Many students at Clemson call Kathy Sexton the “stand-in mom and cook.” When their own mother is out of state or too far away for a helping hand or homecooked meal, Sexton is there.
In February 2020, she created a Facebook group, “3 Shrimp and 3 Hushpuppies,” as a way for parents, grandparents and loved ones to have a resource if their student needed anything. Whether they are having a rough day or are homesick, Sexton prepares and delivers special treats. A picture of the student is taken at each visit and sent to the parent. Every student she and her husband, Rob ’79, M ’81*, meet automatically becomes their adopted student, and this relationship continues beyond graduation.
Sexton, a retired nurse, says she was inspired to create the Facebook group by her own experiences with her mother and her children, Jennifer and Robert, in the kitchen, where many meals and memories were made. The most asked question: What does “3 Shrimp and 3 Hushpuppies” mean? On family vacations, Sexton and her daughter, Jennifer, could never finish their meals, so one day, Jennifer suggested they split an order. Each would have three shrimp and three hushpuppies. It became a standing joke whenever they would go out to dinner. In 2015, Jennifer passed away, and the memory of their shared joke came to mean so much more.
“She lost her daughter, and to honor that daughter, she has become ‘mom’ to so many.”Susan Cannon
Sexton was nominated for Mother of the Year by a Clemson mom who appreciates the love that she shows to children who are not her own. Susan Cannon describes Sexton, who she has never met, as “the epitome of a Clemson mom for out-of-state, local and non-local parents and students. She has a servant’s heart. She lost her daughter, and to honor that daughter, she has become ‘mom’ to so many.”
The Mother of the Year is selected by the Student Alumni Council and is someone who loves Clemson, shows passion for the community and exemplifies the Clemson spirit. Sexton was recognized during the Homecoming festivities in October 2022.