Fast feet stay in the game: Fabio Tambosi ’02

Fabio Tambosi spent his childhood with a soccer ball rolling at his feet. Soccer came naturally to him, and he moved from playing in the streets of Brazil to playing in the youth academy of a professional club in São Paulo.

It was here that Tambosi received his first pair of cleats — two freshly worn Nike Tiempos from Zé Roberto, a living soccer legend. “I was walking out of the locker room after practice and [Zé Roberto] said, ‘Hey shorty, what’re you doing? Do you want some shoes?’” Tambosi said. “That pair lasted me another two years.”

These days, Tambosi isn’t bumming cleats off the most famous players in the world — he’s partnering with world-class athletes to sell them. As the director of global football brand marketing at Nike, Tambosi is a leading voice for an iconic brand.

It’s a dream job, but he took a long journey to attain it. Early on, Tambosi played forward for the men’s soccer team at Clemson where he helped the team to an ACC Tournament championship in 2001. “The atmosphere at this school, it’s contagious,” Tambosi said. “You get there, and on a weekend when there are a lot of sports happening, you get a real sense of the community. You have the sense of being part of a family.”

Tambosi hasn’t left that family behind, despite his success. He stays involved as a board member at the Erwin Center for Brand Communications, where he helps students develop advertising and marketing skills. “There’s nothing better than being recognized by my alma mater and going back and giving back what Clemson has given to me,” Tambosi said.

Tambosi wants students to understand that it isn’t possible to fulfill one’s dreams without risking failure. He knows this to be true because he has risked it all. In 2012 he was working a stable, well-paying job in London for Nokia. But, Tambosi wasn’t satisfied — he had other ideas. “I wanted to go back to sports, and I wanted to have a role in the World Cup in Brazil. And I wanted to work for Nike,” Tambosi said.

So, he quit Nokia, and left for Brazil in January 2013. While he had no job offer on the table, he told everyone he was going to work at Nike. Once in Brazil, he spent his time networking with Nike employees, which eventually helped land him a job as Nike brand manager for the 2014 World Cup. “Growing up playing football at a very high level in Brazil, it was a dream to play in the World Cup,” Tambosi said. “I didn’t have the opportunity to do it as a player. But I had the opportunity to live the World Cup, to impact the World Cup, personally, in Brazil through my job.”

When the World Cup ended, Tambosi stayed on with Nike. Now Tambosi can stay in touch with the game he loves, the game for which he has crossed borders and risked professional failure. That passion, that commitment, is something he wants to impart to Clemson students and young people everywhere. “Know where you want to go,” Tambosi said. “Don’t be afraid to fail, and follow your dream.”

— Glenn Bertram ’18

Media moguls in training: J. Seldric Blocker ’01

While looking for internships at Clemson, Seldric Blocker was plucked for a program with First Union. But not for banking or financial needs; it was human resources. Now he’s the director of campus recruiting, shaping paths for future generations of network newsies and entertainment execs as the director of NBCUniversal’s talent acquisition campus programs, Campus2Career.

Each year he fields more than 42,000 applications for about 2,000 spring, summer and fall internships. In the last three years he’s managed more than 5,500 interns, including 300 added to cover the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil.

Part of Blocker’s job has entailed streamlining the Campus2Career program so there is a standard NBCUniversal experience at each campus they visit, and across all internships and all markets, including their London and Singapore programs. “Flawless execution” is how Blocker defines it. “We want them to have a great experience, even if they decide this isn’t what they want to do long term,” he said. “We want them to leave more curious than when they came in. We want them to have fun.”

Lessons he learned from his own academic and career experience very much inform how he mentors others. He encourages those that come through his office to take advantage of study abroad, be more ambitious and take more risks. One of the ways Blocker and his team allow interns to have fun and take ownership of their internship is through NBCUniversal storytelling. “The students are digital natives, and we encourage them to craft and tell the NBCUniversal story through a multifaceted approach, whether that’s Snapchat or some other social platform. They have their fingers on the pulse of what’s happening next and are brand ambassadors for future generations of interns.”

