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Telling the tales that make Clemson unique — and Solid Orange

Kara Robertson_012In Death Valley, a knitted tiger hat crowns one fan’s head. The student has painted a giant Tiger paw on her face, the only interruption on it being her giant smile. A camera click later, she will be a face of Clemson as part of an admissions brochure. She will show her Clemson spirit to thousands of prospective Tigers.

It’s a spirit that spoke to at least one. Kara Robertson received that brochure as a junior in high school. Before then, the Charlotte native had never heard much of Clemson. But when she saw that girl, Clemson became her number one choice. “She looked so happy. I told myself,
‘I want to be her, and I want to be there, at Clemson,’” Robertson said.

Four years later, Robertson has, in a way, become the girl in the Tiger hat: She is a voice of Clemson to future students. Not only has she been a front row fan at football games with her own face painted like a Tiger, she has spent her college career telling the Clemson story.
Since her second semester, Robertson has worked as a writer for Creative Services, which creates and manages much of Clemson’s marketing and branding materials. Intimidated when she first heard about it, she almost didn’t apply, but a deeper connection with the position changed her mind.

“I found out that the office also manages the admissions material. I told myself, ‘All right, you’re doing Creative Services,’” Robertson said. Eventually, her writing position became part of Clemson’s UPIC on-campus internship program. While her responsibilities occasionally include writing copy for brochures like the one she received, she mainly writes stories for the University’s website. She has also written for this magazine.

Her mentor throughout the internship has been Crystal Bennett, the University’s Web content developer. Bennett works with Robertson and other interns on developing their writing by encouraging creative critical thinking. Based on her experiences with Creative Services — and especially because of how much she has valued Bennett’s mentorship — Robertson thinks every student should have an opportunity at an on-campus internship.

But it’s Robertson’s uniquely Clemson persona that makes her such a good voice for Clemson. Like any good fan, Robertson is “All In” for her team. She carries an orange backpack and has a closet full of orange shirts. She’s never missed a home football game, and when students camped out for tickets, she was always out there with a tent. Her passion isn’t limited to the field; she also goes all out for basketball games and other sporting events.

She does more than cheer for her Tigers, though: She learns about real ones too. A former member of the Tigers for Tigers (T4T) organization, which seeks to protect and care for tigers in the wild, she went to India over spring break with a biodiversity class led by the faculty organizer of T4T.

She will be graduating in May with a double major in communication studies and English, then headed off to a job as a Web copywriter and website designer at an agency in Charlotte, N.C., where she’ll be working with telecom companies on digital marketing campaigns. But for all of her accomplishments outside of her job and her future in bigger markets, Robertson is extremely proud of her work as an undergrad.

“I love Clemson so much, and I’m honored to tell the stories of the students here,” said Robertson. “I hope that I’ve shared stories that make people love Clemson more.”

Note: This story was written by Leah VanSyckel, another member of the Class of 2016.

My Clemson: Daniel Licata ’09

When I transferred to Clemson in the fall of 2006, I was looking for a better “college experience.” The university I had left behind was low on school spirit; they didn’t even have a football team.

Clemson did not provide me with an experience; it transformed my life. I found a new family in those “Hills.” The color orange was no longer something to add to my wardrobe, it became my wardrobe. And while the “Hills” were certainly special, “The Hill” was sacred.

In the long history of Clemson, approximately 50 other students have had the same perspective I did when I first stepped to the top of The Hill on Labor Day Monday in 2007. With limited vision, gasping for air and fighting off heat exhaustion, I stood in front of the Death Valley faithful, ready to lead our team on to the field. The “C-L-E-M-S-O-N” chant that overcame the stadium, physically shaking my helmet, will forever be engrained in my mind. As the cannon sounded, I knew my life would never be the same. During the 2007-08 school year, I prowled the sidelines during a 23-21 victory in Columbia and an ACC Tournament in Charlotte that had our team in the championship game.

After graduating summa cum laude in the spring of 2009, I returned to my home state of New Jersey to begin a career in education. I love exploring the subject of social studies with my high school students, but if you were to ask any of my students where my true passion lies, they would all answer, “Clemson!” My students know that the Tiger does push-ups after every score, that Friday is always solid orange, and that my mood on a Monday in the fall is largely dependent on the Saturday that precedes it.

Daniel Licata is a social studies teacher at Palmyra High School in Palmyra, New Jersey. He recently won the teacher of the year award and led the varsity baseball program to their second consecutive division championship, the first time for the school since the 1930s.