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Burton contributes to history

Vernon Burton

Vernon Burton

History professor Vernon Burton was one of 10 historians invited to submit essays for the historical portfolio published by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies to mark the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Burton’s piece, “Building the Transcontinental Railroad,” gives an overview of the importance of the railroad and the impact it had on America as the country recovered from the Civil War. The portfolio was distributed at the presidential inauguration luncheon.

Architecture students install Sassafras Mountain overlook

Sassafras overlook

Sassafras overlook


From the summit of Sassafras Mountain, you can see Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

And now, thanks to a new overlook designed, constructed and installed by a team of graduate students in architecture and landscape architecture, visitors can enjoy that view.

The challenge was to provide a universally designed viewing platform accessible to all who visit the highest point in South Carolina, Pickens County and the Foothills Trail, according to Dan Harding, associate professor of architecture and director of the Community Research and Design Center at Clemson.

“The concept hinged on an idea that used a primary wood structure with a light, sky-blue-painted steel railing designed to leave visitors feeling as if they are floating over a wonderful rock out-cropping while remaining safely contained by the railing, which disappears into the expanding horizon,” Harding said.

Built entirely on campus, employing best practices associated with sustainable construction and resource management, the prefabricated overlook platform and the project components were transported to the job site by the design team with assistance from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. At the Sassafras parking area, about 80 feet in elevation below the top of Sassafras Mountain, the parts were efficiently reassembled over several days.

The Sassafras Mountain overlook can be accessed from S.C. State Road 199 or from the Foothills Trail.

Rogers named first-runner-up in Miss America competition

Ali Rogers

Ali Rogers

Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers is just as proud of Clemson as the University is of her. With a host of Clemson supporters in attendance, the Laurens native competed for the Miss America crown this past January. She was elated to make Top 15, but making it to first-runner-up was more than she could have imagined.

“Even the idea of competing for Miss America was bizarre to me, to be honest,” Rogers says.

Growing up, Rogers was more interested in sports than pageants, attending her first Clemson football game at only four weeks old. She became a freshman in the fall of 2010, continuing the family tradition.

She held a senator position in student government, interned in the football office and became a sister of Alpha Delta Pi. Those are just some of the things Rogers misses most while she finishes her duties as Miss South Carolina.

Those duties include traveling all over the state to schools, churches and organizations to give inspiring speeches and meet her fans.

That crown will expire this summer, and Rogers will return to Clemson in the fall to finish her degree in communication studies. Eventually, she hopes to pursue a master’s degree with the help of the Miss America scholarship money.

Screenwriter: Kendall Sherwood ’09

Kendall Sherwood

Kendall Sherwood

Kendall Sherwood came to Clemson with hopes of becoming an actor, but she left as a screenwriter. You might see her name on the credits for “Major Crimes,” a spinoff of the popular TV series, “The Closer,” where she is the writer’s assistant and script coordinator.

Because of Clemson’s requirement that theater majors must have experience in every facet of the field, Sherwood took classes in directing, acting, tech and writing. In one of her playwriting classes, she realized her love for writing and became interested in writing for TV shows.

This led her to Northwestern University where she earned an MFA degree in Writing for the Screen and the Stage. This program allowed Sherwood to pursue a career in TV writing while still writing for theatrical plays.

Planet hunter: Dirk C. Terrell ’87

Physics major Dirk Terrell’s work was recognized as one of CNN’s Top Ten science stories for 2012. He helped discover a planet.

Terrell’s research in the area of binary star systems contributed to a Yale University-led project that identified and confirmed the existence of the first known planet orbiting a pair of suns — that’s in turn orbited by a second set of distant stars. The planet was named PH1 — Planet Hunters discovery number one — after the citizen astronomer organization, Planet Hunters, whose members first spotted it.

Terrell is the section manager for the Astronomy and Computer Systems section in the Department of Space Studies at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. He received a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Florida and was a NASA graduate research fellow.

“Numerical Methods Guy”: Autar K. Kaw M ’84, PhD ’87

Autar K. Kaw, who received his master’s degree and Ph.D. in engineering mechanics from Clemson, was recognized for his exceptional work as a professor at the University of South Florida. He’s one of four recipients of the 2012 U.S. Professor of the Year award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. This highly selective award is considered the nation’s highest honor for engaging and influencing undergraduates.

It’s not the first time Kaw has been recognized for his outstanding teaching; he also received the National Outstanding Teaching Medal from the American Society for Engineering Education in 2011.

