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 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.

Bangs™ to ‘help’: Hannah C. Davis ’09

You can help satisfy your social conscience with a pair of shoes, thanks to the efforts of Hannah Davis.

As founder and president of Bangs™, a retail shoe line, Davis has shown how a for-profit can partner with nonprofits to create positive change. Bangs™ partners with nonprofits whose projects focus on self-reliability and empowerment through education and cultural understanding, turning away from handout methodology.

She pairs each of her four different styles of shoes — each a different color — with causes that directly address world issues. Buy a blue pair of shoes and clean water initiatives are helped; red goes toward disaster relief efforts; khaki helps fight world hunger; and green shoes’ proceeds fund educational projects.

Davis graduated with a degree in political science with a minor in Mandarin. She traveled in China for six weeks during a study abroad program and fell in love with the country. After graduation, Davis taught English for a year in Jiangsu Province.

Inspiration for the design of Bangs™ shoes was found in the olive green, army-style shoes worn by thousands of construction and field workers across China. Davis developed the ideology behind the Bangs™ brand to connect people to a philosophy she was passionate about. In fact the name “Bangs” came from the Mandarin character for the word “help,” which phonetically is spelled b-a-n-g.

One of the company’s marketing strategies is University Outreach. Bangs™ ambassadors in 20 universities in the Southeast participate to raise awareness of the social enterprise. Student Leah Esposito is the Clemson Bangs Team Leader.

More about Bangs and its products is at www.bangsshoes.com.

To hear more about Davis’s story, check out her TED X talk.

 

Young businesswoman on the rise: Raven C. Magwood ’12

Three D’s, one young woman and a long list of accomplishments and ambitions. Recent graduate Raven Magwood believes that dedication, determination and discipline are the sources to her success. She graduated from Clemson at the age of 19, but that’s just one of her many accomplishments.

By the time she was 12, Magwood had a national gymnastics title, was a published author and had started high school. At 16, she followed in her parents’ footsteps to Clemson, planning on a career in medicine. A conversation with her mother altered that career path.

“She asked me if someone would pay me to do anything, what would I do? I told her that I would speak and write,” Magwood said. With her parents’ support, she changed her major to communication studies.

By this time, her motivational speaking was gaining a lot of attention. Halfway through college, she made a bold decision to take time off to host her own television show, “The Raven Magwood Show,” which aired Saturday mornings on My 40. She interviewed celebrities that included Alveda King (Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece), actress Porscha Coleman and former Clemson football player Stanley Hunter. After a year and a half, Magwood decided it was time to go back and finish her degree.

Her final year at Clemson, she attended classes during the week and spent most of her weekends traveling the country to speak and promote her third and latest book, The 7 Practices of Exceptional Student Athletes. Magwood graduated in December, finishing college in just four semesters. And now she has plunged into her full-blown career of speaking and writing.

Her advice to others? “It is key to set goals; when times get tough for me, my goals show me what I’m working so hard for and where I want to be.”

Making his way in L.A.: Judson McKinney ’08

Judson McKinney hopes he has just joined the likes of Elton John, James Taylor and Tom Waits. All three of them performed early in their careers at the legendary Troubadour club in West Hollywood, where McKinney had the opportunity to take the stage on June 20.

Unlike the alums who headed to Nashville (see p. 20), McKinney headed to Los Angeles with a degree in philosophy. He’s worked hard, pounding the streets with CDs, even living in his car on occasion.

But it’s paid off, as evidenced by his performance at the Troubadour. With a style that’s been described as Americana, the singer/songwriter/guitarist is playing regularly at venues in Los Angeles and beyond. His new album, “Drink the Wine,” released by Atomic Sweater Records, cracked the iTunes charts upon its debut. And one of the tracks, “People Grow Up So Slow,” is soon to be featured in Michael Rosenbaum’s film “Old Days.”

His reviews describe him as “both straightforward and oddly mercurial.” A reviewer from L.A. Record described the performance at the Troubadour like this: “Judson and his Americana crew rocked the Troubadour and got everybody’s hips shaking and faces smiling.” LA Times has called him one of “the more compelling live acts around.”

At Clemson, McKinney played in a band called Sum Yung Gai, later known as Everyday Strangers, which performed at the now-defunct Joint, as well as at the Handlebar in Greenville and at clubs in Charleston.

Tiger is a Harvard Hero: Rupal Ramesh Shah M ’07

Rupal Ramesh Shah, a microbiology graduate, was honored by Harvard University as a 2012 Harvard Hero. This prestigious award is given to a select number of Harvard staff members who are recognized for “above and beyond” achievements and for their contributions to the university. Out of 12,000 Harvard staff members, only 49 received this award in 2012.

Shah is laboratory manager of the tuberculosis laboratory in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases in the School of Public Health.

“As a researcher, I value working with and learning from other scientists and colleagues in the lab and the department,” she said. “As a lab manager, I use the leadership skills I developed at Clemson to organize, lead and manage teams, and I truly enjoy this aspect of my work.”

Shah’s view of the world extends from the cellular to the global. Her work as a laboratory scientist involves molecular biology to help fight disease. As a humanitarian, she volunteers with both local and global organizations to help fight poverty, lack of education and improve public health.

“Her dedication to the well being of humanity is innate. I don’t think she will ever stop trying to make the world a better place, and many will benefit from her efforts,” said Alfred “Hap” Wheeler, chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Clemson, and one of Shah’s mentors.

Turning ‘Mock Turtle Soup’ into ‘Gold’

When Jason Underwood ’04, Harrison Brookie ’07, M’08, Meg Pierson ’08  and Ben Burris  ’11 were members of Clemson’s improv comedy group, Mock Turtle Soup, they never dreamed that one day they would come together and form their own theater.

Alchemy Comedy Theater was created to perform and teach improv comedy. All of the members have day jobs, but have pooled their talents and experiences to form the only comedy improv theater in Greenville.

Artistic director Brookie is a secondary education graduate teaching at Southside International Baccalaureate High School. Underwood, class instructor, has a degree in architecture and works at Fluor Daniel. Pierson, Improv 201 instructor, graduated in history, and electrical engineering graduate Burris works at aeSolutions and is the group’s assistant artistic director.

They created a training center that has produced almost 50 students of comedy — some who have joined the theater. Performances are every Friday night at Coffee Underground. For more information, go to http://alchemycomedy.com/.

Veterinarian with heart: Mary Mauldin Pereira ’01

After graduating with a degree in animal science, Mary Mauldin Pereira enrolled at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM) on the island of St. Kitts. Her lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian was realized after graduating in 2005. She and her husband, Gary, and their daughter, Ava Kate, live on the island where she is an assistant professor of parasitology at RUSVM.

In addition to teaching, Pereira has created a fundraising program, oneLOVEPets, for animals in need. Through the sales of pet collar tags, wristbands and other products, funds are raised to support animal shelters, spay and neuter clinics, fostering and food drives.

For more information, go to www.onelovepets.com, oneLOVEPets on Facebook and Twitter @OneLovePets!