The Wedding Gift

The bride and groom had no direct connection with Clemson when they decided to use their wedding as a fundraiser for an endowment here. What the couple did have, however, was a powerful wish to contribute to the legacy of their late friend, Clemson alumnus Tyrone Gayle ’10, who passed away in 2018 at the age of 30.

Gayle launched an impressive career in politics that touched some of the most notable names in the Democratic Party. He logged thousands of miles as a driver and aide for Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. He was a spokesperson for Hillary Clinton during her 2016 run for the White House. It was during that campaign that Gayle was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. At the time of his death, he was press secretary for then-Sen. Kamala Harris. Gayle has been described as making a remarkable impact on the campaigns and causes he served during the eight years he spent in politics. Along the way, he made hundreds of loyal friends who supported him through his challenge. They are known as Gayle Nation.

To honor Gayle and continue his legacy, his family established the Tyrone Gayle Scholars Program at Clemson in Spring 2019. Upon learning of the opportunity to honor their friend’s memory in a meaningful way, Gayle Nation stepped up. The couple’s wedding gift idea was only one example. Their efforts have helped the program surpass its original five-year fundraising goal. So far, more than $200,000 has been raised.

The program creates pathways for underrepresented students to get their start in politics. Each year, two students are selected as Tyrone Gayle Scholars and receive a $3,500 stipend to pursue a summer internship in a political field. This could be on a local or national campaign, at an advocacy organization or in other government sectors. In addition to the stipend, students are matched with mentors from Tyrone Gayle’s network, who guide the students through the often-insular political world, help them make the most of their internships and help them build their own networks.

Tyrone Gayle’s life may have been short, but his influence and work will live on through his family, Gayle Nation and the Gayle Scholars.


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