Student Affairs

‘Carrying on Clemson’s legacy.’ Graphic communication major prepares for Clemson MBA 


Sydney Westphal is earning a degree in graphic communications this week. She has been accepted into Clemson's MBA program and is set to begin this fall.
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Sydney Westphal didn’t plan on becoming involved in The Tiger, Clemson’s student-run newspaper, when she visited their booth at Tiger Prowl her freshman year. In fact, she had only stopped at the table for her roommate, who was interested in joining.

“The editor in chief actually came up to me,” Westphal recalls. After initially dismissing potential involvement at The Tiger Newspaper, her interest in the student-run newspaper was piqued after hearing about an open position for a layout editor.

“At the beginning, I was just doing a couple of pages and now that I have taken on the role as Managing Editor, I look at the entire paper,” says Westphal, chuckling at her initial reluctance to become involved in The Tiger Newspaper.


From kindergarten, Westphal knew what she wanted to do in her future career.

“My first dream job was to be an illustrator,” Westphal recalls. “I’m impressed with myself for getting it right the first time.”

Throughout middle and high school, her love of creativity and design deepened thanks to art, graphic design and digital design classes.

In high school, Westphal toured Clemson’s Department of Graphic Communications in Godfrey Hall alongside Dr. Charles “Chip” Tonkin, Chair of the Department of Graphic Communications. After watching students working on projects with machinery, she remembers having one thought: “I want that to be me.”

Westphal works in front of a mural she hand-drew and painted located inside The Tiger’s office.

When it came time for her to apply for college and select a graphic communication program, Clemson was an easy decision.

“I knew that it would give me the most hands-on experience and I could learn stuff here that I wouldn’t learn going to other colleges,” she remarks.

Since arriving at Clemson, Westphal has thrown herself into graphic communication through classes, internships and student-run organizations.

As a part of their curriculum, all graphic communication students are required to gain real-life experience through a full-time internship. In the Fall of 2023, Westphal interned on-campus for Student Affairs Creative Services through Clemson’s University Professional Internship and Co-op (UPIC) program.

“Interning with Student Affairs Creative Services definitely taught me a lot about client work,” says Westphal. “It gave me a lot more confidence as a designer because I feel like the feedback loop there is so positive.”

During her internship, Westphal was responsible for designing dozens of logos for on-campus clubs and organizations, creating graphics for video, social media, and web stories, and producing a large-scale mural for an office.

Westphal also serves as a liaison between students and departmental leadership on the Graphic Communication Student Advisory Board, advocating for fellow graphic communication students.


Even though she never expected it, Westphal will be the first to tell you that The Tiger Newspaper has been one of the most defining parts of her Clemson journey.

“My Clemson experience, especially through The Tiger, has really shaped me as a leader because I have had the opportunity to be in charge of so many things,” Sydney says. “When you really think about it, the physical paper could not be made without a managing editor and so I decided to take on all of that responsibility.”

And take on that responsibility she did. Every other Tuesday night, Westphal meets with the newspaper’s staff for production nights, starting at 5 p.m. in The Tiger Newspaper’s offices on the third floor of Hendrix Student Center.

Sydney Westphal (left) served as the Managing Editor at The Tiger, a completely student-run newspaper.

Production nights are an all-hands-on-deck affair, with a dozens reporters and contributors squeezed into a cramped office, working on stories and wireframes into the wee hours of the morning.

Amidst the chaos, Westphal steadily works to ensure the paper is perfect – all of the margins are aligned, all the columns are straight and all of the grammar is correct.

Once the final checks are made and approval is given, The Tiger Newspaper is distributed by the students all around Clemson’s campus and a few areas in the local community.

“We have a team of two or three people that drive it around in a little golf cart and take the papers into campus buildings,” she explains. “My bundle I chose to deliver to the president’s house, and that has opened a lot of doors for me.”

Thanks to The Tiger Newspaper’s delivery route, Westphal struck up an unlikely friendship with President Clements. She began leaving personalized notes to him every time she delivered his copy of The Tiger Newspaper.

“He’s offered to write me letters of recommendation and offered to be a reference of mine,” Westphal says. “It’s great being friends with the president. Not many people can say that.”

Westphal will start her Master of Business Administration with a concentration in digital brand communication in the Fall of 2024.


Now a graduating senior, Westphal is looking forward to the next chapter in her Clemson journey – pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in digital brand communication from Clemson’s MBA program, located in Greenville, S.C.

She hopes her MBA will eventually enable her to become a creative director of a company, leading the creative direction, branding elements and publication aspects.

“I just feel like Clemson has prepared me very well for everything I’ve learned here,” she reflects. “I know that everything that I have learned here has prepared me so very well for going into the outside world and carrying on Clemson’s legacy.”

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