Finance and Operations

“A desire to enhance the experience”: Third cohort of CU Grow graduates 


From 21 departments across Clemson, 25 staff members graduated November 1 from the University’s premier staff development program, CU Grow.  

CU Grow’s third cohort represents departments and divisions across campus, from Campus Recreation to the Youth Learning Institute and CECAS. 

“It has been rigorous and has stretched me in all the right ways,” said Jamie Martin, assistant director of student accessibility services. 

The year-long, 150+ hour program supports the personal and professional growth of full-time staff members. Participants go through workshops, training, skill development and experiential learning to facilitate their growth. The program’s cornerstone is the project component, which tasks participants in tackling challenges or opportunities for growth within their units. 

Four individuals pose for a photo showing off a plaque.

Jamie Martin’s project focused on creating a mentorship program for first year staff senators to ensure they felt prepared to serve their constituents sooner and foster a greater sense of belonging. 

“This was designed to allow first year senators to access information in an easy-to-find manner,” said Martin. “Big picture: I would love to have a mentorship program that serves all of Clemson and is available to all employees on their first day.” 

Donell Glover is a compliance pesticide investigator in Clemson’s regulatory services department. His project focused on creating an onboarding and orientation for new employees in his department. 

President Clements poses with two Clemson staff members.

“Many colleagues [in our department] are scattered throughout the state, so when people begin their roles, they may be in our office for a week, but then we don’t get to see them. This orientation gives them additional resources,” said Glover. “I’ve received great feedback from supervisors, participants and managers. This was needed in our area, and we’ve run with it.” 

While his project looked at orientation processes for his unit specifically, Glover says they’re now looking at implementing the program on a division-wide scale. He says his time in CU Grow has allowed him to highlight his capabilities, what makes him himself and what he can bring to the table. 

“It was a blessing to be able to participate in CU Grow. It has had a profound impact on my personal and professional development, and I enjoyed every minute of it,” said Glover. 

Christian Barrientos, associate director of college preparation and outreach, was looking for opportunities to get more involved on campus when colleagues introduced him to CU Grow. He’s worked at two other institutions of higher education and says he hasn’t seen anything else like the program. He called the experience “eye-opening.” 

A man and a woman pose for a photo at CU Grow graduation.

“We all have blanks that need to be filled, and this was an opportunity to grow and gain intentional takeaways that impact you and the work you are doing on campus,” Barrientos said. 

As a first-generation college student, Barrientos is passionate about driving student success and guiding high school and college students toward academic excellence and college preparedness. When presented with the project portion of CU Grow, he created a website that served as a singular location for resources on education options, enrichment programs, scholarships and grants for interested high school students and incoming college students. 

“If I think of myself in high school, I would not have seen myself where I am today, and I appreciate Clemson’s ability and willingness to allow employees to learn,” said Barrientos. “Clemson has afforded me many opportunities to be in these spaces that allow me not only to move the needle for myself but for others.” 

A group of people sit in a large room listening to Ale Kennedy standing at a podium.

These projects are making a direct impact on the University – something program facilitator and talent and organizational development specialist Kristen Finley has seen first-hand. 

“This class comes from 21 departments across Clemson and has various education and professional backgrounds. Despite that diversity, one common thread I see through all their projects is a desire to enhance the Clemson Experience for all,” said Finley. “CU Grow provided a framework for these amazing professionals to harness their strengths and channel them to create real impact on the way that the University operates- from providing resources to prospective students and creating accessibility solutions for campus visitors to automating data entry and providing new training materials for employees.” 

2022-2023 CU Grow Graduates 

Christian Barrientos – Associate Director of College Preparation & Outreach, Office of College Preparation and Outreach 

Lillian Burns – Administrative Assistant, School of Architecture 

Karen Claflin- Program Coordinator, Pesticide Regulation 

Chris Cox – Associate Director of Sport Programs, Campus Recreation 

Renee Dooley – Director of Development, University Development Team 

Erin Earl – Staff Relations Manager, Office of Human Resources 

Dana Freudenberger – Web Application Development Lead, Application Services 

Shelly Geer – Assistant Director, Internal Operations, Student Athletic Academic Services 

Donell Glover – Investigator IV, Pesticide Regulation 

Candice Heatherly – Administrative Officer, College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences and Public Service and Agriculture 

Lindsey Hill – Director of International Services, Office of Global Engagement 

Dionne Holt – Assistant Director for Personnel Administration, Auxiliary Enterprises 

Colby Lanham – Communications Strategist, Marketing and Communications 

Yi Liu – Critical Infrastructure Architect, Medicaid IT Services 

Jamie Martin – Assistant Director, Student Accessibility Services 

Alisha Maw – Graduate Student Services Manager, College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences 

Thomas Messervy – Graphics Manager II, Marketing and Communications 

Chris Miller – Strategic Operations Manager, University Facilities 

Sethukkarasi Nagappan – QA Tester/ ISBA II, Medicaid IT Services 

Valerie Oonk – Director of Undergraduate Student Services, College of Education 

Stephanie O’Shields – Administrative Coordinator II, Clemson University Police Department 

Kat Owens – Director of Presidential Programs and Events, Office of the President 

Anne Marie Rogers – Research Associate – Education Systems, Watt Family Innovation Center 

Andrea Thornal – Financial Services Manager, College of Science 

Thomas West – Ag/Animal Associate I, Piedmont REC (Simpson Beef Cattle Farm)