Kaw has taught mechanical engineering at the University of South Florida (USF) for 25 years — plenty of time to develop his teaching techniques. His teaching method utilizes new technology, such as social media, to help his students understand the complex mathematical modeling involved in mechanical engineering.

Students at USF aren’t the only ones benefiting from Kaw’s innovative teaching methods. He has dedicated his career to helping engineering students around the world and provides educational tips on his blog and through YouTube video lectures. Known as the “Numerical Methods Guy,” Kaw has helped thousands of students by redefining traditional teaching.

New York Botanical Garden (-er): Jaime E. Morin ’11

Jaime Morin is assistant curator at the prestigious New York Botanical Garden in Bronx, N.Y., where she demonstrates her passion for showing the connection between people and plants. One of her responsibilities includes developing information and descriptions for the new native plant garden that will open in May.

Morin, originally from Connecticut, first learned about Clemson from a high school chemistry teacher. When she and her mother visited campus, she was very impressed with the friendliness of the people.
She began as a genetics major, but didn’t have dreams of medical school or long days in a research laboratory. After working for a plant nursery in her hometown during her summer break, she realized that horticulture was her passion. That fall she took HORT 101 and promptly changed majors.

During her time at Clemson, Morin played piccolo in Tiger Band, was a Bartlett Tree Foundation Scholar and worked at the South Carolina Botanical Garden (SCBG). She credits her work with SCBG for sparking her interest in public horticulture and plant collecting.

Making a difference: Wendy Harper-Olesky ’91

When financial management major Wendy Harper-Oleksy graduated from Clemson, she didn’t expect that volunteering for a nonprofit group would become a large part of her future.

Wendy and her husband, Ed, adopted two sons from Ethiopia — Wodajo and Telda. What began as a group of mostly adoptive families with an idea to bring water to their children’s villages grew into an organization working alongside locals to identify needs in the Ethiopian villages.

Last November, Harper-Oleksy traveled to Ethiopia with WEEMA International, www.weema.org, whose mission is to provide comprehensive support to underserved communities. She serves on the board of directors for the organization.

Harper-Oleksy has made new Clemson connections after moving to Winston-Salem, N.C. She became close friends with Kim Murph Fansler ’92; their 10-year-old sons Wodajo and Ty are best friends and hope to room together at Clemson in 2021. In addition, the boys are in the same class in school, and are taught by Kelly Hahne, who attended Clemson.

Leadership Award: Louis B. Lynn ’70, M ’72

Louis B. Lynn

Louis B. Lynn

Louis Lynn was presented with the 2012 Ronald H. Brown Leadership Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency. This award recognizes exceptional leaders who have made great strides in creating diversity in the public or private sector.

Lynn is president of ENVIRO Ag Science Inc., one of the largest African-American-owned landscape and construction firms in South Carolina. The firm has approximately 100 employees and was recognized as number four of the 25 Fastest Growing Companies in the state. Headquartered in Columbia, the company has offices in Jacksonville, N.C., Atlanta and Los Angeles. Earlier this year, Lynn was one of 30 small-business owners invited to participate in a White House Business Council, Minority Business Leaders Briefing about the fiscal cliff.

Elected to seven four-year terms on the Clemson University Board of Trustees, Lynn serves on the BB&T National Bank Board and chairs the Trust Committee. He also serves on the boards of many regional and state organizations.

“One of the best of the best”: Rita Bolt Barker ’01

Rita Bolt Barker was the first woman elected Clemson University student body president; her leadership verve has continued to grow. She has recently been described as “one of the best of the best” by the American Bar Association when they named her as one of only 12 lawyers across the country to receive the prestigious Distinguished Environmental Advocacy Award. The award recognizes the contributions of lawyers to the development of law, policy and programs in the areas of energy and the environment.

Bolt Barker double majored in political science, and speech and communications at Clemson. She received her law degree from Harvard Law School. Her work as an environmental lawyer with the Greenville law firm Wyche includes advising clients on federal and state environmental laws. She also advises businesses on assessing environmental risks and incentives associated with corporate transactions, including mergers, acquisitions and real estate deals, including brownfield redevelopment.

Bolt Barker has been listed in Best Lawyers in America and as a “Rising Star” by South Carolina Super Lawyers. She was also named “Legal Elite” and one of the Upstate’s “Best and Brightest Under 35” by Greenville Business Magazine.

Chair of the board of directors for Greenville Forward, Bolt Barker also serves as vice president of the board of directors for the Friends of the Reedy River and is a member of the City of Greenville’s Green Ribbon Advisory Committee and Brownfield Task Force. She teaches a course on environmental law and conservation advocacy at Furman University.