Freshman Sidney McIntosh had a pretty good idea about what attending a large university would be like before she ever started considering her college options. Growing up in Mount Pleasant, a Division I college and other sizable schools were right down the road from her. A true social butterfly, Sidney knew she would thrive at a relationships-centered college and launched her search to find just that.
“I stumbled on OC by chance when I was researching schools online,” Sidney explained. “I was intrigued by the beauty of campus at first, and then connected with head cheer coach Trish Thomas. Coach Thomas was so nice and welcoming. When I toured campus, I loved the feeling – students held doors open for me and said hello. I also attended the Cultivating Women Leaders event in March. I met a lot of people quickly and it just felt right, and I was right! OC has not let me down once.”
Growing up, cheerleading had always been a big part of Sidney’s life and she was certain it would play a large role in her college journey as well. In high school, Sidney even served as captain of her cheer team. Over the past year, OC’s team has taken tremendous strides of growth, and even earned a bid to the National Cheer Association championships during its first year performing on the competitive level. This year, the team has earned the honor again and will travel to Daytona for the competition in April 2018.
“It’s really cool to be a part of a program that’s still growing,” Sidney said. “It gives my teammates and me the opportunity to make it personal and focus on improving ourselves to improve the whole team. Coach Thomas has exemplified amazing leadership and even checks up on our grades. She’s there for us as athletes, students and young women.”
Led by her outgoing personality that shines on cheer squads and a desire to connect with as many people as she can, Sidney is majoring in journalism and mass communication (JMC). She has always been fascinated with celebrities and has career goals to work on a magazine staff. In her classes, Sidney is learning the basics of news writing, mass communication techniques and the foundation for ethical reporting. In addition, she’s putting her new skills to practice as a DJ on OC’s student-led radio station, WOCR, and as an OC Stories student blogger.
“I really couldn’t contain my excitement when I landed the blogging position with OC Stories, and was amazed I could have my own show on the radio too. I’m only a freshman, but I’m already doing things that help me grow my skills and build my resume,” Sidney explained. “I love that I have two different platforms to share my experience on – it never seems like work, I’m always having fun. Professor Joanne Williams has been a huge help too. I’ll always remember one of the first times we met she already said she was proud of me for taking my college education so seriously and saw my potential to succeed.”
On top of her academic work and career preparation, Sidney maintains her own beauty and lifestyle YouTube channel that helps her build confidence and learn about appealing to a variety of different audiences. One of her favorite videos, a dorm room hall featuring all the items Sidney brought to college with her, received nearly 1,000 views.
Sidney also found her fit as a member of the Black Student Union, and appreciates the group’s efforts to raise awareness about different cultures and heritages. “I felt welcome right away,” Sidney explained. “BSU is a great platform for open communication and support at weekly meetings. We also go on field trips to museums and other places to learn about black history. All around, it’s an awesome way to make friends, feel empowered and learn how to stand up for what you believe in.”
While Sidney is enjoying her holiday break right now, she’s looking forward to returning to OC this spring, calling it her home. On Jan. 14, the cheer and dance teams are hosting an open practice for high school students interested in bringing their talents to OC, and the first STUNT competition of the year is coming up on Jan. 28. Sidney knows the team will be practicing harder than ever to prepare for the NCA competition in April, but they’ll be having a lot of fun too.
“I’m not a number at OC, and that’s really important,” Sidney emphasized. “The close-knit community doesn’t give you an option to not be involved, and that’s created an engaging and exciting experience for me. Everyone should want that from college.”
Check out Sidney’s blog or schedule a visit to learn more about OC and its JMC program, cheer and STUNT team, BSU and campus life. Contact the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org for questions.