Community, Engagement, Belonging and Access; Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

Erwin Center advancing diversity through Summer Scholars branding camp


Denny’s partners with Erwin Center again to provide students hands-on training

CLEMSON, South Carolina — The Erwin Center for Brand Communications at Clemson University is gearing up for the 2019 edition of its Erwin Center Summer Scholars program. The second annual week-long camp, which helps prepare minority students for jobs with leading brands and agencies, will be held May 18-25, 2019.

Students participate in Erwin Center Summer Scholars branding camp
Erwin Center Summer Scholars work on branding projects at Clemson University.

The Summer Scholars program was created in 2018 by the Erwin Center in the College of Business to advance diversity in brand communications.

“We are excited and honored to once again provide Erwin Scholars with access to industry professionals, hands-on training and the chance to work together on a real-world brand project,” said Erwin Center co-founder Joe Erwin. “From here in Upstate South Carolina, these students really can change the world.”

The Erwin Center’s Summer Scholars program annually welcomes up to 30 students at historically black colleges or institutions where minority students are historically underrepresented.

Senior marketing executives from Denny’s meet with students throughout the week and guide scholars through their presentation processes.

“We are thrilled to once again partner with the Erwin Center Summer Scholars Program,” said John Dillon, Denny’s senior vice president/chief marketing officer and board member of the Erwin Center. “At Denny’s, we love to feed people and serving the minds of those hungry for education is an area we’re incredibly passionate about.”

In addition to learning from industry professionals and businesses sponsoring the program, students are taught by the Erwin Center’s adjunct professors and university faculty from the College of Business.

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Calesha Lucas, who attended the 2018 camp as a senior at North Carolina Central University, said she quickly learned how brand communications can be applied to any career.

“I definitely think the scholars program is a great way to earn connections and learn more about personal branding,” she said. “I’m sure there are a lot of people who would like to have the kind of background the program provides on their résumés.”

“As we worked closely with each passionate scholar and listened to each ‘Denny’s on Demand’ campaign proposal, we had the chance to gain important insights on millennial consumers,” Dillon said. “These young leaders helped open the conversation for new and interesting ways to target diverse consumers and we look forward to utilizing the students’ research and observations in future brand work and diversity initiatives.”

The Summer Scholars program is a Clemson University initiative to proactively lead education-based programming within diversity and inclusion efforts — and to do so in a way that collaborates with other members of the higher education community.

“When this program was first proposed, I knew it was going to be a winner because of the benefits it would yield,” said Lee Gill, Clemson’s chief inclusion and equity officer and special assistant to the president for inclusive excellence. “Students quickly learn how to apply the principles of branding to their personal portfolios and ultimately to the employers they represent, or their own companies. The Erwin Center Summer Scholars Program exposes students from diverse backgrounds to businesses that have global impact.”

Minority students seeking to apply for the summer scholars program should click here. Applications are due March 1, 2019. Questions regarding the application can be directed to Lori Pindar, the Erwin Center’s Assistant Director, at or

The Erwin Center for Brand Communications
The Erwin Center for Brand Communications at Clemson University is a “teaching hospital” for future brand communications professionals and is housed in the College of Business. Learning by doing in disciplines ranging from advertising, marketing, research, strategy, media and analytics, prepares Erwin Center students to be market-ready professionals in a variety of communications fields.

Denny’s Corp.
Denny’s is one of America’s largest full-service family restaurant chains, currently operating over 1,700 franchised, licensed and company-owned restaurants across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, New Zealand, Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guam, the United Arab Emirates, Chile, Curaçao, El Salvador, and Trinidad and Tobago, and the Philippines. For further information on Denny’s, including news releases, please visit the Denny’s website at or the brand’s social channels via FacebookTwitterTumblrInstagramInstagram or YouTube.

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