College of Science

Ashley McCollum wants to make a difference as student body president and beyond


Whether it’s being Clemson University’s first African American female student body president or working as an audiologist after she completes her schooling, Ashley McCollum wants to make change for the better.

McCollum, a senior biological sciences major, has been a part of Clemson’s student government since her first year on campus when she was a member of Freshman Council.

“I’ve always had a passion for it,” said McCollum, who has been involved in student government since she was a freshman at Dorman High School in her hometown of Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Not easy

Balancing academics with student government wasn’t always easy. But she’s persevered with the determination of a Clemson Tiger. Her favorite experience with Clemson University Student Government was serving as the assistant director of Tiger Prowl, Clemson’s largest student organization and involvement fair where students can explore and connect with extra- and co-curricular opportunities.

Ashley McCollum

“It’s been awesome to come in contact with different communities, clubs and organizations that people are passionate about and getting to know the specific organizations on campus,” McCollum said.

With the support of her running mate, Clark Reboul, and a team of students who worked on their campaign, McCollum ran for student body president and won.

“When we found out, it was special. Just to know that I had the opportunity to be the first African American female president, was humbling!” McCollum said.

McCollum works to make people feel heard and supported through intentional conversation. “I want to be a mouthpiece for the students, and I want to make sure that people I come in contact with and students know that I’m also a student, and they can come to me with anything. My goal is to be personable and visible to everyone,” she said.

A better place for all

During her term, McCollum wants to make Clemson a better place for all students. One of the focuses of her term in office is increasing student engagement and unifying students as a Clemson family. She hopes to meet directly with fellow students so they can express their ideas and opinions regarding student engagement. McCollum and Reboul also plan to increase school spirit by making Solid Orange Friday shirts available at all CUSG events. McCollum believes in increasing communication among the general student body is a key for better involvement.

McCollum credits her decision to attend Clemson, in part, to COSMIC (College of Science Mentoring and Inclusion Collaborative) program and its director, Sharetta Bufford. COSMIC is an ecosystem of support for students within the College of Science. It matches incoming students with student mentors from similar backgrounds and interests. COSMIC has affinity groups for women, people of color, men, military and veterans, LGBTQIA+, first-generation students, transfer students and students with disabilities.

The biological sciences major is a great fit for McCollum, who knew she wanted to study health and technology.

Improving lives

She decided to become an audiologist because she wants to improve people’s lives through hearing technology as well as guide them through the challenges of being deaf or hard of hearing by providing empathy, resources and support.

McCollum, who is minoring in American Sign Language, began learning ASL because of a childhood friend who described the hurdles of living in a society that does not always accommodate those who are deaf or have hearing loss.

In her last year at Clemson, McCollum hopes to join the Creative Inquiry for American Sign Language program to “try to see how we can better communities when it comes to sign language and people who are hard of hearing or have cochlear implants… It’s unfortunate that people who are deaf or hard of hearing have to accommodate the hearing society. It should be the opposite.”

McCollum said her major and student government involvement will help her achieve her goal of becoming an audiologist. Student government has helped her practice empathy toward others and develop leadership skills she hopes to utilize in her field.

“Being well versed in different pathways, being empathetic and having the opportunity to represent people from unique backgrounds will help me within the field of audiology and become a better person because of it,” she said.

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