Blocker is also focused on building diversity across NBCUniversal’s platforms. “We are looking for people who have demonstrated their leadership on campus. We employ a wide variety of majors and backgrounds. They don’t just have to have a passion for media and the entertainment industry. We want to know what you can take from your background and bring to the table to help us tell a more well-rounded story,” said Blocker.

Even after hanging strong in the financial sector through the economic downturn of 2008, Blocker said navigating the media industry at first was a new, interesting beast. “It was tough at first. In the media you have a lot of creative people who have a competitive edge, and you’re managing a first-impression for a major media brand,” said Blocker. Blocker said the experience at NBCUniversal has taught him to meet people where they are, and that being relatable is a skillset that transcends any workplace environment. “[Clemson’s] academic environment did a good job of fostering a sense of responsibility and ownership and made me feel like I belong,” he said. “I want to give others that sense of feeling like they belong, too.”

First-aid kindness: Johannes Huber

Student safety first. It’s a call answered by Clemson Fire and EMS every day, but it was a group of students who first wanted safety ensured.

In the late 1970s Johannes Huber was part of the core group that formed an EMS club on campus. Through training from the Pickens County EMS, Huber and his friends aided students with everything from helping when a Homecoming float turned over and injured a dozen people to providing aid to heart attack victims. “We were really taken in by the student body,” said Huber.

Within a year, they were already seeking funds for an ambulance to have proper transportation for runs. Within Huber’s three years at Clemson, his team was completing up to 150 runs a year, with the backup of Clemson’s fire department.

Huber’s interest in medicine and helping people goes back to his childhood in Germany, when he would bandage local bikers. “Medicine was always my gift,” he said. Grades though, not so much.

A letter from a pen pal from Pennsylvania mentioned Clemson University. Knowing he needed to improve his grades to get into medical school, Huber thought studying abroad would be good for him. So to the hills of South Carolina he went. “It’s just this beautiful town in the countryside with rolling hills and open to an orange and white heaven,” he said with a laugh.

Twice a week he wrote home. Once a month he’d call so his family could hear his voice at $10 a minute. But as an older biochemistry student at age 21, he was looking for more than football games and fraternities to fill his time. “Implementing something new gives you so much energy,” said Huber.“I couldn’t go home on weekends, so I stayed and learned [medicine] through experience.” Huber finally did get into medical school in Germany and returned home for training in general, plastic and microscopy surgery. Now he oversees a staff of about 25 nurses and clocks more than 70 hours a week.

“I’ve been back [to Clemson] several times. … It’s always a homecoming for me,” he said. “I’m just amazed at all the construction, and that spirit is still ever present.” On every return trip he drops by the Clemson Fire and EMS. “College life offers you an opportunity for friendship, and I was very fortunate to be in a position to do that.”

Care via canine: Taylor Stathes ’13


Taylor Stathes needs her patient, 7-year-old Cadence Corbett, to be a captive audience in the hospital MRI waiting room. Tablet in hand, Stathes previews Cadence’s journey to a machine that can be intimidating even to adults. Cadence looks hopeful when Stathes tells her about the movie goggles she can wear during the three-hour scan, and her anxiety is replaced with joy when Stathes puts the goggles on Vivi, Stathes’ coworker and one of Greenville Health System’s therapy dogs.

From the moment Cadence arrives in the waiting room, Vivi is by her side. While learning about the MRI, Cadence’s hands never leave Vivi’s head or belly. Vivi is Stathes’ not-so-secret weapon, an atomic calm bomb. “I’ve taken a back seat to this girl,” Stathes said. “She lights up every room we walk into, she keeps kids calm, and even the toughest doctors and nurses in the building melt in her presence.”

Stathes is modest; she’d rather give Vivi credit than speak of the education and experience that got her where she is today. Clemson was her only destination from as far back as she can remember. She fell in love with the campus and the people, but she didn’t know what major would work for her. She just knew she wanted to work with kids, so she grabbed a course catalog and searched for what would apply.

