February 07, 2020

Volunteer Spotlight: Shayla Rae Merritt


By: Simone Keller

“THE WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER. Truly. While this may seem like a cliché and I guess, in some ways it totally is. Go after exactly what you want and never, let fear hold you back. Fear should be used as a motivator, not something that keeps you from going after what you want in life. Therefore, if you can dream it, go after it! It is usually in those moments when life starts to show you what is possible.”


Shayla Merritt is a 2010 graduate of the University of South Carolina. Shayla earned her Master of Mass Communication with a concentration in integrated communications and visual communications.


Shayla currently resides in West Columbia; SC and serves on the Black Alumni Council (BAC) as one of our Midlands representatives.


Shayla is employed as the Marketing and Communications Manager for Stevens & Wilkinson; an award-winning architecture, engineering and interior design firm with offices in Atlanta, GA, and Columbia, SC.


When asked what led to this role, Shayla explained, “Honestly fate and a deep love of architecture and design. Growing up I was and still am in a lot of ways a S.T.E.M./S.T.E.A.M. student.”

Her love of math and science coupled with her passion for design and architecture is what led her to this role. Without realizing it, everything in Shayla’s career was preparing her for this role.


“To be honest, this really is the perfect job for me as it combines all of the things I seriously like and thoroughly enjoy talking about,” Shayla said.”


Although Shayla did not attend UofSC for her undergraduate degree, Shayla served as a Graduate Assistant in the Office of Student Engagement (OSE), where she worked heavily with various student organizations and offices on campus.


“My time at South Carolina made me realize that I can take my communications skills and apply it to the S.T.E.M./S.T.E.A.M.-based industry (which is my background),” Shayla shared. “Since I understood the technical nature of the industry, I could then communicate that to the public in a way that made sense to the general public as well as to industry specific thought leaders. I realized that I could, in fact, bring together two separate worlds.”


Now as an alumna, Shayla is still active with S.T.E.M/S.T.E.A.M., which is largely why she choose to stay in South Carolina.


“While I was studying at South Carolina I fell in love with the Columbia region as a whole. There is so much to do here! From the weather, to the people, to the food, I knew this was the place I wanted to be,” Shayla said.”


“No matter where I was – Atlanta, Charlotte, Buffalo – everything always came back to South Carolina. This was the place, outside of my hometown of Buffalo, New York, where it really felt like “home.” I could see myself building a life here,” Shayla added.”


Learn more about the Black Alumni Council by visiting mycarolina.org/bac.

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