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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.”

 

Summer 2021 Alumni Authors

James F. Parnell, William C. Alexander Ph.D. ’80 & Frances B. Parnell
Attracting Birds in the Carolinas (UNC Press) is an in-depth look at how Carolinians can attract birds, from the mountains to the coast.

Shelley Burchfield M ’14
The Earth Remains (Touchpoint Press) is a historical fiction novel set in 1860 near the site of the Fort Hill plantation. The story follows farmer Polly Burgiss, who must face her past and future through both the murders of her young brothers and her own role in slavery.

Richard L. Cassidy ’93
Greatest of These Is Always Love (Limelight Publishing) is a book of self-reflection, grappling with racism and current race relations in America alongside Cassidy’s own experience and Christian faith.

Laurie Devore ’11
A Better Bad Idea (Macmillan) is Devore’s third young adult novel, which tells the story of Evelyn Peters, a young woman stuck in a small town and desperate for a way out.

Marty Duckenfield M ’81
Blind Luck: A Year Abroad (self-published) is a personal memoir of the author’s experience studying at Oxford University during her junior year of college in 1965-66.

George Plopper & Diana Bebek Ivankovic M ’91, Ph.D. ’95
Principles of Cell Biology, 3rd Edition (Jones and Bartlett Learning) is a biology textbook that takes students and instructors through 14 comprehensible principles alongside topics such as evolution, natural selection and artificial selection on the cellular level.

Emily B. Martin ’10, M ’12
Floodpath (Harper Voyager) is book two of the Outlaw Road duology, finishing up the story of the Sunshield Bandit and her allies as they traverse through the young adult fantasy wilderness first inroduced in Martin’s Creatures of Light trilogy.

Nate Miller ’11Jenesis Johnson ’17
Simply Sustainable Landscapes (self-published) will take you on a horticultural journey through history and design, specifically with edible and native plants of the Southeast.

Susan Moresi M ’97
Matilda Gundalini (self-published) follows Matilda, a middle-aged, career-focused woman who comes face to face with workplace harassment.

Michael Puldy ’84
Himalaya Memories (self-published) is a photobook chronicling Puldy’s travels and experiences in the snowy mountains of Bhutan and Nepal.

Colleen Warren Thomas ’13
Beautiful Skin (self-published) is a children’s book that uses the story of a biracial girl to help teach children about race, overcoming racism and diversity.

Bryson Thompson Sr. ’07
How Angels Are Made (self-published) is Thompson’s first children’s book, which explores themes of sickness, loss, grief and healing within a family.

Ron Rash M ’79
In the Valley (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group) is a collection of 10 “searing” short stories and a novella that picks up where Serena, one of Rash’s most well-known novels, left off.

Jamey Rootes ’89
The Winning Game Plan (Elite Online Publishing) is a masterclass in leading a business to success. Rootes draws on his time as Houston Texans president to offer advice on management, culture and handling adversity.

Eugene Schlaman ’73
Iowa Bike Towns (Gatekeeper Press) takes readers on a journey through the more than 800 Iowa towns that are on the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, complete with facts and stories. 

 

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.

 

Forever and Our Two Days

“The South Pacific was pretty rough, even for the Navy,” M. Baxter Sowell Jr. ’83 said. He took some time on a Friday morning in early February to reflect on his parents — their love story, which really began with his father’s service in World War II.

It was through the G.I. Bill that Morgan B. Sowell Sr. ’51, a native of Orangeburg, South Carolina, was able enroll at Clemson University and major in agricultural education. He became the first person in his family to go to college.

“I remember him saying how revered the war veterans were by the cadets on campus,” Baxter said. “It was almost like when they walked down the hall, the other students would come to attention for them and turn their backs to the wall. Just kind of paid deference to what they had done because people his age, their senior trip was the South Pacific. It wasn’t much of a senior cruise.”

Clemson was still an all-male, military college in the late ’40s and ’50s, and it was common for the cadets to pile on buses on the weekends and head over to Winthrop for dances and other social events with the college girls. It was one such dance where Morgan Sowell met his future wife, a business management student by the name of Jean DuBose.

They fell in love.

