USC Pay it Forward winners

From left to right: Thrisha Mote, Jiya Desai, Aastha Arora and Anusha Ghosh

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Four students from the South Carolina Honors College have each earned a $5,000 cash prize in the Pay it Forward competition sponsored by South Carolina's electric cooperatives. The competition aims to find solutions to pressing social and economic problems in the state's rural areas.

The winning students, Thrisha Mote, Anusha Ghosh, Jiya Desai and Aastha Arora, presented an innovative solution to period poverty, which affects an estimated 500 million people worldwide. Period poverty is a lack of access to menstrual products, education, hygiene facilities, waste management, or a combination of these, which can prevent individuals from fully participating in daily life.

The students received guidance from Dr. Lucy Annang Ingram, associate professor for health promotion, education, and behavior at the Arnold School of Public Health. Ingram's research interests are in sexual and reproductive health, most often examining racial and ethnic health inequities with the goal of improving health for all.

The winning students proposed the creation of a community-based nonprofit organization that would provide menstrual products, education and hygiene facilities to people experiencing period poverty in rural areas of the state. The organization would focus on creating partnerships with local businesses, community organizations and government entities to increase access to menstrual products and ensure that everyone has the necessary resources to manage their periods with dignity.

“We’ve seen some really creative and thought-provoking ideas from the students in this year’s competition,” said Mike Couick, president and CEO of The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina. “By highlighting these solutions to rural problems, we hope to inspire the students to take the next step and put their plans into action.”

The students competed against winning teams from the Honors Colleges at Clemson University and South Carolina State.


To view Mote, Ghosh, Desai and Arora’s winning proposal, click here:

To view their winning video, click here:


The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc. is the state association of independent, member-owned electric cooperatives. Through 800,000 accounts, nearly 2 million South Carolinians in all 46 counties use power provided by electric cooperatives. Together, electric cooperatives operate the state’s largest electric power system with 75,000 miles of power lines. Find more information at