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Abney Foundation Provides Life-changing Scholarships

Emma Clements ’18 is one of the more than 170 students — 172 to be exact — who are attending Clemson this year with the help of the Abney Foundation. She spoke at a luncheon in February of this year for the Abney Foundation trustees and the recipients of their generosity.

Clements (no relation to the University president), a communication major from Aiken who has been putting herself through Clemson, shared the memory of receiving an email notifying her of the need-based scholarship: “I was given breathing room that day,” she said. “So many of us are used to being so independent and knowing that struggle is not a stranger. I was reminded of generosity and reminded that I am not doing this alone.”

For more than four decades, students like Clements have been receiving life-changing support from the Abney Foundation, which has created the largest endowed scholarship program at Clemson, targeted at South Carolina residents with demonstrated financial need. The foundation has scholarship endowments at 13 other colleges and universities in South Carolina as well. The foundation has helped more than 15,000 students obtain a college education.

Welcome Back Festival raises money for student scholarships

Birds eye view of Welcome Back Festival

Although the date was adjusted to accommodate the eclipse and the thousands of visitors in town, this year’s Welcome Back Festival was a fun evening of wandering through the crowds on College Avenue, picking up a bite or two to eat and some Clemson swag while enjoying appearances by Tiger Band, the Rally Cats, the cheerleaders and President Clements.

Performances by a live band capped the event, which featured 92 vendors lining the streets. Festival-goers bought 50-cent tickets for food and chances to win prizes, with the $18,700 in proceeds going to the Student Alumni Council Endowment Scholarship Fund.

Scholarship from Annexstad family helps members of Clemson family

When Xavier Smith learned he was Tigertown bound in 2016, he had dual feelings of joy and apprehension. How would the cost of his college education be covered?

When he learned he would be a recipient of the Annexstad Family Foundation’s Leaders for Tomorrow scholarship, Smith was both surprised and overjoyed. “I called my entire family,” Smith said, “and they got excited, too.”

His freshman year was one filled with Clemson moments, beginning the very first day. “My roommate is one of my friends from high school, and we spent the day walking around campus meeting new people. Without the Annexstad Family Foundation Scholarship, I wouldn’t be here right now having these moments,” he said.

In addition to campus activities, the scholarship is guiding the biochemistry major along the path to achieving his dreams of going into the medical field. Smith is currently considering both neurology and pharmacy and is thankful for the opportunity to do so.

Like Al and Cathy Annexstad, Smith isn’t letting his past hardships stop him from achieving his goals, and it’s important that those who face similar situations do the same.

“We are delighted that Clemson has chosen to partner with us,” noted co-founder Al Annexstad. “Young people like Xavier represent a huge reservoir of future leaders for the country. We wish him well.”

Richardsons support Emerging Leaders

Clemson Trustee Mark Richardson and his wife, Kathryn, present a check at the Spring Game representing their $1 million gift in support of Emerging Scholars students.

Clemson Trustee Mark Richardson and his wife, Kathryn, present a check at the Spring Game representing their $1 million gift in support of Emerging Scholars students.

Businessman and Clemson trustee Mark Richardson and his wife, Kathryn, and family have given $1 million for a scholarship fund to help ensure that all Emerging Scholars students accepted into Clemson University can attend with financial aid.

Since 2002, the University’s Emerging Scholars program has made higher education a reality for students at five high schools along the I-95 corridor who may not have seen college in their future. Selected rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors attend the residential program on the Clemson campus in three separate summer experiences. They enroll in courses and workshops that prepare them to graduate high school and apply for college.

During the academic school year, these students participate in college-access workshops and exercises at a local community college. They also visit colleges and universities in South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina. To date all of the program’s students have graduated from high school. Ninety percent of them attend college or join the military their first year out of high school. The Richardson gift is designated to help the students who are accepted into and decide to attend Clemson.

“I am grateful to Mark and Kathryn for their support of our Emerging Scholars students,” said President Clements. “This gift will make a Clemson education accessible to generations of students who may not have thought that college was in their reach. The Richardsons are truly making a difference for these students and for Clemson.”

“My family and I believe that every student, regardless of financial need, who wishes to develop their greatest abilities through education should have that chance. This gift is the beginning of an effort to ensure that any Emerging Scholar who wants to come to Clemson University can,” Richardson said.

Thirteen alumni of the Emerging Scholars program have attended and graduated from Clemson. Six more are currently enrolled. With the help of this scholarship, 13 incoming freshmen have been admitted for this fall.

Chuck Knepfle, Clemson’s associate vice president for enrollment management, said, “The Emerging Scholars program does a fantastic job of preparing their students for college. With the help of this gift, we now can recruit them to Clemson without worrying about it being affordable. The Richardson gift, along with a significant scholarship commitment made by the University, greatly reduces, and for some students eliminates, the financial barrier for the next 10 years, but a sizable endowment is needed for the financial support to continue forever.”

Emerging Scholars Program Manager Amber Lange acknowledged the impact of the Richardsons’ generosity. “The goal of Emerging Scholars is not only to change a student’s life but to make college accessible in communities where there is not always a clear path to success,” she said. “This gift from the Richardsons will help our students attain a valuable Clemson degree and make sure the financial burden they often feel is lifted.”

