Recent graduate Bailey Gray is applying the skills she developed at the University of South Carolina Aiken to her new role as special assistant in the office of U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson. The political science major was hired in August to provide constituent services in the South Carolina congressional representative's Aiken/Barnwell office.
Gray, a North Augusta native, entered USC Aiken confident in her decision to major in political science. Although she briefly considered a shift to real estate and even earned her license while a full-time student, she recognizes that her passion lies in public policy and government affairs.
"I love that I get to interact with people in the community, hear them out, help them, and hopefully make a difference in whatever they are facing," she says.
While attending USC Aiken, Gray was active in the Political Science Club, served as marketing senator for the Student Government Association and was involved with the National Society of Leadership and Success, serving as its fundraising chair. Having made a significant impression on the faculty, she was nominated and recognized as an Outstanding Senior.
She says, "I tend to doubt myself and lack realization that I deserve something like that, so it was a big surprise that I was nominated. It was so rewarding, and I was so appreciative of my professors who contributed to that nomination."
As Gray's graduation date neared, Associate Professor Sarah Young alerted her to an opening in Rep. Wilson's office and encouraged her to apply. A short time later, Gray was offered the job.
Young says, "Bailey was a stand-out major in our Political Science program. She was an exceptional in-class student who was also well engaged in campus governance. Now she is using the policy and communication skills she honed at USC Aiken to serve constituents in the Aiken/Barwell office of Rep. Joe Wilson. I am particularly proud of her as an example of a strong, resilient young woman who is forging a career in government."
In her new role, Gray performs case work for constituents, bridging the gap to the federal agencies that provide the services they need. She also serves as the office ambassador to the Aiken Chamber of Commerce. One area she particularly enjoys is working with military veterans and their families, helping to secure medals of honor and records that have been lost. "It's very rewarding to help them collect those artifacts that are important to their family," she says.
A large part of Gray's job is communicating and making connections with people in the community, and the relationships she formed and networking skills she acquired at USC Aiken help her do that. She encourages all political science majors to forge relationships with their professors and take advantage of the resources they offer.
"The thing I loved most about USC Aiken is that it was so personable," she says. "Establishing those relationships and connections with professors is so important for success. I probably wouldn't be here without that. The fact that Dr. Young reached out goes to show the importance of those relationships, and USC Aiken is one of the best schools for that."
"The connections that students make at a smaller regional university such as USC Aiken give them important routes to pursue their career goals," Young adds. "I am thrilled that Bailey is working with Deputy District Director Erin Harrison in serving constituents in the Aiken/Barnwell area. These women exhibit the highest standards of professionalism and representation."