Clemson University Honors College senior Veronica “Ronnie” Clevenstine has been named a finalist for the prestigious Marshall Scholarship.
She is Clemson’s third Marshall Scholar finalist since 2006 and would be its first recipient if awarded the scholarship later this year.
After graduating in the spring with a major in economics and minors in political science and sustainability, Clevenstine plans to attend graduate school to explore food assistance and anti-poverty policy strategies.
“In recent years I’ve watched the invisible force of hunger tear through South Carolina, trapping communities, schools, families, and my home university in cycles of need and resource insecurity,” Clevenstine said.
The campus committee that recommended Clevenstine was impressed by her sincerity, resilience and personal commitment to transformative governance in the United States’ approach to food policy, said Robyn Curtis, director of Clemson’s Office of Major Fellowships.
“She is well-prepared for this graduate program and her proposed career revolutionizing our approach to food security,” Curtis said.
The interview is scheduled for Nov. 8, and scholarships will be awarded by the end of the year.
Scholars are chosen on the basis of academic merit, leadership potential and ambassadorial potential to support the relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States.
If chosen, Clevenstine plans to attend Oxford University to pursue a degree in comparative social policy. Clevenstine’s career goals are deeply rooted in her personal experience.
During her senior year of high school, Clevenstine’s family went through a difficult and tumultuous time, leading to a period of houselessness for her and her father. For six months, she stayed with a family friend as she navigated the college application process.
That personal experience shaped her perspective and rooted her in compassion for communities facing food insecurity.
“Conversations regarding providing public assistance for food, housing, and other necessities are often accompanied by questions of worth or labeling certain populations as ‘undeserving’ of aid,” Clevenstine said. “These conversations create a culture of stigmatization that I understand intimately and am committed to dismantling throughout my career.”
As a high school senior, she was selected for the National Scholars Program, Clemson’s most selective academic merit scholarship.
She has contributed significant leadership, research and service in the area of food insecurity at Clemson and throughout the region.
She co-founded the Clemson’s Youth Scholars program where the National Scholars partner with a local Title 1 school to offer mentoring to socioeconomically disadvantaged students as they move through elementary and middle school.
Clevenstine’s also the co-executive director of Clemson’s Food Collective, where she led an initiative called Stories of Hunger, which seeks to elevate the voices of food insecure students.
“Ronnie combines the intellect, work ethic, initiative and inquisitive research mind necessary to thrive in graduate school with a commitment and drive to affect change in the world, particularly through better and more just social welfare policy,” said Jeffrey Fine, professor of political science, who is the advisor for her political science honors thesis.
Through her work at The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution this summer, Clevenstine provided research assistance and collaboration on policy proposals related to affordable housing, economic security and economic justice.
“Ronnie’s potential for conducting and publishing scholarly research is extraordinary,” said Robert K. Fleck, professor of economics. “Thanks to her phenomenal energy and seriousness of purpose, she has already obtained substantial research experience.” Clevenstine is also writing an economics honors thesis.
Earlier this year, Clevenstine was also named as the 2021 Truman scholar for South Carolina and received the Matt Locke Leadership Award for outstanding leadership with regard to service and devotion to humankind and the University.
The Marshall Scholarship is an expression of the United Kingdom’s gratitude to the U.S. for their assistance with post-World War II economic recovery through the Marshall Plan.
More than 1,000 students are typically nominated nationally, and up to 50 Scholars will be awarded. Our region has 23 finalists, and as many as 8 of these will be chosen to receive the scholarship.
Students interested in applying for the Marshall Scholarship or learning about other nationally competitive programs should contact the Office of Major Fellowships at 864-656-9704 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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