

Four weeks after he returned from the war in Iraq, he enrolled at USC for the spring 2009 semester, ready to put his military service behind him.

“It wasn’t the best idea. It was a very, very difficult transition,” he said. “I withdrew that semester and the next semester. I needed time to deal with what it was like to make a transition to being a civilian.”

By fall 2010, Gutierrez was back on the USC campus, ready to earn his degree. He had learned to appreciate and understand what his time in the service meant to him.

“It gives me sense of perspective on things,” he said.

He jumped into the classwork, and after his first year received an invitation to transfer into the prestigious South Carolina Honors College. He calls the experience “extraordinary,” pointing to his close relationships with advisers, small classes and challenging coursework as the reasons for his success.

Gutierrez is pursuing a Baccalaureus Artium et Scientiae (BARSC) degree – the highest possible at the university — with concentrations in Middle East studies, mathematics and international relations with a focus on security. He spent a summer working as an associate with the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) in 2012, and he continues his work as a research aide for IDA. He plans to pursue graduate degrees in mathematics/statistics and security studies, with plans to do security-related work for the government after he completes graduate school.

Next on his agenda is the interview for the Truman, a scholarship he hopes will be a perfect fit for him.

“The Truman Scholarship puts an emphasis on public service and becoming a change agent,” he said. “It’s incredibly humbling and thrilling and a little surreal to be a finalist. To be named a finalist for the state and the university, I’m very proud of that.”

South Carolina Honors College: More Prestigious Stamp Scholarships Are Available

By Megan Sexton,, 803-777-1421

Five additional students will be named Carolina Scholars — the University of South Carolina’s most prestigious in-state scholarship — with the help of a gift from the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation.

The gift will allow the university to expand the pool of Carolina Scholar freshmen recipients by five, bringing the total number to 25 a year, starting in 2013-14. These additional five recipients will be Stamps Carolina Scholars, and will receive a $10,000 annual scholarship for four years, plus an enrichment fund of $8,000 to use for endeavors such as study abroad, leadership scholar projects, internships and undergraduate research. The Stamps Family Charitable Foundation will pay for half of these five scholarships, with other donors providing matching funds.

“Carolina Scholar students are representatives of the best our state has to offer,” university President Harris Pastides said. “We are pleased to be able to extend the scholarship to additional South Carolina students through the generosity of the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation.”

The students will become part of the university’s prestigious Carolina Scholars program, started in 1969 to celebrate the virtues of a world-class education and keep the state’s most academically talented students in South Carolina. Through private support, the university expanded from nine students in the first year to more than 80 on campus today. Carolina Scholars receive automatic entrance into the South Carolina Honors College, recently ranked as the nation’s top public honors college.

Each Carolina Scholar award provides an annual scholarship of $10,000, a laptop computer, preferred freshmen housing and parking privileges. In addition, the Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs provides recipients with advising, mentoring and a comprehensive calendar of events during their four years at Carolina.

“We are thankful for this gift from the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation and the trust the Stamps have placed in our university. These new Stamps Carolina Scholar scholarships will become the top-tier in-state award at USC and will help us continue to attract South Carolina’s most talented students,” said Steve Lynn, dean of the South Carolina Honors College.

The Stamps Family Charitable Foundation, founded by Penny and E. Roe Stamps IV of Miami, selected USC as its newest partner in offering premier scholarship opportunities to incoming freshmen. The foundation partners with 33 universities and supports nearly 300 students. This year’s 120 new Stamps Scholars were chosen from more than 160,000 applications across the country.

The original schools in the Stamps scholarship program were Georgia Tech and the University of Michigan, the alma maters of E. Roe Stamps and Penny Stamps. Other schools receiving the scholarship funding include the universities of Chicago, Georgia, Virginia, Florida and Southern California.

“We started on an ‘ad hoc’ basis at Georgia Tech,” said Roe Stamps, a venture capitalist with undergraduate and master’s degrees in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School. “As we got to know our students and followed their progress, we were increasingly impressed with the quality of the scholars and the personal growth they enjoyed. Our experience was similar at Michigan, and, with the programs well-established at both schools, we decided to branch out to a number of other leading U.S. schools.”