Finance and Operations

23 employees recognized during fifth annual degree attainment luncheon


“One day, I was like, “What am I waiting on?” 

Fredda Owens is the director of user services for the Libraries. She worked at Clemson for ten years before she considered becoming a student. 

She’d taken classes and received degrees from Tri-County Technical College but didn’t have her bachelor’s degree. 

With the help of the Employee Tuition Assistance Program, Owens enrolled part-time in classes. 

 “I’m going to take advantage of this,” Owens thought. “And if I fail, I fail, but if I don’t, I’ll have accomplished something – and I did.” 

The Clemson Tiger mascot sits at a lunch table surrounded by employees.

Owens is now a part of the 182,000 living Clemson alumni worldwide. She graduated last year with a bachelor’s of science in sociology. 

She was one of 23 Clemson employees recognized by the University at the fifth annual degree attainment luncheon. 

The Office of Human Resources hosts the event with support from the Faculty and Staff Senate. It celebrates those who complete a degree while working at the University. 

This year’s recipients at the luncheon hailed from 11 different colleges and divisions and spanned 19 departments. 

They earned GEDs, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees – some taking many years to complete the feat. 

Making Clemson Better 

“Clemson is doing amazing work because you are doing amazing work,” said Ale Kennedy, chief human resource officer. “Today is another outstanding reason to celebrate the many successes of the people who elevate Clemson.” 

Clemson President Jim Clements speaks at a podium at the Madren Center.

Recipients and their supporters filled the ballroom at the Madren Center where they heard from President Clements, Provost Jones and Kennedy, along with two recent graduates. 

“I am proud of you,” said President Clements. “You did this because of your resilience, dedication and commitment – a great example of being ‘All In.’ What you did has made Clemson better.”  

Owens shared her gratitude for the University leadership’s support – thankful that leaders recognize the personal accomplishments of employees, which ultimately creates well-rounded employees. 

“It enabled me to learn more about the University, but it also gave me a different perspective in my job,” Owens said. “I was able to see things not only from working here so long but also from a student perspective.” 

She’s not alone. 

Jamie Martin, assistant director (auxiliary services) of student accessibility services, has always pursued her work with a people-first attitude. But now, after completing her master’s in human resources development, she says, she can continue to do that with new theories and best practices in mind. 

“As a first-generation college student, this celebration holds such significance to me personally.” 

Martin’s plate is a bit full – serving on the executive board of the Staff Senate and recently graduating from CU Grow – but furthering her education was essential to her. It was a key to the future. 

“May our degrees be not just symbols of achievement but keys to a future of continued success and fulfillment,” said Martin. 

“Like a unicorn at the Kentucky Derby.”  

That’s how Julian Nixon feels after receiving his doctorate from Clemson last year. 

“You’re trying to figure out what lane you fit in…whether you should be running the race at all…and looking at all the hats people are wearing in a different light.” 

As a junior, Nixon recalls a critic who doubted if he would graduate from Clemson, let alone receive more than one degree or work for the University. 

At the podium, speaking in front of more than sixty attendees, Nixon defied that criticism – and he’s not done yet. 

He has set out to do something unicorns can do – but horses cannot, and he encouraged his fellow graduates to do the same. 


2023 Graduates Recognized
  • Andrea Galehouse – Small Business Development Center
  • Ashley Hendrix – PSA and Economic Development Business Services
  • Bailey Troutman – Marketing and Communications
  • Benjamin Gajdalo – Office of Land and Capital Asset Stewardship
  • Brennan Ledford – Office of Human Resources
  • Cristina Shorts – Automotive Engineering
  • Donna Scruggs-Buss – Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
  • Eduardo Nieves – Marketing and Communications
  • Fredda Owens – University Libraries
  • Gila Holland – Kershaw County Cooperative Extension Office
  • Holly Duncan – Marketing and Communications
  • Jamie Martin – Student Accessibility Services
  • Jeremy Thomas Purvine – University Facilities
  • Jessica Campbell – Brook T. Smith Launchpad
  • Jessica LeCroy – Industrial Engineering
  • Julian Nixon – College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, Academic Affairs
  • Katie Cato – College of Education, Financial and HR Services
  • Madison Polyasko – College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, Business Office
  • Porscha Elton – Marketing and Communications
  • Robert J. Robinson – Office of Global Engagement
  • Shamella Cromartie – University Libraries
  • Talitha Ellington – CU-ICAR Partnership Office
  • Dylin Turner – Maintenance Services