By Melissa Gentry
University of South Carolina seniors Camila Villacreses and Bryce Robbins have been a couple since they were high school juniors in Summerville, S.C. Although they had known each other since elementary school, they didn’t officially start dating until their junior prom. A year later, they both headed to Columbia and became Gamecocks, with Camila majoring in biological sciences and Bryce majoring in chemical engineering. Throughout their four years at Carolina, they’ve stayed together, relied on each other and their relationship has grown stronger. And soon, they are taking two even bigger steps together. After they graduate in May, Camila and Bryce are getting married, and then they both will start medical school at MUSC in Charleston.
Camila and Bryce are leaders in Student Government. As first-year students, Camila joined Freshman Council, and Bryce volunteered with Walk Home Cocky, a Student Government-sponsored program that helps students get home safely from the library at night. During their sophomore year, they both served on Executive Cabinet – Camila was secretary of safety and transportation while Bryce was secretary of athletics. Camila also held the chief of staff position for the student body president during her junior year.
Active in Phi Delta Epsilon, the pre-medical fraternity, Camila recently finished her term as president, while Bryce served on both the finance and recruitment/selection committees. In addition to these multiple leadership roles, Camila and Bryce have maintained 3.986 and 3.94 GPAs, respectively.
During this exciting and whirlwind time in their lives, Camila and Bryce took some time to reflect on their experiences at USC and their relationship during this week of Valentine’s Day.
Student Life: You started dating when you were in high school. What was it like to come to college together?
Camila: Coming to college already dating was nerve-racking because we had already been together for over a year, and we weren’t sure what to expect from college or our relationship. However, college brought us closer because we were able to grow up away from home together, and we really supported each other to reach our goals and be good students. We’ve been together for almost 5 years now!
Bryce: I was a little nervous coming to college dating because it was such a big transition in our lives. I had faith in our relationship, but it was scary diving into the unknown together. However, being at USC together has only strengthened our relationship.
Student Life: With Valentine’s Day coming up, love is in the air! You got engaged this past June and are planning your wedding for May 27, right after graduation. Tell us how the proposal happened.
Bryce: I always write her letters and little poems for special occasions, so I got all of our friends and family to write letters to her about what she means to them.
Camila: We are both from near Charleston (S.C.), so it’s a pretty special city to us. Bryce told me we were going on one of our regular dates to Charleston, but he ended up taking me to different areas of the city that had meaning to us throughout our relationship.
Bryce: At the different locations around Charleston, I gave her those letters that our family and friends had written. The final place was at the Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park, where we went on one of our first dates in high school. I gave her the letters from her parents, brother and best friend and then proposed once she finished reading them. I had my cousin, who is a professional photographer, hide in some bushes behind us and take pictures of the whole thing! It was really amazing how enthusiastic everyone was about writing these letters to her. She’s from Ecuador, so we were receiving mail from all over the world with people eager to help!
Student Life: How have you balanced being a student leader while planning for your wedding and medical school?
Camila: It’s been hard having to balance everything on our plate throughout college, but it has really helped that we’ve had each other’s support through it. Recently, we had to balance taking the MCAT, applying for med school and wedding planning. Although it was hard, we always think about the end goal. We also try to find ways to de-stress so we don’t get too overwhelmed.
Bryce: Juggling a lot of different things definitely requires good time-management skills. Fortunately for me, I was an athlete in high school, so I trained myself early on to make time each day for specific tasks I need to complete. There’s definitely no room to procrastinate. You have to stay on top of everything, and I’m hoping that these experiences will help us going forward in medical school.
Student Life: How do you think being involved in leadership opportunities at UofSC has helped prepare you for what is to come in the future – including these major life moments of your engagement, wedding and medical school?
Camila: Both USC and our involvement on campus have helped us with everything for the past 4 years. We love the school, and the people we have met at USC have always helped and supported us. We have met many mentors, like Theresa Sexton, coordinator for Student Government, who have helped us academically, professionally and with our relationship.
Bryce: USC has been an enormous influence on our lives. We both got involved with Student Government because we love Carolina and it means so much to be students here. Without this university, I probably wouldn’t be going to medical school.
Camila: The leadership opportunities on campus have molded us into better leaders and people. As future doctors, we will face many challenges, and we will have medical teams that will look to us to lead them through some tough situations. However, the challenges that have been provided to us through our experiences as leaders on campus have shaped us to better face challenges in the future and have shown us how to deal with people as well as how to be empathetic and fair leaders. I have really benefited from leadership opportunities in my ability to work in a team both in Student Government and Phi Delta Epsilon, and I think this is super important in the future when I will have to work cohesively with a medical team to save someone’s life.
Bryce: Being involved definitely helped me come out of my shell a little bit. I’ve always been a shy person, so getting the opportunity to speak on behalf of my peers and put myself out there in leadership roles has really helped me grow. Camila has always been my role model for leadership, and I feel like these experiences in college have helped me come much closer to being the type of leader that the field of medicine demands.
Student Life: What do you think will be different, exciting and maybe even challenging about being married while both starting medical school?
Camila: We are both very excited to start this next step of our lives – both being married and attending medical school! I think it will be a lot different than undergrad because the class and campus will be smaller and the classes will be solely focused on medicine. I know that medical school will be extremely challenging, but I think that being married will help us because we have already centered our relationship around supporting each other and helping each other focus on succeeding and accomplishing goals, so medical school will be us just having to continue doing that – but now we get to live together and attend all the same classes!
Bryce: Taking on student loans simultaneously will definitely be challenging as well as the large time commitment required by medical school. However, we are both excited about taking our education another step further. Medicine is already a huge part of our lives and finally realizing our dreams of attending medical school will be an incredible opportunity.
Student Life: What are your plans after medical school?
Camila: After medical school, we both will enter into residency for the specialty we decide we want to go into. I am very passionate about surgery, so I hope to enter a 5-year residency for surgery at a hospital.
Bryce: I would love to specialize in a field related to internal medicine. I love the idea of diagnosing and the critical thinking that goes along with it. My long-term goal would be to move into a private or clinical setting and eventually establish my own medical practice. Honestly, serving the people in my local community is all I really want from my medical career.
Camila: We still have a long road ahead before we are both practicing medicine, but we are excited to take on the challenges ahead together and are thankful for all USC has helped us with along the way!