Stathes had never heard of recreational therapy, but it fit the bill. What she found were supportive faculty members, an innovative approach to education and a program that combined everything she was passionate about. She said the department was especially flexible with her high-pressure schedule as a Clemson cheerleader for multiple sports. Stathes was a collegiate athlete, but she never took her eye off what she would be equipped to do after graduation.

“Recreational therapy taught me to look at the whole picture of a patient, to be able to consider their physical and emotional health,” Stathes said. “The program turned me on to child life and defined my career.”

Stathes went on to earn a master’s degree in child life from the University of La Verne in California. She said she was lucky to find work at GHS and even luckier to discover pet therapy programs and their potential benefits.

Stathes, along with other child life employees, quickly secured approvals and donations to get a more intensive, animal assisted therapy program off the ground to complement GHS’ existing pet therapy programs. She contacted Canine Assistants, the non-profit organization that trained and provided two therapy dogs to GHS and paired Vivitar — Vivi for short — with Stathes. Canine Assistants makes the pairing based on the personality of dog and potential handler, but it didn’t take long for Stathes to realize why Vivi was the dog for her. “She’s never met a stranger, she’s always smiling, she wears Clemson orange on Fridays and she’s always accessorizing,” Stathes said, laughing. “At least I hope that’s why they paired us up.” At first, Stathes was skeptical of the bond-based training that Canine Assistants employs. Rather than structure training around commands or obedience, the organization pairs the right dog with the right person and creates a bond so that the dog is willing to do things without the need for a command. Vivi can assist doctors in distracting and holding down patients who require a needle poke.

As in the case with Cadence, she can be there to calm while Stathes delivers information. Luckily, there are no tears during Cadence’s visit, but she’s no fan of MRIs. When Cadence’s mother, Reanna Corbett, asks about the length of the MRI, Cadence freezes for a moment. However, the look of concern disappears from Cadence’s face almost as quickly as it arrives because Vivi is goading her for more attention. Later, Corbett happily reports that the planned sedation for Cadence wasn’t even required despite three spinal scans and a brain scan. “Taylor made my daughter feel like a star, and she somehow explained everything while making it fun,” Corbett said. “The only things she would talk about the rest of the day were Taylor and Vivi.”

 

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Best in Show: Christine Tedesco ’82, ’85, M ’90

Christine Tedesco_022For Christine Tedesco art and life all bleed into one. Art is life. Life is art.

Nothing is an imitation. Each building she’s designed as an architect with a team is just as much a piece of her as a quilt she’s created alone for the couch at home.

Her creative pursuits led to a “Best in Show” at the Anderson Arts Center 41st Juried Arts Show this past spring for a quilt named “Beige #1.” It was one of more than 500 entries in the show. She’s also shown pieces at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, N.C., the Ogden Museum in New Orleans and Art Fields in Lake City.

“I think the first thing I made was an apron,” said Tedesco. She began sewing when she was age nine, and as she grew, the instructions from her mother grew from stitches to life lessons on careers.

“My mother was very adamant that I had to major in something I could do so I didn’t have to depend on a man,” said Tedesco. Her love of making things led to a career as an architect, where she now leads at RSCT architecture + design.

But she didn’t leave behind her personal creative time just because she was being artistic at her day job. Instead she wanted to challenge herself to be innovative. At age 29 she took sewing to the next level and began quilting. “I wanted to try something more difficult,” she said. She also took a tailoring class and tackled making a man’s suit.

Even graduate school was taken as a confrontation to defy daily life. “I just came to the conclusion, there’s got to be more to life than this. My mind was cut open and things were poured in. I had such a great time. It was probably one of the biggest challenges of my life, but my desire to learn was different.”

Like many artists or creative types, Tedesco is driven by desire. “I get an idea in my head and it doesn’t leave until I figure out what I’m going to do. I never use a pattern.” Even her use of color isn’t conventional as she doesn’t follow traditional color relationships, but instead gut reaction to the ways a red or an orange can paint a purple or a blue a different hue. “I don’t follow patterns because colors inform me in a way what to do with them.”

