Coming back to Clemson: Jimmy D. Mullinax ’94

Industrial management major Jimmy Mullinax has come back to Clemson 17 years after being commissioned by the Clemson Army ROTC. A lieutenant colonel in the Army, Mullinax, a logistics officer, returned in June tasked with developing cadets into future Army officers and ensuring that they meet yearly Army commissioning requirements.

Mullinax has also served as an air defense officer in a Patriot Missile unit, as well as in a variety of positions ranging from platoon leader to brigade operations officer. He has been stationed in South Korea, Germany, California, Kentucky, Virginia and Texas. He has his master’s degree in military studies from Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

Mullinax and his wife, Angie Chapman ’95 (SED-MA) Mullinax, are living in Liberty with their three children.

ChillSpot™: Ken M. Leahy ’93 and Mark H. Raeside ’93

What do you get when you combine a hot Southern summer’s day, a furry, miserably hot dog and two Clemson graduates? No, not a strange meal at a tailgate.

You get an ingenious way to keep a pet cool.

Marketing major Ken Leahy and design major Mark Raeside, both of Atlanta, are the inventors and co-founders of ChillSpot™ — a cooling dog bed. From the prototype made with sawed-off coolers and the use of thermodynamics, they were able to perfect a design that uses ChillPods placed in the super insulated base and transfers the “chill” to an aluminum top.

ChillSpot™ has become the cool place to be, not just for the family dog, but for famed animals such as the University of Georgia’s bulldog mascot, Uga, the pandas and tigers at Zoo Atlanta, and President Barker’s dog, Mookie.

For more information about ChillSpot™, go to

Bridge to book: Thomas S. Black ’92

Electrical engineering graduate Thomas Black of Blythewood was looking for a way that he could give back. The vice president of engineering at Fairfield Electric Cooperative took his Clemson education and life skills to serve as the project coordinator for a 200-foot pedestrian bridge over a raging river in rural Nicaragua.

The walking bridge improved the lives in two communities by allowing the people to reach stores, medical treatment and their farmland when the river floods. Black’s experiences on the church-sponsored project led him to publish a book, Ten $1 Bills. The book can be downloaded for free at

The Iguana Tree: Michel Smoak Stone ’91

English graduate Michel Smoak Stone’s debut novel, The Iguana Tree, which Library Journal says “recalls the work of John Steinbeck,” received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and an award for one of the top novels published in 2012 by an independent publisher.

Raised on Johns Island, Stone encountered illegal Mexican immigrants who “were forthright in telling me their story.” The inspiration for her book came from a couple who were smuggled into the U.S. with their young child. Stone wanted to explore why people would take such a risk, would put themselves into the hands of people they couldn’t trust — people who might, in fact, just as soon kill them as look at them — without even knowing whether the risks ultimately would be worthwhile.

Stone lives in Spartanburg and is working on her second novel.

Are you a Clemson FIRST?

There are many first-generation college graduates among our alumni, and we’re trying to find out who they are.

Were you the first in your family to go to a four-year college? If so, you are a Clemson FIRST, and we’d like to hear your story. Go to to read FIRST generation profiles on alumni Bob Barreto and Jennifer Rahn. Then go to to tell your story. Let us know if you’d be willing to volunteer and serve as a mentor for current Clemson FIRSTs. We’ll send you a free alumni car decal and a FIRST pin just for letting us know who you are!