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My Clemson: Brian Burger ’03

After high school, I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as an infantryman and served with 3rd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment in Camp Lejeune, N.C.

After four years, three continents and 13 countries, I wanted to give back on a larger scale, and I knew I needed a formal education. One thing I didn’t cultivate in high school or by crawling through swamps, though, was my academic skills.

When I applied to Clemson, it was a total Hail Mary based on my dismal high school GPA and SAT scores. The only thing I had going for me was four years of service in the Marines. To someone in admissions, that stood for something, and Clemson let me in. That sent a message to me that serving this country meant something to people at Clemson. And if they were going to take a gamble on me, I surely could not disappoint them.

With unwavering support from my future wife, Amy, I worked relentlessly and graduated cum laude in mechanical engineering and was in three different honor societies. A degree from Clemson has opened so many doors for me. I really do bleed orange because of the chance they gave me.

My second act at Clemson is to help more of our veterans come back to the workforce and bring the intangibles and leadership they honed while serving. Amy and I want to help them further their education at Clemson. We know firsthand how wonderful everyone here was when I was a struggling veteran getting re-immersed in 1999. The Veteran Resource Center is a clear display of the commitment Clemson has to veterans, and we couldn’t be more proud to support it.

I am Brian Burger, and this is My Clemson.

 

Brian Burger is co-owner of Fathom 4, a veteran-owned small business in Charleston that provides engineering services.

My Clemson: Cambridge Gamble ’17

 

cambridge gamble2

Since forever, I’ve wanted to be a teacher. But my mom always told me I was going to be a lawyer. Coming to Clemson has meant figuring out that we were both right. Meanwhile, I’ve been able to make the most of my time in a place that truly had everything I was looking for in a college: small campus, great variety of courses, amazing athletics, beautiful campus and a big-family atmosphere.

I came here through the Call Me MISTER® program, majoring in elementary education, but I’ve also been able to pursue a history minor. That’s meant taking some of the political science courses that will serve me well when I go to law school in four or five years — after I’ve had an opportunity to teach and serve in an elementary school setting.

My freshman year, I took part in the Clemson Cup public speaking competition. My topic addressed the transition we were facing between a retiring president and a new one. I won, and that was an amazing opportunity that I will never, ever forget.

For one thing, I was the first freshman to ever win. Also, earning the Cup gave me the chance to speak at Clemson’s commencement, which was incredible, in no small part because it showed me how far I’ve come with my public speaking: When I was in high school, I took part in a Future Business Leaders of America speaking competition. The first year I competed, I came in last place. The second year I was determined to improve, and I won, which allowed me to represent the entire state of South Carolina and place 27th nationally.

I’m sure my public speaking skills will come in handy as an attorney. In the meantime, I’m enjoying every second of college life, whether it’s giving campus tours, cheering on my Tigers as a member of Central Spirit, serving as an Orientation ambassador or just hanging out on Campus Beach on a Friday night.

MY CLEMSON Daniel Licata ’09

When I transferred to Clemson in the fall of 2006, I was looking for a better “college experience.” The university I had left behind was low on school spirit; they didn’t even have a football team.

Clemson did not provide me with an experience; it transformed my life. I found a new family in those “Hills.” The color orange was no longer something to add to my wardrobe, it became my wardrobe. And while the “Hills” were certainly special, “The Hill” was sacred.

In the long history of Clemson, approximately 50 other students have had the same perspective I did when I first stepped to the top of The Hill on Labor Day Monday in 2007. With limited vision, gasping for air and fighting off heat exhaustion, I stood in front of the Death Valley faithful, ready to lead our team on to the field. The “C-L-E-M-S-O-N” chant that overcame the stadium, physically shaking my helmet, will forever be engrained in my mind. As the cannon sounded, I knew my life would never be the same. During the 2007-08 school year, I prowled the sidelines during a 23-21 victory in Columbia and an ACC Tournament in Charlotte that had our team in the championship game.

Daniel  Licata as Tiger-MY CLEMSON-Winter 2015After graduating summa cum laude in the spring of 2009, I returned to my home state of New Jersey to begin a career in education. I love exploring the subject of social studies with my high school students, but if you were to ask any of my students where my true passion lies, they would all answer, “Clemson!” My students know that the Tiger does push-ups after every score, that Friday is always solid orange and that my mood on a Monday in the fall is largely dependent on the Saturday that precedes it.

Daniel Licata is a social studies teacher at Palmyra High School in Palmyra, New Jersey. He recently won the teacher of the year award and led the varsity baseball program to their second consecutive division championship, the first time for the school since the 1930s. He served as the Tiger mascot in 2007 and 2008.