Clemson Made Us Friends

When Megan Barnes ’01 was moving to New Orleans from Singapore for her job in the federal government, she didn’t know a soul. After a quick search of the Alumni Association’s website, she found the New Orleans Clemson Club, along with the contact information of the club’s then-president, Miles Thomas ’00.

Thomas chartered the club when he transferred his law practice to New Orleans from South Carolina in 2007. “The first [Clemson] game rolled around, and I didn’t have anybody to watch the games with,” Thomas says.

Barnes wrote Thomas an email from Singapore: “I’m very interested in meeting some fellow Tigers as I don’t know anyone in New Orleans! I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully meeting you and some other Clemson grads soon.” Thomas immediately invited her to the next watch party at the local watering hole Fat Harry’s on St. Charles Avenue.

After a couple of meetings, they became friends. “Miles started eating all of my food whenever I ordered at the bar,” Barnes laughs.

Barnes stayed in New Orleans for four years before she moved to Bogotá, Colombia. But she and Thomas kept in touch. When Thomas found out there was a Gamecock fan in Barnes’ office, he had the Alumni Association send her a box full of Clemson swag.

Eventually, Barnes had the opportunity to move to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and just like in New Orleans, she started attending the Grand Strand Clemson Club and connecting with fellow alumni. One of those connections introduced her to her future husband, Cory Johnson, a lifelong Clemson fan.

“I wanted Miles to like Cory because Miles has been like a brother to me,” Barnes says. She introduced Johnson to Thomas at a Clemson Football game at the top of the Hill, and when the couple got engaged, Barnes asked Thomas to officiate their wedding.

The result was a ceremony filled with laughter. “I threatened to do the Cadence Count in the middle of it,” Thomas laughs.

Now, Thomas is a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, but he’s still heavily involved with the New Orleans Clemson Club, something he considers a success evidenced by his relationship with Barnes: “Everything worked the way that I wanted it to because a person who was coming from the other side of the world, literally, found me by email. And Clemson made us friends.”

 

Ring Story: Preserving Her Memory

“We lost my mom four years ago in July,” Frances Mann Medley ’10 says.

In February 2020, the Mann family — including Frances and her family, her father, Stephen Mann ’78, and her brother, Thomas Mann ’06, M ’07, and his family — donated a 2020 Clemson class ring in the ladies dinner ring style to honor their wife and mother, Eleanor Hightower Mann ’78, who passed away in 2017. The donated ring also includes Eleanor’s sorority, Pi Beta Phi, which recently returned to the University’s Greek life.

Stephen and Eleanor met and fell in love when they were both students at Clemson. He was an agricultural mechanization and business major, and she was an elementary education major. After graduating, the couple got married and “put their roots down” in West Columbia, where they raised Frances and Thomas. Eleanor taught elementary kids for 33 years in the area and eventually saw both of her children graduate from her alma mater.

“We have a picture from my graduation day with all four of us with our rings turned,” Frances says. “Sweet memory.”

When asked about the donation, Stephen says it was something that would “last forever. [Clemson] was something that Eleanor was very involved with as a student and as an alumna. It is just a way to preserve her memory.”

Frances says donating the ring was the first time her whole family had been back to Clemson since her mother’s passing. It was a special trip. “When we come back and visit for years to come, when I take my kids as they get older and hopefully my grandkids,” she says, “they can visit the Alumni Center and find their grandmother’s name.”

 

Summer 2021 Club News

Cleanup Crew

The Golden Isles Clemson Club is responsible for keeping a 1.5-mile stretch of Kings Way, a major gateway into St. Simons Island, Georgia, free from litter. “Our goal is to collect as much litter as possible along both sides of the road,” wrote Skip Harvey ’71, “including paper, bottles, cigarette butts, metal cans, plastic containers and even car parts!” On March 16, 2021, Harvey and fellow club members Sean Huckeba ’08, Blase Grady ’87, Marlisa Grady ’88, Kim Sumner ’89* and Meghan Ozamiz ’09 spent about an hour and a half collecting seven garbage bags of litter.

