Celebrating Our Graduates; Student Affairs

Clemson holds recognition for December ‘23 service member and student veteran graduates


Class of 2023 military and veteran graduates receive red, white and blue Americana cords in honor of their December graduation from Clemson
Class of 2023 military and veteran graduates receive red, white and blue Americana cords in preparation for their December graduation from Clemson.
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Clemson held its annual Service Member and Veteran Graduation Recognition on Tuesday, Dec. 19 in the Almeda Jacks Ballrooms of Hendrix Student Center. Undergraduate and graduate students were recognized for their service to the United States military and for preparing to graduate from Clemson University. The honorees were presented red, white and blue cords to go atop their graduation regalia. In total, 43 veterans and service members and 37 military family members are graduating in December.

Military & Veteran Engagement (M&VE) led a program that included remarks from leadership in the Veterans Commission, Student Affairs, Student Veterans Association and Clemson Corps. Graduates and guests also heard a keynote address from Wilbur Milhous, Ph.D., a United States Army veteran and visiting lecturer in microbiology and infectious disease.

“Student veterans and military-connected students are a close-knit population,” says Kimberly Poole, assistant vice president and senior associate dean of students. “You are valuable assets and have proven to be leaders inside and outside of the classroom. We congratulate our graduating students for representing Clemson in a positive light and appreciate the impact you’ve made on our campus community.”

Five graduate students and seven undergraduates were recognized Tuesday. Included was 84-year-old Malcolm Williams, who served in the United States Army with the 101st Airborne Division. Williams is set to earn a degree in sociology from Clemson on Thursday. Also honored Tuesday were a pair of former Student Veterans Association (SVA) presidents, Matthew Morris (2020) and Rachelle Hales (2022). Morris presided over the organization when it was named National Chapter of the Year by the Student Veterans of America.

“We thank our military students for bringing a valuable and unique perspective to the classroom,” says David Sargent, chair of the Clemson University Veterans Commission. “We’re grateful you’ve chosen to share that perspective with us at Clemson. We are proud to celebrate this group’s successes as you prepare to move on to the next chapter in their lives.”

“Congratulations to all of our graduates,” adds Christopher Mann, chair of Clemson Corps. “It’s a huge milestone in your lives … you’ll forever be Clemson Tigers.”

Also during the ceremony, SVA President-Elect Chase Carter earned the Fall 2023 Outstanding Student Veteran Award. Originally from Kansas, Carter is a VA work-study student in the Military & Veteran Engagement Resource Center and veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Carter was also one of four students to receive a Military Student Award scholarship, along with James Clary, Sebastian Ducharne and Hanna Pooley.

“To all of the veterans who have completed their academic journey, your time at Clemson will forever be integral in the successes that await you in the future, the same way your service to our country will forever affect your life in a positive way,” says Carter. “On behalf of the Student Veterans Association, I wish you fair winds and following seas. Farewell and Godspeed, and Go Tigers!”


Jonathan Burgess
• Ph.D. in rhetoric, communication and information design
• Native of Greer, South Carolina served four years in the Marine Corps
• Served in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2007-09

Morgan Boss
• Animal and veterinary sciences
• Native of Anderson, Indiana currently serves in the Army Reserves
• Served in Iraq and Kuwait in 2022

Alice Franco
• Applied health research and evaluation
• Native of Corona, California served four years in the Navy
• Specialized as an avionics electronic technician

Kimberly Heilman
• Master of business administration
• Native of Bellevue, Washington served nine years in the Navy Reserves
• Specialized as a cryptologic technician interpretive

Justin Roe
• Human resource development
• Native of Easley, South Carolina served 10 years in the Air Force
• Former treasurer for the Student Veterans Association


Daquan Doctor
• Civil engineering
• Native of Charleston, South Carolina serves in the South Carolina Army National Guard
• Member of the field artillery plans to continue serving after graduation

Rachelle Hales
• Biological sciences
• Native of Columbia, South Carolina and military family member
• President of the Student Veterans Association in 2022

Matthew Morris
• Mechanical engineering
• Native of Whittier, California served six years in the Navy as a machinist’s mate
• Former president and vice president of the Student Veterans Association

Zachary Muniz
• Packaging science
• Native of Dallas, Texas served in the Army

Avery Palen
• Financial management
• Native of Ottumwa, Iowa served four years in the Marine Corps
• Specialized as a data network specialist

Blake Simokat
• Parks, recreation and tourism management
• Native of Summerville, South Carolina serves in the South Carolina Army National Guard
• Plans to attend graduate school at The Citadel and continue serving in the military

Malcolm Williams
• Sociology
• Native of Highland Park, Michigan served six years in the Army Reserves
• Served during deployments to Korea and Vietnam