The gift is a part of the successful $1 billion Will to Lead for Clemson campaign to support students and faculty with scholarships, professorships, facilities, technology and enhanced opportunities for learning and research.

Developing leaders by nurturing intellect, courage and service

Ten exceptional students walked across the stage at Commencement this year, sporting medallions hanging on orange ribbons identifying them as Chapman Scholars. They were selected as freshmen for their leadership potential and offered the opportunity to be a part of the Thomas F. Chapman Leadership Scholars Program, designed to enrich their academic preparation beyond the classroom and curriculum. The three-year program also supports the college’s mission to develop leadership abilities in its students.

The program is based, in part, on a leadership theme developed by former Equifax CEO and board chair Thomas F. Chapman ’65 that uses the analogy of The Wizard of Oz characters — the scarecrow, lion and tin man — to communicate the traits of leadership. Chapman characterized
the 10 graduating scholars as “very, very special. This is a culmination of three years of getting to know these young people, watching them grow, develop, learn and hopefully position themselves down the road to make the world a better place.”

A reception was held prior to graduation honoring the Chapman Scholars and recognizing Thomas Chapman’s generosity.

Long road to Clemson drives student’s entrepreneurial spirit to help others

InTheseHills-Kaitlynn_LewisKaitlynn Lewis’s journey to Clemson has been a circuitous one.

Through grit, determination and generous scholarship donors, she has overcome numerous obstacles and hopes to use what she learned from the school of hard knocks — and Clemson — to help others like her move beyond the hardships in their lives.

Lewis is a junior business management major with a nonprofit leadership minor and a concentration in entrepreneurship. Her future looks bright, but it wasn’t always that way.

The oldest of five children, she experienced a tumultuous childhood, having lived a nomadic existence from Texas to Virginia. She spent a good deal of her adolescence homeless, raising her siblings, working multiple jobs while in school, and in foster care. She attended eight high schools, four middle schools and a dozen elementary schools. Lewis’s 17th birthday was marked by her mother’s suicide. Through it all, her spirit and drive to help others hasn’t wavered.

Like the road to Clemson, Lewis’s experience since arriving has been atypical of most 21-year-old college students. When she’s not commuting more than three hours a day to and from Greer, her day is consumed with a variety of jobs, volunteering and, of course, studying.

Scholarships have helped her with the financial burdens of tuition, but she is still supporting herself and has had to work upwards of 50 hours a week to cover living expenses, like food, gas money and car insurance.

“I worry all the time about my future, money and my family,” Lewis said. “Happiness for me would be not having to worry about having food to eat, a place to live or not having to sleep in my car. Without the scholarships, a lot of my career objectives wouldn’t be possible.”

Outside the classroom, she’s learning and contributing to helping others less fortunate through her involvement in AmeriCorps and organizations like Youth for National Change, which advocates free college tuition for financially challenged foster children.

Lewis sees herself pursuing an entrepreneurial career path in helping people help themselves. “I see myself going the startup route in a way that will enable people in need to be able to sustain themselves and become self-sufficient on a path to stability and becoming productive members of society,” she said.

One startup idea Lewis is championing involves building “tiny” homes for the homeless, where the future inhabitants would play a role in their construction, giving them skin in the game and an accountability. She calls the concept Micro Homes for Macro Hope, and she floated the concept last fall at the Clemson IDEAS student organization’s “Startup Weekend.” The idea received an honorable mention and won the event’s social entrepreneurship award.

“My path to Clemson hasn’t been like a lot of others here, but I’ve learned from it,” Lewis said. “That, combined with the nonprofit leadership and entrepreneurial track of my education here, is preparing me well to make a difference in the world.”

As for life after Clemson, Lewis wants to continue helping others who walked in her footsteps, perhaps through the Peace Corps.

“I’d like to work in business development in the nonprofit sector, maybe helping people start their own business, again along entrepreneurial lines.”

To support students such as Lewis through your giving, go to clemson.edu/giving or call 864.656.5896.

Duckenfield Scholars return to campus to host symposium

Ten years ago, Clemson’s first Duckenfield Scholar, Lindsay Green-Barber, went abroad to study at Oxford. This spring, she and the 16 other Duckenfield Scholars have traveled back to Clemson to return the favor.

The group of alumni planned and executed a Clemson Global Symposium, held in March, to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of a program they consider life changing. Oxford University professor Ken Addison provided the keynote address.

The Christopher J. Duckenield Scholars Program was established by the family and friends of Chris Duckenfield, who was Clemson’s vice provost for computing and information technology. He was also an alumnus of St. Peter’s College of the University of Oxford. The program enables one or two members of the Calhoun Honors College, who demonstrate extraordinary talent, motivation, commitment and ability, to attend St. Peter’s College. Duckenfield Scholars also are expected to demonstrate the ability to adapt to the tutorial style of learning that exemplifies university education at Oxford and elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

Cadence Count: The Barker Presidency

For 14 years, James F. Barker ’70 has served as Clemson’s 14th president and an ardent cheerleader for the University. Under his leadership, the University has grown substantially while still maintaining a firm grip on its identity and sense of family.

Here are just a few of the numbers that tell the story.

The presidency of Jim Barker … by the numbers.