CJ Tamasco officially became an ambassador for her city this year, as one of a group of four chosen by Experience Columbia SC. However, all those who know her or follow her on social media would agree she began representing the capital city long before this.
“In many ways, this role has felt like the codification of what I have been doing for years – evangelizing all Columbia has to offer to visitors and locals alike,” said Tamasco.
Since coming to Columbia for college at the University of South Carolina in 2010, Tamasco (née Lake) has become not only a passionate supporter of her adopted home city, but also a well-known one. She and her husband, Jon, bought their first home here in 2018, making it officially their hometown.
As senior social media strategist for the University of South Carolina and through her own social media presence, Tamasco has become a local celebrity. If her followers and even those who are casually familiar with her name were asked to summarize her, the results would unanimously include “loves Columbia and UofSC.”
What makes Columbia a place that inspires so much love? Tamasco’s career success has certainly given her the option to move on, so why Columbia? As with all the ambassadors, she had no problem answering.
“When I’m describing the city to my out-of-town friends, I always say Columbia is perfect because it offers a lot of big city amenities but a small town, local feel,” she said. “We have things to do, excellent restaurants, bars and breweries, green/outdoor space, public art (BIG Lee Snelgrove fan over here) but a small town, local feel.”
Tamasco’s actions back up her words. You’ll see her often at local restaurants, businesses and events, and a casual look at her Twitter will often show you something great about Columbia, perhaps something even many of those who live here have overlooked.
“People may not assume it’s true, but Columbia has an abundance of beautiful backdrops and landscapes and vibey places,” she said. “In short, I think people underappreciate how Instagram-able our city is!”
Having lived in Columbia for more than a decade now, Tamasco has seen a lot of changes, and says they’ve been for the better, improving an already great city.
“I’m one of a handful of my core friend group who stayed here after college so I’m one of the go-to tour guides/crash pads for my friends when they’re back in town for various reasons,” she said. “One of my ALL-TIME favorite things to do is reserve time to just drive them around town and point out all the changes. A lot has changed since we graduated in 2014 but one of the most noticeable is the explosion of amazing local restaurants and breweries. 10/10 times, no matter what city my friends are joining me from, they’re amazed at how much progress their college town has made over the years. That always excites me.”
As an ambassador for Experience Columbia SC, the destination marketing organization for the region, Tamasco’s role is in part to encourage people unfamiliar with the city to visit and even consider making it home. She’s ready to make a pitch to anyone, and as always when she talks about her home, it is natural and heartfelt.
“I would start with how it’s hard to beat the energy of a college town in a capital city. Whether you’re affiliated with the universities in town or not, it’s special living in a town with a thriving young professional population. Then I’d move on to how beautifully our city intersects with nature. You can float on a tube for a half day on the Congaree River and then be on Main Street 10 minutes later for dinner and drinks. I would also assure them that Columbia is home to some of the most genuinely kind people I’ve ever met. Harkening back to the ‘local’ feel, we root for one another around here. And that’s a pretty special feeling and one I consider non-negotiable in a place I call home.”
It’s hard to argue with that. Check out more of what Columbia has to offer at experiencecolumbiasc.com.