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

Erwin Center, leading brands partner for Summer Scholars program


Students representing 10 colleges and universities are learning about the impact of strategic brand communication during the second annual Clemson University Erwin Center Summer Scholars program.

The objective of the Summer Scholars initiative is to give students access to industry professionals and provide hands-on training to advance diversity in the field of brand communication.

Erwin Center Summer Scholars students with Denny's sign
Erwin Center Summer Scholars are gaining hands-on experience with leading brands including Denny’s.

Students in the program are from five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) – Claflin University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, Wilberforce University and Winston-Salem State University. Clemson, Elon University, University of Florida, University of Georgia and Greenville Tech are also represented.Erwin Scholars are networking with industry professionals, receiving hands-on training and engaging in a pitch competition by working on a brand project from presenting sponsor Denny’s.

“We are thrilled to once again be working with an accomplished group of students from HBCUs and a variety of institutions,” said John Dillon, Denny’s senior vice president and chief brand officer. “Advancing diversity is near and dear to our hearts here at Denny’s, and we very much believe this program will help build the skills and practices they need to prepare for jobs with leading brands.”

Inclusion is a strategic priority at Clemson and a key pillar of branding education at the Erwin Center for Brand Communications.

“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,” said Lee Gill, Clemson’s chief inclusion and equity officer and special assistant to the president for inclusive excellence. “The Erwin Center Summer Scholars Program exposes students from diverse backgrounds to businesses that have global impact.”

Guest lecturers from leading marketing and brand agencies are teaching the sessions, including executives from Denny’s, EP+Co, McCann Worldgroup, USA Today Network, fluent360 and Creative Circus.

“It is an honor to have such a gifted group of students participating alongside industry leaders who are dedicated to advancing diversity,” said Katie Hildebrand, the Erwin Center’s executive director. “These Scholars will depart with tools, valuable contacts and beneficial experiences that will strengthen their ability to provide future leadership in brand communications.”

The program ends at 5 p.m. Friday with a graduation ceremony and banquet at Clemson’s Greenville One campus in downtown Greenville. Danielle Austen, Managing Partner and CEO of fluent360, will deliver the keynote address. A panel of marketing experts will judge the students’ brand projects and winners will be announced during the banquet.

In addition to Denny’s, program sponsors include EP+Co, the USA Today Network and the Greenville News, the Clemson Master of Business Administration, Erwin Creates, Endeavor and the Greenville Drive.

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