In “Beige #1,” the piece wasn’t about color at all, but instead about the relationships of the seams and how they intersect. “I just started mapping lines and free form — it’s a lot less color,” she said.

Tedesco said she tries to be disciplined about her work. Each piece takes about 40 to 80 hours. A bedroom in her Pendleton home serves as a studio.

Unlike her work office, which has clean lines and barely a trace of a paper trail from the day’s work, her studio showcases years of ideas. Quilting books stacked about 4-feet tall stand by the door. Scraps of a current orange, beige and black piece are pinned tall and high on the wall.

“When you make a piece of art, it’s a solitary activity. … That’s why I create art. It allows me to do something alone.”

Military career begins, ends on same stage: Jimmy Mullinax ’94

 

April 29, 2016 - Jimmy Mullinax Professor of Military Leadership Lieutenant Colonel - Retirement Ceremony in Honor of LTC Jimmy Mulling, US Army Held in Tillman Hall auditorium

April 29, 2016 – Jimmy Mullinax Professor of Military Leadership Lieutenant Colonel – Retirement Ceremony in Honor of LTC Jimmy Mulling, US Army Held in Tillman Hall auditorium

An extraordinary U.S. Army career came to an end this spring as Lt. Col. Jimmy Mullinax, commander of Clemson University’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, retired on the same stage where he was commissioned 21 years earlier.

Army officers do not get to choose their assignments, so getting orders to come back to Clemson was a highly unusual but serendipitous twist in Mullinax’s career.

“How do you get to go back to your alma mater?” he asked during his retirement ceremony. “I only have one answer for that: God brought me back here. Because it wasn’t my doing, and it couldn’t have been the Army because it made no sense. It was orchestrated for me to come back, and I’m blessed to be here.”

Retired Col. Eric Schwartz, who was assistant professor of military science for Clemson’s ROTC in the early 90s, returned to help retire the young officer he had mentored more than two decades before and recalled the instantly recognizable potential of the young cadet he knew. “I wanted to tell stories about little Jimmy Mullinax when he was a cadet in the Army ROTC program, and I was his instructor. I wanted to tell you stories about Jimmy getting lost in the woods, or showing up late for physical training, or losing his weapon, or [being] afraid to rappel of a cliff — but I got nothing,” said Schwartz. “From the moment he stepped out on the parade fields of Clemson he was a beautiful young man to serve with. Everything about him represented what we believed were the core values of being a good soldier, a good leader and a good American.”

Mullinax graduated from Clemson in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial management and was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the quartermaster branch (supply and logistics support), detailed to the Air Defense Artillery Branch. He earned a Master of Military Studies from the Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. He went on to hold numerous positions of leadership in quartermaster and logistic elements, including two tours of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, culminating in an assignment to Fort Knox, Kentucky, prior to returning to Clemson.

Mullinax said it was a blessing to return to Clemson in a military capacity, because the school has such a rich military history and goes out of its way to support its ROTC program. He returned to the theme of being blessed throughout his remarks, emphasizing a point made at many Army retirements; he only got through the last 21 years because of his faith and his family. He noted that he and his wife, Angie, moved their family to nine different duty stations together over the course of his career.

He closed by addressing all the people who had taken the time to be there for this seminal moment in his life. “I started this saying I was blessed. I hope you can truly see why I’m blessed. It’s not about me. It’s about you and what you’ve done in my life. You’ve given me the best life I could ever dream of. Continue to support our military men and women.”

A shore thing: Sarah Strickland ’12

 

Sarah Strickland8Teamwork and adaptability learned at Clemson served Sarah Strickland well abroad and back home. Critical skills such as communication and resourcefulness have helped Strickland from every job as a nurse in the ICU step-down unit, to working on a ship in Madagascar, to now working in an emergency room.