Culinary Tour

The Baltimore/Washington, D.C., Clemson Club organized a culinary tour of Lebanese culture and cuisine on March 25, 2021, via Zoom. Owners of Lebanese Taverna, Grace Shea and Dany Abi-Najm, took the 27 participants through a chef-inspired tasting menu, including wine and dessert. The menu featured hummus, kibbeh, grape leaves, m’saka, tabouleh, ouzi and baklava. Proceeds supported the club’s local partner restaurants and their scholarship fund.

 

OTHER CLUB HAPPENINGS

Meal Clubs

The Alumni Association created a virtual version of their annual Meal Clubs events, which began in fall 2020 and continued into 2021. The Meal Clubs include the Greenville Luncheon Club, Second Century Club, Clemson in the Lowcountry and Hub City Friends of Clemson. Davis Babb, IPTAY CEO; Graham Neff, deputy athletic director; Delphine Dean, director of the Clemson COVID-19 Testing Lab; Dean Cox, the dean of libraries; and Leslie Hossfeld, dean of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, were just a few of the speakers who participated in the events, which covered topics ranging from pandemic updates to college overviews to Clemson Basketball.

Fall into Fitness

Clemson’s Women’s Alumni Council led “Fall into Fitness” in fall 2020, which encouraged activity and exercise in the name of the University. Proceeds of the program benefited the Women’s Alumni Council Endowed Scholarship, a Presidential Scholarship that provides several Universitywide scholarships each year that support students who might not otherwise be able to attend Clemson.

 

Collaborative Community

Asked how she could help her community, associate professor of scenic design Shannon Robert, came up with a simple idea that soon turned a group of virtual strangers into a small community.

On a normal day, the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts is alive with theatrical productions, music concerts and other cultural opportunities for students, faculty, alumni and community members. Last spring, with the industry shut down for people’s safety, Robert was one of the many people who brainstormed program ideas to help keep the community connected and engaged during this time. Her idea stemmed from studios that offer wine and paint nights.

Initially, Robert’s first Tuesday night paint night on April 21 began with current students but its success led to its expansion to the Brooks Center audience after an invite was sent out. Every Tuesday since, Robert has stationed her laptop in front of her home workspace and taught virtual class members how to create different works of art. Participants range in age from 12 to 80 and from student to faculty to alumni to Tiger fan.

Robert’s goal was to lead group painting sessions that were quick and relatively easy for those of any skill level. Robert said, “It became clear that people want to continue doing this, so I think we can probably learn something along the way.” She began to incorporate mini lessons on things like cubism, scumbling or impressionism. She also wanted to teach participants about the value of painting and to not be afraid — to just do it. Robert recognizes that most people are fearful to show their work or even begin painting because they worry it won’t look good. However, she reminds people that after sitting down to a first piano lesson, no one will walk away playing like Horowitz. She described it as “a process” and told the group to “just enjoy where you are in the process, and don’t be afraid. You have to be fearless when you are creating.”

Eventually, the Tuesday-night painting group turned into a small community of regulars who began to connect with each other, despite the virtual distance. Robert compared it to a quilting group, a fun space where people can sit around to chat and catch up. “I have bonded with so many of these people,” she said. “We talk about recipes, movies, television shows and music. It’s really nice to see everyone having conversations with people they would usually never talk to.”

There were, of course, challenges along the way. Most stores were shut down or, at the very least, limiting hours. Participants had to get creative with the materials they used and where they got them. Some had limited funds to buy the paint, paint brushes, canvases and palettes necessary. Robert also described figuring out the angle to position her camera as a learning curve. She wanted to be sure everyone could see what she was painting in as much detail as she could. Her paint-splattered laptop is proof of her dedication to making these nights as doable and fun as possible.

As the weeks went on, an idea began to emerge. With the number of regulars the meetings were soon beginning to have, Robert thought a collaborative project would be easy to accomplish. She painted a piece and cut it into 16 parts to send to 16 contributors. Each person would have no idea what the painting looked like as a whole, nor how their piece would incorporate into the final. Their task was to replicate their section as accurately as they could, in whatever medium they desired. The contributors ended up using charcoal, oil pastels, acrylic and latex to complete their sections.

