Georgia native Taylor Freeman knew she belonged at Clemson University when she was in eighth grade, even while surrounded by Bulldog fans. The call to be a Tiger came through her love of football coach Dabo Swinney and Taylor’s family noticing the blossoming ClemsonLIFE program. 

Taylor followed her dreams and recently finished her junior year with ClemsonLIFE while making history in the process. In Fall 2023, she became the first Clemson student with Down syndrome to complete an American Sign Language course.

“I loved it,” Taylor said of the experience. “Having the students and volunteers help me made me very happy. This class felt like my family. I always wanted to take this class from the moment I was accepted into the ClemsonLIFE program.”

A connection was formed through a program volunteer and a Sigma Kappa sorority sister after they invited ASL lecturer Tasha Goodrich to the spring 2023 ClemsonLIFE talent show. Since then, Taylor has been surrounded by a distinguished group of ASL professors. Clemson is one of 172 four-year institutions that fully recognize ASL as a unique and complex language.

With help from professors, classmates and ClemsonLIFE first-year instructor Courtney Dukes ’15, Taylor thrived in the course and remains an active member of the ASL Club. She was even on the field with the club to sign the national anthem in Memorial Stadium before the Tigers upset Notre Dame in early November 2023. 

As an active member of the Clemson American Sign Language Club, Taylor Freeman belongs to a vibrant community celebrating Deaf culture and promoting the appreciation of sign language. Members not only improve their ASL skills but also participate in educational outreach and form lasting friendships.

Taylor’s mother, Ayoca Freeman, said her daughter thrives in the Clemson community. As Joe Sherman ’34 wrote more than 50 years ago, Ayoca believes there is “something in these hills” that has bonded Taylor to the area.

She is a member of the Sigma Kappa sorority, is an avid Clemson Football, Basketball and Volleyball fan, attends church on Sundays, and, of course, enjoys the occasional treat from Starbucks. Taylor pledged Sigma Kappa because of how active the sisters are in the ASL Club.

“My sisters have taken me under their wings,” she said. “Their motto is, ‘one heart, one way.’ I truly feel like I am one of their sisters.”

With graduation on the horizon, Taylor intends to live independently in Clemson. Why?

“This is home!” she said.

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