But it was working abroad that brought all the lessons from Clemson to the forefront. Knowing she was wrapping up the first few years of her career in Clemson, Lexington native Sarah Strickland began looking for adventures in nursing. She found one in Mercy Ships, an international faith-based organization with a mission to increase health care throughout the world. Since 1978, Mercy Ships has delivered services to more than 2.54 million people.

From November 2015 to February 2016, Strickland lived on Africa Mercy which was docked in Madagascar, and worked alongside surgeons in facial tumor removal and cleft lip and palate reconstruction. The ship, which began service in 2007, offers an 82-bed ward.

Strickland learned about the mission opportunity from one of her co-workers who lived in Africa for a while. And after multiple short-term mission trips as a high school student, Strickland wasn’t afraid of tackling a challenge overseas. “I prayed about it for a few weeks and ended up applying at the end of the summer,” she said.

The timing meant she wouldn’t be on an early 2015 trip, but would be considered for an early 2016 team. But life in South Carolina didn’t prep Strickland for everything. “I’d never done much with pediatrics or facial patients,” said Strickland. “And most conditions would have been treated long before they got to the point we were seeing. I worked in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and a step-down unit, but for the most part, working in Madagascar was completely different from anything I had ever done, which was the situation for most of my co-workers, so it was a learning curve for everybody.”

What Clemson and her training had prepped her for was being adaptable. “Clemson definitely teaches you how to think critically. When we were over there we didn’t have access to as many resources as we have over here. … We had to rely on a lot more of our judgment. Clemson just also really encourages a teamwork approach to nursing. Over there I really experienced the need to rely on my co-workers as teammates even more so than working here.”

Clemson tiger paw temporary tattoos, stickers and flags also helped Strickland bring one of her loves to her patients. “There was 14-year-old kid who had a tumor. The day he had it removed was the day of the National Championship game. So I put [tiger paws] on a bunch of the kids, including him. The first time he got to look at the back of his head without the tumor, he had a tiger paw on his cheek.”

“Seeing the look on his face when he got to see that just reminded me [Clemson] is what brought me here, and it just all came together,” she said.”

Gambles are a safe bet: Jason ’00 and Hesha Nesbitt ’00, M ’01 Gamble

 

Gamble_012Ensuring the health, safety and well being of others via the roads you drive or the buildings you enter isn’t just a day job for Jason and Hesha Nesbitt Gamble, but a desire they’ve each pursued since teenagers. The couple are stand-out licensed professional engineers who found their route to Clemson by way of high school internships, which also set into motion a path to each other.

As an exam development engineer for National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) in Seneca, Jason is one of only five people in the country commissioned with managing the creation of 25 national licensing exams that examinees take to become licensed in 17 different engineering disciplines. Jason is tasked with managing four of those 25 exams. Hesha serves as county engineer for Greenville where she oversees 77 employees as well as the engineering and maintenance of all county roads, approximately 1,760 miles serving 450,000 residents.

“We take that job very seriously,” said Hesha. “If there’s a problem, we need to fix it. Greenville is my community so of course I want the best for my community.”

“I’ve never had a job that didn’t affect people in some way,” chimed in Jason. “What I do now at NCEES affects the future of the profession and affects what (engineering) is going to be for the next generation.”

Even beyond technical skills, the pair says honing soft skills like communication and public speaking prepares their teams to execute a project efficiently. “You can be the smartest person in the room, but if you can’t effectively communicate or explain something, you’re not going to be successful,” said Jason. “It’s about knowing how to interact with people. I’ve worked with Ph.D.’s to someone with only a third-grade education, but we all had to work together in order to get a job done.”

Those so-called “soft skills” were picked up in Clemson classrooms, where the two met each other through study groups for upper-level undergraduate courses. The couple praise their time at Clemson for making them effective engineers today. They especially credit the PEER program for many of their successes.

“We bring engineers and experts from all over the country to do a job, and to be able to relate to each of them individually and not just professionally, just to be able to hold a conversation, Clemson was where I learned to do that,” said Jason. “I have no doubt it makes me better at my job to be able to relate to people and just work with them regardless of where they’re from.” Jason and Hesha, despite their busy careers, find the time to be “All In” raising their five-year-old son, Justus.