The decision to create the piece in black and white was a practical one. Robert knew not everyone might have a color printer, and she knew painting in white and shades of black would be easier to color match for new painters. Painters completed their sections on their own or with the help of friends and family members. Robert said the message behind the piece is harmony. The work pays homage to the different disciplines within the Brooks Center in a way that “lifts them up and is aesthetically pleasing.” It contains a dancer, a light technician, a singer, a musician, and an actor — each performing. Robert wanted students who are studying in the building to look at the mural and “see themselves or see something that they connect with or relate to.”

After two joint paint sessions, the mural pieces were complete and ready to be displayed in their new home: the Brooks Center. Robert described the collaboration as a gift from each one of the contributors. They bought their own materials and gave up their time to produce something meaningful and beautiful that can now be shared with the whole Clemson community.

As difficult as these times are and have been, the shining light through it all has been people’s willingness to look out for each other while remaining connected and positive.

 

 

 

Honorary Alumna: Pamela Maddex Hendrix

Pamela Maddex Hendrix of Kiawah Island, S.C., was posthumously named honorary alumna by the Alumni Association. Hendrix graduated from Winthrop University in 1965 and married Leon “Bill” J. Hendrix ’63, M ’68*  in 1967. Through their marriage, Pam developed a deep love for Clemson and later saw her four children graduate from the University: Jill Ganzenmüller ’92, Joy Yonce ’93*, Holly Cirrito ’95* and Jim Hendrix III ’98.

Together, Pam and Bill have provided financial support for the Hendrix Student Center, the Hendrix Family Endowment for the Office for the Student Body President, the Class of 1963 Bridge to Clemson University Endowment, the President’s Leadership Circle and the Emerging Scholars Program. They were Founding Partners for the James F. Barker and Marcia Barker Scholarship Endowment and distinguished members of the Trustee Oak Society.

In honor of Pam’s passion for travel, her children surprised her and developed the Pamela Maddex Hendrix Dream Jar Travel Endowment, which provides meaningful travel experiences for Clemson students. After her passing, the family became an Academic Cornerstone Partner with a gift of $2.5 million to create the Pamela Maddex Hendrix Dream Jar Education Abroad Endowment.

The honorary alumna designation was presented to Bill and the entire Hendrix family at Bill’s home in Clemson by Wil Brasington ’00, executive director of the Alumni Association, and Gregg Morton ’78, president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. 

 

 

 

Alumni News

Virtual Engagement

Need a new Zoom background? The Alumni Association is offering downloadable campus photos on their virtual engagement page to keep your Monday meetings interesting and keep you more connected to Clemson. And the virtual opportunities don’t stop there.

Explore painting classes, read alouds of children’s books, dance breaks with DJ Sha, question-and-answer sessions with alumni and Clemson experts on topics ranging from NASCAR to the economic impacts of the pandemic, and more. The Alumni Association has also listed online resources available to alumni, including an online job search and online mentorship opportunities.

 

Affinity Groups Update

On the Alumni Association’s contact update form, alumni can now self-identify with various affinity groups they’d like to be part of, including the Hispanic & Latinx Alumni Council, the Women’s Alumni Council, the LGBTQ+ Alumni Council and the Black Alumni Council. Visit alumni.clemson.edu/contactupdate to access the form.

 

Made to Order

This spring, bright orange signs emblazoned with “Tigertown Bound Class of ’24” could be seen in front yards all over the state and country. It’s a proud moment for future students and their families, showing their neighbors and friends where they’re going to college.

Normally, the Alumni Association provides these signs for student send-off parties and other events. COVID-19 made that impossible this year, so the Alumni Association created an online order form at signs.com/tigertown-bound, where students can order their own signs and enjoy the tradition.

 

2020 Welcome Back Festival Canceled

For the last 35 years, the Alumni Association and the Student Alumni Council have sponsored the Welcome Back Festival in downtown Clemson, with local vendors offering a variety of merchandise and food. The event raises approximately $18,000 each year for student scholarships through the Student Alumni Council Scholarship Endowment Fund.

Due to COVID-19, the Alumni Association and the Student Alumni Council made the difficult decision to postpone this year’s Welcome Back Festival in the hope of hosting a similar event in the spring of 2021.

To support the Student Alumni Council Scholarship Endowment Fund, visit iamatiger.clemson.edu/giving and use the “Search for a Fund” feature to search “Student Alumni Council (S.A.C.) Scholarship Endowment.” A gift of any amount can make a difference in the lives of Clemson students.