3/13/17 - Mark Zuckerburg Visit

Each year, founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg sets a personal challenge for himself. This year, Zuckerberg has chosen to travel to every state he has not visited in a tour he has named a Year of Travel. Zuckerberg began his tour in February with a road trip through Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. On Sunday, Zuckerberg made a stop in Charleston at the Mother Emanuel AME Church and in Greenville to visit the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities (SCGSAH).

After a brief tour of the SCGSAH campus with school President Dr. Cedric Adderley, Dean Julie Allen and Director of Guidance Services Lela McKnight, Zuckerberg enjoyed a solo performance by dance senior Leah Abbott, of Florence. He then sat down with 13 students to hear about their experiences at the Governor's School, growing up in South Carolina, and what their recommendations were for getting a taste of the Palmetto State. Creative writing senior Sam Gee highly recommended boiled peanuts, while others suggested trying local barbecue, Lowcountry boil, peach cobbler and sweet tea. They also touched on their future aspirations, social media, politics, and race relations in the state.

"It is an honor to have been selected as one of only two places Mr. Zuckerberg chose to visit in South Carolina," said Adderley. "Our students come from all over the state and from diverse backgrounds, so it was an effective way for him to hear from young people with different perspectives and experiences."

As the state's only public, residential arts high school, any South Carolina resident in the tenth grade, with a minimum GPA of 2.5, can apply. SCGSAH serves students from across the state, and the student body demographics closely mirror that of the state.

On the topic of race relations, students agreed that it depends on where you come from. Drama student Cam'Ron Stewart, who is African American, stated that he came from a school where he was one of very few black students. "It wasn't until I came to the Governor's School that I learned to love my blackness," said Stewart.

When Zuckerberg asked the students about the culture of South Carolina, a student said, "Everyone is nice here". They all agreed that anywhere you go in the state, people will be friendly and hospitable.

Zuckerberg showed a keen interest in the students and their artistic endeavors, encouraging them to continuously try new things with their art form, which Zuckerberg said is how he runs his company. Zuckerburg had been coding for approximately 10 years before founding Facebook at age 19, and even though he didn't complete his degree at Harvard, he emphasized the importance of doing well in school and stated that "over time, you'll be judged by the quality of your work". Zuckerberg will actually receive an honorary degree from Harvard this May, when he'll give the commencement address to the class of 2017.