“My parents spent their honeymoon in the presidential suite of the Clemson House,” Baxter said, a smile in his voice. “I just thought that was a great love story.”

Both Jean and Morgan graduated from college in the spring of 1951. In June, they were married in Orangeburg and spent their wedding night driving back up to Clemson. Their honeymoon destination was the newly constructed Clemson House, the hotel on the hill that overlooked campus, lit up by its neon orange sign.

“My dad, being young and just back from the war and a recent graduate, wasn’t wealthy by any standard,” Baxter continued. “So, he ordered up a standard room from the guy behind the counter, who was also a war vet.”

The fellow veteran slipped the newlyweds the key to the presidential suite with a wink.

“My parents spent their honeymoon in the presidential suite of the Clemson House,” Baxter said, a smile in his voice. “I just thought that was a great love story.”

The Sowells returned to Orangeburg County, where Morgan spent the rest of his life as a farmer. Morgan and Jean had been married for more than 30 years when Morgan passed away in the late ’80s. Jean passed away about 5 years ago.

“My mom never remarried because she had one love, and that was him.”

Baxter recently found some old pictures of his parents’ wedding and their memorable honeymoon trip to Clemson House. He also stumbled upon some vintage valentines, where Morgan penned “his little motto with my mom about loving her forever and ‘our two days’ because forever and a day wasn’t long enough.”

The card reads, “Love always, forever and our two days. Your Husband.”

 

 

 

Alumni Teaching the Arts

The South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, tucked into the heart of downtown Greenville, hosts a myriad of talented and well-trained faculty who are dedicated to mentoring high school sophomores, juniors and seniors, immersing them in the arts with classes on dance, music, visual arts, drama and creative writing. Students work closely with mentors, who pass down their own experiences and teach self-discipline, respect, time management, resilience, professionalism and empathy.

The Governor’s School highlights an amazing reciprocal relationship with Clemson. Many graduates of the school later become Clemson students, and there are more than a few Clemson alumni who serve as teachers and/or staff members. The Visual Arts Department, in particular, boasts a few faculty members who all have something in common: a master’s degree from Clemson.

 

 

Marty Epp-Carter M ’09
MFA in visual arts, emphasis in printmaking
Teaches printmaking, drawing and visual language

Why is learning about art and developing artistic skills important for students?

“When an artist makes a piece of art, they are expressing themselves by solving a problem. This requires communication skills, and communication requires a clear and agreed-upon language. Students are learning to express themselves, work independently, meet deadlines, hone eye-hand coordination skills, pay attention to nuance and honor the tiniest details. They also develop the discipline it takes to follow through, despite mistakes and challenges.”

 

 

Cary Perkins M ’04
Master of Architecture
Teaches architecture 

How did Clemson help prepare you for your current career?

“One of my Clemson professors once said that a design education prepares you for any career path — every industry is improved by rigorous problem-solving through creative thinking. That perspective has shaped my thinking in many ways and is something I strive to share with my students, along with teaching them to focus on visually communicating, self-editing and constantly questioning.”

 

 

David Gerhard M ’13
MFA in visual arts, emphasis in printmaking
Chair of the Visual Arts Department; teaches drawing, graphic design and art history and also teaches graphic design at Clemson

What do you hope students and other schools will learn from the Governor’s School?

“We are a resource for all students and teachers across South Carolina. The Governor’s School is a model for what can be done under ideal circumstances. Something I hope my students take away is how to balance doing so many things at once. I teach them time management, how to push through when you don’t feel like you’re being creative anymore, discipline and how to take criticism. I also make sure I am being very practical while still allowing students to have that joy of creative work.”

 

 

Joseph Thompson M ’98
MFA in visual arts, emphasis in sculpture
Teaches sculpture, drawing and 3D design

How has COVID-19 affected the way you teach?

“COVID-19 has shifted the emphasis of my teaching practice from providing students with lessons in materials, processes and poetics to partnering with them in the investigation of those things. Students have less access to equipment and facilities, but their connection to their work as their work has never been greater. Students are seeing themselves as partners in their own education, something that has always been a marker of our department but is now being emphasized more than ever.”