Alumni raise cheers to Clemson: Ryan Workman ’05, Emily Barber Workman ’06 and Greg Pierdon ’08

 

Biergarten“Bavarian inspired, Southern made” is their catchphrase. Making sure you eat at their restaurant in Charleston is their game. Clemson is their shared love. Ryan Workman, Emily Barber Workman and Greg Pierdon are all Clemson grads, but it was a game of kickball and acquaintances in Charleston five years ago that brought them together post graduation.

Along with business partner Laura Patrick, the three took a conversation about what was missing in their home of Charleston into a reality that is Bay Street Biergarten. “We saw something different,” said Ryan. It took the group meeting every week for a year to chase their dream.

You won’t find kitsch at Bay Street Biergarten though. No lederhosen for sure, but pretzels and schnitzel are abundant. But you’ll also find gator and shrimp and grits on the menu. The 7,400-squarefoot facility is the renovated Wilmington Railroad Depot, offering large exposed beams and original brick, as well as family-style seating for large groups waiting to take in the latest Tigertown brawl.

“We wanted patrons to have a traditional German biergarten experience,” said Ryan. “We wanted it to feel like a beer hall, but then have the tech side of it. We use iPads to put in orders directly from the table. We have taps at the table, and you can use a card to pay by the ounce.”

The three said their love of Clemson and the Clemson network only strengthened their ties to each other and the community as they pushed toward their goals over the past four years. “Solid Orange continues to show support,” said Greg. “It feels pretty good to know you have the support. They seek you out. And it’s a good conversation starter.”

Lessons learned at Clemson, from Greg’s accounting degree to Ryan and Emily’s work in communications and management also come into play every day to keep the business running. Emily said her psychology major is constantly at work as she manages staff and expectations for different personalities. “It’s a people business, and you have to be willing to get yourself out there,” said Emily about management. The three said their team meetings and team spirit, much like they learned through the Greek system while at Clemson, keep them in check when days get long.

“We have to drive each other. Complacency is death in this industry,” said Greg. “It’s a cutthroat business … and we’re driving it.”

My Clemson: Jeannie Brown ’15

 

Jeannie Brown-2015

My Clemson experience was many years in the making.

When I was nine, I went to live with my grandmother. My great aunt took me to Clemson games, where I learned Clemson history and traditions. Each year my Christmas present was going with my aunt to see Clemson play in their bowl game. I dreamed of playing in Tiger Band and becoming a nurse. When I wasn’t accepted to Clemson my senior year in high school, I was very disappointed, but determined never to give up on that dream.

I started taking classes at Greenville Technical College, but marriage and two children interrupted my education. In 2002, I returned to school and graduated as a respiratory therapist. Working full time, I attended Tri-County Technical College, graduating in 2012 as a registered nurse. It was a busy time — our son played basketball and participated in high school band, and our daughter cheered and danced on a competition team, but we never missed a beat.

I held on to my dream of becoming a Clemson graduate. At the age of 40, I applied to Clemson’s RN/B.S. nursing program and was accepted to begin in the spring of 2015. It was an outstanding program and very manageable for a working nurse. But I had one more dream to fulfill … to play in Tiger Band. I worked it out with my boss to adjust my work schedule so that I could attend band camp and practice throughout the fall. My Clemson dream was coming to pass.

I couldn’t wait to put on my uniform and play “Tiger Rag” for 80,000 fans in Death Valley, but I never expected to have such an outstanding football season — I went to Syracuse, the ACC Championship, Miami for the Orange Bowl and all the way to Arizona for the National Championship. Who would have dreamed all this?

On December 17, 2015, I graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in nursing, and my diploma hangs in a central location in my home as a reminder that with hard work, you can accomplish your dreams.

No matter where life takes me, my blood will always run orange. I’m Jeannie Brown, and this is MY Clemson.

Photos courtesy Imagine Studios.